Staying Motivated for the Long Term
by Austin Aycock
I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2008 and I love it more today than I ever have. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve never questioned what I was doing at some point. Nor, does that mean I haven’t tried some other things along the way. CrossFit is not a fad, it is here to stay.
When I first found CrossFit I was a personal trainer in Apex, NC. After my first WOD, “Helen” 3 RFT: 400m run, 21 kb swings (53#) and 12 pull-ups, I questioned my current fitness and how I was training my clients. From that point on, I was hooked. I was drinking the Kool Aid. Most people have a similar story, but here’s why I am still doing CrossFit to this day and love it even more.
Looking Good Vs. Feeling Healthy
I have been the guy that was 205lbs and 5% body fat. CrossFit got me there. Before CrossFit, I was around 210lbs and 13-15% body fat. Now I understand most people would love to get their body fat that low but I can tell you from experience- living at 5%bf wasn’t as glorious as it seems. Yeah, taking my shirt off anywhere I went felt great. I got to show off my hard work, but that’s about as good as it got. I’ve found that being around 7%bf is where I thrive. I do eat pizza, desserts and chips (obviously in moderation). At 5%, I was turning down everything people offered and felt as if I needed to always cook for myself and always work out. 7% is my sweet spot. It is a place I can still be very disciplined yet feel like I am living in the real world.
Competing Vs. Quality Movement
I believe anyone that starts CrossFit has a test of character in so many ways. One of them is ego. We all have an ego, but how do you manage it? There is a fine line between intensity and integrity. Intensity is: how fast can I complete this workout? Integrity is: how well can I complete this workout? I used to give every workout everything I had to make sure I was at the top of the leaderboard every single day. There is nothing wrong with this. Honestly, if that’s your goal, go for it! Sometimes however, I might miss the wall shot target by an inch and still count it, 1 foot would hit the bar but the other didn’t and I would still count the T2B, or my chest didn’t quite hit the pull-up bar and say it was close enough and still count it. Little things like that would help my time be faster. It’s all fun and games until people came around and started beating me when I was doing this. Ego check! When I was no longer at the top of the leaderboard every day, I found myself not enjoying CrossFit as much.
Here came the mindset shift. Either I needed to put in the extra work to be at the top or I could just shift my thoughts about what CrossFit was for me. I wasn’t willing to put in the extra workouts, feel beat up, and make competing my priority. So, I made how well I could complete the workout my priority. Now, I focus on how fast and smoothly I can move throughout the workout while having really quality movement and trying my best to not place any emphasis on the leaderboard. This mindset shift has taken years, but has gotten easier and has made CrossFit more fun than ever! I only do the workout of the day, I don’t feel beat up, and I enjoy, with no attachment to the leaderboard, watching someone go at full intensity to tackle a workout.
Macros Vs. Balance
I was that guy. I measured everything I ate. If it wasn’t Paleo, it wasn’t healthy. If it wasn’t a Zone balanced meal, it wasn’t a hormonally balanced meal. This got me to 5% body fat. I learned a TON eating this way, but I wasn’t very happy. I felt as if I had to earn my food. Being so strict made me binge eat sometimes. I would eat an entire ½ gallon of Blue Bell ice cream in 24hrs! Something had to give. Here came balance. I’ve learned to eat healthy when I am in control of what I eat and to not pass up on dessert if I really want it. For me, this is sustainable for a lifetime and it is keeping me at my sweet spot of around 7% body fat. This has taken a lot of time but I have found my balance between strict and binge eating.
Each of these revelations I’ve had to make CrossFit an enjoyable experience took me taking things to an extreme. The case may be the same for you too, in your own variation. Learn through my journey. It’s your choice. You just have to decide what you’re currently valuing and if it’s making you happy. If not, it’s time to change something.