The Mental Transition of CrossFit and the power it has to change your life

The AMAZING 530a crew in the ZONE!

The AMAZING 530a crew in the ZONE!

We often talk about the mental aspect of CrossFit is much more important than the physical aspect.

Earlier this week we discussed Training Your Brain. The mental toughness that CrossFit can provide “fits like a glove” to compliment training your brain.

This is a MUST read story from a CrossFit Sioux Falls “stud” member, Matt Byers. Matt describes his mental transition into CrossFit and it is an awesome story.

“Six Weeks and Counting.

While shooting the breeze the other day with Chris we briefly talked about my progression thus far. Upon responding I had nothing but positive thoughts and was ready to fire off several different areas of improvement. But after a brief hesitation, I passed on the more obvious areas and mentioned my mental transition. I don’t want to discount the gains made in strength, overall fitness, and the physical changes I am noticing, but in my opinion I have made the biggest gains in the mental aspect of being a CrossFit’er.

Starting back in my high school years, “fitness” was always just a byproduct of playing sports. Between playing football, soccer, and wrestling there was plenty of running, lifting, and going to practice to keep me in pretty good shape. Narrowing things down to just soccer, it was more of the same in college. With the season in the fall, and practicing all winter and spring, I always had a solid cardio base. We did some lifting as a team, but nothing of real substance. Not being the tallest lad on the team I always had to keep my upper body fairly strong in order to prevent being firmly placed on the ground by opponents. While spending time in the weight room I became a touch of a gym rat. This is where working out was first embedded in my lifestyle. Post college I was fortunate enough to be able to play for a couple more years in a developmental league. Although it was only over the summer months it kept me fit and motivated to continue to work out.

Enter the real world… I joined the realm of cube dwellers and lost that “reason” I had always had to keep fit. For a few years it was a roller coaster of commitment. Six weeks on, a month off, two weeks on, three weeks off…very little structure or commitment to something that came so easy in the past. Same for my diet, I was hot and cold. Thankfully the gym rat in me never fully left. Over the past few years I have managed to keep working out as part of my lifestyle. It was a lot of stealing routines from muscle magazines, going to spinning class, pretending I was going to do a triathlon. All of these things kept me interested, but they also kept me on a plateau of results. I never really felt it was my lack of dedication that held me back, it was my lack of mental progression. I wasn’t accountable, things were “good enough”, and my desire to compete was left in my gym bag. It just became enough to go to the gym.

It was the last week of August this year when I was hanging out with some friends having some cocktails. I don’t know exactly what sparked it, but a couple of them mentioned CrossFit. I had no clue really, they both had great things to say and said I should give it a try. That next week I was also able to hit up a buddy I work with (Shout out “BIG Mike” 5:30am). He gave me a quick overview and finally said, “You just need to try it for yourself.” Being a previous work out partner of his I knew if he was into it, it was worth a shot. I mean it’s only going to take me like 15 minutes…can’t be that hard. J

In I went, found Chris, got the housekeeping out of the way and waited as the rest of the class walked in. Stood around like a kid at a new school, wondering what the marker board was for. Ten minutes later I was hunched over wondering if my heart was going to explode. I finished up the workout not caring about my time, I just wanted my water bottle and a place to sit down. I told Chris thanks, and walked out. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great first experience, I just didn’t realize what I had just started, I merely thought I got in a good workout. I woke up the next day, and even though it was a bit more difficult to get a shirt on due to soreness, I figured “What the heck, these workouts will probably be harder than if I just go to the gym on my own.”

I decide the next day I will give it a couple weeks to give it a fair look and figure out if CrossFit was worth it. Plus I needed to figure out who Fran is. Over the course of the next couple weeks I drag myself to class each time half asleep. I’m zoned out and all I want is a good workout, I just space out until I hear the squeak of the marker board. While warming up I just think to myself that I am about to be really tired. I read the board, the names and numbers don’t mean anything to me and I just dig in. Even early in the workout as soon as discomfort sets in I’m mentally mush. I break early and often and just want to pace myself so I can finish. I quickly write my time down because everyone else did and bail. On my drive home I feel accomplished because I’m tired. As if that alone means anything.

During weeks three and four I start to notice a difference. I’m waking up a little earlier to get some food in me and actually “wake up” before I leave. When I get to the gym small talk with the other members has started, I stretch a bit more, and start thinking about what we might be doing. During the workout my thoughts are turning positive, I’m telling others “good job”. I’m noticing the people that are always beating me and start wondering if I could do better. I start caring about my time on the board, asking myself if I really gave it my all.

Now after finishing my sixth week I get excited when I even mention CrossFit. I’m getting to bed earlier on nights I don’t have anything going on. I get up even earlier now to get some food in me, even trying ideas from a book I am reading about the Paleo Diet. I’m now listening to music on the way to the gym to get me ready mentally. During the workouts my internal voice is tell me “TWO MORE REPS!!” versus “man…you are tired.” I want to beat the clock, I want to be happy with my performance, want to catch the people ahead of me, distance myself from the people behind me. I enjoy sticking around and talking about the workout, failing miserably at muscle ups, knowing I will get them soon. I want to get home and take in some post workout nutrition. I pay attention to how my body feels, get ready for the next workout, check the CrossFit Journals.

Bottom line, after six weeks the fire is back. It’s no longer just “good enough” to go to the gym. I can’t wait for the day I compare my currents times with the new times I’m going to achieve. I can’t wait for the day I have it in me to push until I puke. I can’t wait to see how many pull-ups I can do. I can’t wait for someone to look at my future Fran time and say, “Holy sh*t!” Monday morning is no longer the start of the work week, it’s my first WOD of the week.

To Chris, Annie, Cody, Casey, and the crew at 5:30 am, thanks for a great start and here’s to becoming a CrossFit’er.

Later Gator,

Matt B.”

So what benefits have you noticed since doing CrossFit?…..Tell us your story.

Today’s WOD:

Oct 23

6 Responses to “The Mental Transition of CrossFit and the power it has to change your life”

  1. WOW! That was amazing, Matt!

    I, too, am a frequent 5:30’r. (And I am one in the back that you are trying to distance yourself from.) lol!

    I also have seen a shift in my mental “being” since CF’ing. And even more so when I am able to make sure I am commiting to CF 3x/wk. It is the drive to make me commit to myself- inside and out. And you can’t do that only half way and with only occasional commitment if you want to see consistent results in both areas.

    Matt really said it perfectly….

  2. Mike Brownfield Says:

    Awesome stuff Matty B! Keep rocking the workouts as we all feed off of each other’s intensity. There is something in the CF Kool-Aid – can’t get enough of it.

    Way to represent the 530!

  3. great story matt – it’s always fun to hear everyone stories as all crossfitters have one!! many of them are so much the same – a major mental game that we are all trying to blow through as if to try to prove something to someone.
    i’m totally with you on the pre-workout music! i too try to find my zone as i leave work and head to the 5:30 pm classes. i LOVE those days that i crank the tunes in the car and get in the zone early, rather than mope my way into the gym!! those are the days that i have such a passionate love/hate for Fran and Cindy and all the other nasty women of crossfit!!
    keep up the awesome work at 5:30am – i don’t know how that crew does it!!!

  4. ReNee Jasmer Says:

    Well said Matt! I sat here reading your story while shaking my head and saying to myself “yes, exactly, I know what you mean, I do the same, I think the same”. Thank you for sharing and saying what we all feel but haven’t said out loud. Watching you and “Big Mike” this morning was inspirational in itself – you guys rock and I’m so glad to be a part of the 5:30 am class. Thank you Chris and Annie for getting the ball rolling in Sioux Falls! God Bless.

  5. Korena Chester Says:

    Beaufamous story! Like most, I too use to find myself thinking how tired I was during a workout and now I focus on “2 more reps left”. I also cannot stop thinking about “when is my next workout at CrossFit” as I stare at my schedule I have hanging in my cubey. I am always excited to know what the workout is no matter what! If I know beforehand that the workout may be a tough one, instead of finding a reason to cancel my workout, I approach it with a positive attitude.

    This has also carried into my personal life. I once again look at things from a more positive standpoint.

  6. Korena Chester Says:

    (sorry….it posted before I was done!)

    Music has always put me in my zone but I always remember how awesome I feel after the workouts and that’s one of the MANY things that keeps me coming back for more! To all the CrossFit-ers: you guys have all been a positive influence in my life! You guys rock!

    In closing:
    Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as you mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve. ~Mary Kay Ash~

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