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Thoughts after 3 months at WorkHorse.....


By: Darren Stevenson

I have been a ‘passive’ follower of the CrossFit methodology for over 7 years. From the time I saw the first video, it made sense. I had many reasons for not starting then…none of them valid. I suppose it takes the right frame of mind before starting anything new…particularly an exercise regime/lifestyle change.

In the fall of 2015, I finally got fed up with my body shape and lack of endurance and strength. I recognized that most of my short-comings in life were due to the ‘little voices in my head.’ It was time for a change.

I was all too often stifled by my need for perfection. Subconsciously, I would decide either that I was going to do something to perfection, or not even bother at all. This is a paralyzing affliction. But I was able to make a choice. I came to understand that perfection is an unachievable goal…nothing is perfect. Instead, I decided I would simply ‘do better.’…in the gym, at work, with my relationships. What a liberating epiphany!!

The following are some of the things I have come to realize, better understand and reinforce some knowledge from years past.

  1. I am weaker…and stronger than I realized. I knew I was out of shape. But man, this type of training really kicks your ass! I also realized how powerful the mind is. There were times, at the start of a conditioning program, that I would say to myself, “If I can get 3 done (of 4 rounds), that will be good…I’m new at this.” Well, low and behold, I would get into my second round and say, “Hey man! You can do all 4! You got this!” The mind is our greatest ally and enemy!

  2. Check my ego at the door. The older I get, the easier it is to do. I know my body. Having a desk job for almost 20 years, my body is soft. I HAD to measure my gains against myself…nobody else. I won’t lie, I often check out what the other guys (and occasionally the women) are doing. Most often I’m last…particularly in the conditioning. I don’t let it get me down…more so it gives me a target to shoot for…eventually…at my own pace. Fortunately, I am with the best group of classmates I could ask for. It seems we have similar goals…just do better. We encourage each other, respect each other’s limits, and celebrate victories.

  3. Don’t judge. I have seen other gyms post photos of their participants ‘after 3 months/6 months…’ and think, “Are you really proud of those results??” The reality is, I have no idea the physical limits that person started with, their job or their diet. A friend of mine was quizzing me about Workhorse and jokingly asked to see my abs. Jokingly again, I replied, “Don’t let my results influence your life choices.” It was funny at the time but later I realized how true that was. The results of others used to be part of my decision-making process. Then I asked myself a few key questions: Are they eating 100% clean, what do they do the rest of the day, are their internal health issues restricting their progress? There are many factors that play into a person’s progress…none of them my business. All I can do is measure my progress.

  4. Do better, more often, and do better more often. Every day we are faced with choices…what we eat and what we do. I have decided that when given a choice, I will make a better choice, more often, than I did in the past. For example, if I go out for supper and order a steak, the usual option is fries, mashed, baked or sweet potato. I always opt for the sweet potato. The best option would be to order a side salad but the sweet potato is better than the previous 3. Also, there are 21 meals in a week…if I have 18 ‘clean’ meals, that is better than I was doing before. I never used to eat breakfast so I was down to 14 meals a week so it was impossible to eat 18 clean meals…doing better. I walk every day with my dog. This presents opportunity as well. I can take the easy walk, I can walk faster, I can take rougher terrain…I can even run! It’s all about choices.

  5. Set realistic goals. About 2 months in, after eating better and doing more, I hadn’t lost a pound…and I’m down 5 pounds…not that much. A friend had a great quote. “The largest piles of snow take the longest to melt.” I then realized that I was gaining muscle…and muscle is heavy! I then decided that I will use different tools to measure my progress. I noticed my clothes were fitting differently…my pants were tighter in the thighs, looser in the waist and my shirts were fitting tighter in the shoulders…progress! Friends noticed I ‘looked different.’ Jen asked us to make a few measurements of our body before we started…I took a few extra. February 28th I will measure again. I know there will be changes. I also record my results daily at the end of the class. I can look back and see that I am moving more weight in all categories…again, progress!

  6. Food is fuel. I had to refresh my knowledge on food. The Canadian Food Guide is killing us! Dr. Barry Sears developed ‘The Zone’ eating guide. Notice I didn’t call it a diet. DON’T GO ON A DIET…rather CHANGE your diet. He teaches us how to eat properly. A great guide…especially if you want to cheat…he teaches you how to do that too! I will confess, I go out for wings and beer almost every Thursday night. If my mom makes a pie, I have a piece (sometimes 2!). I like food and I’m going to enjoy it. I will be conscious of what I eat. I have many more opportunities to eat well than I do to eat poorly so I don’t feel bad about the occasional indulgence.

  7. Shut the fuck up! Nobody wants to hear about your ‘WOD’ (workout of the day). I’m not sure why…maybe it makes them feel bad for doing nothing. Again, none of my business. Give people (and yourself) the privilege of noticing changes in you. And there will be changes! I noticed that not only was my body changing shape, so was my attitude, my production, my posture, my stress levels, my confidence…all things people will notice. Don’t even tell anyone you started. Who doesn’t love a compliment??!! When asked, give them a bit of information…let them ask questions. That being said, when I feel the need to talk about it, I talk to like-minded individuals. When I started noticing changes, I wanted to tell EVERYONE…then I realized that not everyone wanted to hear it! It’s kind of like someone trying to convert you to their religion.

  8. Be proud (quietly). At the end of each workout, I have to remind myself that A) I did it!! B) I did it!! and C) I’m doing more and getting better than I was before I started. That’s all that matters. I didn’t get in this shape in 3 months and it will take longer than 3 months to change. I go to bed tired…really tired. It’s the best kind of tired to feel! I’m getting more sleep, and better quality sleep, than I have in ages.

I don’t know where this Strength and Conditioning journey will take me. Quite frankly, I don’t care. For today, I know I’m doing better and being a better version of me! So, for now, I’ll take some advice from movie character, Joe Dirt, “Keep on keepin on!”

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