This has turned out to be a pretty significant week for me. In prior posts, I’ve talked about how I used to be very fear-averse. If something made me nervous, uncomfortable, or scared, then I would simply avoid it at all costs (regardless of how ridiculous it was – one of my biggest sources of anxiety used to be driving myself to the airport). What I realized a couple of years ago is that avoiding what scares me does not actually solve the problem, it just masks the symptoms. Coaxing a friend into driving me to the airport or paying for Super Shuttle every time I flew didn’t actually address my fears, and I had to live with the fact that my out-of-control anxiety was forcing me to go to elaborate lengths just to avoid doing something that people do all of the time. I gradually moved toward a life philosophy of facing fear head-on and embracing the things that scare me because that is the only way I can truly overcome them.
Some of the many things this paradigm shift has allowed me to do are: go skydiving, end relationships that I know aren’t working, go speed dating, try bikram yoga (wearing just a sports bra and shorts), compete in figure and bikini, do a fitness photo shoot, take a new job, move across the country by myself, speak onstage in front of 100+ people, run a half marathon, travel all around the eastern U.S., and make a ton of new friends.
The two things I can add to this list after this week are: cut my hair short and try CrossFit.
First up, the hair. My hair had gotten ridiculously long, but when I set up my appointment a couple of weeks ago, I planned to go in and just trim off an inch or two like I always do. Long hair has been a safety blanket for me. It aligns with the conventional notions of beauty, particularly for bikini competitors. I have also been told repeatedly throughout my life by many of the guys that I’ve dated that they don’t find short hair attractive. Every trip to the salon was preempted by a testosterone freak out over the fact I was cutting it and panicking about how much I would cut. I’ve had it shorter in the past, but always regretted doing it because I felt it made me look overly young and less attractive. However, I HATE having long hair. I never actually do anything with it besides straighten it or put it in a ponytail, and it was so long that it was constantly in the way. So the morning of the appointment, I started considering cutting it really short. A lot of fitness icons who I respect, like Jamie Eason and Dana Linn Bailey, totally rock shorter hair. So, without allowing myself to analyze it too much, I decided to say, “F*** what other people think, I’m cutting my hair short!”
No second thoughts, no panic. I ended up cutting off so much length that I was able to donate it. And I absolutely love it. Ironically, I feel more confident and empowered with short hair, which is the opposite of what I feared would happen. And as far as guys not finding it attractive, I can assure you that based on all of the comments/compliments I’ve gotten in the past couple of days, that is not the case! Cutting off all of that hair felt like shedding an old version of myself. I feel brand new. Stronger, bolder, and less encumbered (both literally and metaphorically).
Second fear feat of the week – going to an intro class at a local Crossfit gym (box). This has been something I’ve been wanting to do for at least two years. My trainer is out-of-town this weekend, so I finally had a free Saturday morning, which happens to be when the intro class at CrossFit Weddington is. I was scared to go, but knew there was no reason not to do it. So I sucked it up and went.
I showed up early, like 8:45, which happened to be at the end of another class. I walked in to a group of about 10 super sweaty, shirtless, muscular, ripped guys. Umm…wow. There was one girl there in a sports bra and shorts. I sort of just stood there awkwardly for a while, not sure who was in charge, where I should go, or what to do. One of the sweaty shirtless dudes eventually identified himself as the box owner, and the intro class got underway. There were only 4 of us: a girl probably in her early twenties who regularly does yoga and running, a little girl who was about 9 years old and the daughter of another CrossFitter, and a middle-aged overweight woman who was a full-time student just trying to get back into working out after a long hiatus. We did some warm-ups and mobility drills to start, then spent a long time learning and practicing the proper technique for squats and deadlifts. At the end, they had us do Cindy. When executed as prescribed, Cindy is 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats at pace for as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) within the time limit. Cindy is normally 20 minutes long, but since we were newbies, we just did 6 minutes. Since the others couldn’t do pull-ups at all, and I can’t do very many, we did a modified version that used ring rows in place of pull-ups.
I completed 7 full rounds and part of an 8th in the 6 minute workout. Ring rows were too easy for me, but pull-ups would have been too hard. I can knock out push-ups like nobody’s business, and air squatting, even at pace, felt like a breeze after all of the heavy lifting I do. BUT, by the 6th, 7th, and 8th rounds, I was starting to falter. And that was only at 6 minutes. Had I done the full workout, I would not have been even a third of the way done. 20 minutes of Cindy would have been brutal. I also had to get used to the fact that other people were watching us (not just the coaches) and yelling at us while we were working out (in an encouraging way). Group exercise has never really been my thing, so that was a little bit uncomfortable for me.
Anyway, my first CrossFit experience was somewhat neutral. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it (other than the shirtless sweaty men part, of course). That being said, my next step is to go to a real class next week. The intro class was great for getting my feet wet, but I’m ready to test myself with the real thing. CrossFit forces you to train at a whole other level of intensity. Let’s hope I can rise to the occasion!