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I am… an athlete

i am

One of my favourite sayings is ” I am. Two of the most powerful words; for what you put after them shapes your reality”.

How do you define your reality? Is it with positive self talk? “I am strong” “I am intelligent”, “I am beautiful”, etc. Or do you shape your reality with negative self talk? “I am weak”, “I am stupid”, “I am ugly”.  How you talk to yourself, and how you view yourself shapes your reality.  We can’t expect others to view us as worthy, strong and capable if we ourselves don’t believe it.  It is similar to the notion of the self help movie, The Secret. Positive energy attracts positive energy and negative energy attracts negative energy.  While I believe the movie took it to extremes (I wish I would just positive think the lottery into my bank account) the  core of the message is very true.

No matter how much other roles in my life have changed, for example, I can no longer say “I am a student at the University of Windsor”, one thing has remained constant for me.  I am an athlete.  Plain and simple. It’s who I am.  It’s been bred into me since I could walk when my parents put me in competitive gymnastics and figure skating.  I picked out my first pony at 6 and started competitive show jumping and dressage.  I then went on to be the next up and comer in the area.  I competed in track and soccer in school.  I competed in figure (physique) when I grew up.  Nothing was ever good enough.  I am a perfectionist.  Second wasn’t ok. I’ve always been hungry for first.

This all came crashing down around me shortly after my reality was shaped into “I am a Crossfitter”.  You rarely hear people say “I do Crossfit”. No, they are so proud of doing Crossfit it turns into “I am a Crossfitter”.  Crossfit has given many people a reality, purpose and sense of belonging that they may have never experience before.  A few months into Crossfit my past shoulder problems came back to haunt me and I was out for 8 weeks with a shoulder separation (May 2012 was the initial injury.).  It is linked to years of not taking care of my body (no maintenance) and an unstable shoulder joint. It was NOT Crossfit’s fault. It was mine.  Pushing beyond what I should have been too early on in my Crossfit career. From the moment I started Crossfit I had regionals and the games in my sights. I knew I had what it took.  This put a major set back in my plans.  I spent the 8 weeks without exercie then months after creating a stable shoulder.  Shoulder problems were gone and I went back to Crossfit!

I was good to go! I went all out.  Pushing new boundaries, following The Outlaw Way (Anything Rudy said was gold to me) and working my tail off to make up for lost time.  About 4 months ago I suffered a major set back.  During deadlifts my back went out.  I suffered a major bulging disk of L5 S1, a jammed SI joint, and strained basically every muscle in my back trying to finish the lift (ego!).  My chiro says it is hard to say when the disk wall was actually weakened and this could have been coming on for ages.  I believe it.  When I was younger form wasn’t my main concern.  I spent 2 months competely off ( again!!) through December 2012 and January 2013.  I started slowly getting back into my routine in February then BAM!  Doing a clean and jerk one doing from blocks the disk made a nasty return.  I was in severe pain again.

Now I can’t put into words how devastating this whole ordeal has been for me.  The disk came back out the week before the 2013 open started!!!  Something I had been dying to be a part of.  I knew I had what it took to make it to regionals.  My whole reality of “I am an athlete” and “I am a Crossfitter” was being challenged.  I struggled to fill that void with some other definition of who I am but I always came back to it.  I was unwilling to let it go.   That unwillingness to let it go resulted in stress, hair loss from stress, minor depression, I was a pain to live with, I cried constantly, I wasn’t sleeping, etc etc.  I was so blinded by the fact that one aspect of who I am was put on hold that I couldn’t see all the other wonderful things about me.

Moving on: I have always been 110% committed to my rehab but a new focus came out.  I have been doing everything I can to build my body back up from my feet to head.  I have been focusing on every joint and stabilizer in my body. I’m back to the basics, with planks and ITY’s for my rotator cuff.  I have worked on stabilizing my arches and foam rolling every little muscle I can find.  Everything seemed to be going great until March 31st I felt pain in my spine….

I felt the pain in my tailbone, which didn’t make sense since the vertebrae are fused in your tailbone.  I went to the chiropractor today, April 3rd, expecting to be taken off exercise again.  I was very suprised, and happy!!!, when that was NOT the case!  While it may have been a minor set back he could find no evidence that the disk was bulged again.  The pain in my tailbone was from referred stiffness in my back.  I got adjusted and I feel like a million bucks! Now I am still on restricted workouts but I am allowed to workout and I have been given the go ahead to compete this summer in OCR’s (Provided I don’t have a major setback again).

I am back to being an athlete.  It’s amazing the psychological toll it takes when your whole reality is changed and you are unwilling to change with it.   This is something I need to work on.  This can be the case whether we view ourselves negatively or positively.  When that reality is shaken and we are forced to view ourselves in a new light it can be a scary process!  My challenge to everyone reading this is to look at how you view yourself.  Is it a healthy self talk or negative? If it is healthy then keep it up!!! That’s great! If it is negative take the time to start turning that around.  Change “I am not capable of…” to “I am a capable and strong person!”.  It will take work and patience with yourself but you can change your negative self talk to positive self talk.  Rediscover who you are.  Learn about yourself.  Have fun with the process.  And be open to new possibilities.  My inability to drop the “I am an athlete” for even recovery time led to stress, sleep problems, reinjury, moodiness, etc.  We all need to be open to finding new passions and new loves.  We aren’t defined by only one thing.  Now I can happily say that yes, I am an athlete, but I am also a girlfriend, daughter, sister, granddaughter, mom to wonderful pets, personal trainer, animal activist, volunteer, role model for kids at my program, etc etc etc.  I am not so focused on my only reality being comprised of being an athete.

With all that said I am really happy to be working towards a competitive spring, summer and fall.  Some of my planned races are:
May 12, Spring Toronto Tough Mudder
June 22 and 23rd (running both days) Toronto Spartan Sprint
June 30th Montreal Super Spartan
July 14th Toronto Spartan Beast
July 20th Toronto Warrior Dash
September 29th Fall Tough Mudder Toronto
October 5th Bad Ass Dash Kitchener

If next year allows me to be competitive in Crossfit, great! Dream come true! If I can never do deadlifts for time again, or other high rep lifts because of my back then I am ok with that too.  I am no longer solely defined by beign a Crossfitter or athlete.  I am excited and anxious to get this season underway and I am hoping for big opportunities, in 2014, to compete all over North American in races.  First thing is first though… Keeping my back healthy and learning to have flexibility with myself.  Being a perfectionist isn’t necessarily a healthy personality trait.

Thank you for reading! I hope this blog got everyone thinking about how they define their reality and how that plays a role in their psychological and physical well being. 🙂

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One comment on “I am… an athlete

  1. Jessica
    April 3, 2013

    Love it! My favourite saying is “I can and I will”.

    Best of luck with your racing schedule!!! Looking forward to doing Tough Mudder with you!

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