I would say thank you for the memories, but as with Winter Tough, if it wasn’t for the sore muscles, it would be naught but a dream. Why is it the memories post-event are so foggy?! Thank goodness for the photographic evidence.
There are not many milestones in my life that come from a place of pride, but the three most influential things in my life have been my introduction to CrossFit 10 years ago, the Milruck Tough* in February, and my CF Level 1 Course a few weeks ago. Each of these things has been a turning point in my life – a reset button, if you will.
Milestones need not be measured by events like marriage, degrees, and death.
These are, after all, extrinsic motivators – driven by external factors. The best milestones are reminders of what matters most, what I’m capable of, & fine-tuning my purpose on this planet. They are a reflection of introspection.
My time with MILRUCK has been short, but I’ve learned so much about myself. I see patterns that echo like ripples in other areas of my life.
From the beginning, I go into MILRUCK events from a place of humility. The entire week before, I have anxiety that beats like the wings of 100 butterflies trapped between my rib cage.
I worry about being “the one” that holds the team back. I worry if I have the right gear. Was my training enough? I have 100 questions, and I want clearly defined answers.
Fortunately, CrossFit prepares you for the unpredictable. And despite my non-committal relationship with the sport of fitness, just as with the Winter Tough, I was a million times stronger than I expected to be for MILRUCK’s Gold Tough + Brave.
But is it humility?
What’s the difference between humility and lack of confidence? Or simply seeing things from the wrong perspective? (Because, after all, our realities are shaped by our minds and limited by how we choose to see the world).
Within a few minutes of Startex, those worries and insecurities melt away. The beats of butterfly wings go silent, and instead, I feel the pounding of my heartbeat take over. I’m confident in the preparation I’ve invested in my mind and my body. This is the ultimate test to see where I’m at.
Army crawling through a bridge of people? Don’t mind me while I do some yoga and stretch my hips out.
Life has been chaotic, and so little has been in my control. The last two years have been the most challenging in my life. I worried that demons would surface that would make me crumble. But throughout the night and into the next day, the demons didn’t matter. With how strongly I performed, I realized that as long as I continue to train my body and mind at the highest levels, nothing else matters. I will be prepared for whatever crosses my path. What an empowering realization!
With big hugs, friends have said, “I knew you would make it.” Yes, and so did I. I appreciate the confidence from others, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot, because there was never any question about my making it. “Quit” isn’t in my vocabulary, so the concept of “not making it” is inconceivable. As I’ve developed my self worth, it’s been increasingly clear to me how little others’ perceptions of me means. Other people can think I’m great, or believe in me and see all of my potential; but it means absolutely nothing if I don’t train my mindset to believe in myself.
There is a delicate balance between proving yourself to others, and proving your strength to yourself. It can feel intimidating to recognize that you are stronger than you think, because it forces you into a place of empowered responsibility. You have to “get over yourself,” and actively do something with your strength. It’s easy to hide behind “I’m not good enough,” because it gives you permission to keep playing small. But what about your duty to serve the world?
There is selfishness in playing small out of fear, because someone out there needs you, and you are depriving them of your gifts – whatever those might be.
Pushing your limits in every possible way – these are the moments I live for, where I feel most alive. These are the times when I feel total confidence in my body and mind, and my capabilities as an influential human on this planet. These are the times when my doubt evaporates.
The trick is to apply that confidence to all the other areas of my life, in times when the pressure is not beating down at 100%.
Because I forget. I forget how strong I am. I compare myself to the wrong people, and lose perspective of the hard work I put into my training, nutrition, and lifestyle. My training is other peoples’ extreme. But to avoid the trap of arrogance, I suppose, I see what I’m doing as “average.”
But then again, there is some truth to that. Average is the sum of all the parts. I am only me, so to raise the average, I have to continue to push myself harder and harder. There is no plateau, no finish line. And no matter how hard I push myself, it will still be the average, because I am still only me, and the only competition is myself. At least in this case, “average” does not translate to “mediocre.”
All we need for consistent growth is to be 1% stronger than we were yesterday. Over time, that 1% will move mountains.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
Each day, you have a choice. That day itself is that choice – every morning when you open your eyes, you’ve been gifted with time. What do you choose to do with that time? “I don’t have time,” is a poor excuse, because time is all you have. The question is how you prioritize people, places, and things.
You can wake up today, and you can continue with the parts of your life that you aren’t happy with, because they feel familiar, they’re “good enough,” and you’ve accepted that that’s just how life is. When we settle, we stop moving. And when we stop moving, it’s easy to shift out of gear and roll backwards.
Alternatively, you can treat each day as a reset button, to consciously make the choice to shake things up and do something different.
It doesn’t have to take a day. It can be a moment. Any hour. Any day. If you really need to change, it might come in the form of a tragic accident that forces you to live your life differently. But do you really want it to get to that point? Personally, I would choose an active choice over forced submission.
My (minimal) experiences with Milruck have shown me that these events are the perfect times to get clear on what you want to be different in your life.
Then – make the decision that from now on:
Things are going to be different.
I would say that this is where freedom lies. But that would make freedom stagnant, and freedom has a pulse. So, more appropriately, this is where freedom ebbs & flows.
Ask yourself – Who do I need to become in order to do X? And then go out and grow into that person.
Sometimes it will suck because change requires the death of what is, to transition into what was, so that you can continue to grow and evolve. In that moment when your old self is taking one last breath, the rebirth is going to feel incredibly painful.
You always have a choice. You always have time. Your reality is exactly what you want it to be. And when you make a commitment to that choice, the Universe will listen… and match that commitment in return.
The last weeks have been a full-on intensive lesson from the Universe around getting clear on the life I want to live, how to serve people, how to show up… and like a magnet, this weekend’s Tough + Brave event with MILRUCK was a powerful tug back to the path I’m meant to be walking. But unlike the Winter Tough, which pulled me from a completely different path and left me wondering, “where the fuck do I go from here?” the Gold Tough was confirmation that I’m moving in the right direction. There have been a few detours, but I didn’t stray too far.
In The Way of the SEAL, Mark Divine says this about his purpose:
“To be a warrior and leader. To master myself so that I can fulfill this purpose as best I can.”
This statement resonates with me, but I’ve held myself back from embodying it. What is a Warrior, and who earns the right to apply such a powerful word to their identity?
A small part of me feels insecure about crying at Endex, because a warrior “has the ability to control his/her emotions and actions, regardless of circumstance.” In this case, tears may be a sign of weakness. But if events such as these are part of a dynamic rebirthing process, then tears may instead be symbolic of the rain washing away what was, to make way for what is to come.
My times in Sweden have been challenging, with some significant part of life falling to pieces each time I’m here. Before this summer’s return, I wondered – what is going to fall apart THIS time? But I shifted my mindset to see these “falling aparts” as chapters.
Chapter 1, finding myself.
Chapter 2, finding my community & understanding relationships.
Chapter 3, getting clear on my purpose.
That’s where I’m at this summer; it’s all about purpose.
I’m designing a life in which I can serve as a warrior – mindful of not crossing the lines of respect owed to the true warriors who have earned the Trident, or other significant insignia, and represent The Warrior at the highest level.
The difference between my mindset coming out of Winter Tough and Gold Tough has made me proud this week.
With February’s Winter Tough, I had the profound experience of pushing my limits in a way that I wanted so much more out of my life. I wanted that level of stimulation in every cavity, every day.
I had a new goal – I want to join Swedish military! This was the only way I could imagine pushing my limits. I sought ideas outside of myself – companies or training where I could build my strengths while I wait until I get citizenship and can actually join. But I was looking outside of myself for the answers, and part of me knew that there was some motivation of laziness here. I’ve been tired of running my own business, and wanted someone to tell me what to do.
So there was this void after the Winter Tough, and I didn’t know what the answers were. I didn’t know how to move forward in the direction I suddenly felt so called to.
How could I finally find my purpose, and feel so inspired, and yet…. it’s impossible for me to reach?
Interestingly enough, I felt this void in the week prior to the Gold Tough. There was a nagging voice that was wondering – why haven’t I taken the steps to radically change my life in this direction since February?
But after this weekend, I have less of a feeling of a void, and I am reminded that I actually have taken significant steps to move toward this goal. A couple of weeks ago, I earned my CrossFit Level 1 Certificate. I started a coaching business. I got my first clients, and I got clear on how I can truly help people become the best they can possibly be.
Instead of looking outside of myself, hoping that I’ll find an easy solution, I created the solution. It’s a solution that will constantly push me to grow, to experiment, to learn, and to strength myself in every way – so that I can live by example, and help clients to live the ultimate human experience.
Because that’s what this is.
Where we push ourselves past our limits, that is what it means to be human.
On a more physical level, I’m super proud of my performance. I haven’t rucked very much since being back in Stockholm (why is it so difficult to find time to ruck in the city?!), so I wasn’t sure how my body would hold up. I didn’t expect a huge difference in performance from the Winter Tough – and really, how do you compare such different events? – but the most significant improvement was an old injury I had. My knees/hips were unhappy during the winter, and became a problem after only a couple of hours. This was where I met my demons; I took shit-tons of painkillers, and after a couple of hours, I was doing ok. But post-event, my entire body cramped up like crazy, and recovery was fairly slow.
6 months later, I’m excited that my knees only became a concern about 12-13 hours into the Tough. And I kept going at high intensity through Brave, because it wasn’t crippling. That’s some pretty significant progress!
There are so many moments I loved, but I think my absolute favorite time was the last mile of Brave, when we had to carry each other. Appointed dead by Bill, Cadre G immediately resurrected me and pronounced Bill as dead. The team around offered to carry him, and I stubbornly said, “No, I’m going to do this myself. At least, I want to try; I don’t know how long I’ll last.” He jumped up on my back, and I ran ahead. Too fast, because we had to wait for the team, where I did a couple squats with Bill on my back. I kept going, and going, and going… I really surprised myself. Eventually it “weighed” on me (ha..ha..), and we had to switch. We had such awesome flow going back and forth with each other, it felt like such a proud moment. And, it was probably 3 hours into the Brave, and more than 30 hours of being awake… after my knees started bugging me.
I’ve been trying for the last days to summarize my thoughts and feelings, but there’s so much to share. Thank you to MILRUCK for making all of this possible. Thank you to the community. Thank you for the awesome teammates who pushed through the night and day. Congratulations for everyone for such an inspiring performance, to witness and be a part of. Thank you to Cadres Dennis & Gabó for crushing us, so we know what we’re capable of withstanding.
Thank you for creating something that has significantly changed my life and helped me to develop my strength and confidence…. and will continue to do so for years to come – not only for myself, but for all others who have the courage to step outside of the box and experience what they are capable of.
Here’s to starting the next year of training to push for GOLD 2020!