I don't write much about Crossfit. Mostly because the eye roll people give me gets a little old after I tell them I don't eat gluten. Sometimes though, I just have to pause and appreciate what my body is able to do. Every single time I go to Crossfit Initiative I get something unexpected.
Not pain....not injury...not tired (well, maybe sometimes)...not stronger....but...I get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Why is that good you ask?
It's good because it makes me a better parent. It makes me more comfortable doing the job that makes me the most uncomfortable.
That might not make sense to you, but maybe this explanation will help.
I recently listened to a Tim Ferris podcast with Jason Khalipa, a CrossFit Games World's Fittest Man. Jason's success at CrossFit was primarily do to his work ethic in the gym to continue to "be comfortable with being uncomfortable." His life mentality is coined as the AMRAP mentality.
AMRAP is cool because it is an acronym. It stands for "As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible" for some fixed period of time and for a specific set of exercises. As with most of the WODs (Workout Of the Day) in CrossFit, it absolutely requires concentration and focus on the task at hand. Because if you aren't focused then a) you could get injured or b) you lose count and your reps don't count. Neither is a good outcome in my opinion.
Here is a sample AMRAP:
10 minutes of
You really are only focused on a singular thing at a time before moving onto the next task. You aren't doing 10 things at the same time right? Because then you get a) injured or b) lose count. Once you do 10 push-ups, you don't then worry about them while you are doing air squats. You just worry about focussing on the exercise and counting so you can keep track of your reps. Certainly, don't do a burpee when a push up is all that is needed.
When 10' is up, you are done. The key to a successful AMRAP though is PACING yourself. If you go all out that first round a bit too hard and fast, then you are done after 1-2 rounds and it's only 2 minutes into the AMRAP. You pace yourself with a steady and controlled effort throughout. That looks a bit different for all of us at different fitness levels, but you get the idea.
And say you struggle with push-ups, well then you scale it to make it doable so you can continue working. It doesn't have to look like what your neighbor is doing. You need a steady pace of continuous work without killing yourself in the first 2 minutes.
How does that have anything to do with life and parenting?
A whole lot actually.
AMRAP of life is doing a few things that you are passionate about with focus and a steady pace. Let's say my life priorities are to be a good parent, a good partner, and a good physical therapist. Clearly, I can't do all three at the SAME time. If my kids need to talk about their bad day, I can't be treating a patient while having a conversation with my husband. It's not possible.
Also, if I give all my time and energy to my children, then I will have nothing left for my husband nor my patient. I haven't PACED myself well. Yet I need to be able to do "As Many Rounds As Possible" of these things, because it is my LIFE and those roles are important to me.
I am not going to argue that I work hard except I am very clear on what is important to me so I don't waste any energy. I have had to learn to say "no" and clear out the noise. Sometimes, I have had to say no to things that make me uncomfortable to be a good parent. For example, we don't get to play extracurricular activities if we haven't taken care of personal and family responsibility first. That means when you don't get your homework done or fail to tell the truth, then you don't get to play in the basketball game. Sorry. It's uncomfortable to call your child's coach to tell them your child won't be able to play or watch him apologize to his team. I am comfortable with knowing that my goal of being a good parent means these uncomfortable moments need to happen. I can't stop paying attention because a) someone will get hurt or b) I don't get credit.
What does that really look like?
It means I get up in the morning and make breakfast for the kids. We interact before they head off to school or camp. While they are at school, is when I take care of myself or treat patients. When the kids return home, I turn on parenting again. Once they go to bed or at least quiet time ensues, then my husband and I focus on uninterrupted conversation. Throughout each role I am eating nutritious food, I am moving my body, taking moments to release stress and I go to bed regularly at 9-10PM so I can be ready for the next round. Periodically as more gets added to the AMRAP, you have to readjust and drop the things that aren't priorities. Like say...saving the world of their gluten addiction...I jest here, but you know me, and know I struggle with this.
Some people think that seems stressful or not relaxing. Really, as during an AMRAP, you hit a sweet spot which gives you flow. A steady pace that can be maintained over time.
I am not totally sure this makes sense to those not in the know of CrossFit because WODs and AMRAPs sound scary, but it resonates with me. Doing something that makes you uncomfortable helps you gain comfort. If I look at the WOD the night before, I will often find a way to get out of it because it looks too hard. Wouldn't most parents say that? If I knew how hard this would be maybe I wouldn't have chosen this? Yet, no parent regrets the hard work of parenting because it is rewarding in ways you can't even understand or imagine. It is often uncomfortable, and if it's not then maybe you aren't focusing enough. To be successful at parenting you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, work at a steady pace at the most important things and when the buzzer goes off, you are a winner!
What's on your AMRAP?
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove the fear of things that make you uncomfortable.
Replace with a steady pace that allows focus to a) precent injury to self or others and b) make every effort count.
Restore your life goals.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.