Recently I completed my first CrossFit Open…Scaled of course at 39 years old, mother of three young kids, married and small business owner/entrepreneur. It was pretty awesome. I ranked 43,615 (0f 56,166) worldwide and 2,551 (0f 3,233) regionally. That’s not super, but I do get bragging rights now. Best part is, I am proud that I completed the five workouts without injury. See I only crossfit officially twice a week, other days I live my life. Don’t believe me search me on the leaderboard.
And just to brag, I did my first ever headstand; a gymnastics and Yoga inspired move I never thought possible. Why? Because my CrossFit Coach asked us to practice.
But I digress…back to CrossFit Open…
WOD 16.4 was the most memorable for me. Here is the workout, scaled:
55 deadlifts (95 lb)
55 wall-ball shots (10 lb 9’)
55 hand release push-ups
I didn't even complete the entire WOD in the time allowed...3 hand release push-ups shy, but.....
After the WOD, a fellow CrossFitter said, “You are a machine like Julie Foucher.”
I don’t follow the Games really, but I was curious about to whom I was being compared to. Turns out Julie Foucher is a 27 year old female who has been one of the most successful CrossFit Athletes competing 4 times.
Yet, that’s not what impressed me.
She is also a medical student, now full time at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine Class of 2017, out of the Games with an injury of course…as it goes with competitive athletes in CrossFit (that which I hope to avoid). So I did a little reading on her, online of course so some of this is still speculation. What she has gained in her training experience and her PALEO experience is the importance of three key components of my SOAR program…Eat Well…Move Well…Soar On….I can’t speak to her sleeping routine as I don’t personally know her, but it likely is good at least until she hits residency.
What’s more important is that she is becoming an allopathic trained physician that has the foundation of what it means to be healthy and how important the foundation is in order to help others, what appears to be her purpose (The fourth principle in Soar Into Health).
To be clear, where I am today, healthy and strong, is not how I have always been. And it has taken effort to focus on the foundation principles and it has led me to the best version of myself, which is being compared to someone who appears to also have it figured out. I will take that comparison with pride.
So, what does it take to be the best version of you?
While it may not be easy, it is simple yet requires consistency in a few simple foundational principles.
1. Eat well
Call it Paleo, Primal, Nutrient Dense, or some other plan or diet. What it is for sure is REAL food, not food like substances. It is not a reliance of heavily refined food products. It is food as nature intended mostly devoid of refined sugar, refined grains (especially gluten grains), trans fatty acids, artificial sweeteners and hopefully medications. It is caring about what you put into your body even if you aren’t perfect about it. It is also listening to your body, religiously.
2. Move well
Exercise and movement are critical to your health in ways we still don’t understand. Move your body, get your heart rate up occasionally, lift something, and move outside in the sun. Have fun. If CrossFit is your thing, cool. If it isn’t, cool. “The BEST exercise for you is the one that YOU will do” says my colleague Grant Glass, PT. It’s true. Everyday life movement counts too.
3. Sleep well
We have ignored the importance of this for too long. You may feel like it is a waste of time in the busy world we live in, but I assure you the recovery of your body is invaluable to your physical and mental health. Good sleep can even improve your metabolism…really. Turn off your screens 2 hours before bed and get to sleep when it gets dark. Do NOT sacrifice this precious commodity in order to exercise, just incorporate more movement into your daily routine. If your job depends on disrupting sleep, then work closely with a professional on ways to optimize the situation.
4. Soar on
Simply put, this is purpose and connection. For many, this is the most challenging but also most liberating. Connect to the earth, your family, your community, or neighbor. Connecting to your environment allows you to discover your purpose. Let your heart lead and don’t be afraid of what you find out about yourself.
Seems simple enough.
I recently read a book, A Mind Of Your Own, by Dr. Kelly Brogan MD. In her final chapter she discusses the Maslow’s hierarchy “A Theory of Human Motivation”
Eat well, move well, sleep well are essentially the bottom two foundations. The upper three really are my Soar on for purpose and connection. In the end we all are able to become the BEST versions of ourselves should we choose to care for the foundation of our lives and it starts with eat well, move well, and sleep well.
What people do, who have become the best version of themselves, is they have actually cared for the foundation and they have made it a DAILY habit. Yes that is me. Yes that is Julie Foucher and Dr Kelly Brogan, MD and many others. You may not understand them because they appear, as they are today, purpose driven, healthy, and vibrant. A better description may be that they are self-actualized (the pinnacle of the pyramid).
My point is that this can be YOU too.
I have tried to connect to the people, clients and patients I have come in contact with and try to help them make the foundational principles a habit. I see myself in them despite them not seeing themselves in me. Why? Because it wasn’t until I took the foundational principles seriously that I could discover my purpose in this life and work towards self-actualization.
There are many wonderful books that have helped me along the way, but what I have to offer you is my version of this pyramid in my book, Soar Into Health.
I hope this sparks a desire in you to seek to be the best version of yourself.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove feelings of inadequacy or fear of failure.
Replace with foundational principles in your daily life. Eat well. Move well. Sleep well. Soar on. Make it a daily habit.
Restore purpose in your life. Vibrancy. THE best version of yourself.
Eat well. Move well. Sleep well. Soar on.
Special Thank you to CrossFit Initiative for helping me SOAR!
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.