I woke up at 2am on Friday night and started having a panic attack. My back was in awful pain again, this time because I decided I could handle some light overhead squats at that morning’s CrossFit class.
I was panicking because I thought maybe I did something long-term to myself — that would require another surgery or interfere with other important things. I started freaking out, in the dark, in the middle of the night where I could just roll to one side of the bed and push myself up to get a sip of water. It was awful.
I had back surgery in early 2014 — and I thought I was “fixed.” After almost a year of pain-free CrossFitting, something snapped about a month ago. I was hoping it was temporary, that things would just get back to normal. It doesn’t seem to be the case.
Thankfully, my spine is okay. I got an MRI and all is A-OK. Whatever it is — and I’m not sure — it’s not getting better by going back to the box.
I have started swimming again and got an unlimited membership to Mind the Mat. Hot yoga has become my new best friend — especially in this winter hell.
Things start feeling better and I think I can maybe, sort of , hopefully, kind of handle a WOD.
Then, my body says, “no thank you.” Actually, it says “No freaking way.”
Just Stop It
I can’t keep going back there and hurting my back. For clarity’s sake, it’s not CrossFit that hurts it, it’s the powerlifting stuff that I do there and my back just can’t deal with it. The stuff I love, the weights that make me happy and strong. But, they’re hurting me and I’m not listening to my body — something I’ve always been a huge advocate of.
It’s hard to explain how having to give up CrossFit — again — is such a sad loss for me. It’s hard for anyone to really understand because it’s a super first-world problem and because hey, it’s just exercise, right? In a way, it kind of feels like a great friend I have stop hanging out with — or even like a boyfriend I have to break up with! I know how silly it sounds but I’m just being honest.
I can still do all kinds of other things, even with a back that isn’t so great — and I’m thankful for that. I am SO thankful for that! (Must keep remind myself though!)
The Thing About CrossFit
But here’s the thing…I walk into the box on a Saturday morning. The music is blaring, the sweat is steaming over everything, there’s a happy, productive, ambitious energy coursing through the room. People are pushing themselves, others are cheering them on, we’re all being the very best physically we know how to be. It’s contagious, it’s empowering, it’s community, I’m just plain old happy to be there.
I squatted more than I ever squatted before. I climbed the rope five times in a row. I did 5 kipping pull ups without stopping. I did box jumps on the ’24 inch box and strung together all of my toes to bar. I PR’d a deadlift and did 50 double unders without skipping a beat. I got stronger. I got more confident. I stopped caring about calories and cardio. I wanted to be strong — not skinny! I wanted to PR a WOD, not burn 1,000 calories. I ate to fuel my muscles and perform my best, not eat as little as possible so I could burn as much as possible.
Fitness changed for me when I started doing CrossFit — life changed in a way I never expected. I know that CrossFit is just the vehicle I used to change my life, I don’t need it to continue thinking in this healthy way, but it sucks. I’m not best friends with the people at my box like some CF gyms. I don’t really hang out with them on the weekends or anything, but they are my familiar, they are comfortable, they make me happy to be around them. I can’t just go in and “hang out” and get the same feeling.
When Fitness Becomes Part of Who You Are
I let CrossFit become part of who I am. And that’s not bad but it can feel really hard to tear yourself away from. But, fitness isn’t going anywhere in my life. I just got asked to audition to become a barre instructor at a new studio (we’ll see!) and I have inklings of someday become a certified yoga instructor. Never thought that would be the case but it’s where my body is leading me at this point.
I don’t like to be half-hearted about fitness…because then it’s boring and required. I like to be passionate and inspired and educated. So, I will move on to the next thing and continue finding my strong wherever that is for now. Maybe the change is what I need — and I don’t know, not just physically but mentally as well. Maybe I’m going to learn something about my body that’s going to me that much better later.
And so far, it looks like I can still run — not full on marathon training — but I can get back to my original fitness love. I kind of miss those power endorphins sometimes too 🙂
I will miss my barbells and kettlebells for now, but hopefully someday they’ll be waiting for me when I am better.
Have you ever had to give up an activity you loved? How did you deal with it? Any advice for me?