Facing Down The Unknown
Greg Mallory, the first person to attempt to climb Mount Everest was once asked, "Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?" Mallory retorted, "Because it's there",
Micah embodied Mallory's spirit on Sunday as he attempted to hike the steep side of the M 20 times. Micah is no stranger to hard work, endurance, and difficult things. He spent 5 years in the Marine Corps as a Radio Reconnaissance Operator. He hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail in less than 4 months. Last summer he completed one lap of the steep side of the M every hour on the hour for 12 hours.
This 20 lap test of his endurance had been treading in the deep waters of his primal brain for some time.
He told me and Nick has was going to do it on Friday. Not much time to plan and not much time to do anything but just to go do it.
He started on Sunday at just past 5am. Nanook and I met him at the top of his third lap at 7am. He was fresh and excited, eager to lean into the unknown. James joined him about 10am and completed laps 8, 9, & 10 with him. Once he completed 10 laps he took a break and we had a chance to chat about why he was doing this.
Micah is open and honest about his mental health journey. Doing hard endurance events helps him validate his mental toughness. Endurance is more than physical effort and he is not afraid to confront the places most of us want to shut out. Darkness doesn't scare him and he is drawn towards hard physical events because they prove to him that he is who he thinks he is. He is tough both physically and mentally.
After a short break he was back at it. "Oops I did it again" by Brittany Spears played over and over in his brain as he kept his pace of 20 mins to the top. Bargaining for "just one more lap" began at lap 12. James finished laps 14 and 16 with him. I joined him for lap 15 and I was sure he was going to call it at the end. The downhills were torturous and he was hobbling more than walking. But, like I said, Micah is tough. He also created momentum and that drove him to continue.
Nick joined us for lap 17 and that's when I saw Micah make the smartest decision. After 15 hours and 17 laps he had pulled back the layers to reveal what he needed to see in himself. He called the effort good and we descended with him. It was a beautiful moment.
Micah is a realist and also very pragmatic about his effort. It was successful. He did what he set out to do, which was to learn about his mental toughness. For Micah it's more than just being hardcore. Mental toughness includes emotional intelligence and adaptability. It also includes knowing versus doing or what he calls theory vs. execution. You can think you can do something but, can you actually do it? You'll never know until you try and the best reason to climb the mountain is because it's there.
Today is our 7th anniversary! As I mentioned yesterday, we have grown from humble beginnings. People often ask what it's like to start your own business. The best analogy is not mine. It's like learning to fly and building the plane on the way down.
I established this daily blog from the very first day and wrote about ideas, methods, strategies and tactics to help us all improve our lifestyle, physical and mental health. To celebrate our seventh year, I'm revisiting some of my favorite blogs. I hope you enjoy this one.
"What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?"
My dad asked me that question several years ago, and it planted the seed of owning my own CrossFit Affiliate.
Until then, I had assumed that I would continue in public service until I retired. It was the path I set upon when I finished active duty in the Marines. I figured I'd work for the government for 30 years. I never, ever, ever, thought I would own a business. I dreamed of it, but never thought I would be good enough, or I wouldn't hustle enough, or I wouldn't be smart enough. I wouldn't be enough.
I put many barriers in front of my dream. I allowed myself to fail before I ever even tried. Have you ever done this to yourself?
I have the great privilege and pleasure of watching you all do amazing things in the gym. On the flip side, I hear many of you talk yourself out of greatness before you even try. "It's too heavy," "I'm not in good enough shape," "I can't do it that way." Really. How do you know these things?
You, my friend, are 20% stronger than you think you are! You are capable of way more, and the only way to find out what you're really made of is to set yourself free from mental slavery. Really, I'm not just quoting Bob Marley for fun.
The most profound adaption to CrossFit occurs between the ears. It's not your heart & lungs, muscles, and bones that get stronger. It's your resolve, your mettle. You have an incredible opportunity, every day you're at the gym, so see what you can do. To see what you can lift, pull, how high you can jump, how fast you can row or run. Where else in our lives do we have such freedom to explore our innate awesomeness? Free your mind, allow yourself to go "there." Be an explorer on the terrific journey to see what kind of person you really are. I can tell you, from where I stand, I see greatness.
When I was in yoga teacher training I learned about a dozen different styles of breathing exercises. All of them work to calm our central nervous system and focus our mind in the present moment. I have even encouraged some of you to focus on breath control during our workouts by lengthening your exhale and breathing through your nose. These and other techniques can help you calm down and actually increase the intensity of your workout.
One of my favorite breathing exercises is box breathing. This is simply breathing in for a specific count, holding your breath for a specific count, exhaling for a specific count, then holding your breath again before the next inhale. It only takes a few cycles of box breathing before you feel your body calm down. Here is a great video demonstration from one of the masters of breath control, Mark Divine of SealFit.
You might be wondering why this #foodiefriday blog is about breath control and stress management. Many of us tend to overeat when we are stressed. We eat fast. We eat more carbohydrates and less protein. We eat beyond satiety.
Reducing our stress can help us listen to satiety cues and reframe meal times into enjoyable moments rather than a hectic race to just cram food in our face.
Of course, it wouldn't be #foodiefriday without a recipe. Here's a fabulous quiche you can make this weekend or next for Mother's day. Enjoy!
No is a complete sentence.
I was having lunch with Coach Audy the other day and we were talking about handling all of life's demands. Now that we're coming out of our Covid cocoon everyone wants some of our time. All of us have only so much time in which we try to stuff so many things. We have only so much energy we can give to others.
I was sharing with her a situation in which I was asked to do something I did not want to, and instead of politely replying, "No," I got angry and relayed to my requestor all of the things I already had on my plate and how I just couldn't add another. I responded with anger, intensity, and unloaded all of my worries and anxieties on the unsuspecting person standing before me. She didn't deserve my response.
After telling my story, Audy looked at me and said, "You know, 'No' is a complete sentence and you don't owe anyone an explanation for why you don't want to do something." I looked at her with gratitude that I have such a smart friend and chagrin knowing that I was an ass to another friend.
Indeed, "No" is a complete sentence.
When someone asks you to do something it's a reflection of their desire and values and it's completely acceptable for you to not share those values. By responding in anger I violated one of the Four Agreements, e.g. I took her request personally.
I violated a second of the Four Agreements by assuming she already knew how stressed I was and that I couldn't possibly add another thing to my schedule. Have you every responded to someone with, "How can you possibly ask that of me? Don't you know how stressed I am already?" Well, you are assuming that person has some kind of telepathic link with your emotions. If you're anything like me, I didn't even know I was on the brink of being an ass until I became one.
If I had just taken a deep breath and said, "No" or even, "No, thank you" I could have avoided the drama my lack of self awareness created. The problem wasn't being asked to something, the problem was my attitude about being asked to do something.
The Four Agreements serve as a foundation for being a reasonable human:
1. Take nothing personally
2. Make no assumptions
3. Be impeccable with your word
4. Do your best
When someone says something to you that fires up your emotions, take a deep breath and remember these agreements and take solace in the fact that "No" is a complete sentence.
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