Apparently it’s Star Wars day (because it’s May 4th…. “May the 4th be with you”)…I know, lame.  BUT, I had this post floating in my head for the past couple of weeks and as soon as I found out today was Star Wars day, I knew it was time to post it.  This is dedicated to everyone who lets that number on the Oly bar (or on the scale!) distract them from reaching their goals and aiming for bigger and heavier things in life.  I’m a numbers nerd and I tend to obsess over numbers…whether it’s the 0.5lb increments that I add or take off my shoulder press…the 0.8 lbs that I gain between breakfast and lunch…or the 6 cashews that I eat as a snack because I still look at nuts in Zone blocks (damn you Barry Sears).  I’ve had to try really hard to break some of these habits – mainly the obsession with the scale.  I can count on one hand how many times I’ve weighed myself in the past 6 months and that is something I’m really proud of.   I’ve still got work to do in the nut department, where I feel the only option might be hire Arnold Schwarzenegger to erase the memories of my Zone days (“You have been erased”  …classic 90’s movie).  The one thing that I never thought to escape is obsessing over the weight that I put on the bar when I’m lifting.  This was something that I loved to see…it allowed me to understand if I was going up or down vs my previous lifts.  I have learned (after 4 years of lifting) that I was all wrong.  Let me explain…

3 weeks ago I was at the OPT CCP Nutrition and Life Coaching Certs in Chicago (highly recommend).  During our lunch hour we had access to Windy City CrossFit which is one of the coolest gyms I’ve ever seen….huge beautiful space with a full kitchen and so much room to play and lift.  I decided to work on my press and do 6 x 3.  I started at a low weight (45lb bar + 2 x 5lbs = 55lbs) and it felt SO HEAVY.  I felt weak.  I added #2.5 more lbs to each side (=#60) and I couldn’t get the bar to budge.  Rather than having a temper tantrum like I used to when my mom would make me wear braid + bow + bun as a child, I talked myself into thinking that this was due to the travel and lack of sleep due to the super long days that we’d been keeping.  I decided not to get upset (because I’d just had my first Crossfit meltdown after WOD 11.4 the previous week because the OHS killed me….no worries if that last sentence didn’t make sense to you as it’s not relevant). I decided to stay at #55 for 5 of my sets.  For the last set, I added #2 to each side (a whopping #59…sarcasm) and I got it up.  I then walked over to do some chin-ups and Peter asked me how I was doing:

Peter “How was your lift?”
Me “Horrible….I can’t lift anything…Whatever, I don’t care (I really do care)…it’s probably because of the lack of sleep.”
Peter “What did you get to?”
Me “59, but I should be doing at least 65….whatever, I don’t care (I still really do care)”
Peter “You know that’s in Kg’s right?”
Me “SHUT UP. You lie.”
Peter “Ya, it’s in Kg’s.”
Me “Seriously??  Really?? I was just about to have another meltdown….wait! How many Pounds are in a Kg?”
Peter “2.2”
Me “Is there a calculator around here?”  I found one….
Me “OMG, I just hit a new 3 rep max! I just did 3 at 75lbs!”  (45lb bar + 14kgs = 59 lbs in my head, but in reality that’s ~75lbs)
High fives all around and I hit the chin-ups like it was nobody’s business.  I had just Jedi Mind Tricked that bar! BAM.

This experience made me realize that I get stuck on numbers rather than focusing on the awareness of how I feel.  How many times have you said, “I can’t lift that, it’s too heavy.”  MANY many times in my recollection.  My experience with the Kg’s (which is ironic because aren’t we supposed to use Kg’s in Canada?) has made me realize that many of my failures at the gym are more a function of my mental state vs my lack of strength.  I seldom go by how I feel, rather I get stuck on the #’s and it creates a numerical bottleneck which prevents me from going further.   Yes, I just said numerical bottleneck.  By removing the numbers from my mind or pretending that it’s a smaller number via the Jedi Mind Trick, I was able to rely purely on how it felt and push past a previous barrier.

This also applies to the other number obsessions that I’ve had.  Why 6 cashews?? Why not 7 or 5? Why don’t I go by how I feel as opposed to the number?  Or the scale…what does it matter if my weight jumped 5 lbs over the weekend? Why don’t I think about how I feel instead or whether my pants fit?  How many times have I beaten myself up over a number?!?! GAaaahhh!!!  It’s enough to make one go crazy.  The lack of awareness to how I’m feeling is something that has been creating unhealthy patterns and behaviours.  Fortunately, breaking this cycle is something that is possible, but must be done consciously and in baby steps.  Luke Skywalker didn’t become a Jedi overnight.  It takes practise and most importantly awareness of how you feel.  Stop and pay attention to what you notice about yourself – do you feel hungry? Are you happy with how you look today?  Does it feel like you can lift more?  Figure out how you really feel and then address the situation accordingly.  You may need to shift your mindset or trick yourself in order to break past your own internal barriers (see below)….it depends on the situation.  I have overcome the scale, but this took a long time and I still need to stop myself from stepping on it.  I am working on overcoming the #’s on the bar with success to date.  My next phase will be to de-zone my nut consumption….this one will be trickier and I’m really going to have to channel my inner Yoda.  NO MORE BLOCKS! Happiness does not exist inside of an equation.

Jedi Mind Trick in action:  I was excited to try my Jedi Mind Trick on WOD 11.5….with the 100lb cleans.  This was an extremely heavy weight for me (my 1 rep max was 95 before I was able to somehow get 110 up during 11.3) so rather than thinking about the #, I pretended it was 75 pounds.  I kept saying to myself, “just approach it like it’s 75 pounds…it’s only 75 pounds…” over and over in my head.    I was able to get through 6 rounds of the bastard which was WAAAAY more than I had anticipated.  JEDI MIND TRICK baby!!!