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Competitors programming 1/28-2/2

Monday – Gymnastics Conditioning

10 Minute bike and toe to bar intervals

On the 2:00 – 40% of Max Toe to bar
On the 4:00 – 50% of Max Toe to bar
On the 6:00 – 40% of Max Toe to bar
On the 8:00 – 50% of Max Toe to bar
On the 10:00 – 40% of Max Toe to bar

Context: record total bike calories. Test max set of toe to bar before this session if you do not know that number for you. Bike hard, 300-400 watts.

Tuesday: Monostructural day

Row Conditioning
On the 0:00 – 50/35 Calorie Row
On the 4:00 – 30/24 Calorie Row
On the 7:00 – 30/24 Calorie Row
On the 10:00 – 15/12 Calorie Row
On the 11:00 – 15/12 Calorie Row
On the 12:00 – 15/12 Calorie Row

context: get yourself uncomfortable toward the end of each interval and throughout the entire last three intervals.

Wednesday: weightlifting

Push Press
5 Sets of 3

Final Three Sets to Build to a Heavy Set.

Push Jerk

5 sets of 3

start at your final set of push press if you are able.

Friday: met-con day

“Layup”
25-20-15-10-5:
Box Jump Overs (24″/20″)
Toes to Bar

Directly Into…

5-10-15-20-25:
Hang Power Snatch (75/55)
Wallballs (20/14)

Context: determine your limiting exercise in this wod and break that exercise up EARLY with five second breaks. Treat this as open prep.

Saturday: Body armour

Body Armor
3 Supersets:
30 Second Kettlebell Front Squat Hold (53’s/35’s)
10 Double Kettlebell Bent Over Row
50 Banded Pull-A-parts

Benefits of banded pull aparts

 

 

 

Overcoming Obstacles: Meet the Monsters

The point in any story where the hero is forced to overcome obstacles is always compelling to us because it is the point where they’re forced to grow.

As a society, the typical heroes are athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and occasionally politicians. But we are all heroes in our own stories.

As we continue down our heroes journey, there are over 20 different types of hidden monsters that we can face to serve as obstacles to overcome.

Fear.

Anxiety.

Perfectionism.

Envy.

Greed.

Insecurity.

Collectively, they make up the resistance. They’re the opposition to the Hero, to us, in our story. The resistance will stand against any act that we try to take for meaning, purpose or growth.

This includes things like any new diet or health program, a new exercise program, a weight loss journey, a program for spiritual advancement, any calling for writing or music or any unconventional art form, big commitments of heart like getting married or having a child, any program to help you overcome a bad habit or addiction, educating yourself, any business or entrepreneurial adventure.

Your journey is littered with opportunities for change, and this is their meal.

They’re invisible to the physical senses. You cannot see them, or hear them, or touch them or smell them. You can only feel them, down in the darkness. You can catch a glimpse, like a shadow in a darkened room. The force of the negative feelings they try to push from the core of your being is aiming to drive us away from where we want to go.

Each one of them is insidious. They’ll tell you anything to keep you from doing what you need to do or heading in the direction you need to go. They will lie, seduce, bully, and torment. Individually, they can take any form that needed to trick you. The resistance will present itself in the form of a well-meaning friend or family member or it will attack you like an armed criminal waving its weapon in your face. The monsters have no conscience, no moral standards and they feel the opposite of what you feel. Their nature is ever shifting and ever changing, making it difficult to identify them.

These monsters are unbiased, nondiscriminatory, objective. They are a force of nature, part of every life. That adds to their power because most of us believe they shouldn’t exist at all and when they do we believe they can be vanquished. But they can never be so and are an essential part of our nature, of our journey. Though we sense malevolence, they are truly the definition of indifference.

The monsters are universal. They are the opposition to everyone and everything, not just to you. Everyone experiences them. The more important your mission or call to action, the more the monsters will attack your soul.

The warrior knows that the battle must be fought and won anew every single day. The great artists understand this also. Everyone is an artist and their life is their defining work of art. The hero’s journey, your journey, is an endless work of art.

The monsters do not aim to wound you. They do not aim to hold you back or disable you completely. The monsters aim to kill. They want to annihilate the art entirely. Your genius, your unique gifts and experiences, and perspectives that can never be replaced. The monsters want to remove them from the history of the universe absolutely and completely.

Overcoming the monsters, the obstacles in your story, is a war to the death.

How do we overcome the obstacles?

You just do it. Start. Start now. Start before you’re ready. You’ll never be ready before you’re almost finished. So “waiting until you’re ready” is one of the monsters and it’s got a stranglehold on you.

The enemy, the opposition, the obstacle to our journey is not a lack of preparedness. It’s not the difficulty of the task or the problems that need to be solved. It’s the monsters of the resistance. The voice in our heads that tell us it’s too difficult, too strenuous, that is the voice of the monsters. The one that hears the voice is the artist, the hero, you. If we give that voice one second in our brain it’s going to inject us full of excuses and justifications and reasons why we can’t, shouldn’t, won’t.

So start now. Start before the voices get louder. Start to abruptly end their momentum. Good things happen when you start before you’re ready to start. Starting before you think you are ready thrusts you into a high-pressure situation.

When your natural fight-or-flight reaction kicks in, choose fight.

Choose to embrace the adrenaline, the head rush, the feeling of your heart slamming against your chest and courage coursing through you.

When you start the fight, when you dive in head first, you make a commitment. Without it, you only give the monsters more to feed on.

If you still have an alibi, an excuse, a justification, your monsters are still in charge.

Competitors programming 1/21-1/27

Monday – Gymnastics Conditioning

Gymnastic Conditioning
Ascending Ladder for 5 Minutes:
1 Devils Press (50’s/35’s), 1 Bar Muscle-Up
2 Devils Press (50’s/35’s), 2 Bar Muscle-Up
3 Devils Press (50’s/35’s), 3 Bar Muscle-Up

Context: work at a pace that will enable you to perform your bar muscle ups gracefully, with a tight arch to hollow swing. Devils presses consist of a burpee with dumbbells directly into a double dumbbell snatch. Breathe throughout these so that you are ready to move directly into the bar muscle ups. Check the link below with more tips and videos regarding the devils press.

Devils Press Tips and More  

Tuesday: Monostructural day

5 Rounds:
50 Double Unders
50% of Max Kipping Handstand Push-ups

Rest 1 Minute Between Rounds.

context: Take your best ever set of unbroken kipping hspu and perform half of those after each set of double unders. This piece will get us better at performing double unders while our shoulders are under fatigue.

Wednesday: weightlifting

Snatch Primer (A)
On the Minute x 5 Sets
Halting Power Snatch

3 Halts (Just off Floor, Knee Level, Pockets) – pause at each one of these positions for one count 

Snatch Primer (B)
On the Minute x 5:
Snatch Pull + Snatch High Pull + Power Snatch

Snatch
On the Minute x 5:
1 Power Snatch (Building to a Heavy)

context: the goal here is to prep our bodies to build up to heavy power snatch over the last five minutes of this fifteen minute piece. Snatch pulls do not include the pull with the arms, while the snatch high pull does.

Friday: met-con day

“Go Fish”
For Time:
1,000 Meter Row

Directly Into…

3 Rounds:
21 Deadlifts (135/95)
15 Barbell Facing Burpees
9 Push Jerks (135/95)

context: breathe at the top and bottom of each deadlift to increase oxygen intake throughout this workout.

Saturday: Midline

Midline
3 “Giant” Sets:
20 Weighted Sit-Ups
25 x 4-Count Flutter Kicks
30 Second GHD Supine Hold

Rest 2 Minutes Between

Context: sit ups can be performs on an abmat or the GHD. GHD supine hold is when you decline on the GHD with your chest facing up and hold yourself in a parallel position to the ground for :30. Hold a weight over your chest to increase intensity during this piece.

 

 

The X-Project Member Journal: “Making No Excuses” Aura’s Story

You want to know what making no excuses looks like? You want to know what it is like to be a single mom of four kids WITH a full time management position job & still commit to her own health? Meet Aura, a 41 year old mom who embodies commitment, discipline, strength, kindness, and so much more. Aura is the expert at prioritizing time — making time for her kids, making time for her job, and making time for her own health. She does it all — a true superwoman.

Although we see people for who they are now, we don’t see what came before or how they got to be the person they are today. Just like Aura — it wasn’t always like this until she made the necessary changes for her family and herself.

“I had a job in Rockville and it was killing me on a personal level because I was a single mom with four young kids. I didn’t have time to do anything. And on a physical level too because of the commute and my back was always hurting and it was just crazy. I was tired all the time, I was out of shape, I had no energy.”

Commuting to a job an hour away, driving home in rush hour traffic, and raising four kids on her own, Aura’s personal physical and mental health took the back burner. It wasn’t until she took her kids to Disney that she knew it was time for a change.

“It was extremely difficult to just keep up with them. I was so tired just walking around. I remember too meeting up with my brother and he called me ‘chubby.’ So on a comical level (even though it wasn’t so comical then), that was it. I knew it was time for a change.”

Aura really took what her brother said to heart — not in a personal way, but as motivation for change in a more positive direction.  

“I think it takes a person that you really trust to say something or tell you something to have it click, that ‘okay, I need to do something about this’. So I started with a personal trainer for two years and it was okay. But I needed more. I needed more challenges. You get to a point where you go, you do your thing with a personal trainer, and that is wonderful when starting out, but I was ready for the next step and the next challenge.”

Aura said she never thought she would be the person that would work out with other people around.

“I was very self conscious. To me, my opinion of myself, I wasn’t comfortable with my body. Even though, people would tell me ‘you’re so skinny,’ I didn’t feel that way physically on the inside.”

When she met her friend Swati who encouraged her to come try a class, she never looked back. “It was March of 2013. I remember it was very cold when I came in and I came into the 9:30am class because of Swati during my transition between jobs. When I walked in and saw MawMaw there and all of the OGs, I was amazed. I thought it was going to be these young, 20 year old, super fit people, but there were people my age just like me. And I was like ‘wait a second, if they can do this, I can too.’ I signed up right then and there.”

I asked Aura what her biggest reason was for signing up immediately after her first class. “It is going to sound cliche, but it was because of the passion Michael had and the way he was teaching the class. With my job, I lead people at work. I tell people what to do. With Michael, he totally read my mind and style. I needed someone stronger than me and that strong personality to guide me, and he did it for me. I needed a leader and he was exactly that.”

Since signing up over 5 years ago, Aura has been the most consistent member we have had here at the X-Project. She never complains, never makes excuses, and always has a big bright smile during class no matter what else is going on outside of the gym. She made the sacrifices and changes she wanted to make for her kids, but also for herself, her health, and her overall wellbeing.

“I wake my four kids at 5am. Now that my kids are older, it is a bit more easy to manage. We eat breakfast, we leave the house by 7am. Everyone goes to school and I go to work and there by 7:30am. I made the change from my Rockville job to a Frederick job. I am a quality systems manager for a biopharmaceuticals company so it is a huge responsibility. My job is important to me and I want to be there and I have people that I am accountable for and things that have to happen. On days I go to the gym, I leave work at 4:30pm. That is another change I made purposely. Like how bad do you want it? You’ve got to make those changes. It is my commitment with myself. I have to leave work at 4:30pm because I want to come to workout. But first, I go pick up my son at school in the opposite direction and we come straight back to Frederick to the gym. If I have my two girls and I don’t have a babysitter, we all come and they sit and wait for me.”

“I think after 5 years, this is part of our life. It is what it is. It becomes our normal: coming into the gym, making sacrifices, kids doing homework at the gym while I workout, etc. Now they can’t wait to start working out here. My oldest son who did CrossFit with me for two-three years before going off to college, has continued that lifestyle down there: working out, eating healthy, actually got a job refereeing soccer. It is a lifestyle. My kids were never really into fitness until I started working out and making health and fitness a priority. It is a way of life for us now. They hold me accountable too when I don’t go to the gym that day. And it isn’t just the fitness part, it is our eating habits too. And it isn’t just coming from me anymore. My kids bring it up to my attention — my little one is like ‘Mommy, I had a donut today, but just one, because I know it has a lot of sugar in it and that is not good for me.’ So it is so refreshing for me as a mom.”

“I could come up with one million excuses not to be in the gym. Every single day. You have to commit. You have to do it for you, for your body, for your soul. Once you understand what you want to do, it is easy. You find a way. I am a single mom of four, I have to give. But don’t wait until your kids leave the house to make those changes for yourself. Do it now. Do it with them WITH your family.”

“You are capable of doing a lot more than you think with your life. Our bodies are amazing. I always tell the people that ask me, “well I am not fit.” It isn’t about that. You come, do what you can, and take it from there. You come here, do a little bit at a time, instead of going home and eating chips in front of the TV. Just do something. Here, the support group, the coaches, the community is amazing. What else could you ask for? Try it!”

“My advice is, what is it that you want first? Like I always hear Michael in my head: What are your goals? Why are you here? Why do you want this? And BE PATIENT. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go and I think one of the biggest things is people get desperate, they are looking for that quick fix. And this is not about that.”

“The X-Project has kept me sane. Going through a divorce, being a single mom, trying to get to the kids to school or to their activities, AND work, it is a lot. I would not be able to do it if I didn’t have the X-Project.”

Commitment. Patience. Sacrifice. If Aura can do it, there’s no reason why you can’t either.

~ Jess Racz

Low Back Pain When Deadlifting? Start With Good Mornings

The good morning was one of the first strength exercises i did during my first 3 months of recover from my L5S1 herniated disc.

Why is it such a great movement if you have low back pain?

#1. It’s very similar to movements such as the Romanian deadlift or high hip deadlift except the bar is positioned on your back rather than in the front, which puts the hips as the musculature doing most of the work.

#2. Because of the bar position, all the spinal stabilizers and muscle of the back are creating a very strong engagement, which prevents spinal flexion of the back that occurs during movements where the bar is loaded in the front (aka any deadlift variation or whenever you pick something off of the floor).

#3. Good mornings reinforce the hip hinge pattern, the primary movement that is supposed to occur during most lower body exercises — deadlifts, squats, KB swings, etc — that strengthens our posterior chain muscles. During the hip hinge, the hips move back first and therefore take the load. When we have a lack of the hip hinge pattern & we try to pull from the floor, most likely the low back is taking all the load.

Low back pain when deadlifting? Start with the Good Morning & start very light.

Here’s how to perform the good morning:

Competitors Programming 1/14-1/20

Monday – gymnastics day

AMRAP 10:
2 Rounds of “Strict Cindy”

50′ Handstand Walk

context: the intention here is to improve strict gymnastics and then perform a high level gymnastic skill while your muscles are under fatigue; like walking on your hands. Intentionally go slower on the push ups and pull ups required in Cindy in order to acquire more time under tension.

Cindy: 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 air squats

Tuesday – cardio day

20 Minute Recovery Effort (Choice of Bike, Row, Ski, or Run)
On the 5:00 – 15 Weighted Hip Extensions + Max Effort L-Sit
On the 10:00 – 15 Weighted Hip Extensions + Max Effort L-Sit
On the 15:00 – 15 Weighted Hip Extensions + Max Effort L-Sit
On the 20:00 – 15 Weighted Hip Extensions + Max Effort L-Sit

context: this is a recovery effort, so give a moderate effort during your run, row, or bike so that this isn’t taxing your CNS like an all out 800 meter sprint would.

Friday – Met-con day 

for time:

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10:
Burpee Box Jump Overs
Toes to Bar

context: the purpose here is to find your limit, so go unbroken for as long as possible and take note of when and where you needed to take a break, and why. If a break was needed on the toe to bar first; write that down, if it was needed in the bbjo first; write that down!

Saturday – body armor day

3 “Giant” Sets:
8 Sumo Deadlifts
8 Kneeling Unilateral Dumbbell Press (Each Side)
25 Banded Good Mornings
50′ Single Overhead Carry (Each Side)

Rest 2 Minutes Between Sets.

context: work diligently through this and treat it like a big strength building piece, you should get out of breath and be working hard during your giant set.

 Video links for exercises:

Banded goodmorning option 1

Banded good morning option 2

Kneeling unilateral dumbbell press

Local Competition registration links: 

Mid-Atlantic Crossfit Challenge Qualifier Info

Battle of Baltimore @ Crossfit federal hill

 

 

Introduction to Level Method

Have you noticed the large ‘coming soon’ banner on the wall in the gym?

Have you heard Michael mention the Level Method tests?

In this video, Michael gives you a formal introduction of Level Method and how we will be incorporating it to better support the goals and progressions of every person at The X-Project.


 

The Level Method is an innovative system for managing and progressing in a group environment.

There are a series of tests designed to measure and promote your fitness level, organized as levels that range from novice to expert and correlate with the belt colors of jujitsu. Every person, at every level, with any limitation, will be able to find where they are and move forward with success.

Michael discusses customization and individualization as the core foundations of our goal at The X-Project, and emphasizes that every person has a progression and movement that is best for their abilities and current level to progress forward. Using the Level Method will allow us to add much more depth and layers to that mission in a concise way.

It will not be replacing the programming or determining the workout of the day, it is a structure that will supporting what we are already doing by:

  • Pinpointing weaknesses
  • Providing incentives and safety measures 
  • Delivering a ranking system for each athlete to better understand their progress
  • Demonstrating incremental and objective goals that everyone can use to move forward
  • Encouraging Informed decisions to maximize the effectiveness of every workout

Instead of building our curriculum based on arbitrary sets, reps, ‘RX’s’, we have been using the workout stimulus to build our workouts, and the energy systems the Level Method outlines as categories supports that. 

The best part? There’s a clear, color coded, gigantic map of the levels across all the systems so you can follow your progress and visualize your goals. Done are the days of scaling, bring on building your own program. 

The Level Method provides the framework, the structure and the nutrients that we need for every person to take things to the next level.

We will begin pre-tests Monday January 7th to introduce the Level Method framework and give everyone an idea of how the test days will be structured. Michael can’t wait to share more details as we go, so bring your smiles and as always, do the work.

Competitors programming 1/7-1/12

Hello X-Project friends, let’s start off week 2 of the new year strong. Let someone know when you PR Fran this week, it’s a big deal.

Monday – cardio day

For total time:
Males:
21-18-15-12-9: Calorie Row
Rest :30 Seconds Between Intervals

Females:
18-15-12-9-6: Calorie Row
Rest :30 Seconds Between Intervals

context: the rest interval on these rowing attempts is relatively low, so giving 100% is not sustainable. We want to find a challenging cal/hr and try to hold that throughout the first three sets, and then hopefully be able  to crank it up a bit for the last two attempts!

Tuesday – gymnastics day

For time:

100 Double Unders + 12 Bar Muscle-ups + 6 Parallette Handstand Push-ups             100 Double Unders + 8 Bar Muscle-ups + 4 Parallette Handstand Push-ups
100 Double Unders + 4 Bar Muscle-ups + 2 Parallette Handstand Push-ups

Context: This is a descending ladder of difficult pulling and pushing gymnastic movements. If you are unable to do baR muscle ups and hspu on the paralletes, then do chest to bar pull ups and possibly handstand push ups from a one to two plate deficit. Either way, the two gymnastics movements should be challenging even at a low rep range.

Wednesday – weightlifting day

On the 90 Seconds x 5 Rounds:
25′ Handstand Walk O-Course
3-3-2-2-1: Power Cleans

context: increase weight throughout each set of power cleans and work on YOUR handstand progression directly after. If you are able to walk on your hands, then walk a set distance that is moderately challenging after each set of power cleans. Be sure that your are catching your power cleans in the same position that you squat in!

Friday – met-con day

“Fran”
21-15-9:
Thrusters (95/65)
Pull-ups

Context: get after it and see if you can come close to a PR after class!

Saturday – midline

50-40-30-20-10:
Russian Kettlebell Swings (70/53)
GHD Sit-ups

context: this workout WILL fry you! I did it on 1/5 and it was super difficult. KBS should be unbroken and try to performed each set of sit ups in two sets or less until you get to the set of 20/10! If you are unable to handle that volume of GHD sit ups then exchange them for abmat sit ups. If you have never done 100 or more GHD sit ups in one session at the gym, then do not start now.

MEDIA:

Check out the following article link regarding tbe GHD sit up, how effective of an exercise it is, and how to engage the rectus femoris in order to perform reps under fatigue effectively!

Everything you need to know regarding GHDSU’s:)

Turn Small Wins into Big Victories

Kati is one of the members of the X-Project team, and has been training with Michael for over eight years.

I have always been naturally small, both in height and in stature. [I know, I know, so horrible right?] Because of that, it is normal for most people to assume that I put little to no effort into my physique. And for a lot of my life, that was true. Now, I was in no way healthy – I rarely exercised, and wouldn’t be caught dead sweating anywhere near someone who could see me. I managed to get through my teenage years by swinging between eating nothing or randomly binge eating garbage food. But being small didn’t save me from a decade of bullying, and I took on the persona I needed to survive, and that is the person you see most often. My opinions of healthy eating [why bother?] and the struggles of obesity [as if it shouldn’t be that hard] were ignorant and developed with an abundance of defensive mechanisms, arrogance, and combative attitudes that I was privileged enough to maintain.

College brought a whole new level of abhorrent eating behavior, coupled now with the pressures of remaining thin [freshman 15] and the new challenge of overcoming a drastic increase in caloric intake [purple drank]. My first year of college, my roommate and I decided a reasonable diet was eating a lot of salads and smoking a lot of Newport’s. My junior year, all of my calories came from either liquor, SlimFast, or late night McDonalds. I would spend my nights drinking my meals, and my days deleting pictures that I deemed ‘too fat’. I can probably count the number of times I ate the last six months of my college career because it is so few, and at age 21 when I graduated college, I weighed about 90 pounds.

I can hear you cringing because you know me now, or shrugging your shoulders because you did the same thing.

But here’s the deal – I learned at a very early age to absolutely hate my body. With a healthy dose of obsessive anxiety and more than enough perfectionism to cause a problem, I managed to channel my self-hatred into a single focus. Every failure in my life became another way for me to abuse it, to trash it, to be disgusted by it. Every moment where I lost control was another excuse to wreck the only thing I could control.

Unlike a lot of similar stories, my behavior was so much more than casual recklessness or willful ignorance. Not only was I perfectly aware of the damage I was causing, I was purposely and violently trying to destroy myself, seething with self disgust every step of the way.

I continued this pattern after college, now with an income to burn on thermogenic pills, cool sculpting, and 30 minute ab videos. At some point, my best friend and I decided that the correct cultural decision for 22 year olds was to join a gym. With our new memberships, we received 2 free personal training sessions with Michael.

Confident that we only needed to ‘tone’ and ‘maintain’, I didn’t even bother to behave in any way that indicated I was willing to work hard. Now when I think back on it, I can almost dictate Michael’s thoughts when I dumped my garbage life at his feet and expected applause. The first workout where I had to lunge with a 4lb med ball had me running to the bathroom to throw up. I still can’t believe he managed not to roll his eyes when I insisted on constantly complaining LOUDLY about every exercise he handed me.

When Michael decided that he had enough of working for other people and wanted to work for himself, I wish I could say I was already a success story that followed him to his new venture, like Maw-Maw or Swati. But mostly, I was still very much plowing down my path of self-destruction, and at the time thought I could become a runner [stop laughing]. It took me about three months to come visit his new gym. And embarrassingly, after being friends and roommates for over 3 years, I finally started to listen to what he had to say.

The first few months, first few years really, were hard. And I don’t mean because the workouts were demanding or because I was sore, but rather because I abruptly stopped my extreme bodily abuse and tried to play nice. And it paid me back by promptly gaining 50 pounds. I cried constantly, I never took pictures or went shopping; I didn’t even look in the mirror. I tried to compartmentalize and focus on the positives, but I threw away all my clothes in a fit of depression and wore huge baggy clothes for years.

Meanwhile, I deadlifted, squatted, and learned how to do double unders, handstand pushups and pull ups. I would drag myself to the gym at 7:30 after working 16 hour days. It felt good, to work hard and accomplish things. I enjoyed practicing until I could get better, even when I failed. Every tiny progression felt like a big step, and I couldn’t believe how quickly I forgot about my plan of destruction and changed my focus to improvement.

Slowly, with a lot of failures, stops, starts, skips, and stumbles, I learned to view my body as a weapon to shape instead of a vehicle for self-loathing.

There was no light-bulb moment.

There was no single action or reflection to look back on that changed everything. There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t have to shove away deprecating thoughts about my thighs, or my stomach, or my chin, or my arms. I still have to work hard not to punish my body when I fail elsewhere, and I don’t walk around feeling confident and like sun shines out of my butt every moment of every day. I have made huge leaps in my own self-preservation, but I have to be reminded to take care of myself when I don’t feel like I deserve to be cared for.

I have so much work left to do.

But when I finish a workout and I know for a fact that I worked as hard as I could and did the best I could, whatever the result is, I love that feeling more than I want to hate my body. I built it with blood, sweat, and tears, and in those moments I can allow myself to be proud of it and of the work I’ve done. So I take it as a win. I no longer tie my self-worth to my body image, positive or not-so-positive.

Sometimes you’ll hear me say that Michael saved my life, and it seems as though I’m being dramatic. I wasn’t sick or heavy, fighting the clock against disease or to step back from the edge of my life. But I was barreling head first into a mental battlefield that my body was paying for, and it was only a matter of time until it had no more to give. Whether he knew it or not, he gave me the tools I needed to smash the person I was becoming, and the person I have re-built started on that foundation.

We will spend our lives fighting some kind of battle, and I don’t know that any of us will ever be free of that. But I can promise that we all have layers and layers of failures that hide underneath what looks like the result of a series of successes. This is only one of mine, and I have many more stacked underneath the person I put on display.

Most of us aren’t finished, and we all have a lot of work to do. But when you look around and feel like everyone else is ahead, remember their layers and get to work on your own. Put in the work to achieve those little wins, and make them matter.

Stop thinking of progress as trudging steps on a seemingly never ending path, and turn all those little wins into big victories that make you worth it.

Because you are.