Vanity is a snarling, relentless beast that feeds on weakness and insecurity. It attacked thirteen months ago, during a rush out of the house to take my kids to school, I posted a picture of my oldest daughter on her last day of high school. In the background, a reflection of bloated and shirtless me circulated around social media and the comments, while funny, were devastating. I was overweight, to go along with middle-aged.
The weird thing is, I knew it and had begun to try to improve my looks and health. Two weeks earlier my wife had given me a groupon for Crossfit. Since my savings obsessed bride believes the world can only be made better through groupons, I had to use it.
For the past year and one month I’ve been part of what many people think is an exercise cult. Gyms are boxes, sweaty people are athletes, and workouts are WODs. The axiom is, the first rule of Crossfit club is you have to talk about Crossfit club. But I kept it to myself for months.
I’m a little over a week into a self-imposed one month rest period. My knees are garbage, the right one has a bruised ligament, and my back isn’t much better. I did these things to myself through bad form and working through injuries. Despite what your Facebook friends may tell you, Crossfit doesn’t kill people, people do. You know, like guns? Except you don’t really die from counting box jumps and deadlifts while easily bought pistols will end your day in a hurry.
Instead of defending Crossfit and posting after pictures which will underwhelm you since I dieted like a college fraternity pledge through the process, I’ll just say, I’ve never felt better. I’m twenty pounds lighter, with four pounds of muscle added back. At 5’8″ and around 178lbs, my BMI says I won’t die tomorrow, maybe. I’ve improved my mile run times by over fifty seconds and I’m lifting weight unseen since my high school football days. I’m in shape. Maybe I’m not underwear model shape, because I’m almost 45-years-old, I have a wife, three daughters, and a day job. but I’m doing things physically I never imagined, like participating in a Crossfit competition.
I did spend a year hurting myself, mostly because I didn’t listen to my body telling me what my age is, how tired I always am, and the limits it arbitrarily places on me. So, I rest for the next month.
You can find blog posts all over the internet about Crossfit being the worst thing in the world and the best. It’s neither, for me. But it is the best workout I’ve done next to boxing. My wife and kids nixed me getting hit in the face years ago.
I’ve made some pretty good friend friends over the past year. They’re fairly normal people. Okay, they hang out with me and they do Crossfit, maybe not that normal. I don’t know anybody with abs and there was no evidence of folks oiling up or experiencing organ failure. My box, gym, whatever, is family friendly, easy to get to, and everyone knows my name without me having to be an alcoholic.
I’m weaning myself off ibuprofen, getting back into blogging, finishing my books (the sequel to The Ballad Of Helene Troy is in editing), preparing to make my open mic comedy debut at the end of the month and learning how to pay attention to my body. When I return to Crossfit in a few weeks, I’ll be smarter. If anything, my scar tissue is mental.