I had a recent revelation of sorts while reading Mark Sisson’s “The Primal Blueprint.” I reference Sisson’s blog, MDA, a lot because I like his approach and his common-sense advice. Although he is zealous about primal eating, he is not fanatical. In a health industry run amok by fitness nazis, it’s refreshing to find someone who admits that hey, life happens. You can’t be 100 percent perfect all of the time, and honestly, why would anyone want to?
At the conclusion of his book, there’s a page or so about fun. In fact, fun — more specifically the element of play — is part of his primal blueprint. But this passage in particular talks about the importance of fun and how it’s ill advised to not consider that aspect of your eating and exercise.
I think about fun in kind of an abstract way when it comes to fitness. There are physical activities that I find fun — walking, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, biking, etc. But when it comes to my weekly workouts, I definitely don’t approach them from the fun angle. I work out because I Have Goals. Sisson’s point, roughly, is that goals are fine, but if you’re so focussed on achieving your goals that you’re not enjoying the journey, then what happens when you meet those goals and you’ve nothing left to strive for? Yes, you can always set new goals, but if you’re not enjoying the process of reaching those goals, then it’s just going to be this constant cycle of up and down. Set a goal, work toward it, reach it … and then do it all over again.
Life is not a giant task list where we just check off to-do’s as we complete them. And I don’t think fitness should be either. Life is messy and fluid and flawed and beautiful and horrible and amazing and frustrating, and if fitness is just one component of all of that, there’s no reason it shouldn’t mirror it.
Recently, I switched around my CrossFit schedule so that I could start going to open gym on Saturdays. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. On Saturdays, I get to do what I want and don’t have to do what I don’t. Essentially, I’m there to have fun. I talk to the other members and lift heavy things and climb the rope and try for the 40,000 time to do a stupid kipping pull up. I might do the WOD, and I might not. I always get in a good workout and feel like I’ve accomplished something (it’s hard to get out of the “Must. Do. Something. Productive.” mentality, but I’m trying.) I might be there for an hour and a half or more, and honestly, it’s probably one of the highlights of my week.
I’m going to try to incorporate that same attitude toward my other CrossFit workouts. Instead of viewing the WOD as something to be endured, I’m going to enjoy it — the sweat, the straining, the breathlessness — all of it. So, yes, I’m going to set a goal to have more fun. But I think that will be a goal I won’t mind striving toward.