My First Competition

 

 

In which: many hurdles were successfully hurdled, screams were screamed, pain was felt, and delicious recovery carbs and proteins were consumed following the event.

 

So, over the weekend I accomplished one of my long time goals: I competed in a Crossfit competiton!!!!

 

Yay! Go me!

 

Let me tell you about it.

 

First off, there were five workouts. For those of you who don’t know, one Crossfit workout at regular intensity is enough to send anyone, regardless of fitness level, into fits of “hack-and-groan” breathing on their knees. So you’ve got these five workouts, designed to test the might and speed of the competitors (I’m refraining from calling them athletes because I have mixed feelings on the subject even though I know I competed), each one grueling in it’s own way. I’ll describe them as I get to them as best I can.

 

The competition was hosted by Crossfit Clarksville which happens to be in my hometown. I got to see my best friends while I was there and overall I had a blast. But I digress. Back to the competition!!!

 

It was a team competition and I teamed up with a friend of mine from my box. His name is Bill Borgens. Bill’s a strong dude. I’ve seen him tote a 700 lb yoke around like a backpack. I felt like we had a reasonable chance to podium on our first outing. More on that later, too.

 

WOD 1

12 min AMRAP

800 M run

*then*

25 Deadlifts @ 185 lbs

25 Burpee Box Overs

25 Dumbell Snatches @ 35 lbs

25 Single Under Jump Ropes

(in between movements, the partners must exchange a high-five to trade movements)

 

The judges were announced, our lanes were pointed out, and the workout was explained. This workout didn’t really play to either of our strengths so we decided we’d do what we could, which would put us in good standings because we’re both workhorses.

 

The countdown began. 3 … 2 … 1 … GO! Everyone took off on the half mile run. Before the event took place, even before our training for the competition began in earnest, I had been talking to someone about the smartest way to compete. I remember being told that it isn’t important to start as fast as possible out of the gate. It’s much smarter to find a pace that taxes you, but doesn’t absolutely run you into the ground 5 minutes into a 15 minute workout. That’s what the best do.

 

I wrote that motto on my heart that day.

 

I may not be the strongest, the most athletically gifted, or the most coordinated person, but I am intelligent. Where others may muscle their way through, I have been gifted the ability to strategize and step back and think things through. This is my advantage. This is what will build my strength, feed my athleticism, and help me develop coordination.

 

This attribute I began to apply that week. Pacing myself, thinking my way through every minute of every workout beforehand, finding places to rest or knowing I couldn’t rest if I wanted a good score. My scores improved. I now knew my weaknesses and I could train them harder in order to make them strengths. Slowly I began to improve physically.

 

Apply that to training and now I had a solid strategy for the workouts. I would watch Bill. Whatever he struggled on, I would step it up and muscle through, and if I needed help I would turn to him.

 

Back to the run.

 

I was firmly in last as we started.

 

Bill took off quickly staying firmly in the middle.

 

I watched as the fastest group rounded the bend much sooner than the group in second. I knew if I wanted a chance to place I had to go faster. So I pushed it a little. Not too much. Just enough. I began to overtake Bill and a couple of other runners. I didn’t pass everyone, and that was okay. I passed enough people. ON my way inside to start the rest of the workout, I checked the time. 3:31. I was floored! My fastest time in training was 4:36! I had just shaved a minute off of my half mile time!

 

There was no time to celebrate because not ten seconds later, Bill came running up the ramp. We exchanged high fives and I began repping out deadlifts.

 

I won’t keep play-by-playing this workout because in all honesty, who cares? It’s enough to know that my burpees improved and I had a new PR.

 

We finished the workout and we were firmly in last place.

 

 

WOD 2

My favorite

“HANGTIME”

4 minutes to establish a One Rep Max Hang Clean and Jerk.

 

This workout was the highlight of the event for me. I love Olympic weightlifting. I think it’s a marvelous sport and I get a lot out of the principles and the mechanics. I feel like a weightlifter becomes a magician of sorts. Tricking gravity into doing his/her bidding by throwing one’s body under a loaded barbell containing 2 or 3 times the lifter’s bodyweight safely. Magic.

 

Needless to say, I’m passionate about it.

 

I knew I wanted to hit a new PR here as well.

 

I wanted to put 225 lbs on that bar and clean and jerk it. I wanted to put that bar overhead as easily as lifting a child.

 

The workout begins. Bill and I change our strategy on the fly (A recurring theme during these workouts). Instead of trying to establish two different max efforts, we would each try the same weight until one of us failed. Our opening weight was 165 lbs.

 

Both succeed.

 

185 lbs.

 

Both succeed.

 

205 lbs.

 

Both succeed, but this weight felt the heaviest. This felt dangerous. My form suffered a little bit and I felt a little rattled.

 

225 goes on the bar. My goal. A mental block now sits on the bar. I ignore it. I rub chalk on my hands. I address the bar the EXACT. SAME. WAY that I had addressed the rest and I raise the bar to mid height (the hang position, hence “hang clean and jerk”). I pause. I don’t let the weight get to me. I dip slightly, knees forward, chest up, eyes up, and I pull …

 

What seems like an eternity only lasts 2 seconds, and before I know it, I’ve caught this barbell in the bottom of a front squat and I stand up. I’m so happy, but I can’t allow myself to rest yet. I’ve still got one more movement to go. I reset my hands to allow them to sit comfortably under the bar. I pause, take a breath in, dip, drive annnnndddd …

 

IT’S A SUCCESSFUL LIFT!!!

 

I slammed the bar down.

Honestly, everything else could have gone terribly and I would have been over the moon.

 

I beat my mind. My old adversary.

 

I can’t tell you how I feel when these things happen, but it’s sort of like an affirmation that all of the work I’m doing is worth it. That these promises given to me by who I think is God, and his words to me, were true and worthy of following which sounds insane but if you have any anxiety at all I’m sure that makes some sense.

 

The third and final of the five workouts that I want to talk about was:

 

WOD 3

24-21-18-15-12

Calories on the rower

Thrusters at 95 lbs

Pull-ups

 

This workout was our biggest hurdle because Bill and I can’t do pull-ups.

 

Oh, not for lack of trying! We’ve both been working really hard to be able to do them, but

we were both over 300 lbs at one point in our lives (both of us pushing 400) and I guess it’s victory enough that both of us are now under the 300 lb mark … but man we really wanted to do pull-ups.

 

We agonized over this workout. We knew if we didn’t do it as prescribed we couldn’t podium, or rather, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to podium. Bill was more upset about that than I was. He argues for days with the owner of the gym until we finally settled on a solution. We’d bust out the calories and the thrusters as fast as we could, and in the remaining time we would work on pull-ups. Who knew? Maybe we’d get one.

 

We followed the game plan and then we got to the pull-ups. I was determined to at least try. I didn’t care if I got one, I just wanted to try.

 

I did a strict chin-up. I did a strict over-underhand pull-up. I tried to do a strict pull-up and I struggled. I couldn’t get it. I dropped, heaving from the bar and looked back up at it. If I couldn’t do strict, I would try kipping.

 

Kipping is a gymnastics term and it basically means that you use the momentum in your legs and hips to thrust your body upwards. It’s meant to accomplish more reps in a shorter amount of time.

 

I’ve never even attempted to kip.

 

So i did. I swung as hard as I could and the Judge said “that’s good”. I dropped off the bar elated! I just did my first pull-up!!

I proceeded to do 24 more during the workout.

 

That was the biggest win of the day.

 

 

The rest of the day was eventful and exhausting and I was happy when it ended. Happy because I achieved some long sought after goals, happy because I could stop exercising, and happy because my family and loved ones were there supporting me.

 

I hope you feel encouraged when you read this. I hope you know that hard work does pay off and while you may not win championships every time, you can at least accomplish your personal goals and make yourself content in the meantime.

What to Do, What to Do

I don’t know what I want to do with my days on this earth.

 

I really don’t.

 

I’m 25 and I want to do something but I don’t know what I want to do.

 

I know I want to help people.

 

So … now what?

 

What do I do?

 

There’s tons of options for me, right?

 

I could be a volunteer, serve regularly at my church, or go back to school and get a master’s degree in something I want to pursue further. Maybe I could open a restaurant or really go for it and start pursuing comedy full time … but what if I don’t want to do those things yet? Or what if I don’t want to do them at all?

 

This is the dilemma I find myself in.

 

I really like acting. It’s so fulfilling and I think I’m decent at it and I like the idea of traveling around like some kind of carnival worker and telling stories. I really like improv. It’s a wonderful way to dig into the dirt of human emotion in hopes of finding diamonds in your imagination but even if you don’t it was still fun to play in the mud.

 

I love inspiring people and talking to people about their goals and dreams. Even if I haven’t accomplished my own yet.

 

I really like working out. I love warming up and preparing to sweat and the feel of a barbell or dumbells. I like stretching and I like the drive to push my body to new limits and discover new reserves of strength. I wouldn’t mind training to become some kind of fitness athlete (trying really hard to avoid the “C” word.). To be on the stage and prove myself against any and all comers. I know I could do it.

 

Well, okay, maybe I’ve got a few ideas … but still …

 

I’m directionless. I feel rudderless. Or not rudderless, but stuck at this branching waterway and each path is filled with roaring water and bright sunshine and shade.  And it sucks. The one thing they don’t tell you when you graduate college is that there’s nothing once you finish. No syllabus, no clubs, no productions, nothing. There’s a big long stretch of road labelled “YOUR LIFE”, and you’ve just left the on ramp, and your phone just died, you don’t have gps, and there’s no gas station for 20 miles, and there’s a thick fog, and everyone you meet is deaf and dumb and blind and—

 

Scared yet?

I am.

 

Too many analogies?

 

Don’t make me laugh.

 

I’m terrified. I am terrified and I feel secluded in my brain and I don’t really know what to do.

 

And believe me, I have heard the cliches. I have heard the platitudes and the uncomfortable pauses in conversation.

 

“You’ve just got to trust God.”

 

“You’ll figure it out.”

 

“You’re 25. You’ve got time.”

 

Well, that’s cool and all, but it does not help. Not in the long run.

It’s nice to hear, and comforting every now and then, but it does nothing solid.

 

I think people give those bits of advice because they honestly don’t know what to say, but they’re afraid if they stay quiet, they’ll explode, or I’ll explode, or the world will explode because they really do want to help.

 

Or maybe they’re afraid of silence.

 

Or maybe they’re afraid of not being heard.

 

Whatever the problem is, it’s okay.

 

I’ll figure something out.

 

I’ve got options.

 

The options scare the conservative people I love, and sometimes they even scare me, but they’re there. Maybe I’ll be a successful performer who meets tons of people and makes the world feel better and smile a bit more, or maybe I’ll teach and inspire others to go out there and fill their cups with passion and contentment and fulfillment. Maybe I’ll preach the Word from a pulpit, or in a wet, rainy, dirt-floored church filled with happy people just wanting to hear an inspiring word. Maybe I’ll finally be super fit and get a training license and help other people reach their personal fitness goals and in so doing find some of my own self-worth along the way. Maybe I’ll compete in more fitness competitions and find my platform there. Idk. Maybe I’m too modern for my own good.

 

Maybe I’ll try and fail at all of those things time and time again.

 

Maybe I should just take it one day at a time and not stress myself out.

 

Maybe I should stop asking everyone else “What do you think?” and make a decision for myself and actually pursue something wholeheartedly like I did when I was in school.

 

I don’t know.

 

Until I do, I’ll keep driving with my fog-lights on.

“Not Yet.”

I hate being told no.

 

I don’t like being told to wait.

 

I definitely don’t like having to trust someone else that everything’s going to work out for the best.

 

So, I must be really good at that part of being a Christian, right?

 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH

 

*Gut busting laughter continues for additional thirty minutes. Like seriously, too long. How it’s managed to with continue without killing me, no one knows.*

 

*Sighing* Oh, that was good. Was it good for you? Man, I don’t get to laugh like that much.

 

Seriously though, I’m terrible when I’m told no. I’m infuriated when I’m told to wait, and I behave positively childish when you pair the two together. So you can imagine that it’s been a rough couple of years for me.

 

There have been two dominating passions steering my life for four or five years now and they’ve been so frustrating that I almost gave up on many occasions.

 

Boy, am I glad I didn’t

 

First Passion: A New Vehicle.

 

I think I’ve written before about my experiences with homelessness and depression/anxiety. If not, leave a comment and I’ll make sure to write that story down someday for you. Part of those experiences caused me to lose my car and it’s been 4 years since that day. 4 years I prayed and pleaded with God to give me a vehicle. He didn’t do it the way I wanted. He said no. He gave me a 1999 Buick Lesabre with over 200, 000 miles on it. He gave me a vehicle that caused me to wince every time I tried to turn it over. I had to trust him every single time I sat in that car and I wasn’t grateful for it as much as I should’ve been. I knew I had to get a new car, but I kept hearing God say “not yet”. I hated hearing that. I didn’t want to hear “not yet”, I wanted to hear “Sure! What model would you like?” I was so impatient. I was so worried. I couldn’t drive to see my family or friends, it was six months to a year in between visits. It was so hard on me, and I kept hearing God say “no”.

 

I wish I could tell you that I accepted the “no” and waited patiently.

 

I’d laugh like I did earlier but my throat hurts.

 

I whined every day of those four years, and I was genuinely angry at God. Why me, Lord? What did I do? Still I heard the whisper “Not yet.”

 

I tried to save money. I just wanted a thousand dollars. I tried to save in small increments, large increments, silly increments, etc. Without fail, every month, after depositing some sum of money into a savings account, I would pull that money that was supposed to be meant for a car, and shoved it into the leaking hole in the ship of my life. Bills, emergencies, behind on the rent, you name it. And it frustrated me everytime. WHY NOT YET????

 

Haven’t I suffered enough?

 

(My privilege is showing)

 

Finally, after four years, I was given, not able to save, not earned, but given, enough money for a down payment on a vehicle. After a long wait and being turned down once (That is also a story for another time) I left a car dealership with a 2016 Jeep Patriot.

 

I’m still not sure it’s mine. I still look at it and feel like I’m going to have to return it … but the truth is, after being told “no” and “not yet” by God over and over, and feeling like a failure and complaining and straining against a system that seems deadset against working with me or for me, God came through.

 

God came through. Not me. Not my efforts (and I exerted a lot of effort). God did it. Not for me, but for the story. For His glory and purposes, and maybe that’s enough of a reason for now. IF anything, I’ve learned some of the secret of contentment. Philipians 4:12-13 (NIV) “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Note: I know I said two passions. The other is losing weight and being shredded. That’s another thing I feel like I’m being told “not yet” on. It’s frustrating too but I talk about it so much and I just felt like I needed to make a shorter post. It’s been a while. How y’all doin?

Drums

I feel like everybody’s hearing a call to war that I’m not hearing.

Like there’s these drums a rum-tum-tumming

And these symbols clash-a-clash-clashing

And nobody’s listening.

Nobody seems to hear the poor and the needy.

No one seems to hear their cries.

And it’s not like they’re asking for too much.

But nobody’s listening.

And how could they?

The drums they seem to hear, beat too loudly.

The cymbals? They resound daily and nightly,

Often hourly and with the face of a friend, or a trusted adviser.

But beneath that face is a green cog who spits the poison so easily imbibed and not so easily pushed away.

The call to war is loud

So loud, children hear it and take up arms.

Friends hate friends

Men hate women,

Women hate men,

They hate We.

The call to war is loud.

I’m part of the problem.

I see the ache but don’t respond.

I write down words and occasionally I might spit a clever line or two,

But mostly they’re just feelin’s

Feelin’s of rage and justice and “Where’s the love, the plan, the hope in all of this?”

Pain for those who are suffering and Pain for my own lack of motivation to ease the suffering.

I’m part of the problem.

But I think I read it somewhere that someday the King-that-went-away is gonna come back.

And when he does, everybody, regardless of paygrade or what kind of interesting socks you wear will go to see him at his place.

They’ll stand and then they’ll kneel, and he’ll have words to say.

There’ll be some who say they did some stuff and the King will say “It wasn’t enough. I don’t know who you are, go stand over there.” And they’ll walk away weeping.

There’ll be some who hear, “Good job! Come on in! Got food ready for you!”

And those’ll be the people who stopped listening to the drums.

Yeah. I think I read it somewhere that someday the King-that-went-away is gonna come back.

We’ll see how loud those drums beat then.

You Do You, Boo Boo

So … this happened last week:

17.1

10 Dumbbell Snatches

15 Box over burpees

20 Dumbbell Snatches

15 Box over burpees

30 Dumbbell Snatches

15 Box over burpees

40 Dumbbell Snatches

15 Box over burpees

50 Dumbbell Snatches

15 Box over burpees

20 minute time cap

 

Yeah, it happened. And when I say it happened, IT. HAPPENED. I mean, it happened on a scale of epic proportions. And some of you may be wondering if I do workouts like this all the time. The answer is: yes I do. Once a year, once a week, for five weeks. For the uninitiated, allow me to explain. This once a week, for five weeks thing is called the CrossFit Open and it’s an open workout competition designed to cull what CrossFit dubs “the fittest athletes on earth” from gyms, or “boxes” as we call them, from around the world. And hoo boy, these suckers are tough. I’m serious! The workouts are grueling, the rep schemes and time caps are long, and the weights are somewhat excessive, but it tends to fill even the most novice of CrossFitters with a masochistic sense of glee. Personally, I love it. Everyone I know in the community loves it. Hey man, say what you want about us. The CrossFit community suffers together, my friends.

So would you like to know what this workout did to me? It destroyed me. In the best possible way, and you wanna know what the best part is? I didn’t finish the workout in the time cap. I got 158 of 225 reps in the 20 minute time cap and I was so exhausted and in so much pain I was screaming, literally screaming at the end of it. These guttural, animal, savage yells came from somewhere deep inside me, and they unleashed these—these hidden resevoirs of anger. I’m never like that. Like, ever… After the workout ended, all I could do was cry. I went outside and cried. I cried for like, ten to fifteen minutes. Just these angry, red hot tears. Then I almost passed out. I hit just below that red line and I was paying for it. My girlfriend (Asa for those who don’t know) came over to me and asked me if I was okay and I told her I wasn’t but that I would be. She told me I had done a good job, heck, multiple people did, and I really only even cared if she thought I did well and if God was proud of me too. Or that’s what I thought. When I went back in after I had cooled down, I watched and judged other people perform this same Herculean task of efficiency and endurance. I saw some finish in the time cap, and I saw others put up higher reps than I had done. I thought back to my tears outside. Asa asked if I was sad. She said I shouldn’t be. She said she was proud of me for not quitting. She hugged me and wouldn’t let go. I told Asa, who was very, VERY concerned for me, that I was fine. These were tears of relief (anger) and that OF COURSE I was proud of myself (I wasn’t). She probably knew but I thought I was hiding the fact pretty well that I was already comparing my performance to everyone else’s on the whiteboard. What a good way to start the open. I lied to the love of my life and I tried lying to my God and myself. Safe to say I entered the weekend on a bit of a low point.

Saturday passed and I seemed all right. I judged a few people’s open workouts (which is new for me this year, and it’s so much fun), spent time relaxing and trying to recover, but the workout loomed in the back of my head …

Then Sunday rolled around and I saw that people who had done it on Friday were doing it again! Why? Did they hate themselves? Did they not remember what happened when they did it the first time? Was I in the wrong? I did NOT want to do that workout again. At LEAST not until my muscles had recovered …

Sunday night, as I scrolled through Facebook I saw a friend had done it again and had improved his score by 20 reps and I was impressed but also mad. I wanted to do better than him (I apologize, that’s really petty) and I wanted everyone to like me the most! I wanted to feel special and important and strong and fast and impressive and—and—

Do you see the trend here?

So I decided I was going to have to do it again. I told Asa I was going to do it again, and I texted my coach, Andrew, to ask if I could. He said yes and instead of getting excited when I heard his response, my stomach dropped. I was anxious. Scared. Nervous all over again. Why? I just wanted to beat my friend. Nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, right?

Yeah, right. Healthy? Please. This wasn’t healthy. This was obsessive and insecure. Nothing like the irony of working out to an unhealthy extreme, right?

Then I made probably the best decision I would make that entire weekend. I prayed about it.

You know what I prayed for right before I went to sleep?

“God, if you don’t want me to do this, give me a sign.” Don’t say God never answers prayers.

When I woke up the next morning at 5 am I was already afraid of the workout. I had trepidation and fear about it like I’ve never felt before ANY workout. But instead of treating that as a divine sign, trusting my intuition, or anything remotely intelligent, I decided that it was probably just nerves and I should go ahead with redoing the workout anyway. Haha! Aren’t I intuitive?

Moving on …

So, I get to the box, and I warm up. I stare at the box that I’d be doing box jumps over and the dumbbell I’d be snatching and I can feel this nervousness start to bead on my forehead. I try to walk it off. I talk to my friends. I talk to Andrew. He seems irritated. I ask why. He says he doesn’t like retesting. I ask why again. He says he dislikes retesting the Open workouts and his reply is simple, sage, and most of all convicting:

“It’s silly. It’s a workout, man. If you didn’t give your all the first time, doing it again won’t make it any better. Also, why do you want a better number than anybody else? I don’t like it when being healthy becomes a competition.”

I felt my face grow hot and I felt childish. My natural response was to immediately agree with him, even though I was about to go and do the exact opposite of what I had just agreed with.

I think he noticed cause he asked if he had gotten to me. I lied again, saying no (Lord forgive me, I was incredibly dishonest during this whole affair wasn’t I?) and I got ready to do the workout again, even though I was in a lot of muscle pain. I tried to push past it and steady myself. I unknowingly had just placed a ton of pressure on myself to do well.

Andrew said he’d judge me, so he started the clock …

10

9

8

I felt that fear and trepidation in the pit of my stomach again and I tried to ignore it.

7

6

5

4

I thought to myself, “just try not to fall over the box. You’ll be fine.”

3

2

1

GO

Off I went. The first ten snatches were about as difficult as they were the last time. Okay. Not too bad. Keep going.

Then I started on the burpee box overs.

The first five went fine, but on my sixth one, something went wrong.

My shin banged into the corner of the box and I fell (which is nothing new to any who’ve done the box jump) but I fell harder than ever before (I have matching shin scars) and I tried to hop back up and go right back to doing burpees.

Then the fire started. Intense pain shot up my leg from base of my shin to the bottom of my knee. I looked down and saw blood running from my knee to the ground, my forearm was bruised and I could see a familiar knot beginning to form on my shin.

I felt some relief and anger well up. I knew I couldn’t keep going. Breathlessly I began motioning for Andrew to stop the clock. I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore and I didn’t want to. Why would I?

I started crying again right there in front of Andrew and my friends who were there that morning. I didn’t care that they saw. I mean, I did a little but not enough to stop. I was in so much pain and I was so frustrated. So, I sat there and let it out.

And you know, it’s kind of funny …

Some of you might see this as a really bad thing that happened …

Not me. I think it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me.

No, seriously! I do! As I sat there, I was surrounded by warmth and care. Andrew sat with me and asked me questions. He’s a really good coach and a really good friend, although if you ask him he will deny it and I’ll deny that I wrote this, but the talk was really good. We talked about it being okay. We talked about how I really didn’t want to do it again. I felt pretty accomplished doing it the first time.

I was really frustrated that I wasn’t in shape and I didn’t have the abs I want and Andrew stopped me to ask:

“How long have you been trying to be healthy?”

Three years.

“How long have you been alive?”

25.

“Okay. So, you’re telling me three years of even minimal good choices does not remove a lifetime of bad choices, and you’ve got health problems to boot. So stop beating yourself up.”

And God said, LET THERE BE LIGHT!!!!

The light bulb came on for the first time in three years. The people who love me have been shouting it for years and I couldn’t hear them over all the noise in my head.

I’ve come an incredibly long way from the person I was and in one year I’m able to do much more than I could before.

Why is it not okay for me to accept that?  I have completely ignored a years-worth of positive growth in order to focus on other people’s growth and assuming that their growth somehow makes mine negative and less impressive!! How wacky is that? Such a dangerous mindset to have!

The point is, it is okay! I can accept my score and my improvements and myself! I don’t have to compare myself to other people and make myself a slave to their numbers and scores or even my own. All of this probably won’t happen overnight but that’s okay.

I am happy with what I did and I will continue to improve myself. No one can take what I did from me, not even me.

And that is why I say, to all of those signed up for the Crossfit Open or anyone doing anything healthy for any of the multitude of reasons we exercise: You do you, Boo Boo.

A Poem

Our King of Lowly Broken Things

Reigns on High, above all things,

And delights to show us joy and love

Released from Splendor up above.

There are no gates to hold Him in

No feats of darkness, no unbeatable sin.

Our King of Lowly Broken Things

Reigns on High, above all things,

Our Lion-Lamb, our Joyous Word,

Gave the greatest promise ever heard:

That one day our lowly, lovely King,

Would Himself, His Presence bring,

And end our war, our grief, our strife,

And give us all Eternal Life.

Our King of Lowly Broken Things

Reigns on High, above all things.

I Can vs I Cannot

“Never say that you can’t do something, or that something seems impossible, or that something can’t be done, no matter how discouraging or harrowing it may be; human beings are limited only by what we allow ourselves to be limited by: our own minds. We are each the masters of our own reality; when we become self-aware to this: absolutely anything in the world is possible.

Master yourself, and become king of the world around you. Let no odds, chastisement, exile, doubt, fear, or ANY mental virii prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be it’s conqueror.”

Mike Norton

Hello, everyone! Today’s post is the last in the series on fitness, and this one is probably the most positive.

I felt led to end on this particular note because of this lesson’s ongoing importance in my life. I’m going to impart to you what I believe is the most crucial fitness lesson I’ve ever learned. It’s rather simple but I believe it is often neglected.

Are you ready for this?

True health begins in the mind.

I know. Not that difficult, right?

When I speak of true health and the mind, I am speaking about positivity vs negativity. Both forces exist, both forces are necessary in life, but I believe in order to achieve your goals,  positivity must have ultimate sway in your life. This does not mean that you must go through every day smiling like some doped up cartoon character. That’s not gonna happen. Life sucks sometimes. That’s okay. What I’m talking about is a little different than that.

I’m sorry. I’m rambling a little bit and I don’t mean to, but this is a hard idea for me to process.

I have had an “I cannot” attitude for most of my life.

I have gone through life mostly focusing on the things I cannot do, and how I feel as if they’ve defeated me entirely.

“I cannot eat less”

“I cannot do pull-ups”

“I cannot do math very well”

“I cannot speak Dothraki”

“I cannot be athletic”

etc., etc. …

But lately I’ve begun to realize the error in that way of thinking. That state of mind is in direct opposition with the forces of personal growth and mental health. This state of mind is the cage I find my self-esteem and confidence in and the funny thing is, the cage is wide open! It’s been unlocked for a long time and I’ve not left because all I know is the cage. The world outside is unfamiliar and strange.

I should also note that I understand that knowing your limitations is healthy, too. You need to know where you stand and what you are currently capable of in order to know what you can work on. This is good, but for me, personally, Knowing my limitations and not being hung up on them is what’s going to catapult me to new heights.

I know what I can’t do. I’ve spent 25 years being acutely aware of what I can’t do and that hasn’t helped me, and now it’s time for a change.

I am moving, or attempting to move, from an “I cannot” attitude to an “I can” attitude.

So here’s where I’m heading:

From: I cannot perform gymnastics (Crossfit) and I really want to

To: I can do a handstand, and I get progressively stronger at gymnastics every time I work on them, and I am going to keep on working on them until I master them.

—–

From: I cannot do double unders very well

To: I can do double unders and I string more together every time I do them

—–

From: I cannot lift as heavy weights as my neighbor

To: I can lift with good form and I can tell when it’s done with good form

—–

From: I cannot stop eating.

To: I can stop and I will

—–

From: I cannot see anything worth loving about myself

To: I can extend myself the same unconditional love as I am shown by my Heavenly Father and loved ones.

—–

From: I cannot get a new car

To: I can keep working, and I can keep driving my working car.

—–

I think I’ve made myself pretty clear and understood. I’m by no means perfect but I am on my way to bettering myself everyday and it all begins with a simple “I Can”.

So this is the charge I leave with you: if you find yourself struggling with an “I cannot” attitude, remind yourself as often as you can that there are things you can do and there will be more things you will be able to do as you work and progress in the future.

Be blessed and know that I pray that anyone who reads this be inspired.

A Stranger’s House (Fitness: Part 2)

Hey everyone! Here’s the next chapter in my saga of fitness. Enjoy and feel free to comment below or share this! Or both!

I don’t recognize anything here … nothing looks like my home … this is supposed to be my home, yet nothing looks familiar …

No … this is not my home … this is not where I belong … not yet …

No, the statements above are not from the upcoming Kingdom Hearts game, they’re from my own head. These are the thoughts I have about me. This is how I relate to my own body.

Lately I’ve been struggling to come up with an apt metaphor to help people understand my frustration and discomfort with myself and my body and the closest thing I can come up with is this: I am in a stranger’s house which I am told is my own and has always been my own, and I am now expected to make do with it, and I’ve been making do with that house since I was 12 years old. I see pictures of me as a child and I almost don’t even know how to function. I’ll try to make a connection with the photo, but I can’t, because I see someone that I don’t recognize. I see a smiling boy who eats too much and his clothes don’t fit and his confidence is all but non-existent. I really don’t see “Dillon”. I see a person named Dillon whose life I sometimes don’t want and who’s thought processes sometimes feel so alien that I know they can’t possibly be mine.

I don’t know what that feeling is, or what it means, but as far as I can tell it feels like a type of body dysmorphia.

It is an innate inability within me to accept what is, because internally it feels like it’s what it shouldn’t be.

While I don’t know how to accurately pinpoint the perfect way to define my feelings, I do know what caused them, and I think anyone who feels similarly has at least one event they can point to, or one event that stands out in their mind.

My first event was Spider-Man. I know that seems silly but he was and is a defining event in my struggle to accept myself. I love Spider-Man. He’s my absolute favorite superhero. His origin, his villains, his abilities, his sense of humor, and his over-all bearing resonate with me on a deeply personal level. I felt like Peter Parker. I felt like an outsider with a lot on his plate, who wears a smile as a shield. I’d watch him on TV, read his comics and watch his movies and wish that were me swinging high above the New York skyline, righting wrongs and cracking jokes. That was my dream job, being Spider-Man. Not a superhero, but Spider-Man. SO you can imagine my disappointment when I’d look in the mirror and see an overweight 13 year old instead of a muscular, agile, hero with radioactive spider powers. Why couldn’t I be like him (you know, besides the obvious reasons)?

Another defining series of events was how I was treated at school. Before I discuss this, I want to let everyone reading know, that I had and still have, friends. Good friends. Solid friends. Friends who stand by me through thick or thin, who give it to me straight and who treasure our friendship. That being said, people were cruel to me in school. If there was a way to call someone fat, I’ve heard it and I have been called it before. Thanks to bullying, I managed to find all new ways to hate myself. I’ve got to hand it to my tormenters, they were creative in their torture. I remember I was told once that I had bigger tits than any girl in my grade. That was 7th grade. I’m male and I identify as such, so that one hurt. I remember being told that I was too fat to live. That one still stings. I feel that one on my lowest days. I remember being called worthless because I didn’t want to run, didn’t think I could run anymore. I used to hate, I mean HATE the people that called me fat. I would look in the mirror and seethe for hours, pinching my gut and slapping my chest, watching the fat ripple and crying.

Side note: I don’t hate those people anymore. I forgave them, and sometimes I still have to forgive them, and let me tell you, forgiveness was and is a powerful tool that God used to changed my life forever and I’m so grateful I made the choice to forgive.

Back to the sad stuff …

“Look at you, you worthless piece of human garbage. You are so fat. No one will ever love you. No one will ever want to see you naked”.

Things like that circled my brain like vultures over roadkill, waiting for me to just hurry up and die. I experienced suicidal thoughts (which I never acted upon) on a monthly basis. I didn’t see any way out of this body that I didn’t want. I was deeply depressed, so I’d stress eat out of a depressed sense of spite. Which is an irony I still find hilarious. Thoughts like, “Oh, you think I’m fat? HAH! I’ll show you whose fat. Gimme dem doughnuts.” Seriously. It was like I was competing with myself to see what would kill me first, heart failure or diabetes. That level of self-hatred and detachment is so weird and unusual to me, I just, I don’t know, I still don’t understand why I think or thought that way.

The Stranger’s House disorder kept growing. I’d envision myself with abs and shirtless without covering myself like an outcast and sometimes I’d even dream about the day when I’d wake up and love myself and be a completely different person, but inevitably I’d rise, see myself in a mirror and immediately recoil in disgust. “Don’t look” I’d think. “If you don’t see yourself, maybe you can have a good day.”

It’s so odd to reflect on all of this, because I will sometimes see old photos of myself and they honestly don’t even look like me. I don’t recognize that person and I don’t want to. I want to completely erase that person from existence. I know I can’t but those feelings are so strong they often overpower me.

I do remember the day some of this negativity and self-hate started to ebb out of my life, though.

It’s going to sound negative, but bear with me. It gets better.

I was 17 years old and I never weighed myself on a scale, mostly because I didn’t want to know, but on this particular day, I just wanted to know—no, I NEEDED to know and I knew it wasn’t going to be good because not 15 minutes earlier I had made myself short of breath simply by bending over and tying my shoes. I was shocked. There was no way that should have ever happened. So I just did it. I weighed myself.

I waited, saw the numbers passing 200 … 250 … 290 … 300 … 320 …

Okay scale, you can stop any time now …

350 … 370 …

380 pounds. Three hundred and eighty-one pounds. Almost 400 pounds. I was shocked. I did not expect to see that, and I did not want to see that number. That was too much.

I stepped off that scale enlightened. I reached a crossroads that day, and I had one of two choices. Continue down this road and end up dead before 40, or make a change.

Luckily, I believe God spoke to me that day and influenced me to make a change. It was Easter season and I’d never participated before, but for some reason this was the year I decided to try giving something up for Lent.

I decided to give up soda and candy and within a week, after the caffeine cravings left my system, I began to feel wonderful!

I had energy and I didn’t feel so sluggish any more. I dropped 20 pounds in a very short amount of time and when Lent was over I decided to keep going on the whole “no soda’s” thing.

Not so much on the “no candy” part but nobody’s perfect.

In closing, that one event, what I consider to be one of my darkest hours, has become a force of enormous good in my life. As a Christian, I can look back and see that all things DO work together for the good of those who love God. It was a valley that I often revisit because it’s so powerful and I am glad I have an event like this to point to.

I will always remember that the Psalmist says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I am who I am supposed to be. God made me for his own reasons and to love Him and His creation (people, this planet, etc) and my struggles were tailor-made for me so that one day I could share them with others, and I know that I am sometimes defeated in my heart by those awful thoughts and negative views but I have confidence that my feelings of defeat won’t last forever, and one day I will succeed and emerge victorious. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. And that someday is a day I look forward to.

In the meantime, I guess this house doesn’t have to feel so strange anymore. I guess I can finally start letting it feel like home.

The Problem with Eating (Fitness: Part 1)

Hello, Reader! This is the first in a three to four part series to kind of give everyone some insight on my journey and my struggles with self-acceptance. Feel free to comment below or follow me!

There are certain memories that stand out in my mind like I’m experiencing them in the present, like I am experiencing them all over again, and I wish I could tell you that they were pleasant but most of them aren’t, and most of them involve food. I guess this is just my lot in life, to struggle with this particular brand of self-harm, because as far as I can tell, food and I have been and always will be at odds.

It’s not really a secret. I’m a big dude and big dudes are encouraged to eat a ton of food. I remember being full and not wanting any more food, being handed a plate and being told I needed to eat it.  My grandparents still try to do that. I don’t know what it is about me that says I need to be handed more food after normal human sized meals but rest assured, I’m fine. Another note: Do they really think I need food that much? Do they not remember the time I went back for food so many times I made myself short of breath? I don’t know if everyone knows this, but if you eat so much food you have to gasp for air, that is a problem. And I used to do this all the time!

Why? It wasn’t like that’s what I wanted to do. I don’t remember ever thinking, “boy it sure would be great to eat until I gasp for air like I just fell in a cold river”. In fact, I remember very clearly wanting to stop eating but not being able to stop myself. I remember seeing the thinly veiled looks of shock on my family’s face as I’d return to the food for a fourth or fifth serving. I used to feel such deep shame and resentment. Why would they be judging me? It’s just food! I’m not full. Keep your shame to yourself. I’ve got enough of my own, thank you very much.

I know now they weren’t ashamed of me, they were just worried for my safety and wellbeing…

As I’m writing this, I realize a lot of this is only in the past and now I’m completely different, and that’s just not true.

I’m sorry.

I have nothing figured out. I’m still obese (280 lbs and holding) and I still battle extreme anxiety, depression and self-hatred. I binge eat still. I will do well for three weeks and then gorge myself at night for one week on everything I’ve abstained from. I used to steal my roommates food (I apologize to all of you. I have no excuse. It was wrong and I have a problem)

Why? Food is a major stumbling block for me in my life. I remember trying to lose weight by eating very little during the day, and binge eating at night or early in the morning. I did this because my mom told me that if you wanted to lose weight you have to eat less. So I would. During the day. I’d eat less. I would! But then, at night…let the feasting begin! And I know this might paint my mom in a bad light, so let me explain: she didn’t mean starve myself. She actually had a good point but like a lot of decisions I’ve made, I didn’t ask for help, I just decided

As a child I would get grounded for eating food out of the trash.

Yeah, out of the trash. Like a raccoon at a campground dumpster.

If you threw away a corn dog you’d only eaten a third of, I’d be close behind you to clean the Popsicle stick.  Why did I do that? We had food. I didn’t have to eat out of the trash! In retrospect, I guess I couldn’t help myself?  Maybe on some level I thought I needed it.

As an anecdote: I remember the time I had my breakfast of sandwiches and Doritos thrown in my lap. My mom did that. She was really mad at me. She had asked me not to eat junk food for breakfast anymore and I did it anyway. You know, I guess I can understand her frustration…I don’t think I would’ve done any different.

People always bullied me about my size and I turned to food as an escape, which seems to be a huge irony to me. I eat and balloon in size, I am then tortured for it, so I then turn to the cause of my suffering for relief from said suffering. I used to joke about my excessive eating habits. I’d tell people “hey, at least cheese doesn’t call you names.” Or “Ice Cream won’t flick your tits and call you worthless.”

I eventually started making positive changes. I cut out soda, I tried to only have bread once a day, I introduced salad into my diet and I did Tie-Bo and went for walks. I was just so desperate for change.

Lo and Behold, change did happen, verrrrryyyyy very slowly, but it did happen. I began to experience more energy, I slept deeper, and I experienced some weight loss. It made me happy! I felt amazing!

But…a fall was coming…

For every good day I had, a bad week of eating would follow. One day, I’d have nothing but Chicken, Broccoli and brown rice, while the following week I would stuff myself with hamburgers and milkshakes…

A new cycle began (and sadly still continues) until one year I just gave up. I gave up and ballooned to 330 plus and ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. After that year, I swore to never let it happen again. Ever. I would never allow myself to drift that far away from myself ever again.

Eventually I made even more progress and my willpower became stronger. I found ways to resist temptation and I tried to live by a new code. A code meant to give life: “Food is fuel, not life”.

These good choices I was making were meant to override the vicious cycle of shame and self-loathing. They were supposed to give me some self-control and fully end the Binge and Hate Cycle, but the cycle is hard to beat. It’s been around longer than most of us have been alive and it does not like to be trifled with. Like a dragon, it guards its hoard of ill-gotten gains with great voracity. If I ever found myself having good meal after good meal, you know, balanced and well proportioned, and they led to good weeks and good months, then I could feel the dragon waking, feeling its treasure slowly creeping away from the pile, making its way towards freedom…and dragons, as the stories say, do not let treasure go lightly.

Here’s how it works:
I come home, tired and irritated. Work isn’t what I want it to be. It’s not bad, but it sure isn’t great, and man am I hungry…

Well, lucky for me, I’ve got lean protein thawing in the fridge, some fresh greens ready for eating and a small helping of complex carbohydrates! Day saved by a healthy choice!

“But…”whispers the dragon, “…you’ve gotta cook and that takes time…ugh…that’s too much…wouldn’t you rather eat, oh I don’t know…anything you can microwave? We did get corndogs the other day…”

Nope. I’m gonna cook.

“You’re too tired…eat what you want! You can eat healthy tomorrow!”

The claws sink in, and I’m slowly put back onto the middle of the pile with the other trinkets. I eat corndog after corndog until I say enough! Then I eat candy and sweets until I feel too full…So I clean my plate and leave the kitchen hoping no one comes home to find evidence of what I’ve just done.

Then it begins to sink in. Then I try to make it right.

I feel shame that I did what I swore I would never do again.

I feel the regret of knowing I won’t like remembering this moment.

I feel the crushing anxiety that I will immediately gain all the weight I have lost and lose all of my progress, strength, coordination and flexibility.

I fear that I’ve let my God down and disgusted Him.

I fear the judgement of those who might walk in on me eating.

I fear that my girlfriend will leave me because she’ll see the horrible, insecure monster I think I am.

So, I hit the gym extra hard in the morning, sacrificing common sense and technical mastery for pure exertion and sweat. I forget to stretch and neglect active recovery, almost willing the pain to be more intense to serve as my personal brand of self-flagellation.

And all because of food.

Food. Inanimate, opinion-less food. It has dictated how I have allowed myself to feel and how I have acted. It has damaged my self-image and tarnished my relationships…

No more…

I know this is mostly negative, but I didn’t intend it to be. I wanted people to get a glimpse of what happens on the journey before the journey reaches a photogenic moment. The before and after photos are a lie. I will not lie to any of you. You will see me when I celebrate and you will see me when I cry. I want you to see snapshots of the gravel and mud that I am slogging through to get to the finish line so you can see you aren’t alone and you aren’t a failure. I hope you can see that I am not giving up and don’t ever plan to give up again. I don’t think I’m going to let food do this to me or anyone I love, anymore. I hope that by writing this down, and letting others into my struggles, giving them an opportunity to be in the mess with me, maybe we can overcome the mess. God’s given me a wonderful opportunity to articulate my struggles and not go through them alone. I’ll be praying over this from here on out and If you need prayer leave a comment below and I’ll join you.

Just keep in mind that you cannot win on your own. Please don’t try to do this yourself. Talk to God, talk to those you trust.

And most importantly, don’t give up. Remember why you fight, and why you sweat. Pick up the barbell, lace your running shoes, and get back to work. And, please. Leave the corndogs in the trash. You’re better than that.

First Painting

“You  have a gift to paint with words.”

My dad said that to me and I wanted to see if I agreed, so I’m starting this blog. I’m going to pursue a talent and work hard at things I think I want to do. That’s where the title of this blog comes from.

If Bob Ross painted because he just loved to and wanted to share that love with other people, then I want to do the same but with words. So feel free to come read this whenever. I will try to always be honest in my postings, or share things I think are worth sharing.

It’s gonna get messy, but I think that’s alright.

I’ll probably do this once a week and if I’m not consistent with it, forgive me. I’m fickle.

I guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea to describe myself a little bit, right?

My name’s Dillon. I’m 24 and I graduated with a degree in Theater (more on that in a future post I’m sure) in spring of 2016. I’m an aspiring writer, actor, fitness enthusiast, comedian, improviser, carpenter, cook, etc. I come from an extremely conservative Christian background, and while I am deeply rooted in my faith and love of Christ, I often find that my views on the world tend to run far more…um…liberal than most of my family would agree with. To that point, family is very important to me (and yes, there will be posts about my family) and I have a very large family. I’ve known both grandparents and both sets of great-grandparents.

I’m an avid consumer of pop culture, a lover of comic books, film, literature, and television and I have no idea how to instagram or snapchat properly. I’m in a loving, committed relationship with a wonderful woman who gets and tolerates me and she’ll be making appearances off and on as will our colorful life. If you’ve read this and feel welcomed, good! Come back and join me as I write stuff down and suss things out. If you didn’t, that’s fine too. Find somewhere you do belong and build a home there.

Much love.