I can attribute so much of the success I have experienced over the last few years to the fact that I have been pushing "can't" out of my head and trying things I never thought I could do. First of all, if you had asked me even three years ago if I would be able to finish even one half-marathon, I would have told you that you were crazy. Next month in Portland I will be completing race number 13, and I am actually planning on doing my first full marathon about this time next year. It did take time, training, and perseverance to get to this point, but I think the key may be to change " I can't" to "I will be able to soon."
When I first started with Crossfit five months ago, one of my major fears was the box jumps. It wasn't so much the fact that I am not very good at vertical jumping, I just didn't want to hurt myself. As a runner, one thing that would truly sideline me is if I smacked my shins on the edge of the box, which is a real possibility with this activity. What I have come to learn about box jumps is that more often than not, the barrier to a successful box jump is not a physical one, it is mental. If you think you can't jump higher than the box, chances are that you won't be able to do it. In the beginning, I had trouble with the 12" box. More often than not, I wouldn't even jump, I would just step up and then back down again--safe. Once I got the "I can't" out of my head, I was soon able to consistently jump up onto an 18" version.
Amazingly, I had somehow managed to avoid having box jump as part of any workout for over a month until Tuesday of this week. We were asked to do 5 rounds of the following: 3 tire flips, 9 wall balls, 12 Russian kettle bell swings, and then 15 box jumps. I found myself again doubting whether I could still do the 18" box successfully. Because we had to do the activities in rotations, the stations were set-up and ready to go. When I looked over to the box jump station I noticed that there were only 20" boxes available. Coach Al saw the panicked look on my face, and asked if I need a smaller box and I surprisingly heard myself utter, "Nope--I should be fine." I was so surprised to hear that come out of my mouth because inside I was still doubting myself. When it came time to do my jumps, I faced the box, bent my knees and moved my body into a squat position, held my chest high, and pulled my arms back so I could drive myself up onto the box. Without hesitation, I exploded up onto the box, landed softly and then stood up to a fully upright position. Like a kid, I threw my arms up in the air with excitement. I not only completed that one jump, but by the end, I had jumped 75 times up and down that box much more easily than I had anticipated. I had once again conquered a big fear by not letting "can't" into my head.
So often when I share my workout routines with others, the first thing out of their mouths is that they could never do the same. For those of you that are still thinking that you can't, I am here to tell you that you are wrong. If a more than 200 lb woman can work her way into being able to do Crossfit and run races, anyone can. I challenge you to take that first step in believing in yourself. The only way to overcome the mental-not physical-barriers that are keeping you from a healthy lifestyle is to stop focusing on what you can't do. I am willing to bet that if you, too, take "I can't" out of your vocabulary, you will be pleasantly surprised by what you CAN do.