The View From The Top Of The Rope

Hungry?  Sorry.  I got nuthin.  Maybe try this?

I accomplished my first ever rope climb about a week ago.


And, that got me to thinking (which in itself can be problematic) about “the view from the top of the rope,” as Coach Ben put it. Which then got me thinking about the entire process of accomplishment. Then I got wrapped up in second guessing what I wanted to say which ultimately ended up with me opining about nothing cohesive or actually useful.  I’d rather just shut up than accidentally sound like a David Wolfe meme.


But, back to the subject of success. When we moved from New Mexico to Texas I was grossly overweight and on antidepressant and anti anxiety medication.  Within a year of our move to Texas I discovered CrossFit, which is sort of only halfway true because Matthew had been CrossFitting for nearly two years by then and could do all the things. We all know the story. My time at CrossFit Toro Grande could best be described as teaching a person how to drive for the first time.  There’s a lot of fits and starts, stalls, shredded clutch bearings, confusion, whip lash, and frustration.  Basically, every workout looked like this.


The progress and measurable gainz were steady and motivating and it dusted off an aspect of myself I’ve grown to really enjoy and identify with.  Now we live in New York and I workout at CrossFit Mount Kisco and the workout scenario still looks like that, only now I’m using more weight, and going faster!   All the work and all the time and all the foundation that was laid all those days in Texas combined with focus, intensity, and charisma of New York have coalesced in a rain of personal records unlike anything I had ever expected to see, all leading up to the surprise PR of 2016: The rope climb.

Moving to New York  jolted me into a new and refined focus for my body goals. When you have no social circle, you’re new to town, and the only thing you know how to do is clean toilets, cook food, and do CrossFit you quickly find oneself at a crossroads: Cloister myself at home and go back to a life of excuse-driven emotional eating and watch everything I worked for over the previous months disappear, OR get my ass back into a gym. Given the relative newness of my active lifestyle compared to the longer backstory of, y’know, not that, history favored eating.


Consequently, it is of remarkable noteworthiness that Dignity intervened and with a hand on her hip and an annoyed look on her face said, “George.  Really?” to which I replied, “What?” all indignant and shit. Then Self said, “Listen to Dignity, George, she’s on to something here.” and I was all, “Why are you guys ganging up on me?” and that’s when Pride swaggered in rolling her eyes and barked, “Quit being a twit. You’re gonna get fat again.” Dignity shot Pride a frown and interjected, “What Pride means is all the work you put in over the last couple of years will be lost and I’d hate to see you start at level zero again.” And Pride backed it up with, “Oh for gawd’s sake put the ice cream down.” Now, like, no one takes my ice cream so I got all pissy, but that’s when Self Control stepped in and swatted the ice cream out of my hands and took a selfie with my phone.


“Is that what you want?” Pride asked, an insufferable know-it-all smirk on her ageless face. I chewed my lip and thought for a moment. “No,” I replied quietly. “I didn’t hear you, what was that?” asked Self, clearly enjoying herself.  “No,” I repeated more confidently. Self sat back and crossed her arms and gave Dignity a knowing look, “Finish her,” Self muttered to Dignity.  Dignity looked me dead in the eye and said, “It’s not me.  It’s you. Either you get back to the gym or I’m leaving you forever.” My eyes flicked open wide as I considered the implications of Dignity’s threat.  No Dignity? If Dignity moves out so does Pride cuz those bitches are tight. And Self Control will follow Pride and Dignity like a little sheep and if Self Control goes all the rest of the Sorority of Gamma George Gamma will depart for sunnier shores and all I’ll be left with are the freeloading hags Depression, Anxiety, and Excuses.  Uhhhhh…. No thank you.


Success Step 1: Having enough dignity to stick to my goals, even in the midst of ultimate upheaval and change.  In fact, goals really are nothing more than change maps.  Goals cannot exist without change.  So, goals.

Success Step 2: Trusting in the process that has yet to fail.  The process of show up, do work, repeat.  Apply liberally to all areas wanting improvement, which, if you’re me, is in all the areas.

Success Step 3: Letting Pride be a source of motivation, but that’s it.  Pride can be duplicitous and cahoot about with Negative Self Talk who we all know is besties with Poor Self Image and seriously if they get to talking it’s like no one else can get a word in edgewise.   Don’t confuse Pride with Dignity.  Dignity is in this deal for the long haul physical and mental benefits.  Pride is in it for smaller pants as soon as possible.

Success Step 4: Try.  Try.  Try. Try.  Try the heavier weight.  Try the longer run.  Try the leaner meat. Try the sauteed kale.  Try to string one extra rep into that series of ten reps to get to eleven, then twelve, then thirteen and so on.  Try not putting the wall ball down. Try. Try the rope climb for the elevendieth time even though you’ve never done anything other than fail.  Failure is more indicative of success than the actual success is.  (Ugh.  I still sound like David Wolfe, don’t I.)

Success Step 5: Humble pie is my new favorite food.  See Success Step 3.

Success Step 6: Let your coach be critical and encouraging. If there’s nothing to criticize there’s nothing to improve on and if I can’t be receptive to criticism and correction then I’ve already failed completely.   Let your friends be encouraging. Be encouraging to your friends. Change, “Yeah, well I scaled” to “Yeah, I did the work.”  Be generous giving high fives and gracious when receiving them. Be truthful with your reps and with your scores! Not every day can be a Pollyanna romp through a daisy filled meadow, but what we are supposed to learn from Pollyanna isn’t that everything is joyfully perfect but that joy can be perfected in everything.  (Oh my, look at all the animated singing birds flyin around!)


What does the view look like from the top of the rope?  I can see all my goals laid out like a landscape, some are closer and some will take longer to get to.  That mountain way out in the distance? That’s Muscle Up Mountain, and one day I’ll get to summiting it.  For now, I’m navigating the Pull Up Foothills, which shares a border with the Valley of Unscaled Push Ups. Somewhere between the two I expect is the verdant glade of Double Unders.  Beyond the Crest of Chest To  Bar pull ups, before reaching the white water rapids of Strict Hand Stand Push Up River is the broad expansive plateau where RXville lives in peace and harmony with StrictMovementopolis.  And, all along the road I’ll be traveling I will be visiting the villages Cardiosskill, Endurancetown, and the federated municipalities of DontEatStupidCrap Castle.  It’s a pretty great view.  It’s a view that says I’ve got a long journey still ahead of me. The top of the rope isn’t the end of a climb, it’s just a new way to see where I’m going. So…. Off I go!





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