It all began running sprints and eating like a caveman when I was in treatment, Spring of 2011. Sober for only a number of days I could count on one hand. The most in ten years. Overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and physically wrenched after days of delirium tremens, I was asked to turn it over to something greater than myself. “What the hell does that mean?” I kept asking myself. “And where do I begin?” I thought.
There was the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that was handed to me upon arrival. There was also a mystical arrival of a book titled “The Evolution Fitness Diet” by Arthur DeVany. I don’t know how this book made it into my pack. I mean, I didn’t even remember to pack underwear.
Confused, lost, and desperate, I turned to DeVany’s book because it was the only thing that made any goddamn sense as I struggled to stay afloat in an ocean of uncertainty and confusion. “Move as if your life depends on it, because it does.” he wrote. And I did. And it was here, where the journey in discovering my body, I discovered my soul, all began.
Those Twenty-Eight days in treatment were the longest, quickest days I’ve ever lived. I feared leaving. “What am I going to do instead of drinking and drugging?” I obsessed. It was all I ever knew and I had no clue how to live a sober minute out in the real world. I didn't know where to start, so I simply made a list of possibilities for once I left treatment.
My “NED (New Evolution Diet) group” turned out to be a CrossFit community just blocks down the street from my sober house.
This story is about how CrossFit supported my life in the most transformative and challenging time of my life. And really, how it still does, almost seven sober years later.
For whatever reason, CrossFit for me is the perfect storm of strength, technique, endurance, focus and intensity. Very often, after the workout is finished, I collapse or completely surrender to the hammering of physical exhaustion and mental fatigue. I keel over and collapse to floor, lying on my back, staring at the ceiling. My lungs on fire; heart pounding nearly out of my chest. And smiling. Yes, smiling. I know I am right where I need to be and feeling exactly what I need to be feeling - inviting in gratitude for the work I’ve done and the health and ability to do so.
For me, CrossFit is a celebration of the physical connection to the body, mind and spirit. So often, when I contemplate the workout ahead of me, I almost think it impossible, or at least highly unlikely. And maybe more often than not, I don’t want to do the workout. But never has there been a time when I did something I didn’t want to do in the Crossfit gym and regretted it. I see this paralleled in countless other decisions I've made in living my life sober - more on this later...
There is no satisfaction or greater sense of accomplishment than completing a CrossFit workout. And it doesn’t matter if I finish first or I finish last. It is afterall a celebration and I take stock in being grateful for the physical capacity and capability I was just honored to participate in. It’s all about discovering my inner strength more than my physical limit.
I believe that this is the foundation of my discipled self. It is my practice for what I face in my day to day life. It brings intention, focus and purpose to all that I do. How deep can I connect and pay attention to what has heart and meaning in the most challenging of moments?
And let me not forget about the sense of community that is the lifeblood of CrossFit. In the community I am a member of, I am accounted for and I experience an extraordinary sense of belonging. It is a shared experience, as everyone is asked to complete the same task at hand. And no one is ever left alone. I am never judged, only accepted. I am greeted when I walk in the door and handed high-fives or fist-bumps from multiple members after the workout.
My participation, my simple act of showing up has inspired and forever changed my outlook and direction in life. I have been blessed to have met the people that care about me - and in return - I care for them just the same. These relationships I’ve formed, the culture we crave and create together is my lifeblood. It’s what keeps me coming back and growing stronger.
Perhaps this is a tribe, and in that tribe, I am a warrior. Everyone is, whether they know it or not. In this tribe, it is not about who is the best, but rather your heart and soul’s effort. It’s focus and discipline is strength and agility, and not just physically, but your whole being: physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is what I call living a life of mastery.
It is my hope that perhaps you see yourself in my story, or possibly, where you want to be or the direction you want to go. If so, I invite you to join the Wyld Joy tribe - a tribe that will gracefully share their heart and soul with you. Trudging the road of happy destiny, together.
P.S. You're invited to join Wyld Joy every Sunday at 2PM for a donation-based fitness class. More information here. Feel free to write firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
*Photo Credit: Chris Edrington