It’s all in your head: How I’m getting over self doubt and finding my inner athlete

prowlerSo, as of this post I (Hilary) have been doing Crossfit for a little over a year. Over that year, I’ve learned a lot about myself (which you will find out if you continue to stay tuned to the blog), grown in strength and skills; but more importnatly, in how much I believe in myself.

I would say that it took me at least 6 months, maybe more, to even start believing in myself, and actually thinking that I “fit in” or belonged at Crossfit (just like everything Crossfit-related, I am a slooooow learner). Before I go any further, I have to clarify: the reason this took so long is absolutely, completely and 100% about me and what I think/thought of myself, NOT because of the other members at my gym or my coaches. They have all been totally welcoming, encouraging and inclusive from day one. It just took me (and is still taking me) a long time to see myself as an athlete, trust myself, and believe that I might actually be good at some things, and that I deserved to work out alongside with all the “good” people (seeing that typed out, I have to admit that it does sound a little silly).

In fact, even though I’ve come a long way, just a couple weekends ago, I described myself to friend and fellow Crossfitter, when talking about my non-athletic background and how I used to run, as “just a poser who does Crossfit.” Thankfully, she (and my roommate who overheard this) were quick to correct me.

Quick background: I’ve never been athletic, or into sports. At all. Before Crossfit, I dabbled in running (I only realized once I started Crossfit how much I never actually liked running) and worked out at the gym, but only because I had to. Never something I looked forward to in the slightest. I always tell people that the last day of Grade 9 Gym was the happiest day of my life because I’d never have to do that again.

So, when I started Crossfit, I was terrified that I would feel like a loser and wouldn’t be able to do anything. If you’ve tried Crossfit, you know that nothing could be further from the truth, and that if you’ve found yourself a good gym, both athletes and coaches will be friendly, and help you scale anything to your level.

But, I still felt like I didn’t belong. I wasn’t good enough. Everyone else was better than me. I remember during my early months at Crossfit seeing top times on the whiteboard and thinking that I could never compete or belong with those seemingly elite athletes. I repeatedly downplayed my accomplishments and bought into my lie of telling myself that I was somehow in a lower class than everyone else.

Yet, at the same time, I was working harder and harder. I started staying after class to work on skills, taking advantage of one on one coaching sessions to work on weaknesses, and (without knowing it), getting stronger and stronger.

From January to April, I completed a 100 days of Burpees challenge. Lots of people at my gym began the challenge, but I was the only one to see it through to the end. I also ended up making it a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and raised $700 on my own. In typical Hilary fashion, I didn’t realize until it was over that it was actually a pretty major accomplishment.

Around that time, I was spending more time at the gym, meeting more people, and still working on skills. I actually began to let myself have some pride in what I’d accomplished. After the burpee challenge was over, I suddenly found myself with more time on my hands. One of my coaches took me aside and said we needed to set some new goals to work towards. Suddenly I found myself with more “homework,” specific things to work on, and eventually, a lifting program to complete.

The combination of celebrating my achievements, along with a coach who came alongside me, recognized my potential, and helped give me something to work towards were both turning points for me. I began to actually see myself as strong, capable, and a force to be reckoned with. I realized that I was the only one who saw myself as somehow second class.

I also read a really great article last spring in Self magazine about how to train like an athlete. My favourite quote, which I have posted both in my bedroom and on the front of my Success Journal at the gym is “It’s not who you are that’s holding you back. It’s who you think you’re not.” I still come back to those words when I think I can’t do something, am having a bad day, or am doubting myself. It’s not because I can’t do it, it’s because I’m letting myself buy into the lies that I’ve believed for too long.

Fast forward to now. I’ve accomplished almost all of the goals my coach and I set back in April. I’ve been working hard at WODs and lifting programs. I’ve hit numerous PRs, and tackled several skills that seemed to elude me for months. I’ve completed my first competition. If that’s not an athlete, I don’t know what is.

I still have bad days. I still get frustrated and let my negative beliefs and self doubt get in the way. Just ask Jess. I texted her last week after completing my first successful toes to bar. Her response? “You always could.” It’s a journey, but I’ll get there. I am an athlete, I belong, and gosh darn it, I deserve to be there, right alongside everyone else.




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