I’ve been wavering on how I feel about CrossFit for a while now, and I stayed away from the gym all last week to try and . . . I don’t know, get some perspective, I guess. I jumped around the living room to DVDs, I ran more miles than I’ve run in months. If there is a form of exercise that is 100% enjoyable I’ve yet to find it, but I noticed that even during the mostly-ridiculous moments of throwing punches in front of the TV and the exceedingly-heinous part of my neighborhood loop with that lung-shitting hill, there were these little bursts of feeling—if only for the briefest of intervals—as though I was fully plugged into life. Lit up like a Christmas tree.

That’s the best way I can think of to describe the fleeting endorphin rush, that elusive exercise high that never lasts as long as I’d like it to. Most of the time for me the payoff of working out is afterwards, when I can feel awesome for having it be over and done with—but sometimes the exertion itself has its own reward.

I’ve never felt that way with CrossFit. For a long time I thought that was probably okay, that a workout designed to push you to your max isn’t supposed to be fun and that’s all there is to it. But I miss it. I miss feeling good while I’m sweating. I miss the sense of accomplishment. I’ve rarely regretted a CrossFit workout, but I’ve also traded feeling amazing and strong for a sensation of being virtuously wrecked.

For that and a number of other reasons, I cancelled my membership this week. I told myself that I’ve given it six months, that there’s no reason to keep trying to make the most of something that just isn’t right for me, that there’s no shame in moving on. Still, I cried myself into hiccups, tangled up in a pile of mental crap I can’t even fully unravel.

I know I’m disappointed because I really wanted to love CrossFit. I know how immensely rewarding it’s been for other people and I wanted to be one of those success stories, all sinew and muscle and a newfound sense of badassery. After years of trying all sorts of different things—gyms, personal trainers, DVDs, classes, swimming, running, biking—I was hoping I’d found my thing. The thing I embrace wholeheartedly, the thing I get really good at instead of being enthusiastic but barely competent.

I also know I’m more than a little humiliated that there’s a social aspect that I never got right with. It seems like the fact that I never really made gym friends or even got to the point where I could comfortably walk in the door without feeling like I was looking for a table in a middle school cafeteria verifies what I’ve always suspected about myself: that I am a pathetic unlikable dork.

And, of course, I feel like a wimp. Like whatever I tell myself—oh, the weather’s getting nicer, maybe I’ll get back into kickboxing, start doing some more races—is just an excuse. As if it’s anything other than admitting defeat.

I’m not really sure why this decision has stirred up so much murk in my brain. If I were listening to someone else say all this, I’d be like, are you fucking kidding me? You’ve got zero reasons to beat yourself up over making a choice to stop doing something that isn’t making you happy. Life is too short for forcing yourself to do things with a crappy suck-to-yay ratio, good on you for recognizing you need something different. Good on you for not continuing to dump boatloads of cash into something you don’t love.

Still. Still.

:::

(Thanks for bearing with me as I write this out. It helps.)

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Ulli
11 years ago

You ran a marathon.

:)

Don’t ever call yourself a whimp. And hey, it’s just not for everybody. I look at it and get a cold sweat,so I think you are amazing for doing it 6 months. Move on and do something that gives you the feeling you crave, not dread.

Erin
11 years ago

That last paragraph says it all. Go with that and leave the rest behind.

Dawn
Dawn
11 years ago

“It seems like the fact that I never really made gym friends or even got to the point where I could comfortably walk in the door without feeling like I was looking for a table in a middle school cafeteria verifies what I’ve always suspected about myself: that I am a pathetic unlikable dork.”

Linda, I just think this wasn’t the right place for you. You would probably have had the same experience if you joined a knitting group then realized you didn’t enjoy knitting. People bond over shared enthusiasms.

amanda
11 years ago

Everything you would say to someone else – say to yourself. I think you rule.

Sande
Sande
11 years ago

If it helps…you inspire me to do exercise-ory things.

Sarah Lena
11 years ago

I am high-fiving you over here. Not because you quit Crossfit, but because you did what you knew was the right thing even though it sucked.

I’m in the same boat. Crossfit, as much as I wanted to like it, had made me SCARED to exercise. I filled with dread. I spent entire days fearing a fifteen minute workout. And some people are REALLY good at not only overcoming that but learning to enjoy it. I am not one of those people.

I recently started a class to train for a 10K, and I felt the same all-day-dread before the first class. I felt like I would fail, like an entire room full of people would be there, falsely cheering me on when they’re really wondering why this was an Equal Opportunity place. But I went anyway, and as I was sweating and exhausted, I remembered why I started running:

.. because I kind of liked it.

You’ll find your stride again soon. It’s never fun and it’s never easy, but it’s always always worth trying.

Sorry I took your comments section for ransom here.

Justa
Justa
11 years ago

Perhaps you shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. When I first started doing CF, I’d follow CF workouts on Monday, Tuesday (sometimes), and Wednesday, rested Thursday, did a non CF strength only workout on Friday, and did some kind of running on Saturday, often sprints. Sunday was a rest day too. I walked a fair amount too. Point is, you can develop a program that you can do on your own which takes advantage of some of the benefits of Crossfit, and still do things that will give you that rush you’re looking for. It’s the best of both worlds.

You don’t need a box to get the benefit of doing some of the CF workouts.

Good luck!

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

But you ARE a badass, and so, so likeable!

Lyn
Lyn
11 years ago

I agree with the above statements…..you ROCK! and besides I’d trade the high for feeling ‘wrecked’ any day! Exercise is not only for toning the body but its for your psyche too and if you’ve found what works for you better in that area than you WIN AGAIN! Love how you write so that we can all feel this….with you! Thank you!

Michelle
11 years ago

The only thing here I disagree with is that you are unlikeable. I can understand the swamp of emotional muck that came with this decision. Still proud of you for continuing to look for those occassional endorphin highs and for recognizing when they ain’t coming. Also? YOU RAN A MARATHON. BAD. ASS.

Mel
Mel
11 years ago

You are way too hard on yourself. I love your blog. In fact not long after you started doing CrossFit last fall I found a great deal to try out a class where I am in Pittsburgh and I love it. I love it so much I talked my hubby into trying it who could take it or leave it – it’s just not his thing. I go early in the mornings and I love the trainer but I also love the people I work out with. My hubby goes in the evening and it’s not that he doesn’t like the people he works out with but they are all young with no families and just really have nothing in common with each other so I think that takes away from his liking the class as well. I’m quite sure I’d love to chat with you in a CrossFit class or anything for that matter! It’s all about the gym, the people, the trainer that make something enjoyable and you either love it or you don’t but not loving it surely doesn’t make you a failure!!! I can’t imagine running a marathon :) You are such a beautiful person and obviously a great writter so don’t be so hard on yourself!

Sherri Strader
Sherri Strader
11 years ago

I’m glad you wrote this post. My empathy is with you more than you’ll ever know. I want to enjoy exercise too, I just don’t. I love how it makes me feel afterwards, but during the dreadful hour of torture I hate it. Doesn’t matter what it is….

I’m with ya girl.

Amblus
11 years ago

You’re fine, girl! You are FINE. And you’ll find your thing, I promise. The funny thing is, I’ve found a few things I like that work (weight training, mountain biking) and people still keep trying to talk me into *their* thing (usually running, Bikram, Crossfit) and I’m just not interested because I know what I like and I know what feels good and what doesn’t. Running clearly makes you feel good, so do that. And also maybe sit down and figure out what your goals are. Do you just want to be stronger? Thinner? Faster? These are pretty definable goals with easy solutions. You’ll get there.

Crystal
Crystal
11 years ago

I have the same feeling when it comes to exercise. I know I need to do it so I am in some shape but I’m just too lazy to do it. I did go so far as to join an all lady’s gym thinking it would be different than regular gyms. Nope I felt the same exact way walking into a regular gym and its the way your described. You feel like all eyes are on you and you will be judged if you don’t do it right. Good for you for quitting. It sucks but its better than feeling like a bigger dork and wasting money. I now walk our dog whenever I can find the opportunity to get out of the house (which is not often with two kids as you know). I still find excuses even for that when I can. Its got to be laziness on my part, but then I think Hey I do exercise, I have two kids to chase all over…so I guess I do get a workout occasionally and there is nothing wrong with that.

Josh
Josh
11 years ago

The sentence that says it all: “Life is too short for forcing yourself to do things with a crappy suck-to-yay ratio.” So extremely true. Good decision.

dorrie
dorrie
11 years ago

We are so hard on ourselves, needlessly. Try saying that statement in the last paragraph of your post to your middle school geek inside you. Then move on with joy. All is well, you do enough, you are enough!

jennifer
jennifer
11 years ago

Good. I’ve been wanting to tell you it was okay to quit and that you sounded miserable there…but that is weird since I don’t know you. Your fitness journey has been amazing, you should be so proud of yourself!

Janssen
11 years ago

I’m pretty sure I’ll spend my entire life feeling like the awkward person in a middle school cafeteria.

feliciab
feliciab
11 years ago

You’re awesome and an inspiration for all of us. You do what works best for you. Besides, CF is littered with a buncha smug, self-righteous jerks. I’ve got a small handful of them in my family.

Anne
11 years ago

All those things that you wrote at the end of your post, about how this is a good choice to make and good-on-you? Yes. That.

I know it was hard, and I’m sorry your brain is stired up about it, but I’m happy you’re making a choice that is good for you and feels like the right decision.

(And my dear, there is nothing unlikeable about you. I know! We hung out! I can speak with authority on this. You are charming and loveable and if I could be you when I grow up (…if I ever bother to grow up…) then I totally would. And I mean that in a totally not-at-all “Single White Female” kind of way. Yeah.)

KKF
KKF
11 years ago

I might be overstepping here, but here are my two cents. (you know, again.)

You are a wimp. NO really. You are a big old wimp and you are socially awkward and that screaming little voice inside your head telling you that you can’t can’t can’t is your voice and it’s only your voice. You are an unflappable nerd and you are utterly unlike-able.

Except… for how that’s exactly how we all feel too. You are a wimp, my lady. And you are our wimp.

We all feel like this. Maybe to be not so bold, I feel like this. Constantly. Incessantly. Irresistably. The “can’t cut it” song plays itself relentlessly in my head for years at a time. And it hurts. And every time I feel myself backing down from something the hot shame of it just fills me up and breaks me down.

WE all feel like this.

That is what makes you so impossibly un-wimpy. Because you are just like us. You’re a mom. And a wife. And an athelete. And a human. You make mistakes. You make decisions. You feel feelings and you live your life.

And we love you for it.

Thanks for being here for us.

Caroline
Caroline
11 years ago

Ok so I’ll say it to you “are you fucking kidding me? You’ve got zero reasons to beat yourself up over making a choice to stop doing something that isn’t making you happy. Life is too short for forcing yourself to do things with a crappy suck-to-yay ratio, good on you for recognizing you need something different. Good on you for not continuing to dump boatloads of cash into something you don’t love.” Now quit beating yourself up about it.

Victoria
11 years ago

I’m sorry this is hard for you. It looks like it’s pushing a lot of buttons :(

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

I spent a lot of years pedaling through intense spin classes, pushing myself to the max at the gym…I loved it then, but over time, it just stopped feeling good. I eventually realized that my insane workouts were my way of punishing a body that I irrationally hated, which is a story for another time, but my point is that these days, my exercise consists solely of walking and light strength training in front of my TV (Jillian, Pilates). And I feel GOOD. I’m eating a diet that fuels my mind and body, and I’m HAPPY. It took me a while to re-identify with myself, but I got there. I expect that at some point, my needs might change again, and when that happens, I’ll roll with it.

Don’t beat yourself up. You’re listening to your body, and there’s beauty in that.

Katherine
Katherine
11 years ago

This is such a well-timed post. I’ve also been toying with the idea of cancelling my crossfit membership. I started a few months ago after finding that my home videos no longer motivated me. And initially I really liked it, it was a new workout and something to get excited about. But lately the excitement has worn off and now I REALLY have to talk myself into going, I feel achingly self-conscious the entire time and I never get that whooo hoooo feeling either! You have been incredibly motivational to me with regards to fitness–I started with Turbo Jam after you did and it was so fun. Then when you moved to some Jillian videos, I did too, and I still love her No More Trouble Zones and Banish Fat videos. I did P90X while you trained for a marathon and then I finally started doing crossfit. There are parts I really like but overall it’s not easy to make myself go. I like the strength aspect of the workouts which can be really satisfying but I can’t seem to really get past my awkwardness.

So I’ve started to realize the most important thing to me is that I actually workout consistently–for me that’s every morning. And lately I’ve started to enjoy my home videos again. Bob Harper has these new Inside Out Method vidoes that are GREAT. They’re new and I really like them, they’re really freaking hard and they feel like a total cheat in comparison to going to crossfit at 6:30am.

This is the real part of my debate right now. I seem to get a lot of results when I allow myself to think I’m taking a cheat. Woooo I’m so bad skipping crossfit for Bob! Throw in that I can do the videos in the comfort of my own home with just a sports bra and no worries of self-consciousness, and it feels like a vacation compared to the horror of finishing last with every scaling option EVERY DAY. It’s demoralizing after awhile.

So do I keep my pricey Crossfit membership just to feel like I’m allowing myself a cheat by working out at home? That’s probably stupid. So I think I just talked myself into cancelling my membership too.

Thanks Linda! I think you’re great and I think you’ll find something to get you motivated again. As much as everyone says you never get bored of Crossfit because it’s constantly varied, blah blah–it’s still always Crossfit. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting into one exercise for awhile and then wanting to move on to something else.

And someday when I don’t live in a tiny condo I’d LOVE to buy the Crossfit package of equipment from Rogue Fitness and build my own gym in the garage. It would be the good things about Crossfit without the constant struggle to workout in front of a bunch of people I’m convinced are just staring at my red face and flailing limbs.

kristylynne
kristylynne
11 years ago

A: You are neither pathetic nor unlikable.

B: You kick ass just for trying all these different ways to keep your body in shape. You stuck with it longer than most people would have.

C: You look awesome.

parodie
parodie
11 years ago

It is a bit of a relief to see you quit CF, actually (not to make this all about me, but…). I really admire you and all you’ve done in trying on and kicking ass at new forms of exercise. Your running I’d what inspired me to finally lace on some shoes and just GO, and for that I’m grateful; but it’s also really reassuring to see you quit something that’s making you miserable and really not working for you. It sounds like the right step for you.

And – more importantly – you’re modeling good decisions and boundaries not just for random strangers on the Internet, but for your kids. Lucky kids!

tonya
tonya
11 years ago

I feel the same way about running. I continue to try and be a runner, and yet, in my gut I don’t feel I’m truly one at heart. Even though I work out 5-6 days a week, my intervals have decreased, not increased. But, I keep trying, cause it feels like I should. I don’t know…I give you kudos for recognizing this wasn’t for you and for having the guts to quit it.

Sometimes we feel so guilty for quitting, but isn’t it just as wrong to keep doing something that isn’t working for us mentally?

telegirl
telegirl
11 years ago

Unlikeable dork? Hardly. We <3 you!!

AndreAnna
11 years ago

As much as I wish you could have had the same experience I had, it’s okay not to.

Some people love hot yoga. I’d rather die.

It’s okay. Really. You’re still pretty badass.

KT
KT
11 years ago

There is no reason to continue doing CrossFit and spending tons of money if you are not enjoying yourself. Maybe join a tennis team, a volleyball team, softball, kickball, etc? Maybe you will enjoy being surrounded by others in a joint effort while working out?

Ginny
Ginny
11 years ago

I’m going to chime in here with a suggestion of trying Pilates (on the reformer machine). Maybe if you can find a studio and try an intro? It can be pricey – but I think it’s worth a try. Changed my life!

MRW
MRW
11 years ago

Sometimes I have experiences that out of the blue make me feel like “God damn it, am I EVER going to stop feeling like I’m in Jr. High for good?” It’s been nearly 30 years since I was in Jr. High, but I take it as a good indicator that anything that rockets me back to those feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, and lack of comfort with myself is not something I want to do again. Exercising sure as hell shouldn’t be one of them. It sounds like you made a good choice and won’t regret it once you get some more emotional distance from it.

Lindy
11 years ago

I almost took up crossfit because you were doing it. It just looked so badass and I wanted to be one of “those” people. The price of it turned me off- holy crap it’s expensive! I live in the UK and did British Military Fitness for 18 months and loved every single last second of it. I did it in the rain, sleet, snow, mud and sunshine. If you can find something like that in your area I highly recommend it. All those feelings of looking for a table in the middle of the cafeteria will vanish. It’s such an awesome social thing that even the most awkwardly social (me) person gets sucked into it’s awesomeness. I am now back at a regular gym because I screwed up my knee and miss it every single time.

Justa
Justa
11 years ago

Oh…as far as the social aspect…so be it. The sports world is littered with “chokers” that don’t thrive under the spotlight. There’s certainly no need to put yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Not everyone is into the whole group workout thing.

Figure out what your fitness goals are and in what environment your feel comfortable, and develop your plan accordingly.

Melody
11 years ago

It’s amazing how the many things that I CAN do well don’t even come close to making up for the one or two things that I CAN’T do well.

In other words–I sympathize with the way you feel, tremendously.

I’ve been lucky to find a form of exercise that makes me feel great. A few years ago, I re-joined the dance class I was in during high school and college. At this point, there are 8 women in their 20s, and 10 girls in high school in the class. But I know I’ll have to give it up one day, probably sooner than I would like. I think I’m pushing the bounds of ridiculousness as it is.

Justa
Justa
11 years ago

Didn’t mean to imply you were a choker. Just saying that the public eye isn’t for everyone.

Kate
Kate
11 years ago

What about a runners group through one of your local running stores? You’d get the social aspect without spending a ton of money.

Sunny
Sunny
11 years ago

It takes balls to try something so far out of your comfort range and stick with it for 6 mos. You gave it an honest try. That’s all you’d ever ask of your boys, JB or your friends- even us dorks on the interwebz. I hope writing it out helped flush away the murk. Be at peace, now go kick ass.

Christina
11 years ago

I swam competitively for 14 years. I loved it when I was a kid. Then I hated it. I hated going, putting on that swim suit and killing myself in the water two times a day. I know now that at the time I wondered for what? I never got much from it I thought at the time. I never felt great about it at the time. I dreaded the long distance workouts and feeling gnarly afterwards. Now I hardly swim any more. I want to like it but it just brings up those old feelings about how much I hated it at the end so I never swim.

I feel like if I turned my thinking on its ear about swimming I could probably come to love it again. Maybe it is just a matter of changing your “old thinking” (where ever that comes from) about exercise and your body and fitness on its ear? Play games with running or Cross Fit or biking or whatever you decide to do. Make it as fun as possible however that works for you. Make it about how you feel with each breath you take while running up that hill. Set little goals – run a 5k 1 minute faster or bike 10 miles more. Conquer the hill laughing. Find a smaller woman’s running group or a different type of Cross Fit gym where you do feel good about being there. I think we define our journey and not the other way around especially when it comes to fitness and our bodies.

Deanna
Deanna
11 years ago

I know *you* cannot see it but you are not at all the social outcast you think you are. Without sounding like a total creep, I would love to have coffee or a playdate or scrapbook with you! (if you lived in my city) And I bet there are folks all over who would love to have dinner with you when you are in their city. (again, not sounding creepy I hope!)

You are funny and insightful and much hipper and thinner than I could ever be.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is one thing. Torturing yourself with it is not.

Maybe this just means you have other aspects to work on in a different way. When at a park etc the thing I do to break the ice with other moms is compliment something and ask a question. Works with checkout folks, too, to get them to smile. (“i love that necklace. Where did you get it?”, “those shoes your daughter are wearing are soo cute – my niece would love them, do you mind me asking where you got them?”) If you have some strategies in your pocket it might help you feel less deer-in-headlights frozen.

<> Allow yourself to walk away from unhappiness.

NancyJ
NancyJ
11 years ago

You’re always an inspiration to me and I agree, go with your last paragraph and be done with it! Not everything is going to appeal to you.
I confess I’m the same way — for me it’s running. I WANT to like it, I really do but my knees go wonky and I have lousy breathing techniques. I WANT to be totally buff – not just my arms which are kind of nice but my short squatty legs too. But I lose my enthusiasm and realize it will never come to be, that I’m just killing myself with it.
You have so much to be proud of – embrace that!

Lawyerish
11 years ago

Girl, please. You and I have hung out, and you are adorable and easy to talk to and hilarious.

And you’re not a quitter for not loving CrossFit. Jesus. I’m sure it works for a lot of people, but it’s certainly not for everyone — just like ANY other form of exercise; some people can’t stand running or yoga or Jillian Michaels or WHATEVER.

As great as it would be to have your chosen form of exercise be your Thing — like, your great love, the thing that makes you feel afire — sometimes it’s just…what it is.

I mean, I enjoy running, but I am not one of those people who tries to do negative splits or PR every race; I don’t sprint hills or do fartleks (nor can I say “fartlek” with a straight face). I just get out a few times a week and try to run for a while, just me and my iPod, and sometimes I sign up for a distance race to get motivated. It is enough to keep me sane, healthy and reasonably fit, but it’s not my Life’s Purpose or anything. And that’s ok.

Please tell your inner voices to STFU. You’re awesome.

Penne
11 years ago

I would totally sit next to you at lunch. Except for as I was walking over you’d go “Crap, here she comes, gotta go!” Because of your earlier posts about CF, I avoided it…and found the coolest little gym ever with small classes (less than 5 people per) and I have the same trainer for every class. Guess what? We’re all cool kids there. Even me. So thanks for thinking out loud and saying what you really felt, bc otherwise, I’d be miserable in a CF class right now hating myself and feeling like everyone was looking at me like I didn’t belong.

Melanie
Melanie
11 years ago

Maybe you’re putting too much emphasis on excercise. You already are fit. Maybe the neighborhood jaunt is all you need. Try tennis, volleyball, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and do something truly fun that brings in social aspects too. Don’t beat yourself up, just look at it differently. I think you might need something more than excercise right now. A hobby, something just for you.

Nicole
Nicole
11 years ago

You inspired me to do a triathlon. You have the arms I’ve always wanted. I think you rock. No one wants to go back to that middle school feeling and 6 months is more than enough time to figure out if something works for you. There’s no shame in moving on.

jen
jen
11 years ago

In college I tried training for a marathon. On a Monday after a 12 mile run, I couldn’t even run 2 miles. I stopped and walked home, sobbed big ugly tears, and promptly quit training and never ran. I’ve now run one full marathon and two halves and am training for another half or full. Looking back, I know I could have finished training and would have completed that marathon BUT at the time? It was making me miserable and sometimes I think there is more to be learned in quitting than in sticking with something making you miserable. I think you’ve done some amazing things and you shouldn’t feel the least bit ashamed. Something better is just around the corner for you.

Erica
11 years ago

The crossfit thing always sounded so intense to me. Working out until you puke or almost puke? Who needs that kind of shit three times a week? If you exercise at all, you are WINNING. Tiger Blood.

Meagan
11 years ago

Yup. Can’t think of too many things wussier than thinking about maybe running another marathon. Pussy.

Killing yourself at something you get zero enjoyment from is a good way to burn yourself out on exercise entirely. You made re right call.

Emily
11 years ago

Don’t be so hard on yourself! Life is too short to inflict pain on yourself without enjoying it.

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