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Advice from a crazy bird lady...


When it comes to training, I'm admittedly constantly battling temptation (short-term minded...and a little greedy) versus being smart (long-term minded).

It's kind of like the heart-head battle that often goes on in an ill-sighted relationship: You're in love with the wrong person, but your heart (and vagina) wants what the heart (and vagina) wants, meanwhile your head (and all your friends) are telling you it's a bad decision. 

I'll be the first to admit, I get lured in by the sexy movements at the gym: The muscle-ups and the snatches and the toes-to-bar and the butterfly pull-ups. 

My muscle-up story: There was a time—2009 when I started training at CrossFit London in Ontario–when I didn't think I'd ever be able to do a muscle-up. I was 5'9" and 165 lb. It seemed like an unlikely feat of strength for me.

Lo and behold, less than a year later, I willed myself through those rings. To be honest, I was NOT ready to do a muscle-up (Tom might argue I'm still not ready). I did this giant, dangerous kip (that always made Sheppy cringe), where my feet went way over my head towards the ceiling, and somehow launched myself into the bottom of a dip and fought like hell to lock that shit out. 

Like many people, my nature is to try to do what appears to be the "hardest," most "glamorous" version of the workout—to select toes to bar instead of tuck-ups, or muscle-ups instead of pull-ups. 

I knew I should get stronger before throwing myself through the rings back in 2010—and it bit me in the ass in 2012 when I nearly qualified to the CrossFit Games but failed to because they implemented a rule that stated your feet couldn't go above the height of the rings and I hadn't bothered to learn a muscle-up any other way (should have listened to Sheppy)—but my ego got the best of me: I let my heart win over my head, and my heart said, "Fuck it! I'll take shitty ass muscle-ups over no muscle-ups at all for the next three years."

I see this struggle on a daily basis at the gym: People doing pretend strict toes-to-bar with a small kip or bent legs instead of selecting V-sits or Tuck-ups. Or people not going to full depth on their push-ups instead of grabbing a box and doing an inclined push-up. 

I want to say, I understand and empathize with those of you who want to do the sexy movements, even though you know inside you're not doing them very well and would be better off mastering the pre-requisites before taking on the harder task. Patience has never been my virtue either...

But, I decided recently to try to let my head win a little bit more. Recently, I was so tempted to try 19.2 of the Open but decided not to because I literally haven't cleaned in four months and knew my cleans would devolve into sloppiness during the workout when I was out of breath and pushing harder than I normally do these days, and likely would have left me with my usual rib injury in my back. I opted out, was sad for a brief moment and moved on quite quickly.

All this is to say:  Temptation will always be there to make you salivate with excitement. Sometimes you might give in to it. And that's OK, too. But usually, the smarter decision is to listen your head. Long term you will thank you for it...Just like the time you were dating that asshole and all your friends knew it and you gave him three years of your life because the vagina wanted what the vagina wanted...

Patience is truly a virtue (says my 35-year-old work-in-progress self). Then again, what do I know? I'm just a crazy bird lady. Seriously, I love birds.

 - Emily