Begin with the End in Mind
Written by Invictus Athlete Josh Littauer

The CrossFit community is always an interesting mix of people with individual goals, perspectives, and ways of approaching health and fitness. It can be easy to categorize each other and ourselves into boxes that identify each of us within the community. There is the mom of four, running back and forth between commitments trying to be as healthy as possible. The guy (or girl) who has always been an athlete looking for a competitive outlet. You could have jumped into the gym to shed a few pounds and start a healthy lifestyle. Or maybe a mixture of all the above who enjoys being healthy but also enjoys some competing for fun. Whichever you are, or not at all in these groups, you have a significant place in the CrossFit community and your perspective has value.

I recently posted a poll on Facebook that let me in a little on how many of you think of and view CrossFit. I was pleased to see the number of participants in the poll and thank each of you who got involved. The reason for doing the poll was to see how each of you, as part of the community, viewed CrossFit as a fitness methodology, if there was interest in competing, and how that perspective affected your daily output in a daily workout. Again, thank you for giving your input, it is all greatly appreciated.

Here is where we need to start, the idea of longevity. Longevity in the fitness industry can mean a lot of things but I really want to tie it down to what that looks like for the CrossFit community in daily approach to fitness. We need to look big picture. For most of us, life is about 85-90 years long and for the same majority we will spend a large portion of our life time striving to be healthy human beings. For example, let’s say at 26 years old you decided you are going to start exercising and eating healthy; that gives you about to 65 more years to continue to strive towards that healthy lifestyle. Your fitness will certainly wax and wane, but for the most part we will seek live with a health-conscious attitude.

So how does this tie into our daily fitness? It ties in by providing the overarching goals. When I look at my lifestyle choices, I need to think about how it could affect my lifelong fitness. This can take multiple shapes and sizes, and certainly can affect attitude and disposition toward fitness. Is my lifelong pursuit of fitness defined by the Rx button on Wodify? Is it defined by hitting the next personal best in weightlifting or gymnastics? Is it defined by my attitude toward and specific day’s workout? I think we all know the answer; No, it’s not. Longevity in fitness can be defined as a long perseverance in the same direction.

Back to the poll. Based on 80 participants, I saw a few trends that certainly broadened my perspective on how the community as a whole sees CrossFit. Sixty-five percent (65%) of participants said that enjoy CrossFit as their daily fitness regimen, while 20% said just for fun, and another 15% said they do CrossFit as their competitive outlet. Eighty-eight percent (88%) said they did CrossFit for their long term health and wellness. And a statistic I found humorous, 75% of men say they check Wodify at the end of the day, compared to only 54% of women who said the same. While these brief statistics did reveal a few things to me, I was very encouraged at the outlook for the longevity in everyone’s health and fitness.

I will use myself as a short example. I started doing CrossFit in fall of 2012, and immediately took to it as a new sport. I have been approached quite a bit recently by people who make comments about my fitness level, say “it must be nice being a freak”, or say that they just want to be able to do some things like I do. In terms of the long-game it is important to remember a few things. First off, I started working out (doing push ups sit-ups and air squats) when I was 8, so it has taken me 17 years to build the base I now work off of. My personal fitness has taken lots of turns from just trying to be healthy, excelling at sports (4 years of wrestling and 12 years of baseball), just building muscle, to competing amongst the top .02% fittest in CrossFit. Like anything in life things take time to build and the peak is often predicated on the overall base. Fitness for me has lots of faces, each with its own importance in forming my view of longevity of health. It seems now more than ever that I have felt compelled to look more deeply at CrossFit as a means to an end and not the end itself. The end game has changed from being among the fittest on earth, to being a healthy 85 year old man who loves playing in the yard with his grandkids. All that to say, fitness is a lifelong journey that just takes time.

To bring it all back around I want to take a look at a few ways we can all take the big picture approach to longevity in CrossFit and use it in our daily workouts.

1: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Speaking from personal experience it is easy to get caught up in behavior that can negatively affect your outlook on CrossFit and fitness in general. Some of those small things include; always looking for a new PR, constantly comparing yourself to others in fitness (especially true of social media), getting frustrated when you have to scale a workout, constantly looking for new programs or quick tricks to improve your fitness. It easy easy to get bogged down in little nuances of the CrossFit and fitness community. Big picture, stay focused on you, your journey, and how well you can play the long game.

2: Seek further education.

It is imperative in life to never stop learning. We are playing a very long game here and to ever sit in a state of complacency where you think you know everything will surely keep you in the same state you’re in. Look for outside resources, talk to your coaches, search for not just the “what” or “how”, but look for the “why.” The “why” often leads to a broader understanding of how daily action affects the long term. Don’t let pride stop you from growing.

3: Keep the end in mind, but don’t forget where you started.

This may be the most important as it requires the most focus on the big picture. It is way too easy to get stuck in the moment and become frustrated with where we are in fitness. The focus can be lost on looking at how others are progressing in their fitness, by getting nitpicky with the little things that don’t matter (see #1), or by allowing yourself to feel sorry if you think your progress doesn’t match some expectation. Stay focused on you and your journey. Keep the end in mind, but don’t forget where you came from.

As day by day, month by month, and year by year go by it is important to remember these things. Treat each day with the end in mind, stay focused on your journey, and stay the course.

Looking forward to playing the long game with each of you!

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