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January 1, 2013

Can We Take Our Egos out of Our Workouts & Find Acceptance? ~ Jessica Jenkins

Photo: Greg Westfall

After high school and right into college, I became infatuated with “working out” and eating right.

Actually, infatuated is an understatement. I become completely and disgustingly obsessed. I went from 125 to 113. However, I didn’t have an eating disorder at all. Eating disorders are all in your mind. I was eating right and working out. Crazy, right? It gets better…

At the age of 20, I was a personal trainer and a nutritional coach at a local gym. I loved, and still love, the aspect of feeding your body and not treating it like a trash can. My whole goal in life was to get better, be thinner, build more muscles, do this, get that. In a nutshell, now that I look back on it all, I wanted to be something that God, Brahman, Allah or whatever you believe in, didn’t put me on this earth to be.

I. Was. Never. Good. Enough.

At 22, I found CrossFit. I loved it. I dreamed about it.

I was in the “box” from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. building on my shoulder press, bench pressing. I even got a CrossFit personalized journal to keep track of my increases in strength and decreases in my “Fran” time and blah blah blah.

Again:  I. Was. Never. Good. Enough.

Even when I was the “best” for the day by beating everyone’s times, or even making a “PR” (personal record), I still thought to myself, “My dead-lift could be heaver.” My attitude towards everything became negative. my husband noticed it, my friends noticed it and I was no longer someone who you wanted to hang out with.

The amazing woman who owned the gym is now my best friend. I went up to her and told her that I wanted to try yoga, as a restoration after my daily beat up. She wanted to come along with me. Our first time, we fell in love. We never knew how something physical, such as your breath, could bring such life and acceptance. It was a weekly routine that we would go to yoga in the morning, sit and talk at Starbucks, then go to the gym. We were driving away from the harshness of CrossFit.

Eventually, I moved away, and she closed her gym, but we both continue to practice daily. Whether it’s meditation or asana practice we both have grown a positive and loving relationship with yoga, because no matter what, you’re good enough.

Yoga doesn’t judge you for not being able to get into Hanumanasana, yoga doesn’t judge you at all. It’s the intention that counts.

As my favorite yoga teacher, Bryan Kest says, “having a bicep bigger than your head will never increase your gratitude.”

Ain’t that the truth? What was I trying to prove when trying to get my dead-lift up to 300lbs?

CrossFit talks about the 10 fundamentals of fitness, which are:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Agility
  6. Balance
  7. Coordination
  8. Accuracy
  9. Power
  10. Speed

What about yoga? Yoga doesn’t offer those?

I’m pretty sure it does, and I’ll tell you the eleventh thing that is on yoga’s list: patience. The twelfth is tolerance, thirteenth, acceptance and the most important: fourteenth, love.

I’ve never met one Crossfitter that was okay with not making a PR on “PR day.” In yoga, it’s okay that you aren’t able to get into the headstand, it’s the intention that matters.

For the first time, I’m okay with what and who I am right here, right now.

I’m able to wake up and appreciate all that I have: a nose to smell with, taste buds to taste delicious, organic foods or a big, fat piece of cheesecake, eyes to see the beauty that we’ve been blessed with, a heart to open up to those who matter and those who are strangers. I appreciate that I have lungs to fill with breath, hold and softly let go.

I’m accepting and not judging myself and others around me. I’m able to relax my jaw and not make hideous expressions on my face while in urdhva dhanurasana. I can quiet my mind when my hip flexors are screaming and opening. I’m perfect the way I am.

My goal isn’t to drive anyone away from CrossFit, or any gym for that matter. We should each find what we love. I’m also not asking anyone to only practice yoga asanas, but to sit down and try to quiet your mind. A whole new world will be revealed.

Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in a month or a year. It happens when we allow it.

In CrossFit, or the gym, can you take the ego out, and be okay with dead-lifting whatever your body is allowing you to dead-lift? Don’t let it get to your head and don’t try to impress anyone but yourself.

At the end of the day, we can ask ourselves, “am I feeding my soul with sh*t that doesn’t matter, or am I going to bed marinating in all the love and gratitude that I have.”

 

Jessica Jenkins is a 24-year-old woman who has been practicing yoga for only a year and a half. I’m studying and reading yoga as I type this. I’ve been through every physical aspect of the fitness world, and found that nothing “beats” yoga. The mentality of yoga serves me for all my well being. I’m studying business management in college and working full time for Apple. I will continue to grow from yoga, and I’ll keep “letting go.” I’m inspired by all my yoga teachers: Mary Lange, Laurel Hodory, Kara Lough, Bryan Kest, Kathryn Budig, Jodi Blumstein and reading inspirational blogs, articles, and music. I have a love for animals, and have an amazing supportive husband who catches me every time I fall and holds me a little higher when I’m at my peak.

~

Assistant Ed: Kate Konieczny

Ed: Kate B.

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