Dear Crossfitter: Be Kinder To Yourself

Aug 3, 2011 by

“I suck,” my husband puffs out, red-faced and soaking wet, as he walks in from one his first few sessions Crossfit.

“You do not suck. You did it. I’m proud of you.”

“But I got smoked by a guy at least fifteen years older than me. And one without a tricep muscle!”

“Babe, it’s hard. It’s REALLY hard. But you did it. That’s what matters.”

“But I just feel like I always suck.”


“I pushed as hard as I could and I only got 5 rounds in!” one of my Crossfitter friends tells me, dejectedly.

“Yeah, that’s what I got too and I know I really tried my best.” I really did that day. I remember aiming for six rounds of the workout and only getting five plus some. But I knew I had really,  really tried.

“But I feel like Jessica* and I are the same fitness level and she got a full round more than me. ”

“We’re all better at different things; maybe she was faster at sit-ups. I know mine could use some more fire in my ass.”

“I’m  just so disgusted with myself.”

“Are you okay?” I ask a good friend I work out with almost every morning, seeing the pain register on her face. She’s barely ever missed a day of working out in the last year and a half – and some days goes twice – transforming her life and health from seriously overweight to fit and strong. She inspires me daily.

“Yeah, I’m just sore and my neck still hurts a bit from last week. I need to see the chiro again today.”

“Maybe you should take a break for a day or so and heal and rest.”

“Well, I can’t come twice today.” As if that inferred rest.

Crossfitters, on the whole, are pretty badass. They do pull-ups with torn callouses. They push for that elusive muscle up with bleeding wrists. They box jump and double-under until they lay breathless and sweaty on the ground, trying not to dry heave. They stand around each other, rooting for that next PR, that extra five pounds on the white board, yelling and hooting when they get it as if that victory were their own. Because in a sense it is.

We are only as good as those we surround ourselves with. If I can’t stay the extra five minutes and cheer for the last runner up a steep hill, if I can’t count out the last remaining reps of wallballs for the new guy struggling, if I can’t speed up a little to catch the tired girl running in front of me and say, “C’mon, PUSH! Don’t let me catch you!” to help her finish that last 100 meters, then what good am I to myself?

If we can be so supportive – so good – to each other, then why can we also be so hard on ourselves? We are letting each other down by treating ourselves like we are not as  good as the whole.

If you finish last, you do not suck. You finished.

If you pushed your hardest and you still didn’t get what you wanted, it’s okay. You pushed your hardest.

If you’re sore and broken and tired,  it’s okay to rest. You need to repair your strong body.

So next time you want to say to yourself how much you suck, or how bad your time was, or how you wished you did better, think about this: Would you say those things to a fellow Crossfitter?

No, I didn’t think so.

So don’t say it to yourself.

You are better that that.

We are better than that.

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  1. Thank you for writing this! I really needed the reminder to be nicer to myself, to be proud of what I’ve accomplished instead of dejected because of what I’m struggling with. You’re such an inspiration!

  2. Libbi

    Man, if you were in my town I would so be on board with CrossFit. I tried it once and it kicked my ass. Now I’m afraid to try again (and it’s pretty expensive here for my local CrossFit and I already have a membership at my local yoga studio)

    • Stephanie

      If you can swing it for even 6 months, try to go and learn the movements and then you can do it on your own with minimal equipment (well, some but not all WODs). It would be a start.

      • AndreAnna

        I agree with Stephanie. I so need the motivation of others around me, but some don’t. You need to know what kind of person you are.

  3. Its a tough balance in the CF world, totally agree. It pushes you outside of your comfort zones and helps you accomplish more then you ever thought possible. Striking the balance between motivating yourself to do more or better or longer versus being plain too hard on yourself (mentally or physically) is a tough one.

    Today I went back for my first CF workout in 9 months. I am also building up my endurance in my VFF’s after an injury. I think I may have been too hard on myself this go around…..pushing myself to run a bit more, a bit faster when I probably should have patted myself on the back for a good job getting back to the box and walked the rest of the way. The cost for me not being able to strike that balance, I could barely walk to my car with my calves locked up. Ah well, in light of being not to hard on myself, I will just smile and remember to not do that again :)

  4. my opinion is that crossfit can be too hard on the body. if you are doing it more than twice a week…..more than likely you should take a week off every month or so.

    • AndreAnna

      I do it 4-6 days a week and have never been in better shape in my life. That said, I do listen to my body and take time to heal or modify WODs to make sure my body is performing in optimal condition, as any Crossfit coach that’s worth a dime would suggest.

    • Julio

      Chuck, if you are following the main site workouts or the same schedule (3 days on, 1 day off) every 4th and 8th week should be half intensity and the 12 week completely off. Crossfit is a complete GPP (general physical preparedness) endeavor in all aspects, including and especially rest and recovery;-)


      • chuck


        I have seen the WODs on the main site. to train like that 58 out of 77 days and then take a week off is too much for the average person scaled or not.

  5. You’re attitude towards all parts of life is why I adore you.

  6. Sarah

    Hi, just wanted to tell you that I just “stumbled upon” ( your blog! I’m actually a reader already and have never commented… but I think it’s neat that I got led here on accident = D

  7. Stephanie

    I wanted to cry when I read this because it is so true. I need to be kinder to myself. Thank you.

  8. Guilty as charged! Wow, this really hit home. I get really upset with myself when I don’t finish as fast as I wanted to or fail to lift as heavy as thought I could. It is disappointing. I think there is certainly a need for CrossFitters to push ourselves. We push each other to try harder and we do need to have that inner fire to be better every time we do a WOD. But, I do hear what you are saying about being supportive of yourself and avoiding the “I suck” mentality that can happen. Great reminder!

  9. This concept applies to so many things in life that we beat oursevles up over. Seth Godin just addressed this topic in his post, The Heckler. I like what he had to say. Now the trick is following his advice!


  10. I heart rest. Seriously. I remember when I used to compare or think rest would make me fall behind. What a load of crap. Good on you for encouraging people to like themselves and not push it too hard!

  11. Thank you for this post. I needed this encouragement – I literally just wrote in my journal about the hurt to my own ego when I am one of the “slower” finishers. I get down on myself a lot after comparing to others, and I need to stop. I’m accomplishing so many cool things in the gym, making so much progress for myself. That should be encouragement enough to remember that!

  12. AMEN! This is so true. We would only encourage (and repeatedly encourage) those we CrossFit with, why would we sell ourselves out for “not being good enough”?

    I am definitely guilty of this. And really, sometimes the only place it gets us is tired, injured, and overtrained.

    Great post!

  13. Another of the many wonders of CrossFit is that regardless of location the people and attitudes don’t change. For every individual that is beating himself up there is a group of supportive members keeping him motivated.

    See a map of all CrossFit affiliates at

  14. Thank you for writing this.

  15. Thanks for this post. It’s hard to not beat up on yourself when you have certain goals in mind and you can’t meet them sometimes. Like you said, sometimes you need some rest and all the time you need to be kind to yourself.

  16. I was very happy to find this blog. As a “elder master” in crossfit, I only have 20-40 year olds to compare myself to. It is frequently discouraging. Then, I realize I am 56 and keeping up and at times, finishing sooner or lifting more weight than some of the 20-40 year olds. It is so important to keep it in perspective and remember to enjoy what we do. I am still chasing the elusive unassisted pull up! But I know it will happen if I keep working on it:)

  17. alfie

    “Crossfitters, on the whole, are pretty badass. They do pull-ups with torn callouses. They push for that elusive muscle up with bleeding wrists. They box jump and double-under until they lay breathless and sweaty on the ground, trying not to dry heave.”
    That’s not bad ass, it’s stupid.
    It’s confusing the goals of training and competing.
    Pullups with torn callouses can lead to hands in worse conditions, and more forced time off.
    Open wounds on equipment risk infection for yourself, and make a biological mess for your gym-mates.
    Box jumps till exhaustion defeat the power development purpose of the exercise and increase risk of Achilles damage.
    Bust ass in the gym, but don’t applaud unproductive risks.

    • AndreAnna

      I assure you that my coaches and trainers are very careful with their people, equipment, and have the utmost safety in mind, as I would argue are almost all. But thanks for your comment.

  18. Erinmariex

    Beautifully written! Wow, I love it!

  19. This is great! Thanks for posting. I’m a health coach and hear this kind of negative self talk from my clients very often, so this will be perfect to show them and hopefully break some bad habits.


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