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Identify Your Why – Chris Spealler

We find the best programs, coaches, recovery methods, and a host of other things to improve our performance or get an edge on the competition.  But all of these things pale in comparison to one thing: mindset.  We have heard it time and time again, things like, “it’s 10% physical and 90% mental.”  But I think most are missing something.

Why?”  Why do you train, compete, workout, try to live a healthy lifestyle, etc?   The list can go on and on, but I often find people jumping into things head first without first identifying why they are TRULY doing it.  Our true reasoning can be positive or negative influencers in our lives.  Is it genuinely out of health reasons, or for the love of fitness?  Or is it for others approval, or our own self worth?  There are many tools that we can use to improve our mental state and make a shift toward positive thinking, but my belief is that we first have to be grounded in our “why.”

When we identify why we are training it provides us with 3 things.

  1. Purpose:  This is much of the reason why we are doing it.  When we train with purpose we are reminded of our why.  It gives us the motivation and direction allowing us to set realistic and accurate goals.
  2. Passion: When our “why” has been identified, it often provides us with the passion that many of us have lost.  Instead of mindlessly going into the gym or training session because it’s a sense of duty, we know why we are there.  We know what we will get out of it and how it will help us get one step closer to reaching our goals.
  3. Drive: This is the innate desire or need to stick with something and see it through to the end.  Our drive can look different depending on our season of life.  Some can be driven to strive toward competing at the CrossFit Games.  If that is one of our realistic goals and we are passionate about it, we will make the sacrifices to live the lifestyle required to get there.  On the other hand, if our goal is to be healthier for our family, be more active with our kids, or improve our quality of life, our drive will accommodate this lifestyle.

If you find yourself stagnating in your fitness, go back to your “why”.  It changes over time.  This is normal, but rarely do people take the time to reevaluate why they are doing it.  My reasons for training have changed tremendously over the past 2 years.  It has not been an easy road identifying why I am training now, setting new goals, and finding the positive reasons for doing it.  But more and more, I am finding myself enjoying training again more than ever before.  The community aspect.  The lifestyle.  It allows me to live outside the gym.  Skiing, riding my bike, being present with my family and not in the gym all the time.  These things have slowly crept their way back into my “why.”  My Purpose, Passion, and Drive support this lifestyle.

Had I not taken the time to identify why I train, I think it would have left me in one of two places.  One, training out of duty, and I would have had a total lack of enjoyment with it.  Feeling the need to be where I once was, please others, be better than the rest.  Sounds like a nightmare to me.  Two, I would have had to completely walk away from it.  If my reasons for training were negative and I couldn’t find the positive, I think my frustration would have risen and caused me to end up disliking training so much that I would have found another mindset, and my training would likely be less effective and less community oriented.

Take a moment to sit back and identify your why.  Maybe you are more motivated than ever, and you make lifestyle changes to accomplish some lofty, but attainable goals.  Or maybe you can take the burden of training off your shoulders and make it a joy again.  It’s up to you to ask “why.”

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Rest — An Objective Approach

Rest

We've all heard that rest days are how our bodies recover, repair and rebuild. I want to talk to you about a different kind of rest. The kind of rest that takes place in middle of that Constantly Varied, Functional Movement, High Intensity workout. You should be able to picture it.  You are in the middle of your workout. You have your hook grip, but the bar isn't moving and you aren't even holding it. You have a hook grip on your shorts or special Lululemon pants and you are bent over wondering why the guy next to you is taking all your oxygen!  Let's talk about how we can turn that rest into a productive application of strategy to reach our fitness goals. Those goals are different for each of us. You want to be a games competitor, best at your box, best at local competitions or just not get beat by your wife in workouts.  Your rest strategy is another piece to the puzzle of achieving those results that you want. 

A little theory review that I will summarize from the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar (all rights reserved). CrossFit's single definition is Constantly Varied, Functional Movement, executed at High Intensity. We like functional movements because they have the unique ability to express high power relative to their non-functional counterparts.  We can calculate the power output with the power equation of F*d/t = average Power.  We know that by definition; Intensity is defined as or equal to average power. We like intensity because that is how we get results.  We know we get results from looking at our log books with lower times, heavier loads, more reps.  I want you to visualize that if you did Fran, all the work you did can be calculated with (f*d=work).  If I know the exact amount of work (21-15-9 of Thrusters and Pullups) and I am trying to get high power, all I need to do is make the time (t) variable faster! Less rest = Results; and it is easier said than done.

I want to talk to you about a tool/technique that may help you measure and control the amount of rest you take. The Breath Technique (Copyrighted 2016 – 15 mins ago). It is really a simple concept that allows us to put objective time frames on the amount of rest that we are taking during workouts. Here is the basic premise,  You start with a certain number of breaths. For the example, we will say 4.  This means that any time during your workout that you quit moving, doing reps, or drop the barbell; you are limited to 4 deep breaths during that period. That is 4 deep breaths through your nose out your mouth. Anytime that you rest during the workout for whatever reason, you get 4 deep breaths. Now we can objectively, over time, slowly progress so that we are taking less and less breaths “rest” and doing WODs with Intensity and unbroken.

It is important to have a strategy for your rest to ensure that you are getting the results you want. Talking with Margaux Alvarez, 4x CrossFit Games Athlete and co-founder of Prepare and Execute Training she says, “In competition among the fittest, decreasing my transition times, i.e. rest between movements, has always given me an edge in a sport where every second counts!”

We have all heard that God rested on the 7th day (Gen 2:2). He has also commanded us to rest and not just suggest it. It is a time for us to reconnect with our creator that wants and desires dwelling with us. We can rest physically on our own, but we can only find true eternal rest through Christ in His death and resurrection. (Matthew 11:28-30). I was told once that there is a direct correlation between our busyness, inability to disconnect, and our ability to rest in and truly know our God. For each of us, ‘resting' will take different forms. It may mean to spend time with your friends, personal one on one time with your kids, enjoy God's creation or maybe just quiet time in the scriptures. The Sabbath was wired into the creation story—a time for us to turn our attention to God and the gifts He has given, rather than focus on our materialistic objectives. ‘Rest' is a demonstration showing that God's grace is freely given, not received because of how much we accomplish. I challenge you to find out what God is leading you to do on your Sabbath. Disconnect, and learn to truly know our God.

P.S. No one is stealing your oxygen.

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The Allure of Temptation

Faith Rx'd Iron Sharpens Iron and Power & Grace coach, Spencer Arnold, talks about the allure of temptation and what Solomon in Proverbs 5:1-5 and Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:13 wrote about it.

Sin is a debilitating force that will drive us away from the Lord in an ever so subtle, slow way. Recognizing that half the battle is seeing sin for what it is and fighting back by God’s grace grants freedom. Satan’s best measure to draw us to sin isn’t the massive, obvious, blatant offenses but the small, seemingly harmless sins that we cave to day in and day out until it has trapped us. Christ has given us a way out and a freedom from that trap in His work on the Cross for our behalf. Don’t let sin seduce you. Put your eyes on Christ and may the author and perfecter of our faith draw us into relationship with Him and out of sin.

Catch Spencer live at one of our upcoming Iron Sharpens Iron camps!

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Heroes

Growing up playing sports I had certain heroes that I idolized and always wanted to be like. In my brief stint in baseball (that would be anytime where there was no ability to cut me from the team) I idolized Tom Glavine. Left-handed pitcher, Cy Young Award winner, part of the great three from the Atlanta Braves. Every time I stepped on the mound I imagined myself being him. In weightlifting those heroes have changed over time but between Naim Suleymanoglu, Urik Vardanian, and Syzmon Kolecki, I was always watching and imagining that I moved like those guys. (Some of the weightlifters out there just laughed at me because of how different each of those lifters are but nonetheless I wanted to be just like them)

We do this with the Bible and with our Christian heroes as well. We look at Paul as a man worth imitating. Surely if there is somebody worth copying it's the man who wrote half the New Testament is the greatest missionary to ever walk the earth. Or what about David, titled a man after God's own heart who was so deeply intimate in his relationship with the Lord that God promised and sustained his lineage from which Jesus would come. Or one of my personal, nonbiblical heroes, Martin Luther who would give his life for the perseverance of the Holy Scriptures and proper understanding of faith during the Protestant Reformation. These are all men we look at, hope to imitate in many ways, and title as heroes of the faith.

All of these things are good. Certainly David, Paul, and Martin Luther lived lives lifting up the gospel of Jesus Christ. Certainly many of their habits, writing, and actions are worth imitating in our own lives. However, in our noble desire to honor these men for their work for the Gospel, we can miss a very important implication.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul points us to this reality. He says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” David reminds us in 1 Chronicles 29:11–12 that, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”

Each of these men, despite their honorable lives, were failures. David slept with another man's wife only to get her pregnant and kill her husband in an attempt to cover it up. Paul was the modern day ISIS, seeking out Christians to imprison and murder. Some of Martin Luther's words and anti-semetic views were not only filled with hate but made many question his salvation. Each of these men gave the world much to imitate but each of these men fail as worthwhile heroes. In fact, this is true of every man or woman who has ever walked the face of the planet except for one.

Second Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:5, among multiple multiple others, notes that there's only been one Man, one Hero who never fails. That Man is the Lord Jesus Christ. Our heroes in the faith, those worth imitating will always fail us except the one true hero Jesus Christ. The good and the admirable that we see in so many men and women of the faith in the past and today are only meant to point us toward the one true King who has never failed. All of the men that I've listed, outside of Jesus, will make terrible Saviors. The heroes we love and idolize are meant to point us to Jesus.  Jesus is the only hero who has ever lived and will ever live able to save us.  Only Christ can save and for that reason is He the real hero of the Bible.

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Why is Good Friday “Good?”

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

As a young kid, long before I really understood who Jesus is, I always wondered why they called today “Good” Friday. It seemed ironic to me that the day Jesus was killed is the day Christians call good. It always seems more fitting to me to call Easter Sunday,  good Sunday instead. Why not call the day He rose from the dead “good?” Why not give a negative name to the day He died?

When I became a Christian at 19, while the Gospel had been explained to me, I still did not quite grasp what was so good about His death. Christians celebrated the execution of a innocent man on what would be a modern day electric chair.  I knew His resurrection and Christ defeating the grave was good. I just didn't understand why we needed Him to die the way He did.

Some time soon after I became a Christian I was handed a book by John Piper titled “50 Reasons Jesus Came To Die.” It's a short devotional that details 50 “good” reasons Jesus needed to die and how that was a good thing. I would highly recommend the book. After reading it, two really important things stuck with me:

1. Christ's death was the fulfillment of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, and the final conclusion of a Messianic promise. Since the time of Abraham, God's people had been looking for the Messiah. There were literally dozens of Messianic figures who looked like they might be the Messiah, but only failed in the end.

  • Moses led his people out of Egypt and then ultimately failed them in his sin against God in the desert that would keep him from the promised land.
  • Joseph tried to save God's people by bringing them into Egypt and save them from famine, but ultimately just led them into slavery.
  • Pick any one of the judges who got appointed to save the oppressed, downtrodden people of God and you'll see their ultimate failure in the end.
  • David, titled “a man after God's own heart,” had everything in line to bring God's kingdom to ultimate power, and instead sinned against God by sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband.

Every single Messianic figure who enters the Biblical story ultimately fails to save God's people. They were always unsuccessful because of their ingrained sinfulness.  Yet they always point us to the true Messiah to come. Christ comes as the only perfect human, perfectly free of sin, who would save God's people from their own depravity. However, his only viable route to pull that off was to die the death mankind deserved.

Prophecy after prophecy declared that the Messiah would come the way Christ did. Isaiah 53 clearly details that the Messiah would suffer and die for His people that wanted nothing to do with Him. Why is Christ's death ultimately “good?” Because it fulfilled every prophecy ever written about Him, the prophecies people had been waiting for Him to fulfill for thousands of years. Christ ended their waiting.

2. It's good that Jesus died because our death couldn't heal the sin problem in this world. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sinned against the holy, perfect God. That sin wrecked their lives, their relationships, and every single life and relationship following them. Their sin created in man a depravity that could not be filled outside of the work of God. Prior to Jesus, every death that occurred was deserved and a direct result of the ingrained sin in our lives. Without sin there is no death, and one day when sin is no more, there will be no death. (Revelation 22) Our sin condemns us.

Romans 3:23 details very clearly that we all have fallen short of the glory of God and there's not a thing we can do to change that status. Our sin carried a punishment and that punishment is death. Therefore, God's “good” gift to us was to send the ONLY perfect human to die the ONLY innocent death as the ONLY way to reconcile our debt to the perfect holy God we have rebelled against. Philippians 2:7–8 details that the most humble act in history was Christ moving from perfect glory to take on human form in order that He might die for a people who only desired to hang him on a cross. Stuart Townsend in his wildly popular song “How Deep the Father's Love for Us,” concludes his song with these words:

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.

That's why today is good: Christ had to die for people who couldn't fix their sin problem so that they could gain relationship with the holy Father again. Without His death we would still be looking for a perfect Savior to pay our ransom. Christ has died. In three days we celebrate that death and that sin could not hold him, and our God could never be conquered by the grave.