Mind Over Matter

I don’t know what draws me to this pain and suffering that I seek after.  I’ve never been afraid to push myself to my limit – that’s for sure. It’s what draws me to Crossfit, I think – this intensity that can only be experienced firsthand.

I think a lot of it comes from my wrestling background, and even early on, in my early days, playing in the streets till the sun went down; physical activity was the norm. Growing up with 5 sisters, that was, you know, it was a way that I could free myself of the confines of the girly that things my sisters would love to do. My childhood friend Noah and I would play pickup basketball all day until someone literally gave up of exhaustion. Then we’d wake up and do it all over again the next day. We were competitive like that.

It’s a feeling that I’m chasing when I’m working out. It’s a point of sheer, utter, “I have nothing left” type of feeling. You see I’m not the fastest kid on the block; I’m not the strongest, but I know that deep down inside, I will never lose because I got soft or intimidated to take an extra rep. It’s just not in me.

I remember my days at wrestling practice; some days I felt more like a street brawler than any form of technicality. We were crazy Cubans too stubborn to give up a point on the mat, even if it was practice. I’ve always loved to train – training is very mental for me. At the end of the day, you know, you’ve got to understand that, you know, our body is just doing what our mind is telling it to do. I remember the day I first set my first 45 pound plates on the bar when benching – it made me feel like a man. It was almost a sense of right of passage in a weight room; it made me feel good about myself. I’d failed numerous times with that same weight my freshman year.

Those burpees that I’m doing are something that I enjoy, mainly because I’m good at them, to be honest. My hater friends say it’s because I’m short and closer to the ground, you know. But if I made an attempt to take a guy that was the same height, and benched the same weight, and had the same whatever cardiovascular VO2 max as me, and I challenged him to 100 burpees, I would still win – I’d still believe I would win, not matter what, any – any day. Why? Well because I’m freaking competitive. It’s just who I am. It’s what I feel separates me at high intensity – you know, it’s this kind of mentality of “Who wants it the most?” That’s all it comes down to.

To admit that you lost or you are losing because you weren’t mentally tough enough, as someone else, would just kill me – it would kill me to have to admit that. I couldn’t do it – I just couldn’t do it. So, when I train I have the invisible guy next to me, you know, calling me out, telling me to go faster, to get that extra rest, to not rest so long, to get back on the bar; it’s an inner voice, you know. For the most part, it’s a positive feedback where, you know, you can do it, he’s right behind you, it’s all right, you’re not going to die. Some days, during training, the voice never comes. The workout isn’t always epic, but I do it anyways because I know it’s good for me either way.

I don’t ever plan on stopping the way I train, ever, in my life. I’ve learned over time how to listen to my body. There are weeks I won’t train at all for an entire week because I don’t feel right. Other days I train two or three times a day just because I’m feeling it – you know, I’m feeling great – I want to take advantage of that. But consistently, I train enough to feel good, and I’m still getting better. I have much more room to grow. Today I feel great. I’m going to crush those burpees, as if there was someone right next to me, neck and neck, wanting to beat me. I’ll do everything I can to win, and I will not stop, for no one. One day, my training at the gym just might save my life.

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