I’m nearing the end of a personal 100 Days of Endorphins Challenge. For the first 61 days, I didn’t tell anyone I was doing a fitness challenge.
I’ve come to discover that I’m not someone who is motivated by simply telling people I’m doing something. Conversely, I find I’m much more likely to complete something if I tell no one about it for a very long time—until I feel confident I’m going to finish it (which for me was Day 62).
My challenge: Do one workout that inspires me, ignites me and takes me to my edge every day (make-ups allowed). I’m pretty strict with myself on what a workout is—I have to sweat, I have to feel my lungs expand, and I have to feel drained (in a good way—no drill sergeant bootcamps here). My goals? Strength, resilience, greater immunity, grace, tone and confidence.
For the first 78 days, I was doing fabulously.
Everything I did felt in complete alignment with my mission to become healthier and stronger. I’ve been really proud of my exercise choices, and the strength, endurance and agility that’s come from making this a huge priority.
But on Day 79, I absolutely, undeniably had my ass handed to me at Tone House.
Actually, to make the metaphor more accurate, I didn’t have it handed to me—I couldn’t make it across the room where they were handing it out, so they just dropped it on the ground.
Tone House, for those unfamiliar, is widely regarded as the hardest workout in NYC. Harder than CrossFit, Barry’s Bootcamp, anything else (check out some of the reviews here). It’s an elite workout for athletes, done in a team setting.
True to my intention, it isn’t something where you’re yelled at military style (I don’t do those for the stress it creates in the body). Everyone is encouraged to cheer everyone else on; we start as a team (complete with an all-hands-in hurrah) and end as a team, shakily hurrah-ing once more.
But, I have to admit: I just couldn’t hack it.
I hacked away at it as best I could, but I was not prepared for the physical challenge of competing at that level.
What made me feel even more depressed after I’d worked my body into a frenzy was that I was still the slowest person in the class.
This doesn’t sit lightly with a Leo… nor someone who is in pretty decent shape after working out for 79 days straight. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy going out of my way to do things that challenge my body in different, dynamic ways. But I couldn’t handle this.
Tony came to bring me ibuprofen shortly after my class (not for the pain from class, but for my monthly cycle cramps, which 100% contributed to my lack of energy to do this class, though it certainly wasn’t the only factor). When I told him what happened, he told me a story about his friend Chris, who he’d played Halo (the video game) with when he was younger.
Chris was really good at Halo. Tony and his other friends were consistently impressed with (and jealous of) how good he was. So with enough prodding, Chris decided to enter a Halo competition.
His friends all went to the venue—a video game store—to cheer him on, and everyone gathered around ready to watch the ultimate Halo competition.
Guess what happened to Chris.
Chris got creamed.
Because he was competing on an entirely different level.
And that’s what I did, I realized. I’ve been looking at people around me who are body builders and fitness models—like Alex Silver-Fagan, who I interviewed for Live All of You—and comparing myself to them, thinking I can be one of them, with just 1-2 workouts a day.
It takes way more than that.
And so as I nursed my hurt wrist, injured left abdominal and blitzed muscles, I wondered what the invitation was.
Was it to slow down, to do less, to surrender… or was it to level-up and be someone who can go to a Tone House workout and rock it?
There was so much of me that wanted to pick the second option—and not just my ego, but my sincere authentic ambition. There were also many nudges that were telling me to go slower and take care of my body.
But, I’m a professional at surrendering. I’m not a professional at giving something my all until I see the results I want. And I think there is value to that—I believe that intention and action must go together.
But then, my body told me the answer.
I went to a yoga class two days later when I could stomach the idea of moving around. As I flowed through the vinyasa practice, I felt my body releasing tightness, fear, anxiety… all of which had started to build up in the two days since I went to Tone House. It felt luxurious, it felt magical, it felt so damn good, I nearly cried.
Then I heard my body tell me: “Please don’t take me to Tone House again! I love this! This, yoga! And all of the other things we do are great too! Please not Tone House again!”
Ok, so it didn’t sound like that. But, that was the information that came to me from my body.
And I couldn’t ignore it.
Of course, I tried to later, when I saw some openings in Tone House classes the day before I leave New York again. Wouldn’t it be great if I built up enough strength and endurance to do another class right before leaving? Wouldn’t that make me feel amazing? Wouldn’t that be a great bookend story?
But sometimes you can’t do things for the story, as much as I used to think so. Sometimes you have to listen to a greater power—your body.