Four years ago and some 530 workouts, I lay on the rubber floor of my wife and I’s gym.
Everyone else in the class was headed out or milling around chit-chatting. I was on the floor drenched in sweat.
I had only been coming to this CrossFit gym for a few weeks or so, and the workout was slaying me.
Today the recipe called for a “Finisher” that included 3 sets of 15 “V-ups”, an advanced ab exercise. I was doing “Tuck-ups”, an easier version. And I was spent after the first set of 15.
I thought to myself, “NO ONE would know or care if I got up and left without doing the last two sets. I’ve done a lot, I worked hard.”
Weeks earlier though, I’d made a commitment to myself about this new gym membership. I was committed to working out 4 days per week, and I would always AT LEAST do what they told me to do. I’d do every exercise and rep I was asked.
I thought of that commitment and continued to finish the ab exercises. For the third set, I had to break up into sets of 3.
I flopped backward flat on my back after the last rep and felt a wave of emotion flood over me. I felt like I was going to cry. Or sob. I managed to look halfway manly as I bolted for my car after wiping up the sweat pool where I’d previously been doing the Finisher.
When I got to my car- I completely came undone. Sobbing like a weirdo in the driver’s seat. I glanced to my left and right to see if any of my gym mates might be watching. No one. Thank goodness.
Eventually, the moment passed and I went on with my day. But that experience stuck with me.
Of course, that day wasn’t special. Three sets of ab exercises aren’t anything to normally write home about. It was just one more workout where I kept my commitment to myself.
So what the hell was going on with me that day in the gym?
I’ve spent so much of my life evaluating my success based on the accolades of others. My confidence was fueled by my reputation and what others said about me. Performance and achievement. A reliable source of affirmation.
Around this time I was making a big career move, leaving a team I’d spent almost six years with as a key leader. I was struggling with self-doubt internally, really wrestling with imposter syndrome. Maybe I wasn’t everything I’d been cracked up to be.
And in that moment on the mat, it was just me. There was no one to give me atta boys. No one to remind me how great I was, or the successes I helped create in my previous role. It was just me, on the mat, doing what I told myself I’d do.
That day in the gym was transformational for me. It was a reminder that my journey into greater self-awareness had taken an important turn. I had always measured my success by external validation and accolades, but that sweaty, emotional moment on the gym floor opened my eyes to a different perspective.
As I continued with my CrossFit workouts, I realized that the commitment I made to myself was far more significant than any external recognition. It wasn’t about impressing others; it was about proving something to myself. Every drop of sweat and every rep completed became a testament to my inner strength and determination.
Over time, this mindset extended beyond the gym. I began to make more and more internal commitments to myself. Instead of constantly seeking validation or accolades from others, I focused on my own integrity to myself. Imposter syndrome still lingered, but I faced it head-on, armed with the knowledge that I could overcome challenges when I set my mind to it.
In the end, that day in the gym wasn’t about ab exercises; it was about self-discovery and transformation. It was about learning to rely on my own judgment and believing in my abilities. My success was no longer defined by the opinions of others, but by the promises I kept to myself.