God is Not Dead

Last Friday, at 4:00 a.m., I received a frantic phone call from my best friend. Her spouse was being life-flighted to a hospital in Houston. He had suffered a massive brain aneurysm. I immediately made arrangements for my husband to take care of our two boys and headed to pick her up. Two hours later we arrived to what would be the longest weekend of our lives.

Families sit gathered in their corners of the ICU waiting room, hopeful for good news about their loved ones that never seems to come. A doctor walks in and a hush falls over the room. We all sit quietly and try to keep it together when a family falls apart as the doctor tells them their loved one will never wake up.

The hours tick by. We watch this happen over and over again, knowing everyone in this room is here for the same reason. Knowing their pain, because we feel it too. The feeling of despair and hopelessness, for ourselves and these strangers we now share a bond with.

Some families talk loudly and angrily, wanting answers. Some pray even louder, asking for God’s intercession. Some sit with blank stares and tear-stained faces. We all wait.
In the late hours of the night, when the waiting room is closing and only a few remain, something beautiful happens.

A lone woman sits quietly in the corner crying, her head bowed. One family gathers in song with their hands in the air as they ask God for strength through praise and worship. Their voices grow louder and the Holy Spirit descends.

The lone woman gets to her feet and wanders over to the family singing. Involuntarily, her hands go into the air and she joins in their song. The circle opens and she walks in as it silently closes around her, enfolding her in comfort and peace. I watch with unshed tears as, in a mere heartbeat of time, they become family, no longer strangers.

Regardless of the different colors of their skin, despite their circumstance, or maybe in spite of it, these strangers will forever be connected. A common ground is found and love overflows as grief finds another soul to torment. Amidst tragedy, God destroys boundaries and humans remain.

 

Lead Your Children In the Way They Should Go

I want to share something that has been on my heart for quite some time. I am speaking directly to divorced parents – or otherwise known as divorced if you have a child & were never married – as is the situation with me and my ex (Bobby).

Put your children first.

I cannot stress this enough. The lessons you will teach your children have no bounds. Bobby & I haven’t always agreed & it hasn’t always been easy; but, I can say we’ve always put Bryce first. So many times I have seen the rewards of that hard work. Like when I hear Bryce tell Ryan or April he loves them in front of me or Bobby. Like when he draws family pictures & includes all of us with a caption that reads “the two best families ever.” Like today, when Bobby & April sent home a birthday gift for Kade.

An original drawing by Bryce Wiley. <3

An original drawing by Bryce Wiley. ❤

God doesn’t share with us why He does the things He does. What He does tell us is to lead by example. Lead your children in the way they should go – and that is in the way of all that is right & good. In the way of love & respect.

I love that Bryce is comfortable telling the step parent he loves them in front of the parent. It shows he has no fear of hurting or angering the parent. It shows mutual love & respect. It reflects what a family should be. I love that Bobby & April (& Mrs. Rose) always try to include Kade as well, despite him not being “theirs.” I love that they not only put Bryce first, but Kade as well.

I am so thankful to have Ryan, who supports open communication between me & Bobby. Who is the best stepdad I could ever hope Bryce to have & an amazing father to Kade. I am thankful for all he has taught me about parenting & loving without boundaries.

THIS is what God calls us to do. Lead by example. Harsh words, anger & hatred do nothing for you or your children. Forgive, move forward & communicate. Teach love & respect. God will reward your children tenfold.

Special thank you to Bobby, April & Mrs. Rose from Kade (& us) for the birthday gifts.

Minibeast in the Making: Celebrating 3 Years of CrossFit

Apparently, time flies when you’re having fun. August 22 marked my 3 year anniversary at CrossFit Bridge City & it completely slipped by me. This might be, in part, to school starting, chaos ensuing and all hell breaking loose in general as we dive head first into yet another busy school year.

August 22, 2012 - my first social check-in for CrossFit!

August 22, 2012 – my first social check-in for CrossFit!

Plenty has happened in three years. My husband & I went through a lot of marriage counseling. After years of fighting, we finally met our goal together – crossing the finish line at the Spartan Beast to complete our Trifecta. (I would totally add that to the “let’s do it again” list!)

After 3 years, our Spartan Trifecta is complete.

After 3 years, our Spartan Trifecta is complete.

I’ve lifted a ton of heavy weight (pun intended), done 10,000 pull-ups and thought I might die on more than one occasion. I’ve had plenty of struggles and PRs (personal records) along the way. Like finally learning to do bar muscle-ups. That’s a moment I will never forget! I felt pure giddiness when I managed to get on top of the pull-up rig for the first time. (For real, I kicked & screamed with excitement like a little girl.) Ring muscle-ups are another story….but stay tuned, because I don’t give up easily.

Bar muscle-up practice!

Bar muscle-up practice!

Before CrossFit, I was just getting started on my fitness journey – which I’ve come to realize is my journey to self discovery. I was weak, uneducated about the human body, nutrition and my abilities. I was full of self doubt. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or the person I would become. I didn’t know CrossFit would change my life.

I know that sounds melodramatic, but that is exactly what happened. CrossFit changed my life because it changed my perspective. I hate failing. Funny thing is, failure is common in CrossFit. And I do it – a lot. I still don’t like it, but I’m learning it’s not a bad thing.

Failure is one step closer to success.

Failure gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, to become better. Failure gives you the chance to refine your skills, to improve your technique. Failure encourages you to go back to the basics, to educate yourself further. It is in the process, where you ultimately find success.

Ring muscle-up drills.

Ring muscle-up drills after failing them in the CrossFit Open.

Because of CrossFit, I am a strong woman. I am a healthy body. I am a renewed soul. I am a changed perspective. I am a success. Because of CrossFit, I can accomplish anything if I’m willing to fail a few times first.

But CrossFit wouldn’t be possible without my support system. Thank you to my husband, Ryan​, for always supporting me – especially on those days when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for not letting me wallow in self pity when things didn’t come easily. Thank you for pushing me to be more, in all areas of my life. Thank you for believing in me. You’re still the strongest man I know & I love that you’re mine.

Thank you to my CFBC Rooster Crew who keep me accountable & make the journey fun. I couldn’t do it without your witty humor and unfailing support at 5:00 a.m. You girls still amaze me!

Thank you to my coaches for having patience with me as I gripe my way through learning a new skill or conquering a fear. Thank you for continuing to provide me with opportunities to learn specialized skills – like Olympic lifting & gymnastics – from the best in the business. Thank you for yelling at me when I needed it.

This is only the beginning!

Making the Little Fierce: R.A.D.

Last week I attended a R.A.D. Systems training. R.A.D. stands for Rape, Aggression, Defense and it’s a course designed specifically to help educate people on the very real danger of sexual assault (commonly known as rape) and how to avoid it. For two days, our group of ladies learned about awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance. We also learned some basic hands-on self defense training.

RAD Training

For me, the scariest part was fighting (yes, for real) the guy next to me in this photo. At 6’5″ and 282 pounds, he had a definite size & weight advantage on me. (I’m 4’10” and 114 pounds.) After several hours of instruction and drills, they put us through different scenarios where we were required to fight our way out of a precarious situation.

I was petrified.

I’ve been small my whole life. It’s something I’ve just kind of accepted. (It’s not like I have much choice in the matter.) That being said, I’ve also let it get inside my head on more than one occasion. Give me a CrossFit workout with wall balls? I’m totally going to complain & claim I have a disadvantage. Put me in a dark alley with a guy 168 pounds heavier than I am? I might just change my mind about my fighting abilities.

But, I did it!

I was definitely scared & more so than I thought I would be considering I knew this was just a simulation – but I did it. I managed to fight my way out of choke holds & being restrained from behind with my arms pinned down. I was able to fight this guy off several times and even land a few good punches in the process. Before last week, I had no idea what I was capable of. Today, I feel much more confident in myself were I ever to be put in a dangerous situation.

LittleFierce

R.A.D. offers courses for women, men, kids and seniors. I encourage everyone take it, especially women. Without a doubt, I genuinely feel like this course could save your life. For those in our area, it’s offered free by the Beaumont Police Department. A fair warning, though, they are in high demand and space is very limited. I recommend contacting Sgt. Cox to get on the list for an upcoming class. Side note: Classes are limited due to funding. If you know of a business willing to donate, please refer them to Sgt. Cox as well. Those not in southeast Texas can find a R.A.D. training location on their website.

March 8-14, 2015 is NO MORE Week. NO MORE is a national movement to raise public awareness and engage bystanders around ending domestic violence and sexual assault. I encourage all of you to use this week as an opportunity to educate yourselves on sexual assault and domestic violence. And then, find a R.A.D. class and get signed up!

 

Growth Through Challenge

Sometimes it’s easy to feel defeated. It seems as if everything is stacked against us and no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get things on the right path.

The thing is, these times usually catch me off guard. Over the years, I’ve built a mental barrier to stress and chaos. Growing up in a household with eleven people, I was used to things being a little chaotic and not everything always going according to plan.

As I grew up and acquired my own set of responsibilities, I tried to maintain some sense (okay, a lot) of control over my life.

I schedule every second of my day. If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not that I want to live my life like this (at least that’s what I tell myself). It’s just that I feel like I have to. It’s about control. It’s about the fear of something being out of place. Of not getting everything done. Of letting someone down, especially my husband or my children.

I need it all to be perfect. Or I may fall apart. And then God reminds me I was never really in control to begin with.

The past couple of weeks have been rough. Many things – not on my schedule – have taken a toll on my mental barricade. From getting in a wreck, to having a sick child, to finding out my husband may need surgery again. And just when I think I had a grip on everything, a pebble tipped the scale & it all came tumbling down.

Deep down I know it’s not something that would normally bother me. But for some reason, this particular thing did me in. It made me angry – and ugly, if I’m being honest. It made me a version of myself I don’t like. One I don’t like others to see.

I’ve broken down and cried over silly things. I’ve blown up about completely justifiable things. I’ve had to apologize at least twice for my behavior. I’ve scolded myself daily. “Get it together, Ashley. You can do this.”

We don't grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.

I know this is just something I am working through. I know I will be okay. God will take care of me, like He always has. But sometimes, it’s hard not to lose it. It’s hard not to throw my hands in the air and scream, “Why me?!”

And then I see why – because I’m stubborn. Because while God knows I can handle a lot, He also knows I still need Him. He knows that one day, I am going to put a little too much on my plate and I’m going to be overwhelmed.

Truth be told, I have a tendency to take my relationship with God for granted. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I’ve never doubted the existence of God or His love for me. Even in the darkest times of my life, I’ve always had this overwhelming sense of truth that it was going to be okay. That God would take care of me. And He’s never proven me wrong.

I think because of that, I don’t talk to Him as much as I should. I don’t visit Him every Sunday like I was raised. It’s almost as if I tell myself I don’t need to – because I know He’s got my back. I tell myself He knows my heart. He knows how I feel, despite my lack of telling or showing Him.

It’s time like those lately, when I’m reminded just how much I need Him. It’s also in those times when God reminds me: He made me in His image. I may be stubborn, but His love for me far surpasses my determination to do this on my own. He knows I’m busy, but He’s not going to let me slack on our relationship.

God does know my heart – better than I do myself. I think that’s why He speaks to me in a way He knows will get my attention. For it is only through challenges when I truly acknowledge my failures. It is only in those times when my eyes are opened to the progress I have yet to make. God isn’t just watching out for me when I need Him. He’s here daily, ensuring the salvation of my soul.

It is during the challenges, though, when He’s speaking to me. He’s saying, “Come to me. Let me give you comfort and peace. Let me handle your burden today. You need rest my child.”

God doesn’t give us struggles so He can be reminded of our need for Him. He allows challenges in our lives so that we may be reminded of our need for Him.

Do or Do Not. There is No Try.

I live by the motto, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Some may have the misconception that I don’t believe in failure.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I fail. Often. And failure is necessary in life.

It’s what reminds us we’re human. It’s what reminds us we need help along our journey. It’s what reminds us to pray. To seek knowledge and understanding. To grow physically & mentally & spiritually.

It is in the midst of those failures and hardships when God is molding us into the people He knows we can be. The people He’s calling us to be. And truth be told, God always has way bigger (& better) plans for us than we ever have for ourselves. The key is trusting His timing. His will. The path He has chosen for us.

Three years ago, Ryan and I began our Spartan journey. We went into it with no expectations. I had only recently began running and really had no idea what I was getting myself into. After running our first Spartan, Ryan and I decided we wanted to go for the Spartan Trifecta (running three races in one year – Sprint, Super & Beast).

Not quite a Trifecta...

Not quite a Trifecta…

Fast forward 6 Spartan races later and there’s still no Trifecta medal around our necks. So what happened? Simply put, God had other plans.

This Saturday, we will run the Spartan Beast for the third time, at last completing our Trifecta. After many, many, many miles of mud, obstacles, blood, sweat and tears, I couldn’t be more ready. And yet, I’m also a little anxious about finally finishing this task we set out to do so long ago.

For Ryan and I, obstacle racing became our marriage counseling & completing the Trifecta became more about us spending time together while teaching our children what it means to never give up.

Sometimes in life it’s hard to see beyond the obstacles currently in front of us. It’s easy to find reasons to give up on those things we’ve said we’d do. We begin to second guess ourselves. To wonder if we’re on the right path. And then God gently nudges us, reminding us why He’s called us to whatever path He’s chosen for us. Guiding and teaching us along us the way.

We are all capable of great things. But only through struggle and yes, even failure, do we finally reach our goals. When we learn to embrace our struggles for what they truly are – God working in us – we find the journey that much more rewarding. After all, it’s the journey that has brought us to this point and will bring us through our adventures yet to come.

Do or do not. There is no try.

Bullying is a Learned Behavior & We Have the Ability to Stop It.

As an adult, I stand a whopping 4 feet 10 inches tall. Growing up, I was teased constantly about my height and can recall countless occasions when I would come home crying over the latest nickname I was given – shorty, shrimp, midget. Despite my mother’s attempts to calm my frustrations, it wasn’t until I was a senior in high school when I finally began to stand up for myself.

As I was digging through my locker prior to lunch one day, I realized my lunch money had been stolen. The guy who had a locker next to mine wasn’t my favorite person – and known for doing drugs. Upon questioning him if he stole my money, he said, “What did you say bitch?” Astonished, I looked at him and calmly asked again, “Did you steal my lunch money?” He replied, “I didn’t take your money bitch,” and then proceeded to shove me. Trying not to lose my temper & hoping if I sounded harsh enough he would leave me alone, I responded, “Don’t f*#ing touch me.” At this point, he shoved me again – and I lost it. As the adrenaline overcame me, I grabbed him by the throat & shoved him with all of my might into the lockers and said again as I held him in place, “I SAID don’t f*#ing touch me.”

I will never forget the look of surprise on his face that little me – at least a foot shorter than him & a girl, no less – was able to shove him into the lockers and hold him there while I gave him a piece of my mind.

Needless-to-say, I was paid a visit by the school’s Vice Principal that day. After relaying my story, I was free to go back to class without punishment. It turns out, standing up for yourself when you’re being bullied is 100% acceptable – within reason.

At the time, I didn’t realize what an impact that fateful day would have on me. To be honest, it wasn’t until a few days ago that it even crossed my mind again. From that moment on, I began standing up for myself; but, it wasn’t until my own son was dealing with bullies himself, that I realized it had been a turning point for me.

Fast forward a few years and my now 9 year old son, Bryce, is dealing with bullying. Within the past couple of years, he’s had at least 5 separate encounters with children bullying him. On one such occasion he was on the ground in the fetal position as a little girl kicked him in the ribs, simply because Bryce didn’t want to play with her. That same girl’s little sister pushed my youngest son, Kade, into the swing set – giving him a black eye – because he had a toy she wanted to play with. Two days ago, those same little girls and their youngest sister held Bryce down as they jumped all over him. Coincidence that both of my boys were bullied by a family of bullies – on three separate occasions? I think not.

Bullying is a learned behavior and we have the ability to stop it.

Just as children learn manners from their parents, they can also learn to scream, tease and bully from their parents as well as those around them. This isn’t to say all kids who bully have parents who are bullies themselves. However, it is our responsibility to be mindful of our own actions and how they affect our children. Are we unintentionally teaching our children to bully when we tease them for things? Are we unintentionally making them a victim by telling them to not let what kids say bother them?

Bryce & Kade

As one of nine kids, I had my fair share of teasing from my siblings. And to some degree, it was completely warranted. I’m not the type of parent that raises my children to be the constant tattle tale or have no backbone. I firmly believe that kids must learn to ignore harsh words. But that’s where I draw the line – at words. When my child is being hit, kicked, pushed or having things thrown at them, that’s when I have a serious problem.

I realize that parents, teachers and all those in authoritative positions, have an issue with kids tattling. I realize it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the truth as well as the severity of the situation; however, I also believe that it is our responsibility to put a stop to bullying, whether it be with our own children or someone else’s.

As parents, what type of example are we setting if we aren’t willing to stand up and say something on behalf of our children? As teachers, what are they teaching our children by telling them to stop tattling? At what point does that “tattling” get recognized as reporting a problem?

By not demanding better of adults, how can we demand better of children?

It breaks my heart to see Bryce feel so defeated, despite how much I tell him what an amazing child he is. More so, I am outraged that my children are being hurt – emotionally and physically – because of bullying.

I don’t condone or encourage fighting; however, sometimes you have to learn to stand up for yourself. I’m proof of that. Rest assured if Bryce gets in trouble for fighting due to someone bullying him, I’m going to take him for ice cream.

In the meantime, maybe we can all start making a difference by opening our eyes and paying attention. There’s a line between kids teasing one another and bullying. We are meant to parent and protect our children. It’s our responsibility to teach them how to treat others and how to handle difficult situations. We can put a stop to bullying and it starts at home.

We Need to Be Careful with Our Words

We need to be careful with our words.

This is something my heart has been contemplating for quite some time now. Sometimes my kids get to me. (Surprise!) They really are the epitome of my children. Loud, argumentative and stubborn to their very souls. And oh how I love them for it, adorable little creatures that they are. Sometimes.

But some days, I am overwhelmed and simply don’t want to answer another question. I don’t want to explain why something is the way it is. And I find myself using that famous mom end-all-be-all statement, “Because I said so, that’s why.” Or better yet, “I don’t care if you don’t want to [insert desired action here], just do it NOW!

It’s always after the words have escaped my mouth when my brain registers what I’ve just said. I just told my child, “I don’t care.” I don’t care about your feelings. I don’t care about what you want or what you don’t want. I don’t care that you aren’t sleepy and don’t want to go to bed. I don’t care that you are now hungry at 9:30 at night because you were “too full” to eat all of your dinner. I. Don’t. Care.

They're so peaceful while sleeping.

But I do care.

I do care how these wonderful, amazing, loving little boys feel. I do care that they go to bed knowing they are loved and their needs met. I do care that they know I love them “the most times infinity” (that’s winning in their eyes).

What I don’t care for is my choice of words.

While I am absolutely not saying I should give into my children’s every whim (that would be ludicrous), I am saying that I should learn to be more careful with my words. I can be firm without jeopardizing my children’s feelings. I can still be every bit the authoritative mom I pride myself on being while also teaching my children a lesson in a positive way.

While actions still speak louder than words, words are and always will be extremely powerful. They can be methods of encouragement and empowerment or tools of despair and downfall. We should all learn to be a little more careful with them. With our children, our spouses and everyone around us.

Always a Parent, Forever a Child

As children, most of us couldn’t wait to grow up. It seemed as if we were always counting down to that next big birthday – 13, 18, 21. You know the drill.

Through it all, we just wanted to be treated as adults – or at least “a big kid.” We wanted our parents to stop babying us and see that we could do things on our own. We wanted them to stop embarrassing us (especially in public). And above all else, we wanted them to give us some freedom.

Now that I’m adult, I find myself still looking to my parents for guidance. There are a several things I’ve yet to figure out. What’s the best way to invest my money? How do I talk to my kids about that? Why is being an adult so hard? Do the kids ever shut up? (I can see my parents laughing at that last one.)

My oldest son, Bryce, collecting tickets an the annual Lions Club seniors luncheon.

Bryce collecting tickets an the annual Lions Club seniors luncheon.

Sometimes, the kids are receiving a lesson without either of our knowledge.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to raise our children to be good human beings. What do we want them to learn from us? If we’re screamers, chances are our kids will be too. If we’re not careful about when and where we have our adult conversations, rest assured those little ears are listening. We all need to be cognizant of this.

Do our words and deeds reflect those of Christians who strive to see the best in humanity? To serve others? Do we display love and forgiveness? These are the values we should be teaching our children. And not just on Sundays at church.

Bryce & Kade embracing their inner "nerd".

Bryce & Kade embracing their inner nerd.

As adults, we probably listen to our parents far more than we ever did as children.

Just because we’ve raised our children to know gossip is bad & bullying is wrong, doesn’t mean they won’t still need us to be a good example when they become adults themselves. After all, aren’t we as adults still learning everyday? Learning to be good citizens that go to work and pay our bills. Learning to balance work and kids and our relationships. Don’t we still struggle to do what’s right sometimes? And even fail occasionally?

We still need good role models.

As a parent, our job is never over. We never stop wondering if our children are okay. If they are happy, loved and satisfied with their lives – whether they are 3 or 30. We are still responsible for making sure our children always know their way home. Our home. God’s home.

We are always a parent, forever a child.

5 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself & the CrossFit House

CrossFit has gotten a bad rap for the amount of injuries it leads to. And to be fair, there is some validity in these claims. It’s hard to argue that doing CrossFit doesn’t push people to injury when the measure of success is faster time and heavier weight. It’s all about how hard you can push the limits. Right? The greater the risk the greater the reward. Isn’t that what they say?

But let’s be fair. Risk is involved in all things. Let me repeat that.

Risk is involved in all things.

If you are a runner, soccer player, power-lifter or couch potato, you’re at risk for something. The question is, what are you doing about it? And like I’ve said before, CrossFit doesn’t cause injuries. People do.

CrossFit is designed to push your limits. Most sports are. But it’s in those moments of greatness – when someone has surpassed what we thought possible – that we realize limits are worth pushing. When incredible power is achieved. When suddenly, new boundaries are set. When those willing to push hard enough are looked at with awe. With wonder. It’s in those moments where we find ourselves.

I would bet both Rich and Camille’s $275,000 every limit they pushed during their training was worth standing on that podium at the 2014 CrossFit Games as the Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth.

Watch this video and tell me if you disagree.

So, you can hurt yourself in CrossFit (gasp!). Now what? What are you – what am I – doing about it? Because if we want to keep doing this sport we love, we need to start protecting our house.

CrossFit is a company, a lifestyle and its core, a workout regimen. If we don’t start taking responsibility for ourselves, we may not have a house worth coming home to. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but ultimately, it’s about doing the right thing. We need to start holding ourselves and each other accountable – for using proper technique, scaling when necessary, pushing the limits responsibly. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of defending CrossFit when it comes to injuries. I’m tired of the hate articles and the petty “my sport is better than yours” crap.

The bottom line, folks, is we’re all doing something we love while getting fit – be it powerlifting, running, triathlons, CrossFit, Zumba or Pilates. Shouldn’t that be enough? As CrossFitters who are passionate about what we do, it’s high time we start protecting our house – the CrossFit name and our bodies.

Here are 5 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself & the CrossFit House

Disclaimer: I’m not certified in CrossFit, kinesiology, chiropractic care or any other medical degree for that matter. I’m just a normal person who loves CrossFit and has learned my fair share about the need for injury prevention. These are a few things I feel will further your love for CrossFit (or whatever sport you love) and allow you to continuing doing it for as long as possible because you’re taking care of your body.

1)  Use proper technique and hold others accountable for doing the same.
Just like runners need to learn the difference between pronation and supination and how it effects them, CrossFitters need to learn the proper technique for the variety of different movements our sport requires. Take the time to watch videos online, attend training camps and practice. You’ve heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” And, while I’m not one to believe perfection can be attained, I do believe in getting as close as possible. So learn the technique and commit to it. Don’t be afraid to hold others accountable as well. Personally, I absolutely want someone to tell me if I’m doing it wrong. Otherwise, we’re all just setting ourselves up for failure – and continuing to give CrossFit a bad name.

2) Embrace your weaknesses.
The Fittest don’t get that way without hours and hours of training. If you watched this year’s Games, you heard Camille say, “Every year, you get better at finding your weaknesses.” Figure out what they are and attack them. After all, that’s what’s standing in your way of victory – and what’s likely causing you injuries if you aren’t taking the time to get the technique right. (Refer back to number 1.)

3) Educate yourself on mobility and recovery.
This is something that came out of nowhere for me. One day, I woke up and my back hurt. I knew it wasn’t due to an injury, but I also knew that it would lead to one quickly if I didn’t do something about it. After a few trips to the chiropractor, I became highly aware of how efficient our bodies can be if we’re taking care of them properly. Recovery isn’t just a supplement you drink after working out. It’s physically helping your body recover from everything you’ve put it through and mobility plays a key role in this. This involves regular (if not, daily) stretching and mobilizing – your muscles, your joints. This is not something to be taken lightly. If you fail to do this, you are setting yourself up for an injury. Period.

4) Get the right amount of sleep and the proper nutrition.
Sleep. Here lately, I haven’t been getting enough of it. And it shows in my daily WODs. There’s plenty of evidence to support why getting the right amount of sleep is important. So, 8 hours – minimum – get it. As for nutrition, this is something I’m most definitely not qualified to talk about. But, I’ve worked with a personal nutritionist as well learned from some of the best when it comes to this. And, there are a few easy things you can be doing to improve your body’s overall health. Fish oil, zinc & magnesium and vitamin D should all be a part of your daily supplements. (More on this below.)

5) Listen to your body and check your ego at the door.
This hits home majorly for me. Nearly two years ago I was hospitalized for pulmonary embolisms. For those unfamiliar, a pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lungs – and highly fatal. For a clot to reach your pulmonary artery, it has to have already traveled through one side of your heart. Listening to my body saved my life. Your body is way smarter than you ever thought about being. It knows when something is wrong and it’s usually giving you more than enough signs if that’s the case. Listen. And if there is in fact something wrong, don’t let your ego get in the way of your safety and the safety of those around you.

It’s my hope that by taking these small steps, we can help prevent CrossFit-related injuries and protect the CrossFit name as well as everything it represents. By doing this, we can also make sure what it represents is something we’re proud of.

There are numerous resources readily available online (and from real experts). So instead of pretending to be something I’m not, I’ll just leave a few of these gems for you below.

Technique, Mobility & Recovery Resources:

  • Bruce Barbell – Loads of free videos on gymnastics & Olympic weightlifting.
  • Mike Cazayoux: Joint by Joint Approach – A great introduction to mobilizing your joints.
  • Breaking Muscle – This site has articles for everything from endurance and weightlifting to nutrition and exercises for your kids. Here’s what they have on mobility & recovery.
  • Movement, The Book – If you’re seriously into learning how your joints work, start here.
  • Mobility WOD – While there is a paid version of this site, the free version offers some pretty great content as well. And, worth every penny – I highly recommend buying Kelly’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard.

Supplement Recommendations:

  • Pure Pharma – High quality supplements that should be part of your daily routine.
  • Top 7 Supplements for Athletes  – Supplement recommendations from CrossFit Invictus, Fittest Team in the 2014 CrossFit Games. (They might know what they’re talking about.)
  • Eat to Perform – Meal planning guide and calculator as well as an online support system. I don’t personally subscribe to this website, but I’ve heard good things.
  • SFH Supplements – Recommendation by Games athlete, Mike Cazayoux.
  • RSP Nutrition – High quality pre and post-workout supplements. I use Fast Fuel, ReGen, AgmaGen and GlutaGen.

*Note: I have not been paid to endorse any of these products or services. These are just some resources I’ve come across during my time as a CrossFitter, either personally or through fellow athletes. Have a resource you love? Share it in the comments below.