Negative Nancy

The scene following Fran with the evening class

The scene following Fran with the evening class

You know who she is; that b*tch in your brain saying, “stop”, “it hurts”, “you’ll never be any good.” We all fight her. She comes on as fatigue sets in, as we approach our maximal effort, and as we reach our capacity.

For some, it is 15 minutes into the WOD as blood pressure rises and your breathing gets heavier: Nancy screams “YOU’RE NOT CUT OUT FOR THIS!”

For others, she chimes in on our way to the gym. I had some newer members recently confess that they got nervous just driving to the gym the first few times; to the point that they almost turn around and go home: “you don’t belong here” Nancy retorts in the back of their mind. I am very proud of those folks who ignore her and come in for their first few sessions, they exceed their current capacity and change their lives.

No matter what state of fitness you are in, your limitation is always Negative Nancy, the voice in your head saying “stop and go home”. When you learn to push your limits you have improvements in strength, flexibility, co-ordination, etc; mostly you learn how to drown her out. You have a momentary out-of-body experience where you ignore her words and push on. Grab five more reps, three more rounds, or one final sprint on the way to a PR.

One of the most important things for you to understand is that EVERYONE has a Negative Nancy. In the exercise physiology academic domains she is called the Central Governor. It is the theory that your body does not want to push beyond its limits unless necessary. Therefore, this voice comes into our heads unless we have a legitimate reason to keep her at bay. As we evolved, escaping from a tiger was a legitimate reason. After the encounter, provided we survived, our body would then rejuvenate itself to a point better than the first encounter… this was their fitness. For us? A society of ease and convenience? CrossFit is our evolutionary tiger, a period of time to come in and approach death, to ignore Negative Nancy, to push ourselves to the limit. We then go home for comfort and rejuvenation only to return to shut out Nancy, to exceed our limits, to beat the tiger.

CrossFit mind control can have benefits far beyond the gym. If you can shut out Nancy with a screaming heart-rate under a heavy thruster, imagine how easy it will be to ask your crush out for a date, or to ask your boss for a raise, or even to sink that final free throw for the state championship. She will always be there, EVERYTIME you approach your capacity she comes sprinting towards you with warnings and nay-sayings; learn to chuckle as she comes running. Embrace her, understand her, and promptly dismiss her. “Thanks Nancy, I’m gonna finish this one.”