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CrossFit Lessons Outside the Box by Melissa Joulwan - CrossFit Journal

In Athletes, CrossFit

August 07, 2010

PDF Article

Former rollergirl Melissa Joulwan learns CrossFit’s lessons can be applied long after the WOD is over.

I recently endured a personal crisis that brought me down like a 20-lb. medicine ball slammed into my solar plexus. For a while, my days felt like this:

All-day AMRAP of:
Feel despair
Cry intermittently
Embrace anger
Smash something

While med-ball slams performed with a stereo as stand-in for the ball were wildly satisfying in the moment, they didn't provide lasting relief. I needed a more productive solution.

One of the many valuable lessons I’ve learned through CrossFit is that the stories I tell myself during a workout affect not only the success of that particular workout but also how I feel about myself after the last barbell has dropped to the floor. Throughout grueling workouts, I’ve picked up valuable tips for how to endure, even when I think I can’t possibly muscle through another rep.

After this recent, nasty one-two punch from the universe knocked me on my keister, I realized that if I used the same tricks in life that I learned in the gym, I just might sucker-punch the universe right back.

Here are a few of my favorite personal mind games that help me power through my workouts, along with the explanation of how I extend them outside the gym to call “time” on personal challenges, too.

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8 Comments on “CrossFit Lessons Outside the Box”


wrote …

What a freaking amazing article! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story!! What an inspiration and a kick in the pants! You ROCK!


wrote …

MeL, I'm not sure you realize what an inspiration you are to those around you. You are an amazing woman, with a strong heart and true gift for writing! Not only are you one of the people who inspired me to try Crossfit, you motivate me everyday with your blog. Your recipes are amazing too! I am truly blessed to know you. Love the article!


wrote …


Thank you for taking your pain and doing something constructive and wonderful with it, and giving us this article. You are one awesome chick.


wrote …

Mel...Thank you for this article. I could not have said it better. I have been on an emotion journey over the last 1 1/2, suffering from depression, obeisity, fibral myalgia, plantar facitis, and back pain. CrossFit has changed my life. It was the crying, the self doubt, being "uncomfortable", and the results that kept me coming. I am 87lbs lighter (shooting for 100) and am happy, pain free, and in the best shape of my life because of the CrossFit community. Keep on doing what you doing...Inspiring people.

PS: Having a spotter in life is not only a good idea, it is a necessity.


wrote …

Mel, I have been a fan of your blog since I found it. Your vow to "Never Cheat, Never Quit" got me through the first few months of "real" CF wods after starting at Rainier CF a little over a year ago. Literally, I'd just say it over and over in my head to get through the wod. It still pops into my head when a wod is particularly tough, and I still stick to it, every rep legit, or at least the best version I can do if I can't do the full movement (like knees to elbows, which it seems I'll never be bendy enough to do, lol). Thanks for being an inspiration, and great job on the article. I was so stoked to see you in the Journal!


Well written and personal. Great job, and look forward to your site and recipes.


wrote …

Great article, Melissa. As someone passionate about helping kids realize their potential, witnessing the triumph of the human spirit and attempting to wring out as much experience and learning as possible from each day, I appreciate you addressing this philosophy and sharing some of your personnal experiences and challenges. I've been reading about/studying quite a bit lately positive thinking/self-talk and am constantly reminded of situations in which I've seen it work; sometimes for me personally and sometimes in others, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unconsciously it seems. It all reminds me of a quote told to me by a previous coworker and genius of a man:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

As I'm continually faced with challenges and sudden turns in what I had expected to be straight roads to some of my goals, I find renewed vigor and confidence in these words as well as yours. I will most definately encourage everyone at my gym to read your article. As far as I can tell, you are a knock*out* and can knock me down any day of the week.


wrote …

Melissa, I am new to cross fit and lots of days wonder why I am there. Reading your article made me feel like I was not alone. You have to fight to survive and yes agree to help when needed. My trainer pushes me hard, some days I think too hard, but feel so much better about myself because of him. Thank you so much for your honesty, it makes me want to continue:)

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