Can’t is one of those words that the fitness world hates. You see it all the time on those motivational posters, some variation of “can’t is not an option”, or something along those lines. Over my fitness journey, I haven’t often used the word can’t. I never verbalized can’t because I never took the risks that are involved just before you jump off the precipice of proving yourself wrong, or at least trying. Our CF instructor posted something a few days ago saying that if we said the word, we’d have a 10 burpee penalty. I remember thinking, “I won’t have a problem with that, as I usually try my hardest and go for it”. 

Well, yesterday, I went to CrossFit Bangor a mobility seminar, which was absolutely fantastic, but at one point during the seminar, I said, “I can’t go any further”, and the instructor told me that I could. We were doing squats against the wall (on our back), and I felt a complete physical limitation. As a struggled to push myself forward, I got a little closer, so technically I could, but still felt pretty limited. After we did some mobility work, I was able to get even closer, which felt good. I remember hearing myself say, “I can’t”, and I was annoyed with myself, despite trying at the same time. 

For the second day in a row, today, I used “I can’t” again. After one of the most intense workouts, where I pushed myself to my absolute maximum, we had a little “after party”, where we had to carry a partner around the track. I thought about how difficult carrying heavy loads of weight (although I had just done 100 thrusters with 30 lbs dumbells – which is a lot for em) is for me. I thought, “my arms are already killing me, how am I to carry a 150+ lb. person around a track”. I said, “I don’t know if I can do this”, which carries the same sentiment as “I can’t”, and as we waiting for our turn, I said, “I can’t carry another human”, and then when it was my turn, I picked them up, and ended up doing almost 2 out of the 3 laps we had to complete. It was way easier than I thought it would be. 

Although “can’t” is viewed as negative, for me, I see it as drawing closer to opportunity. In my previous life, I never exposed myself to new experiences that would even allow me the chance to say that I couldn’t achieve something. The fact that I was able to do these things, in spite of myself, shows that I am improving and growing. Even those I used the unholy word, I didn’t listen to myself. I didn’t listen to myself when I wanted to trade down for 25 or 20 lb. weights during our workout. Being able to push yourself past “can’t” and past your own expectations is truly a gift. Never sell yourself short (duly note that you should also know your limitations and not hurt yourself). 

I have done more things I never thought I could do in the past year and a half than all of the years leading up to them. The word “can’t” implies you do not have an ability to achieve some end result, and it may be true. I can’t do thrusters with 40 lb. weights, I know that I can not do that because I had one hell of a day doing it with 30, but it does not mean that ability cannot be developed. We use “can’t” to mean “impossible”, and things we can’t do are things like, birthing a litter of kittens – we biologically cannot – we do not have that ability, and cannot develop that ability. We can certainly achieve our fitness goals, even if we have the inability right now. So, if you hear yourself say, “can’t” even in your own head, think to yourself – can I really not? Am I pushing myself the hardest I possibly can? If so, then make it a goal, and turn can’t into can! 

I can’t wait until I realize what else I can do!