9 Months ago…
I suppose my story is similar to many others. I became a Corporate Zombie.
I never thought it would happen to me, the free spirited, strong-willed dreamer, but there I was caught up in the fast paced, money-driven, Corporate Underworld.
Like a zombie, I would wake up at five AM and drive an hour-and-a-half each day where I would slump down at my desk to begin multitasking on various “urgent” jobs. My standard workday was spread across hundreds of projects at one time, my heart racing from adrenalin, my fingers speed typing so fast there was smoke coming from the keyboard, all while doing business on the phone, standing on my head, juggling chainsaws and tap dancing.
As close of business approached, I would force myself to shut down my computer only to battle the peak hour traffic all the way home. To make the most of my drive, I would make work calls, or I would simply spend the time worrying what I was going to do tomorrow. Often I would arrive home without any memory of how I actually got there, the entire trip one big blur.
At home, my relationship was…well…surviving, but there were times when I was so tired or so stressed out that I had zero tolerance for anyone else, let alone what was going on inside my head. Bed was the only thing I wanted, and as soon as I had cooked, cleaned, eaten, and chit chatted just enough to cling to the label of a relationship, I took my zombie arse to my zombie bed.
Sleep was the biggest prick tease of all. It enticed me into the bedroom, but once in bed, it played hard to get.
And when sleep eventually did sweep over me, it was often invaded by anxiety attacks that would startle me from sleep and leave me sitting upright, gasping for breath with my heart pumping out of my chest as if I had been running from something in my sleep.
In the morning, I would wake up positive and determined to do well in my career and my position, but my body and my mind were starting to kick up a fuss at the corporate lifestyle. The sitting position I assumed for some 12+ hours a day was creating issues with my butt. Some days my aching glute muscles would spasm until I couldn’t sit without taking painkillers. Yes, I had officially become a pain in the arse. Driving home, I would often find myself crying from the sheer pain of sitting.
Trapped inside my zombie body, I watched my social life slip away, and the time between catch-ups with my friends grow. The friends I did manage to see told me that I wasn’t the same and I had lost that spark that made me who I was. I had become … flat. Seeing the disappointment (or was it pity?) in one of my friend’s eyes was truly one of the low points for me.
In true zombie fashion, I was moving automatically through life as if in a trance. I didn’t have to think about what I wanted in life anymore, I just had to keep moving, fuelled by adrenalin, trying to move that never-ending monotonous workload.
Armed with a script for Zanax and a packet of Valium, I was determined to keep battling through the week. But come Friday night, I would take all that pent up stress and pressure and would let it all unleash. It was my moment to take control, and I did so by losing control.
On the weekend, champagne was my friend. But come Monday, I was never drinking again!
About five months ago, my partner drove me to a CrossFit ‘Box’. For those of us not familiar with CrossFit, it’s like a whole new world – they even have their own language. In the normal world, the room where everyone works out and sweats together would simply be called a gym. I assume they call it a box, because it is a NO FRILLS kind of a place. No mirrors for guys to grunt at themselves and no hairdryers and straighteners for girls to hide their sweat and reapply makeup post workout. Literally, it is four walls and a roof filled with fun stuff to play with. Just like a BOX!
Anyway, I digress…this “box” was located at the halfway point on my journey home. I didn’t know what CrossFit was exactly, but I went along desperate to find something to break up my two hours of pain each day.
Enter the Box. A sweaty shed with muscles. How exactly this fit into my plan, I had no idea, but I was desperate.
Besides, I was stressed and needed an outlet for the build up of adrenalin I was oozing, and my arse was getting so big it was starting to grow its own opinion. As I stood there (probably dribbling, as that’s what zombies do), I vaguely remember a conversation between a stocky, young man and my partner and the next thing I recall, I was shaking the dust from my flared 1980’s lycra gym pants from the back of my wardrobe, and heading into my first one-on-one session.
Armed with a piece of PVC pipe, I was made to do various squats and re-enactments of what they call ‘Olympic lifts’ that had names like ‘jerk’ and ‘snatch’. You would be forgiven for thinking these guys were just having a laugh. Lucky for me, I was in need of a good laugh.
Then they introduced me to something called a “Burpee”. So named because the movement makes you want to burp? More like vomit. Or die. And yet, I grew to love these sadistic little guys.
After five sessions of ‘Getting to know my PVC’ and not once giving in to the temptation to use it as a lightsaber (“Luke, I am your Father”) I completed my introductory course and made it into the Big Kids session. I felt like a weedy girl amongst the big muscly fellas, being so unfit and so unfamiliar with the lifts and workouts, but I didn’t care because this was MY time to focus on ME and no muscle man was going to take that time away from me. And so I began to relish the one-hour of each day when my brain wasn’t allowed to take over. I was able to step off the zombie train for just an hour, enough time to feel invigorated and alive and I started leaving the Box with a smile on my face and a determination to ‘get that move next time’ for any I couldn’t perform that well. And boy, there were many!
And it turned out that the muscly guys and girls weren’t scary after all. In fact, they are a great group of people who motivate and inspire. Its almost as if CrossFit has pulled together a group of people from society who have the similar goal of wanting to make something of themselves, people with a bottomless pit of drive and who want to challenge themselves in their fitness, health and in life in general. The life and energy that oozes from that box is unlike anything I have ever been a part of before.
Back in my zombie world, still in somewhat of a Zombie state, but now with an ever-growing inner strength, I finally walked out of the corporate world. I like to remember my exit interview as a cross between Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire and something from Bruce Willis’ Die Hard – with the office goldfish in one hand and the other hand a silent, middle finger raised poignantly at all of the (um…how do I say it nicely?) “challenging” managers I’ve had in my working history, and as I gracefully jump on my horse and ride towards the horizon, I smile and say “yippee ki yay mother fuckers”.
And from there…I fell into the arms of CrossFit and onto a path of starting something REAL.
Had I not crossed paths with CrossFit, I might still be working in a zombie state feeding on the brains of self help books, putting up with a toxic environment, working on mundane projects that they put in front of me, still striving to make everyone else happy. CrossFit and the CrossFit community have inspired me. It has slapped the zombie out of me and literally kicked my butt back to the person I used to be (not to mention, kicked my butt back to the size it used to be!).
The challenge of beating myself in each session, in every lift or workout and doing better each time keeps me craving more. And every session I do improve. Maybe only slightly, but I get better. And it feels good – like a badge of honour. Its this taste for doing better, this passion for being more than just another Corporate Zombie, this desire to be the healthiest and fittest that I can be, that has made me see that I can do, or be, anything that I want and its high time that get real about what I want in life.
And for now… that’s being healthy, spending quality time with my partner, and my family and friends. Its being the real me who can laugh at life and who can enjoy herself. It’s the me who isn’t afraid to kick those corporate zombie arses if they try to eat my brains. And it’s the me who stops allowing distractions get in the way of me being the best, the healthiest that I can be.
So…what’s next you ask? Well…it’s finally time I adjust my priorities so I can start living REAL with good food, fitness and health. And Get Real Living is my first step in that direction.
If something in this article rings a bell, or interests you, maybe you learn from my experiences or from the research I pull together, or perhaps you want a hand learning how to transform your life, then why not stick around and join me. It will be good to have you along for the ride…
*No zombies were harmed in the construction of this blog.