I keep telling people. Feed your crazy. Quite often I get
the questions “What is Feed Your Crazy”, “What does that mean?”. So I’ve spent
considerable time trying to distill that down, and make is an easy answer. My
experience is some people just get it. Some people need to hear it explained.
And some people don’t ever really understand it and despite my best efforts
stand there looking at me like I’m, well, crazy.
But recently I got a new question. “How do I find my crazy?”
Now that’s a good question. Because finding your crazy can
be a life altering experience. Not to say that it will change everything about
your life, but understanding how you challenge yourself, recharge, etc can make
life a better experience. And that’s really the point I guess. Life isn’t about
just getting by, being comfortable, or gliding through. Life is a knockdown,
drag out, push you to your limits and more kind of an experience. And you need
to make time to recharge yourself in order to present your best face when
overcoming challenges you may experience.
Feed Your Crazy may mean slightly different things to
people. So here’s my stab at it. Sometimes my words may be clumsy, and imperfect.
My examples may not resonate with everyone. So listen to the spirit of what I
am trying to say. Please don’t like so much of popular media, get hung up on
every little contradiction, nuance, or extraneous variable. In some instances
I’m trying to explain what the sun feels like on a cool morning. “Warm” doesn’t
really cut it. So I have to get creative.
I ran for several years before “Feed Your Crazy” became a thing. But the
benefits were noticeable right off the bat. If you are looking for your “crazy”
– consider these factors.
It has to be physically challenging. Huge caveat,
this is different for everyone. I’m an ultra runner. Feed Your Crazy’s
cofounder – Ricki is a kickboxing and fitness instructor, and knows how to hit
the gym harder than just about anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s safe to say that we
are both a little extreme. And not everyone has to do what we do. The challenge
can come in the form of the time spent, the effort made, or the sacrifice made
to simply get out and do it. Researchers have been trying to explain the
connection between “wellness” and getting out and getting exercise. It’s
chemical, it’s hormonal, its …. Well, you get the point. There are 101 reasons
why exercise is good for you. I get a physical and mental thrill thinking about
setting out before sunrise and spending 8-10 hours grinding across the
mountains. Sometimes it’s tough, sometimes it is painful, and sometimes I
question why I’m there. But when I finish, I feel that same overwhelming sense
of accomplishment. The very same sense of accomplishment that someone may feel
closing a big business deal, building something, or launching a business. But I
personally feel that the chemical, hormonal, humans systems thank us when we
are physically active. Combine that with the rush you get from accomplishing
something. Bang! Happiness points. Wellness points. Satisfaction points. And
I’m not advocating for an ever expanding increase in training, mileage, or
anything else. I can run a 100 mile race. But some days, I feel accomplished by
simply getting out for that 3 mile run. It’s enough to get my systems going,
and mentally allow me to say that I set a priority of getting my training in,
and I got it.
It has to allow you to grow. Physically,
spiritually, mentally. Growth fuels the fire. Growth starts right up front.
When you take on something new you have to learn new skills, new understanding,
build muscle, coordination, etc. And growth is often painful. Difficult, and at
times disheartening. Why the heck am I advocating it? Because complacency,
comfort, offers individuals very little. It offers you safety. You don’t risk
failure, you don’t risk pain. But at the same time, if you don’t push yourself,
you risk never growing. You risk never succeeding. You risk never accomplishing
anything. Complacency and comfort is a growing portion of our population. We
want ease. We want to simply get by and not have to stress. But physical
sciences show muscles grow under stress. When we take on something new, we get
better at it. The task doesn’t change. We grow, develop, evolve, so that we can
handle it. I remember my first 8 mile run. I was ecstatic! I just ran 8 miles,
it was unreal. I hurt for 3 days. Now 8 miles is just something that I do. And
that allows me to enjoy it, use that time for mental relaxation, thinking,
enjoying my surroundings, and go new places. One of the reasons I love trail
running is because I can get to a trailhead after work, get to a local summit
and back to my car before dark. I can see places that you can only get to if
you are a back country backpacker. And I can do it in a day, but that’s not to
say that it is easy.
When you finish it, you can be physically
exhausted, strained to the breaking point, but you are recharged mentally. Ok
folks. Here is the real kicker. There are a lot of people who train, work out,
and tackle physical challenges. What is the difference between someone who
feeds their crazy vs just training? When you finish a workout, you are
exhausted. Physically because you just trained, but mentally because you didn’t
like it, didn’t find joy in it, didn’t enjoy the challenge of it, and had to
force yourself to do it. These people consume their willpower and happiness
just trying to get their workout in. When you feed your crazy you find yourself
smiling at the challenge, laughing at the pain, and accepting that it may suck
at times, but when you are finished you’re just itching to high five someone
because you just rocked it. You come back from the challenge recharged and
invigorated. Sometimes a workout is just that, a workout. But the goal, the
evolution is to come to understand that the physical effort, the challenge is
an evolution that you will come to appreciate because of what it gives you.
But Bard. How do I find my crazy? I’ll tell you
where you won’t find it. On your couch. Or at your computer. Sit up, look
around, and try something. Since I run, and I advocate for it (rather
obnoxiously at times), I have had several friends start to run. We go through
the typical coaching phases of getting them started, building up, and
eventually toeing the line of an event. Some friends have stuck with it. Some
have run marathons, and said “you know what. That was good. But I’m really more
of a half marathon kind of person.” Some have stopped running altogether. And
you know what? I think that is a mature approach. If you really don’t feel it.
If you aren’t recharged by the physical nature of it, the challenge of it, then
you should be doing something else. There are so many excellent options out
there. Need a list? Run, ride, mountain bike, walk, hike, crossfit, lift at
your local gym, swim, get really crazy and combine sports, triathlon (you know
what I’m talking about), tennis, racquetball, adventure races, obstacle
races….. you getting the picture.
I can’t tell you what your crazy is. But I can
give you the litmus test.
Does it get you up and get you going? The
body is designed to move, and regardless of what level helps you, movement is
Do you feel challenged? Can you grow? Can you
improve? Do you enjoy the fact that you can improve?
c. Perhaps most important - w
hen you are done. Are you recharged? Not each
and every time. But does your involvement in the activity make you a better
person, a happy person? When I finish a 10 hour run in the Rocky Mountains, I
may be physically shot. But I always come home with a big smile on my face. I
feel happier, I feel nicer, I feel better.
Think back to being a kid. Come on, it may be
difficult, but those memories are there. Did you enjoy the feeling of running
through a field? Did you love the adrenaline of pedaling your bike as fast as
you could? Did you love the challenge of climbing that rope? Moving a rock that
no one else was strong enough to move? Get out and try some things.
Mentors. Find someone who gets it. Enthusiasm is
infectious. Find someone who loves to lift in the gym. Go with them and
experience their energy. Does it resonate with you? Ask a runner if they would
go running with you. Have them share their experiences with you. Does it kindle
something deep down?
Adults don’t get to have simple fun. We look for
ever more complex forms of entertainment. But the simplicity of physical
movement is rooted so deep down within our souls that something cheers when we
face that challenge and risk growth. So start simple. Pick an activity you think you like. Give it a try. If it is tough at first, that's ok. Enjoy the challenge. As you develop do you find yourself looking forward to your time doing that activity? Does it recharge you mentally? Does it help you be a better person? If you find that you struggle to do it, and burn all your resources to force yourself to go do it, keep looking. But don't give up. It's out there. It's waiting. Your crazy.