This is me with a goat.

I met him a few years ago on a trip to the San Diego Zoo. He was incredibly sweet and patient even though I’m sure he had to be tired of sun-burned tourists pawing at him, offering only meager handfuls of those little food pellets. I remember thinking that if I lived in a big old farmhouse on a few acres (instead of a 1.5 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn) I might get a pet goat.

But, alas, this post isn’t about that kind of goat.

It’s about GOATS – the things that “get your goat.” The stuff that bugs you and always trips you up. I first learned the term at Cross Fit, which I started doing a couple months ago. My coach was showing me how to keep track of my workouts in my notebook. He told me to dedicate one page to goals and another page to GOATS. As a beginner, I didn’t know what my GOATS might be. I mean, Cross Fit is tough and everything seemed hard. But, as I’ve started to build strength and get (slightly) better, I’ve found that I do indeed have GOATS.

At the top of the list: Pull-Ups.

This does not surprise me, as pull-ups haunted me all through elementary, middle and high school. I’m sure most of you know exactly where I’m going with this.

That stupid president’s fitness challenge thing.

I have no problem with this type of test in theory. Fitness is important. But every year it would just sorta come out of nowhere and we’d go from playing halfhearted indoor volleyball to pull-ups, like it was a transferable skill. I remember watching some girls – they were usually the tiny, compact gymnast types – hop up on the bar and crank out 15 like it was no big deal. I, unfortunately, was never a gymnast. Nor was I ever tiny or compact. I was tall and gangly and uncoordinated (I’m still those things) and would just sort of pathetically hang there, desperately trying to flex my non-existent biceps. Eventually my gym teacher would give me a disgusted nod and mark a big, fat zero in his ledger. I’d walk away embarrassed, but mostly relieved that it was over. Time would pass, we’d play some more halfhearted volleyball and I’d forget all about pull-ups until the next year where I’d repeat the same dreadful performance.

So, how are pull-ups different now that they’re a GOAT?

1. You’re supposed to have GOATS. There’s a whole page for them, right? When you’re working towards something that’s really difficult, you’re building strength. And, when you conquer something that was once difficult, you build confidence.

2. Everyone’s got GOATS. Everything’s relative. Even the strongest person at my gym has a GOAT page in their notebook and groans a little when a work out contains a specific exercise.

3. With a GOAT, you don’t just accept that you suck. You don’t ignore the GOAT, pretending it doesn’t exist for a year and then just feel disappointed when nothing’s changed. You work at it.

You feed it little food pellets and scratch it behind the ears until one day it’s working for you instead of against you.

For now, I’m practicing with these giant rubber band things, but I think my muscles are starting to get it. One day soon I’ll do a real president’s challenge -worthy pull-up and we’ll all celebrate. Then I’ll cross it off my GOAT page and move on to the next thing.

Question for the day: What’s your GOAT? (Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with exercise or fitness.)

2 thoughts on “GOATS

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