A little over 2 weeks ago, something happened among the CrossFit Games athletes that got me thinking about integrity. On October 4, 2017, CrossFit headquarters announced that 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games 3rd place finisher, Ricky Garard, was being stripped of his title (among other consequences) because he tested positive for performance enhancing substances. Patrick Vellner was then awarded the 3rd place podium. (This is the first positive test, from a top individual athlete, to happen in the history of the CrossFit Games.)
I began to watch the responses of the other top individual Games athletes, and what stood out to me was this call to integrity.
If integrity is ...the quality of being honest ...doing the right thing when no one is watching. ..doing the right think even when it's inconvenient or hard... Then how does this incident develop more integrity within the sport of CrossFit and within ourselves?
Mat Fraser (2016 & 2017 Fittest on Earth) congratulated Vellner on joining the podium, and wrote on Instagram, "Integrity in sport is so important. When someone cheats, they aren't simply cheating the sport, they are cheating the other athletes who have sacrificed a lot to get where they are... There are no shortcuts to success... Success is looking at the guy next to you and knowing if he works hard, you gotta work harder. It is built one rep, one grind, one workout at a time..."
Noah Ohlsen, who moved up from 5th to 4th as a result, processed his frustration and disappointment by writing, "While it'd be easy to assume I'd be thrilled to move up from the 5th fittest to the 4th, it's not that simple. Prior, the podium was well out of reach. Now, it's as if it were only 4 points beyond my grasp. One more lunge, one more overhead squat, one more pound on the snatch and I could have achieved a major lifetime goal. Alas, all I can do about that is look forward and allow it fire me up to leave no doubt next season... I'd imagine that within our community and beyond it'll be even harder for people to believe that we train and compete with all natural integrity. That's not fair to those who do."
Garard's own apology/explanation was given from a standpoint of integrity as well. He said, "Because of this outcome I will learn a lot about myself, wipe my tears & be accountable for every single decision I make in this life. Ultimately that is what it means to be a man."
Then the elite Games athletes began to call out the integrity within all of us.
Sara Sigmunds (2017 3rd Fittest Woman) shared a quote from Helen Keller: "Character can not be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
The 2015 & 2016 Fittest Woman on earth, Katrin Davidsdottir, put up this challenge on her Instagram, "There are no shortcuts to success or alternatives to hard work, dedication & daily discipline. It's a grind. It's hard. Sometimes it seems like for every one step forward you make, you take two back. It's not easy keeping the spirits high & to keep moving forward but it's not SUPPOSE to be. If it were easy, it wouldn't be rewarding. Everyone would do it. Do what you truly LOVE, work harder than you ever thought you could & make sure that at the end of it all you can stand tall & be proud of the choices you made. Make it a journey to be proud of."
The next day Ben Smith (9 CrossFit Games appearances) posted on his Instagram: "Focus on the things YOU can control - YOUR effort, focus, drive, energy, and use them to be the best YOU can be. You can't control others and their choices. But to make change, change starts within yourself as a person. Be the change that you want to see and hopefully your light will shine as an example for others to follow." Maybe his post had nothing to do with the announcement the day before. If that's the case, it was impeccable timing...
The more I saw the idea of integrity come up, the more I stopped looking at what Garard had done and instead held up a mirror, to examine myself.
Even though I am far removed from the elite status of a Games athlete, I felt this call to integrity trickle all the way down to me. Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a discussion of integrity is also a great way to conclude the #HealthierMe #EatThinkDoBetter series.
Hear me out.
If integrity is the quality of being honest, choosing the right thing when no one is looking, and choosing the right thing when it's inconvenient or hard, then if we practiced more integrity, wouldn't that improve what we ate, how we thought, what we did, and how we lived?
We started with EAT. If I was honest with myself about the condition of my consumption and the needs of my body, and then ate in a way that valued my body & my relationship with food, I would put in the work to give my body & mind the nutrition it actually needs. I would probably have a more balanced diet and more freedom in my food choices, because it wouldn't be about numbers and good or bad food anymore.
Then we moved on to THINK better. We spent 6 blog posts discussing resiliency. Practicing a resilient mindset allows us to embrace our circumstances and respond in a way that actually reduces our stress and improves our quality of life regardless of our circumstances, which improves our overall health! This mindset takes integrity! We have to have the integrity to address our THOUGHTS even though no one is "looking" at them. We have to have the integrity to control our response, practice self-regulation, even though it's easier and more convenient to fly off the handle or into a panic. It takes integrity to be intentional to put our values into practice.
After EAT & THINK, came DO. We looked at MOVING BETTER & MOVING MORE. And guess what? Huge integrity components. When the coach isn't looking over your shoulder, are you going to hit the proper depth on your squat? Get your chin over the bar? Hit full lock-out? Do you hit "RX" even if your movement standards are sloppy or rep count is questionable? Will you put in the work outside of class to gain more mobility and increase your time spent moving? Our movements require integrity if we want to get better & stronger.
I think if I apply the concept of integrity to all aspects of my life, in the gym or not, I will live better. I will be healthier, happier, & stronger. Even when it's difficult, the right thing to do is to have integrity. Hard work pays off.