The Beauty of Fitness: The Perfectionist

The Beauty of Fitness: The Perfectionist


By Lu Crenshaw 

On the docket for the day was a 5,000 meter row time trial. This meant that the goal was to beat my old time. So I set up my rower and got to work. I wasn’t feeling super confident that this attempt at 5k would be a personal best. So, with that uncertainty of a PR (personal record) I began to toy with idea of just rowing 5k. In lies the first problem…I’m not sure I will beat my old time so I contemplate even trying. That’s just not cool.


I do my best to change my attitude, I hop on the rowing machine, set my pace and I begin…wow right off the bat I’m realizing this pace is going to be hard, if it feels hard at five minutes I’m a bit worried about the next 15. I am trying to get my mind right, keeping my form as efficient as possible, drive…lean…pull….handles…shoulders…knees.

As I watch the meters count down I begin to look elsewhere than my rowing screen, the screen in telling me that each pull is not the pace I need to be at, I’m going too slow, but I don’t think I can pull what I need to pull. So in comes the mental meltdown, in comes the weakness of my character.

I have about 3,500m left and I’m gassed, I can’t keep the pace, guess what I do? Oh yeah you bet I did….

I STOPPED ROWING, I sat there for about 15-20 seconds and felt really sorry for myself….

In that moment I decided since I wasn’t going to hit a PR that I just wasn’t going to play anymore. Then BOOM…the convictions smacks me right upside the head, “So, since you aren’t going to win you aren’t going to play, is that what you’re saying?” That was exactly what I was saying. I was going to pack up my toys, huff and puff as I walked away because I wasn’t gonna be the best, I wasn’t going to beat my old time. This all happened in that short period of time. I was so disgusted with myself and my attitude that I started cranking on that handle…


I got myself back on pace, but it started to hurt more because I had to play catch up. My legs were burning and about 1000m later, I STOPPED AGAIN!!!!

“Seriously LU….what’s your problem?”

“I’m tired, I don’t want to do this.”

This is my inner dialogue. I then say it out loud and a friend of mine is there. I said I don’t feel like doing this anymore. She immediately responds with, “Well you know, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t really want to go to the cross, but He did it anyways.”


I finished out that row and with all of my stopping I only ended up slower than my old time. I went outside and laid on the concrete, cried a little and knew what I had done.

If I wasn’t going to be perfect, if I wasn’t going to be the best, well then I was just going to take my toys and leave. I didn’t want to play anymore.

This is so prevalent in my life. My desire to be perfect (which I know is so silly, for I am a finite and fallen human being) can really get in the way of me getting stronger. It’s not just quitting when it gets hard but there are many other ways in which this manifests itself in fitness.

Here are some red flags that you need to be the best or to be perfect in the gym and how it actually hinders you.

When the best is not attainable, quitting and walking away becomes an option. Your best that day needs to be enough. It’s not always going to be perfect, there will be days where there is struggle and the choice must be made if the struggle is worth it. The difficulty and even pain might actually make you better. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time-it’s painful. There is a right harvest for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:11

On a day when a 1 rep max (lifting a weight for 1 rep as heavy as you can) comes up, you avoid failure. I am infamous for this. I get to a weight and think it’s good enough. The thing is, you will NEVER know how far you can go until you get to the place where you can’t go anymore. You must be ok with failure, for without it you will never know your actual limits. You must go there, fail and come back later and get it.

Working out with and hanging out with people that are not better than you. This is a big red flag!!! What happens when you are around people that are better than you or you do not feel superior around? Do you keep them around or do you move on because you are unable to handle their successes? I love training with people who are better than I am; it means that I have something to aim for. There are many people who will not spend time with ones that make them look less than. You’re not less than, you just have to work harder to get there. It’s easier to pack up and decide you don’t want to play anymore because it’s too hard on your pride. I want to be surrounded by people that make me better. Find people that make you better and stick with them.

You don’t always have to have it all together. You don’t always have to be on. There will be days where your best is nothing spectacular, but for that day it truly is your best. Learn to fall apart sometimes, learn to fail, learn to fall so when you do you can get back up in a greater state of humility. Humility is something so hard to swallow but so beautiful as it begins to manifest itself in your life.

If you feel like these are some of the things that you struggle with, I would encourage you to realize that you are to be a person of excellence and not of perfection. Perfection is destructive. All it does is keep us in a constant perfection/guilt/shame cycle because we are human. We cannot be perfect and when we fall short we end up tossed to and fro in behavioral patterns that keep us bound. This cycle can be broken with humility, balance, self-control and excellence. Will you choose this?

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3 Responses to The Beauty of Fitness: The Perfectionist

  1. Mikey May 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    I can so relate to the inner voice playing games with the mind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and struggles.

  2. Chloe May 28, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Hi Lu,
    Thanks so much for this one. This is probably the most accurate in terms of my fitness habits and patterns. I NEVER work out with people that are better than me, and I actually hate it when my Mum comes home from the gym and she’s completed her workout when I haven’t.
    What you have written really exposes the central issue in those feelings I have!
    I also actually think that part of the wrestle for me is that I KNOW I won’t reach the perfection level, (which is what I want to reach) so then I don’t even strive for excellence. I’m have absolutely no conviction that I could reach the target, and therefore CONSTANTLY let myself settle, with half attempts, inconsistent working out habits and no actual real change.
    But I do want that to change.
    How do you eliminate that kind of apathy? Do you just keep trying?

    • CommunityEats May 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      thanks so much for sharing chloe! I know many of us can relate!

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