Posted on July 24, 2014 at 12:00am by Anthony Agtarap

At the beginning of the year I had put it in my mind to achieve a few S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals for myself.   The goals were specific, measurable, action-based, realistic, and time sensitive.  I believe setting SMART goals is a very important first step for anybody that wants to be successful in anything.  I had the ideal programming laid out, I move well, and I was mentally ready to absolutely go out and seize those fitness goals of mine.  But then the unforeseeable happened…Injury… then it happened again… and again… and again.

At the beginning of the year in January, I caught the H1N1 flu virus.  That sucked pretty bad and caused me to miss a local CrossFit competition at CrossFit North Vancouver.  That took me out of any physical activity for about a month.  Right around the CrossFit Open I somehow aggravated my left elbow and I started to feel a very strange pain in my right knee.  The pain was so severe that I couldn’t complete the last workout of the Open.  By the time April rolled around, my right knee pain was so bad I couldn’t perform any loaded squats and lunging patterns.  I had an MRI to see what the heck was going on and it turned out I had a bone bruise in my right knee that has no treatment other than rest.  6-9 months of rest!  I had to take month off my Olympic lifting training and I haven’t performed any loaded squats since that diagnosis.

Coach Anthony in MRI machine

And then the icing on the injury cake happened a couple of weeks ago.  I missed a single foot take-off back tuck in practice, under-rotated, and landed awkwardly on my head and shoulder.  I ended up fracturing the facet process in my C5, and my C5 and C6 were subluxated 4mm.  I injured myself so badly that I needed cervical fusion and disk replacement surgery to repair the damage.  I had the surgery last Friday, almost a week ago today.

X-ray of neck with metal plate and pins.

In terms of injuries and setbacks, I’ve had a pretty rough year.  Each time I got hit with something, I was forced to re-calibrate myself and attack the goals I had set out to achieve in a different order.  For example, I postponed the timing of my Olympic Lifting goal until the end of the year instead of the first quarter and I moved ahead my back tuck goal to the summer.  It was frustrating but I rolled with the punches and kept on moving forward.  But then when I broke my neck a couple of weeks ago, I remember lying in bed in the ER at Eagle Ridge Hospital thinking “this is bullshit!”.  I had everything prepared, I’m a pretty decent mover, and I was mentally ready.  What the hell happened?  Why is this happening?  What the hell is the lesson behind this??!!  After I was finished feeling sorry for myself, I then turned to business and practical mode and started thinking “I have seminars this summer I have to get to and I need to be able to move for them,  if I can’t make them, then I’ll have to contact them and cancel.”,  “I have to adjust the coaching schedule now and how am I going to do that?” My mind was going crazy!  Those first few hours after finding out from the doctor I broke my neck was one of the most awful experiences I’ve ever had.  It was very challenging for me to calm my mind and find the positive in this.

Samantha was by my side for those first few hours in the ER so she saw the worst of it.  I know my accident scared the crap out of her but she remained calm, stayed with me through the evening, and calmed my mind which prevented it from going further into a negative state.  She then posted on Facebook what happened.  Shortly after that I awoke to see that Andrew came by later that evening to visit and calm my mind further by helping me with meditation and moral support.  The next day I checked my phone and saw tons of texts, messages, and Facebook posts from my friends and the EB community with all sorts of words of support, encouragement, love, and positive energy.  It was overwhelming and I started to get emotional (which only happens when the planets align).  For the next few days leading up to my surgery date, I witnessed amazing support and love around me.  My teammates were solid and quick to step up and coach at EB, my friends and family were offering support and encouragement, and my community was full-on in support mode.  One of our dear clients organized a food train where everyone created meals for my family for everyday for about a week or so!! It was unbelievable.  I know for sure I got emotional a few times when I felt their positive energy.  My mind had shifted to a place where I could actually slow down, hear what everyone was all saying, and reflect on what’s really important.  The first most important thing that you MUST have to be successful is the support, love, encouragement, and positive energy that a supportive family member, friend(s), and/or community provides.

Chances are you have a support structure that supports you in your goals.  Take a moment and figure out who that is.  That support structure could be as small as one person but it’s still a support structure.  It could also be as big as a community.  That’s the most amazing thing about CrossFit.  We have an entire community supporting each other.  It’s truly remarkable and we help each other get through adversity.  Regardless of the size of your support structure, the second most important thing is to take the time once and while to hear the words of encouragement, praise, and positive energy that your support structure gives you.  Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget to do this second part because we’re so busy and focused.

Their support will keep you grounded and help get you through adversity when adversity shows up.

Photo of people making hearts with their hands

The last year and a half for me has been a whirlwind.  It’s been non-stop since I opened the doors at Engineered Bodies.  I’ve been working my butt off in the business, working my butt off on the business, building a solid team, being a the best dad I can be for my daughters, being the best husband I can be, being a mentor, and training for my own fitness goals.  Not once prior to breaking my neck did I ever take the time to reflect and take in the words of encouragement, praise, and support from the most important people in my life.  These people were saying positive things to me on a daily basis but I was too busy and too focused on marching forward to hear it.  The universe has a special way of making sure you hear the lesson and it took me breaking my neck to be able to realize that.  Once I realized that and embraced my support structure with all its love, support, and encouragement, I felt a lot lighter, felt positive energy, and it became more clear to me what is really important in my life.  Three days post op, I coached my first class at the box.  It was an unbelievable feeling to be a part of all that positive energy.  I’m easing back into it now with a more in-tune state of mind.

Photo of happy people

So that’s my latest life lesson and what the universe really wanted me to achieve this year.  It wasn’t anything to do with increasing Olympic Lifting numbers, nailing specific gymnastic skills, or anything physical in any way.  I really feel it’s an important lesson and I’m fortunate and grateful to be able share it with you in this post today.

You can have the perfect plan, excellent coaching, perfect programming, the right intentions and mindset, and all the right equipment.  Those things are all important but it will only get you so far when $hit hits the fan.  There are people out there who love you and support you so slow down and take the time to acknowledge them, hear what they are saying, and process it.  If you do all that, you’ll eventually be successful in achieving your goal (when the universe says it’s time to achieve it) and feel an amazing sense of love at the same time.  Win Win!

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