CrossFit & Mental Toughness Experiment

During my CrossFit journey, I was doing great for years till last year when I felt stuck in my performance and my mind was stopping me from growing and improving. That time, I struggled a lot during competitions and felt not as focused as I used to be and I wasn’t sure what were the reasons behind it. So I started reflecting and being conscious of my thoughts and found out that my mind was stopping me from improving because of the fear and I wasn’t paying attention to the words I used to say to myself like “it’s ok, take it easy today there are plenty of times in the future” and I keep repeating that every single day till It slowed me down. After realizing that, I started writing before training which helps me to be motivated and be prepared mentally for my training. For example, one day I wrote down a positive statement on a paper and hang it in front of me while training which helps me to repeat that to myself when I needed it. The statement was “No pain no gain” this helps me to realize that the pain is only going to last a couple of minutes and that will only make me stronger and better my performance for next time. So, that made me design the CrossFit mind journal in my previous project to help you stay focused through writing your feelings on a paper to let it out and clear your head for training. Which lead me to this project, where I experiment the journal with the class to engage the community and see if this journal actually works. 

CrossFit Mind Journal

I have done the experiment in our class with seven participants in total. Each one of the participants tried a different exercise of the journal. I started the experiment by doing ten minutes of the journal exercise. After that, we started to warm up and started the workout. After the workout ended, I handed in surveys to test if the journal did work or not. 


The work out:

6 rounds for time:

20 Shoulder taps

60 Mountain climbs

20 Tuck jumps


After the workout, I handed in a survey to the participants to measure the results and see their experiences before, during and after the workout. And, if the CrossFit Mind Journal has helped to keep their mindset and motivate them during the training or not.



After evaluating the surveys, I have found out that four participants out of seven found it helpful, some of the comments “Get me more into a positive headspace”, “To commit to trying”, and “Help to change negative to positive feelings”. Two of the participants say maybe and that they found it hard to communicate how they felt. Finally, one participant says it intimidated her.

In the survey, I asked the participants “What helps you to stay motivated during the workout?” to have a better understanding of things or thoughts that keeps one person motivated. And the responses were “Training with the peers”, “Thinking that I can do it”, “Thinking about my fitness goals”, and “Believe in myself that I can push harder.” Most of the responses were so related to my journal exercises, which makes me believe that this journal might be helpful.


My target audience was supposed to be the CrossFit community who struggled mentally during the workout and need that tool to help them stays focused, believe in themselves, and give them that power and motivation to push a little extra every single day, however, it was difficult to test CrossFit community due to the need of ethical approve. Therefore, I experiment with my peers in class.


I think most of the feedback were positive, however, there were a lot of challenges that affected the results of my experiment. First, I didn’t announce the experiment a day in advance with the participants which made them not ready for the exercise mentally and physically. They didn’t wear the right shoes and cloths for the workout, which made it challenging for them to actually experience the actual exercise. Second, the workout that I wrote wasn’t suitable for the audience I chose due to level differences.


CrossFit Mind Journal

After working on my previous project; Positive and Negative Self-talk: Strengthen your mind, I decided to continue working on the same inquiry. In the previous project, I focused on observing my thoughts and navigating between positive and negative thoughts while training and sharing my journey to motivate other athletes to train their minds. In this project, I want to further my research in sharing my tools of “How to train and strengthen your mind?” with others aiming to help others and experiment together. 

Our minds are always overwhelmed with thoughts that could affect us physically which will ruin our progress and performance in training. It is very important for athletes to know how to cope with their negative thoughts, anxiety, and fear. The three most important elements to strengthen our mind in CrossFit are focus, motivation, and confidence. By setting goals every day and reminding ourselves of our overall goal of why we doing CrossFit, we will be motivated and energized to give our workout 100% of hard work. Motivation is not enough, being confident is very important. knowing our own strength and practicing self-talk such as motivational statements “come on, you can do it” would help us to be confident. Finally, focus, in order to be focused, we need to clear all the distractions in our mind. 

Therefore, I designed a CrossFit mind journal as a pre-workout journal to help you strengthen your mind by keeping you focused, motivated and confident. This journal is designed to clear your mind and keep you focused as well as a progression tracker to track your journey in CrossFit. Each day, before training you will start by filling your workout and start the exercise of the day. These exercises required you to write to express your feelings on the paper and be more conscious of how you are feeling, acknowledge them, and release them. 

Journal Cover
Journal cover, introduction and page of the first exercise
journal exersice



Positive and negative self-talk: mental strength

“The greatest adaptation to CrossFit takes place between the ears” – Greg Glassman

In project two, I decided to explore a new inquiry that I am passionate about which is navigating between our inner voices. How may we strengthen our minds to succeed in CrossFit? CrossFit is a huge part of my life, and l have been always curious about how to stay focused and overcome the negative thoughts I face especially during intense workouts or a big lift. So, I decided in this project to test my mind in different ways and see how my performance going. I tried to react to it and another day to ignore it, but that failed. I felt my body was working against me. Therefore, I decided to observe those feeling without taking any action and replace it with positive thoughts such as a strong statement or reminding myself of my goals or being engaged with the music while separating myself from my thoughts while observing them. This way helps me to manage negative thoughts and feel motivated to successfully complete my workout with a great performance. I believe that everyone has a way to cope with fear, and that’s why it’s important that we explore ourselves to find a way that works best for us. 

Training in CrossFit for four years and being with different CrossFit communities, I realized that there are people who might compare themselves to others instead of tracking their own journey. This way we are not going to improve because mentally we are obsessed and stressed out which going to only hold us back. In order to move forward, we need to shift our focus to ourselves, believe in ourselves, be patient, and be committed to being the best version of ourselves. Some people at CrossFit gyms might say negative comments either about your performance or techniques and that going to affect our minds and distract us during the workout. Creating a mental answer machine auto-response to let go of the comments, would help us to not let these comments consume us. Finally, we are all human, we go through a lot and have some bad days where we mentally don’t feel like pushing hard during our training and that is normal. However, it’s better to control our emotions and not to let them take over and ruin our day and workout. 


I created a motivational video reflecting my own journey aiming to motivate and encourage the CrossFit community at any fitness level to train their mind. CrossFit is a mind sport as much as physical and when you strengthen your mind, you will be surprised by how much more capability you have.

“The human body is an incredible machine, but most people only get out of that machine what their mind allows them” – Rich Froning 



How to be present?

After moving to Vancouver and for the first time moving out from my family, I felt like I am lost and did not know who I am anymore. At that moment, I was reflecting a lot on the past which was painful, and the future where I felt stressed. This action made me lose myself and not live in the present, which motivated me and made me feel curious about how to be present and reconnect to my body? how may I incorporate design to express and share my feelings with others?

During the winter break, I have stayed a couple of days at home to reconnect with myself and found myself feeling all the feelings that I was running away from which held me from living in the present. I started accepting them and feeling whatever I feel in the moment. I went for a walk and observed nature with all the details to awaken my conscious along with breathing work which helps me a lot and felt like I am waking up finally.  

I have a huge interest in the human mind and am always curious and eager to learn more about it. Therefore, I decided to change my focus from gender inequality and women empowerment into the human mind. The human mind probably is a big topic and all related together, but I decided to narrow down my topic into how to be present and reconnect to your body. I would like to incorporate the two things I am mostly interested in which are design and the human mind. Therefore, I designed a poster capturing myself at the moment when I was lost and when I was awakened by practicing breathing work and paying attention to details.

Mind Mapping



How may we design a language to back up women from street harassment in Kuwait?

Women are the victims of street harassment regardless of their race, color, religion, and outer appearance. This problem has serious consequences on women’s mental and physical health include injuries, depression, anxiety, fear, trauma, suicide, eating disorder and etc. Men are raised by having the idea of taking control over their sisters or wives and having support from the culture and society in Kuwait as well. Therefore, men have the most power over women in Kuwait. Additionally, the government of Kuwait has a stake as well in this matter. They are encouraging men’s crimes by not punishing men who harass women even if he killed his mother, sister, or wife because of honor, he will only go to jail for 3 years or/and pay a short penalty. The cultural system allows men to get power while restricting women. This power led men to harass women in Kuwait knowing that they are protected by society and law, while women will be in trouble with her family. If she addresses that she was harassed, her family will blame her because of her clothes, going out a lot or being late, going to specific places like malls and etc. Therefore, women in Kuwait prefer to be silent rather than dealing with their families and that causes a lot of mental and physical issues. 

Empathy Map

In this project, I have changed my direction from gender inequality to street harassment in Kuwait, however, it is still related to feminism. Gender inequality is a very broad topic and I needed to narrow down my thesis. I started mind-mapping and thought about street harassment in Kuwait. Before I moved to Vancouver, street harassment have increased in Kuwait and that started during COVID-19. During this time, it is hard for women to reach for help.


In response to COVID-19 and the difficulty for women to reach for help when they are in harassment situations. I thought about a red paper wristband or any other material that could be worn as a bracelet as my outcome. The idea behind it is to back up women from harassment streets by simply showing it to anyone around to help them during harassment situations. That could be while driving, in the street, or in any public place. In support of that, I designed a journal mapping and a protest poster to form social consciousness.

Red paper wristband
Journal Mapping
Protest Poster



We were asked to choose a reading and proposition ourselves by engaging in dialogues with the reading. I chose the reading “Seeking stronger plurality: Intimacy and integrity in designing for social innovation” by Yoko Akama and Joyce Yee (2016). 

The authors state that Asia-Pacific is seeking answers for their design for social innovation from Western design through workshops and expert talks that is echoing Western thinking. The authors worry that by looking at the west to seek answers for social problems in Asia-Pacific, unintentionally, the cultural, traditional, and heterogeneous practices would be replaced by dominant paradigms of design. The authors of this paper used Kasulis’s heuristic of integrity and intimacy as the cultural patterns that define different ways of relating. They begin by describing the integrity orientation as an external relation between two entities, in which the two parties have their own integrity outside their relationship, and the relation between them is built upon agreed values and principles. On the other hand, Kasulis’s view of intimacy is described as an inter-related relation between two entities that seek to emphasize the points of commonality, find and empathize on the overlaps instead of focusing on differences. In intimacy-oriented relations, the two entities keep influencing, shaping, and reshaping the nature of each other. Western design is depending on the integrity view while the authors are suggesting finding a middle ground between integrity and intimacy-based orientations.

In Kuwait, Men have power over women because of the society and traditions which created inequality between genders. Some women don’t have the mobility to live the life they want. For example, women have to be accompanied by a member of their family to travel or study abroad even though she is legally allowed to travel alone after age 21 years old, on the other hand, men are allowed to travel alone whenever and wherever they wish. Instead of addressing the issue directly to men about gender inequality, we could approach them by speaking about their own rights inequality to open a conversation and start speaking about women’s rights which creates open and respectful communication.

Final outcome

I decided to design a board game called “Close the Gap”. It’s a logic game represented through a board game with two sets of cards; women’s and men’s questions cards. All gender going to start from the opposite side of the game board and the finishing is in the middle of the board as we all go toward equality. Women are going to ask men questions related to women’s rights and vice versa to create a space of conversation and engagement. If the participant answered the question correctly, he\she will then roll the dice to see how many steps to go forward, however, if the answer is wrong, the same concept is applied but instead of going forward, the participant will go backward. The winner is the one who reaches the end first. In this game, the participants are introduced to “Close the Gap” as an entry point for discussing how inequality can affect women’s and men’s lives and to raise awareness about this matter in an interactive and engaging way.  

The box is consist of:

  • Two sets of cards in a total of 600 cards.
  • Dice
  • Game board
  •  Instruction
  •  Players pieces
The game’s box
The game’s board
The game’s cards


Design + Research statement



I selected Arabic Calligraphy, the “Al-Diwani” style as my daily practice. 4 years ago, I have attended a workshop in the Al-Diwani Calligraphy and enjoyed it so much, but I haven’t practiced it then. I have always been passionate to learn Calligraphy, so I took this chance and opportunity to start practicing it. 

My daily practice process

I Started my practice using an educational method book called “Alkhat Al-Diwani”. Each page shows the steps of drawing each individual letter, and understanding the concept of scale in the Diwani Script by using dots to measure the length, width, and extension of the Arabic letters. And, it includes some tracing exercises which help me in understanding the steps and practicing the movement of the pen.

After that, I practiced on graphic papers, which was a helpful tool to accurately measure the distance of the strokes vertically and horizontally. 

Finally, I started practicing on the main baseline with 6 dots on the right side as guidance to indicate the starting point of drawing the letter. 


I have faced a lot of challenges through my practice. The movement of the pen was the most challenging part to me, changing directions and angels of the pen to create a contrast of the strokes in a precise way while being careful with the scale of the letter. Being patient with the process is another challenging part, there are 33 letters in Al-Diwani calligraphy, and each letter has different forms and individual measurements, which takes a long time to practice. 

Final outcome

Before I started my daily practice, I have drawn some letters to see how much I remember since the workshop. I also did that at the end of the two weeks of practice, and I was so amazed by my process in such a short time. The outcome looks clean, the contrast of the strokes, better proportion, and the curve strokes look defined enough.  However, I could still see a lot of mistakes in the final outcome. It’s definitely not a skill to be learned overnight and needs a lot of patience and dedication for long period in order to advance my level, therefore I am looking to continue my practice and see where the journey takes me.    

Before two weeks of daily practice
After two weeks of daily practice

Theme of origin

The Arabic Calligraphy was originally derived from the holy Quran and evolved into different styles across the eras. Calligraphers have been inspired by the Arabic Language and they are expressing this language as a kind of unique art through traditional and contemporary art. However, The Arabic language and culture throughout Kuwait and the Middle East are lacking in its artwork. Today, many designers in Arab countries are ignoring the Arabic language. This is a large reason for my motivation to practice Arabic Calligraphy, and it’s a way to step back into my roots and discover something about myself as an Arab and a designer.



I’ve been partnered with Isla to create and exchange gifts. We communicated several times through video calls to get to know each other. We spoke about our practices as designers, hobbies, and different activities that we enjoy doing.


Isla is from Scotland, currently living in Vancouver. She likes reading a lot and loves typography, which made me think of the idea of making her a bookmark designed in Arabic calligraphy. I decided to write her name “أيلا” in a Teal background color because it’s her favorite color.

Final draw

I used black ink and a reed pen to draw her name in Arabic calligraphy. After that, I scanned it to my laptop and created two overlapped layers in black and white in a Teal background color. Finally, I printed the design on thick glossy paper.

Final design


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