One of the toughest challenges in loving my body is accepting my strengths and weaknesses. If you watched yesterday's video, you'll know that I have rocking hard legs. My mid-section, while super strong is not narrow and trim.
Nothing can make your body image plummet faster than negative experiences with exercise. But finding the right "fit" with exercise can be as tricky as picking out the right cut, size wash, style and fit of jeans. (Ask me about the horrific 4 hour, 6 store hunt for jeans with my 14 year old.)
Anita has been one of my athletic mentors. She inspired me to reach for my Ironman dream. She biked next to me while I ran always throwing out encouragement and coaching. This is her story about finding the right exercise "fit" with CrossFit.
what CrossFit has done for me
I have been an athlete all my life, (soccer, softball, judo, basketball, rugby...), but I was the slowest, strongest and generally the fattest athlete on every team. It wasn’t any different with Triathlon.
For 3+ years I did Triathlon, believing like many others, that endurance athletes were the most fit athletes on the planet. I raced 22 Triathlons. I was on the podium for my class twice, first place both times. Despite that ‘success’ and the friendships I made, I was still looking for something else, something different.
Then I broke my elbow in a training accident. My desire for training evaporated; I just didn’t care. When I was cleared to train again, I went to the pool a few times, but didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I saw high school classmate post on Facebook about his and his wife’s success and strength gains in CrossFit. Quite a few weeks later, I asked him what CrossFit was. He said it was a gym, with a totally unique workout and feel to it.
I went in on a Thursday evening just to see a workout. There were not many people in the gym doing the workout, but the workout looked FUN!!! I knew it was what I was looking for.
The trainers taught me the lifts and expectations of the movements and I quickly became addicted. But I wasn’t “golden girl” of CrossFit. Push ups on my toes, burpees, sit ups, box jumps and squats-- they all seemed easy enough, but I wasn’t able to do them to CrossFit standards, or I could only do 2 or 3 at a time.
CrossFit is constantly varied, functional movement performed at high intensity, They teach Olympic lifting, Weightlifting, and bodyweight (gymnastics) movements. So most workouts are different. One of the workouts I remember at the beginning of this experience was 1 rep max (RM) testing for 3 different lifts; Push Press, Back Squat, and DeadLift. I remember my Dead Lift score was 295 because the trainer yelled across the gym that he added the weight wrong on the bar and had me up my score by 20 lbs. It was fun for me because the others in the gym were quite impressed and stunned. That kind of reaction was not something I ever got from my triathlon friends.
I started crossFit weighing in between 195-198. My size 38 (men) pants were snug, XL t-shirts, tight across the bust and my belly pushed out beyond my chest. My arms were flabby and without definition. At 5’ 5 1/2”, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
After 16 months doing CrossFit, I weigh between 185-187, size 36 pants are loose, XL shirts are too big for me, and my arms have definition in the biceps, shoulders and chest. My Deadlift is 325lbs, back squat is 265lbs, front squat 195lbs, push jerk is 175lbs, and my Clean is 165lbs.
I have NEVER liked my body. Yes it was strong, but I never fit in with my peers because they looked like the athletes and I didn’t. I had too much fat! I was strong, but not “hot” & strong; I was fat & strong. And I can’t really say that I Love my body now, but I do appreciate what my body can do.
My knees have stopped hurting, too. They used to hurt constantly durning running workouts – even though I only ran a 15 minute mile. My fastest mile was 13:30 (downhill). After doing CrossFit for 9 months (running only for warm up or 800 meters or less, mostly less,) did a 1 mile time trial. My time: 12:21. Even with all the muscle building lifts, and NONE of the long slow distance running, I was able to IMPROVE my mile time.
The other very surprising result with CrossFit is my desire to eat better. Not that my other coaches didn’t encourage healthy food choices, but I didn’t care. Now I care because I want to be able to do the next workout. I am not perfect at my food choices, but I have learned more about nutrition and healthy eating. I look at food as nutrition and not as a way to comfort bad feelings.
Want to try CrossFit? If you are in Utah County, Hermes CrossFit has an offer for 1 free hour of training if you mention this youtube ad.
Tomorrow: Finding your "Fit"