My CrossFit

Before CrossFit

On Friday November 1, 2009 I “did” my first CrossFit WOD. Why? Himself had been hounding me for six months to give it a try, and knew for sure that I would like it. He was already a CrossFitter. Then after falling on my face at our school’s Field Day when trying to demostrate a pushup, I decided it was time. That first night was quite comical for me when three very strong CrossFit gals assisted me in flipping a 200 pound truck tire. I think I wet my pants.  I completed my first three initial CrossFit  training sessions with Coach Matt and could not walk for a week. But I was happy, through the pain I was happy. I went into CrossFit a very out of shape 42 year old women with a shattered self esteem and 25 pounds of extra weight.  The weight never bothered me, I loved my curves. What bothered me was that I was terribly out of shape, out of breath, weak, slow, and experienced too many aches and pains for my age.

What Happened Next…
I attended my CrossFit 4 times per week and gave it my all. I did not allow myself to walk during the runs. I made a rule for myself to finish the entire WOD no matter how long it took or how badly I wanted to quit, there were times when the next class was starting and I was still going. Coach Jason taught me how to modify the WOD for the first 6 weeks, doing only 50% just to gain confidence and skill. Coach Matt modified movements for my old injuries/current issues-  broken clavicle, arthritic neck, scoliosis, lower back pain. Every WOD was modified just for me. During the partner workouts some poor victim was paired up with slow-poke me, and never complained but cheered me on- Thanks DAVE! There were nights some of our best athletes got back down on the mat and finished the WOD with me long after they were done their own- Thanks JON and LESLEY! No one ever put me down or made me feel stupid. I started to feel pretty again, my confidence slowly ebbed back to the Robin of old. I often told my whining PE students, “A Strong Person is a Strong Person” and they must do the work to be strong so that they could be strong. They didn’t get it.

After 6 months, Coach Matt said it was time I needed to lift weights. I was scared, I did not want to get big, but I listened to him, and surprisingly enough started to lose not only inches, but the 25 pounds too! Coach Kari continued to push me on some of the lifts, tweaked my movements, and cheered me on for more PR’s. I was never alone, I had an entire cheering section, but everyone does at our box, no one is left behind.

During CrossFit

The Final Nail…
CrossFit was the final nail in my healing. In 2004 I had a “nervous breakdown” or technically speaking- acute anxiety and depression. I went from a happy woman to one on the floor, unable to care for my husband or children, and certainly not myself. Folks, I had postpartum depression with adoption. Yes it can happen. We mommas experience the same emotions, lack of sleep, etc. with an adopted child as we do our biological children. My little daughter also refused to bond with me, and demonstrated a rage that I had never seen, even in my worst medical experiences as a nurse. Sometimes she screamed so hard, she would blow the blood vessels in her nose and bleed everywhere, and because of her constant screaming we were accused of child abuse (once on Mother’s Day, worst Mother’s Day ever!) The adoption specialist  could not offer  suggestions to help us with her rage, so I broke.  It was a dark time for me, all of us actually. Ma looked in my eyes and could tell she was losing me.  I would have been happy if the Merry-Go-Round of life that I was riding would have stopped so that I could get off. I was finished. But with the help and dedication of my husband, family,  friends, Faith, medication, and counselling I made it through- Thank GOD!

That short period of time took its toll on my health, my self-esteem, and my self-worth. I experienced so many aches and pains that I turned to natural medicine and the help of my Chiropractor. After 18 months, I had weaned off the antidepressant (under my medical doctor’s guidance) and my Chiro placed me on many natural supplements to further regulate my thyroid, clean up my digestive system-IBS, and improve my overall physical health. After that time, January 30, 2008 to be exact, I  launched Big Red Kitchen. One more nail in my healing. What a wonderful journey BRK has been for me!  I can never replace the experiences and friends I have made along the way.

Then CrossFit came along. The final nail in healing. It is now my way of life- I am a CrossFitter.  It’s funny, when my physical body improved in strength and less aches and pains, all those final bits and pieces that make one feel human such as-  self-worth, confidence, forgiveness,  self-respect, and hope fell into place. I loved myself again. Maybe it is true…

“A Strong Person is a Strong Person.”

there is no after

 Advice to those who are thinking about CrossFit…
1. Go to a CrossFit that has well trained coaches who will offer introductory classes so that you can learn the movements. If a CrossFit is more concerned with accomplishing classic CF WODs and entering the CrossFit games, but it’s members can’t even touch their toes, it’s time to go to another CF. They must be concerned with basic movements and basic physical abilities. Handstand push ups are cool, but not being able to do basic movements safely is dangerous. Safety first, always.

2. Modify! If the WOD says…
5 rounds of
400 meter run
10 push ups
20 pull ups
30 air squats

Do either 2-3 rounds, or do 1/3 of the movements to start. I modified for a long time. I also did pull ups using a band, or jumping pull-ups, or worked on negative pull-ups: find a way to modify. All WODS can be modified for your level, ability, and past injuries- if the coach does not teach you how to modify, go somewhere else.

3. Keep a journal of all the WODS, what band you used, what weight you lifted, your times for the benchmark WODs like Fight Gone Bad, Nancy, and Fran- you will understand this when you do CrossFit. Hint- even after doing CrossFit for almost 5 years, I still feel out of shape until I look back in my journal and see all the improvements I have made.

4. When starting, commit to a minimum of 3 WODs per week. You will not notice a weight loss for a while but you will feel great, sore but great! Your clothes will fit better, then later the weight will change- as long as you are putting good foods in your body. Give it 3 months to be fair.

5. Most CrossFit gyms are very friendly and encouraging. If the coach is more concerned with the cute little gal in a tank top (unless you are that girl of course) then go somewhere else. The coaches’ eyes must be on all members at all times. If they are snobs go to another CF.

6. Women should lift weights, you will not get big- it’s a myth. In fact the ladies at my gym who have committed to lifting twice a week are our leanest gals there. I hit a wall at the gym with strength and my coach said I needed to come twice a week to lift weights- talk about shredding those last inches.

7. Continue to set CrossFit goals for yourself. One of my goals was to be able to do one pull up without the band. Now I can do three! It’s the little goals that keep us all going. Some of our best guys make goals to be better and stronger, they keep trying until they meet that goal, then get right back up and set another- some goals take years to make. Stick to it! None of us really set  weight loss goals- we set goals like…
a. I will go to CrossFit 4 times per week.
b. I will lift weights 2 times per week.
c. I want to do one pull up without the band by summertime
b. I will work on my ring dips. etc.

8. Do not weigh yourself on a scale. OK maybe once every 6 months or so. It is best to watch your body change over time by taking measurements of your biceps, chest, waist, abs, hips, and thighs. Weight and inches can be very different. I found I lost many inches before the numbers on the scale even budged. That can be discouraging. Tape up every 6 months and enjoy the changes.

9. CrossFit is not for everyone, but anyone can do it with the proper modifications.

Update: As of June 2012, I became a Coach at my CrossFit! I never woke up one day saying I want to be a CrossFit Coach. I woke up one day and said I want to be healthy.  When you follow a healthy journey, you never know where life will take you. I am living my dreams.  I am humbled and grateful.

Update: On Nov. 24, 2012 I became a CrossFit Level 1 (CF-L1) Trainer by taking CrossFit’s Level 1 Trainer Course and passing the CF-L1 Certificate Test with a 100% score.  Talk about grateful.

Update: In 2013 I made Stand Up Paddlboarding my sport. I use CrossFit to enhance my performance, as well as a clean diet (I have added rice, potatoes, and other gluten-free grains like oatmeal and quinoa), strength training, plenty of sleep, and greatly value recovery. I also put on 10 pounds to be a stronger racer.

I want to thank Matt and Kari for building the best, wicked pissah CrossFit evah!


  1. avatar Lisa H.
    Posted 08/21/2012 at 11:33 PM | Permalink

    Okay, I just started coming to your site and I do like it a lot and just read this story of Cross Fit and I have never heard of it. I do love the fact that you mention you had great support and that it was modified for you. But my question is: is Cross fit for toning only? I want a program that is supportive and we have a Cross Fit in my town but could I being 249 join lose weight and get healthy at the same time? Or should I lose some weight first then di Cross Fit. Congrats on your doing so well on your site, Criss Fit and life!!! And thank you for sharing it always helps to know that it can be done.

    • avatar Robin Sue
      Posted 08/22/2012 at 8:36 AM | Permalink

      We have many people who come to crossfit before losing the weight, they lose it while they are training there. We have all shapes and sizes and they are encouraged to do what they can and their workouts are modified and they continue to build from there. At our CF the people are very encouraging and I have not experienced seeing anyone picked on for being over weight, weak, out of shape, or any other things that may keep someone from working out. I was very slow when I first started and everyone cheered me on, so that is the kind of Crossfit you want to find. Be sure they work with you and modify the exercises for you. I have one friend there who was told that if she didn’t do something to lose the weight then she would have diabetes, she was borderline at the time. She lost 50 pounds, even got pregnant with her second child, trained through most of the pregnancy maintaining a healthy pregnant weight and will start up again as soon as her doctor gives her the thumbs up. But you have to give it time, the inches will move before the weight because you will be building strong muscles, and no- weight lifting does not make women big! Most folks at the gym follow a paleo or zone diet and really the goal is to go in there and say “I want to be healthy” Give it a try and see if you like it, if not keep trying something until you find something that works and makes you feel healthy and happy! Here is a video that tracks a man who starts CrossFit who is out of shape and his feelings, fears, etc. It does have some language but is a great encouragement to to many of us in CF. There are 10 episodes…
      Let me know if you try CrossFit!

  2. avatar Jody
    Posted 11/09/2012 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

    Love your site and your cross fit story….i just discovered cross fit and made a 6 month commitment. I hope one day to do an unassisted pull up, but in the mean time I am WOD-ing away! In pain alot but loving the results. I TOO was OUT.OF.SHAPE. The Crossfit environment is unlike any other for encouragement and motivating presence. Happy to be reading your blog thru Biz’s recommendation.

    • avatar Robin Sue
      Posted 11/14/2012 at 10:09 PM | Permalink

      Hi Jody,
      Keep WODing! good for you for committing to 6 months. It sure does whip us into shape doesn’t it? Keep me posted on how you are doing.

  3. avatar Tami B
    Posted 11/26/2012 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    I was in the same boat as you…2006, nervous breakdown, almost lost my home and my family. It was as if someone turned the lights out in my life. I struggled through counseling and things got a little better, but not by much. I did this for 6 years, trying to find something to make me whole. My husband joined a CrossFit program and I went along one Saturday morning and never looked back. I have been CrossFitting for 8 months and it has changed my life. “I can’t” is no longer in my vocabulary. I CAN do a pull up. I CAN climb the rope to the top! I CAN get my toes to the bar! Every “I CAN” required a great deal of determination and everyday it feels like there is something new I CAN do. I will be 50 in a few days and am in better shape than when I was 30. More than the physical changes, it changed my mental and emotional state. Thank you for your story – it made me feel great to know that there are others like me!

    • avatar Robin Sue
      Posted 11/26/2012 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

      Tami! You keep going and fight hard every day! I just passed my CrossFit Level 1 Trainers course and passed! I will share a CrossFit update tomorrow. Thank you so much for sharing your story and how you are overcoming your trials. Nope- you are not alone, there are so many that share a similar story who where helped by CrossFit.

  4. avatar Tammy
    Posted 11/27/2012 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your story! I was amazed at our similarities. I started CF just over 3 years ago at 40 and was pretty out-of-shape at that time and was struggling with weight and thyroid.. I too am an adoptive Mom of my beautiful daughter.

    A few weeks ago I challenged myself to join our CF Competition Team knowing I would have to scale and may not be able to do all the workouts, but I am going to give it my best shot. There are some movements that seem to be out of my grasp, but you have encouraged me to keep trying. Currently working on my pullups.

    Congratulations again on your certification status and for being an inspiration for us to keep pressing on toward our goals.

  5. avatar Ember
    Posted 12/05/2012 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

    Love this post. I am not a crossfitter, but I would like to be someday. I liked that you said you had postpartum with your adoption. I too felt that and still am feeling it with my 2 boys which are brothers. They both have special needs and it is hard, but worth it. Maybe I will have to give crossFit a try so that I can have my sanity back!

    • avatar Robin Sue
      Posted 12/06/2012 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

      Hang in there! Fit in small bits of time just for you, every little break helps. You are doing a wonderful thing!

  6. avatar Kelly Ford
    Posted 01/13/2013 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    I just found your mason jar recipes on pinterest and started browsing your site. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments thus far and good luck int he net year reaching some more goals. You are an inspiration, thank you for sharing your journey and the tools that help you.

  7. avatar Bell
    Posted 01/27/2013 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    I am 51 and tired of being out of shape. I was very active in high school and played college basketball. Over the years, I have gained weight, lost weight and have ended up bigger than ever. At the present time, I am starting week 2 of Beachbody’s ultimate reset. I stopped being active in college after a knee injury. Since that time, I have had several knee surgeries including an ACL reconstruction. The last surgery was 15 years ago but occasionally I will have a slight injury that will cause my knee to swell and have to be drained. The last appointment, Nov 2012, my orthopedic told me I needed a total knee replacement in my near future. I don’t want to have it. I feel if I can strengthen all the muscles around the knee I could do anything. I can’t run and don’t have a desire to. I walk fast and some people say I walk faster than they run. I really want to tackle getting this accomplished. Several reasons are holding me back: 1. Fear that I can’t do it, but feel if I had a good coach I could 2. Want and need a good coach. 3. My husband isn’t athletic and I am sure he may not support me (if I am committed and it not be “another thing” I try, he may) 4. Is it real expensive?

    I have never checked into it because I am scared I would not be able to do it because of my knee. Can you answer any of these questions?

    • avatar Robin Sue
      Posted 01/28/2013 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

      Hi Bell,
      I think you can strengthen the muscles on your knees but it would be painful if you are bone on bone. More so than a good CrossFit coach and exercise, you may need rehab from a certified physical therapist, then go from there. In CF we hold a certificate to teach people how to do CF, some of us have medical backgrounds while others do not. A less experienced coach may not know how to modify the exercises for you. Plus even if you do find a good coach that knee would still have pain. If the knee is as bad as you say, I would try a medically based rehab, or even a chiropracter before trying crossfit. Always be safe!
      Robin Sue

  8. avatar Lani
    Posted 03/07/2013 at 1:19 AM | Permalink

    Bell, I had a total knee replacement 2 years ago, last year both hip replacements, and 3 weeks ago a shoulder replacement….I am now pain free in those joints and stronger then I was 3 years ago….After each surgery I did all the exercises the physical therapist taught me….this made me better than before…So, dont be afraid of a knee replacement, but do all the exercises to strengthen your muscles around your knee….Exercise keeps you young and strong….I,m 72 and going strong…….

  9. avatar megan
    Posted 04/29/2013 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    I just found this site.looking for recipes on pintrest.I haven’t found a site yet that I didn’t feel like it was women just blabbing on and on about nothing. I like the way you write.and now thanks to you I want to try cross fit.I suffer daily with chronic anxiety and it was nice to here you understand that

    • avatar Robin Sue
      Posted 04/30/2013 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

      Give CrossFit a try Megan, you may like it. And thanks for the kind words about my writing!

  10. avatar Hannah Cahusac
    Posted 06/29/2013 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

    There is NO ONE who wouldn’t benefit from Crossfit :) it’s such an amazing system. Strength, fitness, healthy lifestyle. It’s encouraging and supportive and inspirational and I recommend it to everybody I meet. It’s changed my life in a thousand ways, and I could never thank it enough. Be strong! Love your site x

  11. avatar Rebecca
    Posted 08/28/2013 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    Very inspirational post! For me crossfit is good as a warming up activity. But then there is nothing as effective as strength training. I really like when it makes me sweat. To get prepared to the most tough workouts I am taking Military Grade Nutritionals. Awesome nutritional supplements, which provide perfect energy and endurance.

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