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.
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.”
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!