Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why I Lift

Five months from my last post and I am still doing the CrossFit thang! It almost seems unreal that I have kept up with ANY fitness endeavor for so long. I thought I would update you on my progress.

In 5 months... 

  • I am 28 pounds lighter
  • My baseline workout (21 - 15 - 9 reps of squats, pushups, sit-ups) finished 15 minutes faster
  • I am 4 pant sizes smaller
  • a bra cup smaller :(
  • My deadlift improved 75 pounds
  • My back squat improved 70 pounds
  • My push press improved 40 pounds
  • I haven't measured it, but I can run further before walking
  • I use my asthma inhaler way less
  • My joints hurt less
  • I went from working out 2-3 days per week to 4-6 days per week

...but those reasons are not enough to stand the test of time to keep me showing up week after week when I've hit a weight loss plateau (for the past month), or I feel like I'm not improving like I should, or when the 20-somthing year olds are still leaving me in the dust.

Why keep going? Two main reasons:

1)          I found something I love. If there's a barbell, kettle bell or slam ball involved, then it's game ON! I feel powerful. I can take on the world. I especially love Olympic weight lifting. When the workout includes a barbell, I'm loving it. Even when I'm laying in the "recovery position' and often dead last afterwards, I feel accomplished and athletic. FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE TO DO! I'm not bashing other avenues of fitness, this is just what clicked for me. Try out different things, get a friend involved!

2)         I figured out what I was fighting for.  We've all seen the trite "fitspiration" memes on the interwebs that say "to look good naked" or "nothing tastes as good as thin feels". I'm sorry, but those reasons make me want to vomit. I don't know about you, but that's not enough reason to make such a lifestyle change when you're sweating your toenails and pushing yourself harder than you ever thought you could. I had a hard time nailing down my reasons until I read a post Find Your Fight by Nate Miyaki and it was like a lightbulb moment for me! I'm not the same person!

I'm fighting...

  • for my health - I have psoriatic arthritis and my increasing weight and couch potato experience points weren't doing me any favors
  • to not feel weak and incapable
  • to be a good example for my patients and to earn more trust as a healthcare provider. You might not trust a skinny cook, but you certainly have trouble trusting a fat healthcare provider giving health advice.
  • against empty nest syndrome 
  • loneliness and boredom 
  • to feel comfortable in my own skin. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Drinking the Cr-ool Aid

Okay, so that was a terrible attempt at a pun for a title, but I'm sure you're not reading this for my literary prose. (By the way, why ARE you reading this? I've been gone for months!) Anyhoo, I have restarted posting on my blog to tell you about my newest love, CrossFit.

WAIT! Don't click away yet! Don't look at me like the Amway salesman or those college kids selling magazines! Now, if you're looking at me up and down like "um, YOU do CrossFit?" with those disbelieving eyes at my spare tire and badonkadonk, then you'd be more on target. Do any google image search on CrossFit and you will have pages upon pages of muscled guys doing pull-ups and lifting weights. Go on and look, I'll wait. It's verra nice eye candy.

I remember looking up CrossFit about a year ago after falling down some internet rabbit hole on exercising. I quickly decided to mind-save that for later when I had lost weight and restarted running again.  I thought it was way over my head and only for serious athletes and the nearest "box" was 30-35 minutes away, so running is what I did...over...and over...and over... until I read this article: Why Women Should Not Run. The article had me thinking about my current "training" and why I never really felt "fit" by ONLY running. I continued to stay overweight. I dove back into the rabbit hole and came up with CrossFit again. I saw that a "box" had opened in my town a year before and mustered up the courage to walk in for the first time.

Apprehension was an understatement. I showed up to the "Ladies Only" class, got a tour, explanations on what is CrossFit and noticed that the women were of all body types. Instead of technical weight machines with little computers, I saw barbells, jump ropes, weighted balls, kettle bells and and pull-up bars. A little less anxious now and ready to work on my "baseline". "Baseline" is also code for "you're-really-gonna-suck-hard-so-you'll-have-room-to-improve". Baseline consisted of the following performed for time: 21-15-9 reps of push ups (I did girl pushups), sit-ups (CrossFit situps were easier on my back) and squats with a 200 meter run between. Sometime after my arms and legs decided to quit cooperating, I finally finished the baseline DEAD LAST. CrossFit: the only sport where the last to finish gets the most applause and encouragement.

Was I sore? Hells to the yeah. Did I feel like an 80 year old who had been hit by a truck for a few days? You betcha. But I also discovered that I had worked out muscles that the Y had never found. I also knew this was to be expected for the first day, but somehow people move on and KEEP GOING. My coach was adamant that I not give up on myself and even messaged me on Facebook a couple of times to make sure I was okay. Determined not to be THAT girl who gives up after one class, I went back, and back, and back.

Am I the picture of fitness? No. Have I improved? YES! Do I have to scale down a workout or do a modification of a modification of an exercise to make it work? Yes, and that's okay. Leaving your ego at the door helps prevent injury. After only 3 weeks, I have more strength and better endurance than I ever could have going to the Y in the same amount of time. The numbers on the scale did go up initially, but over 3 weeks I have lost 9 pounds with the addition of a Paleo-ish diet. My last WOD (Workout of the Day) I wasn't even last! I feel SO GOOD after accomplishing a workout, I wish I could bottle it.

Is this for everyone? No. I too, heard the stories of someone doing CrossFit and injuring something. However, I have injured my back picking up a pencil out from under a coffee table before. I had to weigh the pros and cons for myself. I could sit at home, sitting safely on the couch, knitting in front of the TV while watching my weight increase and my strength decrease. I could wait for an everyday task to injure me, or eventually succumb to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease that seems to run in my family. I have back issues and I feel the strong core building component is helping rather than hurting me.

Call it drinking the Kool-aid, Cruel-aid, whatever! I challenged myself to 90 day Paleo with at least 3 days per week CrossFit. I will let you know how it goes. I have already taken some before pictures...and have promptly thrown up in my mouth a little bit.

Edited to add: I do NOT advocate the "Women Should Not Run" blog article, only that it made me re-examine what I consider fitness. I still run and love doing it. My CrossFit box includes running as a daily part of our warmup. I just realized that there were other things I wanted to do in the world of fitness that have benefitted me greatly.