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.