That seems a little dramatic, title-wise, but it’s the truth.
As I am sure you all have seen, heard, etc. in the past few months, Crossfit has become a very significant part of my life. So, naturally, I felt I should tell the world (I guess that’s being a bit optimistic about my blog – so, I guess I should say, ‘tell my humble following’) about it.
Let’s start with the first question I always get asked – “What IS Crossfit?”
You could answer that in so many ways. A lifestyle, a movement, a cult (as some jokingly call it)… Today I am going to go with the more detailed, pragmatic definition.
Crossfit is technically a fitness company founded by a guy named Greg Glassman. From what I understand, he noticed some gaps in the stereotypical “workout” a few decades ago. There were a lot of different types of fitness (e.g., olypmic lifting, gymnastics, calisthenics) that were all good but didn’t necessarily leave any given athlete very well rounded – olympic lifters, for example, would be excellent strength-wise, but not so hot in the areas of agility, speed, and flexibility, like a gymnast would. Glassman decided to create a fitness philosophy that would guarantee that an athlete could be ready for ANYTHING; He wanted it to be logical and functional. He wanted to create something people could – and would – use in everyday life.
Enter Crossfit – “Forging Elite Fitness,” literally. Crossfit’s foundation is the combination of a plethora of fitness genres (like those mentioned above – olympic lifting, gymnastics, calisthenics) for 1) constantly varied, 2) high intensity, 3) functional movement.
“…Uhhhh, what?” Ok, let’s break that down.
1) Constantly Varied – you never do the exact same workout twice (well, except for the Crossfit “Girls”, which are benchmark workouts, aka, markers done periodically to determine your personal improvement). So, for example, say you go to the gym four days in a row. Those four days will have four completely different workouts. There may be some repeated movements (like push-ups), but the workouts will not be identical. Let’s take a look at some workouts from Crossfit.com: the last three workouts they posted (three days consecutively) involved running 800 meters for the first one; front squats, box jumps, kettle-bell swings, and wall balls for the second one; and power cleans, push-ups, and squats for the third one. I know that all those exercises probably sound like gibberish to you – that’s fine. The point is – as I hope you see – that it’s not made up of any of the stereotypical repetitiveness that you get at most gyms (do X on Tues and Thurs and Y on Mon, Wed, and Fri). You do constantly varied workouts so that – again – your body never adjusts to a pattern, and thus, you are prepared for and able to do most anything.
2) High Intensity – oh, this is the fun part. This means just what it sounds like it means. High. Intensity. Moving quickly + doing challenging exercises/weight. You work HARD. Workouts are generally between 15-25 minutes total. You are kicking butt and pushing yourself the entire time – and you’re expected to. Let’s say I told you to walk half a mile. Then, after you were done, I told you to sprint half a mile. During which run did you work harder? The sprint, no question, right? You did the exact same thing two times, but the second time you performed at a higher intensity. During a workout, you aren’t expected to go at 100% intensity, but it needs to be in the higher end of the spectrum. Each workout is different, and you have to learn how to gauge your body, but basically, once you know what you’ll be doing, you have to determine how you can pace yourself to reasonably perform at a high intensity the entire time. Make sense? So, for example, last week I did a 105lb power clean. I did it once; it was considered my “max” for that specific exercise. Immediately following that, I hang cleaned (same exercise, different variation) 75lbs fifty five times. I had to go as heavy as I could given the number of repetitions of that exercise I expected to do. Since 75lbs was about 75% of my max, I could do more reps, but it was still fairly challenging, especially while moving at a fast pace. I did the 55 reps in 15 minutes. That’s one rep every 16 seconds…for 15 minutes straight. So, yeah…intense is a good word.
3) Functional Movement – don’t do it if it’s not functional. What good is something to you if you invest all this time into training yourself, and then when that inevitable, crucial moment arrives and you need elite fitness, it fails you because it’s not functional? Who cares if you can do “pull-ups” (read: starting at the bar and lowering to 2 inches below and coming up again) all day. When you’re running for your life and need to pull up onto a building, a tree limb, whatever, are you going to be pulling up from 2 inches below that object? I think not. You pull your whole body up from a dead hang, or, really, a swinging motion. Right? So, in Crossfit, that’s how we do it. Take a look at the kipping pull up. That’s WAY more functional than the “stereotypical” (cheated) pull-up. Same with push-ups – you’re not going to be pushing your body up off of something starting a foot off the ground with your butt up in the air. ‘Cause that’d just be stupid. You will be flat against the ground and push up that way, with your back FLAT. So, that’s the standard for push-ups – thighs and chest must meet the ground every single time. At first, if you can’t do that (I couldn’t), they allow you to drop your body back down completely and push up from that position. Again, why? Because it’s functional.
Here is a little video explanation for all you visual learners out there:
So, I hope that answers the elusive “What is this…thing…you’re talking about” question for all of you.
Now, down to the really exciting part.
In September of last year, I was desperate. I knew that something had to change or I was literally going to die. Why? I was two and a half months postpartum, and instead of losing any weight, the pounds were piling on. I looked and felt like crap. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would begin to have issues with my sugar levels. I have a strong family history of diabetes, obesity, and heart health issues. I have watched [several of] my family members slowly succumb to diabetes medications, and, eventually, insulin injections. I have seen the stress it has placed on them, both emotionally and financially (those Dr’s visits add up). Not to mention, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was fed-up with tiptoeing around how terrible I looked all the time. I am a very blunt person – once you get to know me – and knowing that people were deliberately avoiding anything to do with my weight or physical appearance was absolutely maddening. And I didn’t want pity. I wanted – and needed- someone to say “GET UP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.”
It was me, inevitably, who said that to myself. It was either change how I was living or surrender to how things were, which I was not willing to do. I think the final straw for me was that my maternity clothes – yes, I am embarrassed to admit, the clothes that I wore while I was nine and ten months pregnant – were becoming VERY tight. Too tight. It was either change or go shopping. And I absolutely would not. I decided right then and there I would do whatever it took to fix this problem.
I knew of several good gyms in my area, but to my knowledge there were no Crossfit affiliates. I didn’t know anything about Crossfit at the time, but my cousin’s husband, Cory, had been doing Crossfit for a few years and had mentioned it pretty frequently to me. So I Googled it, found their Affiliate Finder map, and lo! There WAS a brand spankin’ new affiliate that had just opened, and what do you know? It was less than five minutes from my house. I could walk there if I wanted to.
So I called them and talked to a few of the trainers, Ryan and Joey (I really wish I could have recorded those phone conversations, as I am sure they’d give me a good laugh now. I am so awkward already, but how in the world do you say, “Um, yeah, I am fat and horrifically out of shape, and I need to do something or I’m going to die. Although, I am afraid this may kill me anyway.” ? I tried to polish it as much as I could, but, I am sure it was not far off from that regardless). I went to my first workout, where, as Ryan explained everything to me, stuff seemed to make sense and actually seemed like it wouldn’t be all that difficult. HA! I was deranged from postpartum hormones or something, and must’ve had a memory lapse of about, oh, TEN YEARS. Because that is the last time I worked out consistently, or really at all. Needless to say, IT WASN’T EASY. I couldn’t finish it at all, much less in the 15 minutes given. Afterwards, I laid my lardy carcass down in the floor and just tried to remain calm as I internally repeated, “ohmygoshImgoingtofreakingdie. Breathe….nope, definitely gonna die.” And so on. It was like a disco – I was dizzy, heard music, saw spots, felt like I was on drugs…you get the idea. I know Ryan was thinking he’d never see me return willingly. But, after laying in the floor for a good 15-20 minutes, I regained control of my appendages, and waltzed – about as much as a shaky newborn deer can – right out of there.
Was I embarrassed? Um, what do you think? That’d be a yes. But I thought, “You know what? IT DOESN’T MATTER. You are DOING SOMETHING. Something is better than nothing. And, you know what, fatty? If you don’t like how things are, giving up and not going back isn’t going to help that!” I came up with an internal, motivational tool that I would just repeat to myself any time I got embarrassed or discouraged (and that happened a LOT) – “Use it.” Anger, embarrassment, whatever. It would be the fuel to my figurative fire.
And, so I made myself go. I was so devastated by the first workout, it took me a week to recover, but the next week I went twice. And the next week, three times, and so on until I was going four times a week regularly. I even fell (y’all know how graceful I am) flat on my face, mid-sprint [and took out someone else in the process] during my fourth week, and I thought I was absolutely going to die from humiliation. But I finished the workout and kept coming back. I decided the injury – even thought it turned out to be somewhat significant – was irrelevant to my goal (and yes, I was OK’d by my doctor to keep going, before you get all horrified).
Which brings us to….the part everyone really cares about….LE RESULTS. (Drumroll, please.)
My first workout was on September 11, 2012. So, as of today, I have been doing Crossfit regularly for 5 months (21 weeks). In that time, I have DROPPED FOUR PANT SIZES and FIFTY POUNDS.
Yes, you read that right. I’ll even do the unthinkable and share specifics with you! I should be embarrassed by this, but you know what? Honey badger don’t care – it’s all gone now anyway, and NEVER COMING BACK! Anyway, I was approximately 210lbs, a size 16/XL (and growing) the day I started. Now I weigh in at 160lbs, and my size 10’s that have been in the corner of my closet receiving lustful, forlorn glances for the last 6 years FIT – and are a little LOOSE!!
BOOM! I am one happy camper.
And the weight loss isn’t even the best part, if you can believe it. I generally feel better. I have more energy, I’m happier, I sleep better, eat better…I literally have a better quality of life because of Crossfit. How many things in life can a person say that about? Not many.
And, finally, here’s LE RESULTS via photos:
Week 1/First Workout:
Week 12 (about halfway):
And one more of today, because I am too excited not to share – these jeans I am wearing in the next one are ones from my “wish” pile that I mentioned, and I haven’t worn them since 2006!!!!
So, there you have it.
I know it may sound extreme, but it’s SO MUCH fun. And, guys, seriously – the Crossfit community is absolutely INVALUABLE- my trainers, Joey, Ryan, and Kari; the girls I work out with at my own box, Crossfit Stacked; and the kindred CF gals (and guys!) from boxes across the land – I was determined to keep at it, but I honestly can say that there is no way I would’ve been AS determined and worked HALF as hard as I did were it not for you all. 🙂 You had a big part in the success I have had. THANK YOU!!
And, if any of you people out there want to try it, get in touch with me, like NOW. I will go with you. Come to our box (FYI, that’s Crossfit lingo for gym. Better get used to the lingo right now, fair warning), or if you can’t because it’s not what’s closest to you, get in touch with me and I’ll go with you to yours. It’s worth it. The only thing you will regret is NOT trying.
Want to stay updated with my progress? Follow me on Instagram @brittanynoodles