It’s been about 4 years since I embarked on my CrossFit journey. I found CrossFit through my Paleo lifestyle research several years ago. What’s interesting is most people I know find Paleo through CrossFit rather than the other way around. I found Paleo through a passionate search for health and through my research I kept hearing more about CrossFit.
Up until then I was what I now call a “cardio bunny”. As a woman I had this misguided yet common notion that weight training would make me look “bulky” or somehow less feminine. (More on that later) I was also very intimidated about weight training. I had no experience beyond my 10 lb. bicep curls and lat raises. I was terrified of getting hurt or worse….looking stupid. 😉 Despite these fears, I was curious and I also knew that as a 40 year old woman, maintaining muscle mass was going to become more and more important as I age to avoid a loss of bone density etc.
Flash back to 2011, I venture into my first CrossFit gym nervous and excited at the same time. My first WOD (workout of the day) was “Cindy” a body weight workout comprised of pulls ups (I couldn’t even do 1 on my own) pushups (had to do them on my knees) and air squats (the only movement I could do with come proficiency) The next day I was so sore, I was tempted not to go back….but I did. I was quickly hooked! The sense of accomplishment I felt after each session is what kept me coming back. The friends and community I entered is what made it stick and motivated me to open Absolution CrossFit with my husband and other partners. This post is about all the reasons why starting CrossFit was one of the best decisions I have ever made that may not be what you would expect to hear.
- It has completely redefined my idea of true beauty and quieted the worst of my body image issues. I have always been insecure about my body. Ever since high school I had felt that I wasn’t tall enough or thin enough. My height wasn’t within my control, my weight was and I definitely had an unhealthy body image. Prior to CrossFit this was my idea of beauty…… . Now this is… “Strong is the new Skinny” is very, very true, at least to me it is.
- It has helped me develop a healthier relationship with food. In the past food and I had a love/hate relationship. I loved to eat, but hated the way eating foods I enjoyed made me feel guilty. Too many calories, too much fat, too much sugar. In order to achieve the weight loss I was seeking I had to forgo many of the foods I loved. If I indulged I felt guilty. Since starting Paleo and CrossFit, the role food plays in my life has changed. There are still foods I enjoy that I know aren’t good for me (ice cream is a big one!) but when 80-90% of what I eat are delicious yet healthy choices and when I am working my ass off in the gym, the 10-20% of foods I eat that fall outside my usual guidelines no longer leads to feelings of guilt or shame. Real food is fuel, it is not just necessary, it’s life.
- I found my tribe. Unless you have found a passion for something you may not know what I mean about this. The CrossFit community is unique. Every box has its own vibe but CrossFit in general has its own language, its own set of goals and aspirations only other CrossFit-ers understand. We understand one another’s frustrations and elations in pursuit of a goal. We can all laugh at the whip marks we get from conquering double unders or torn palms from high rep bar work. Everyone else thinks we’re a bit crazy but within our community the understanding is universal. I could meet a complete stranger in a foreign country but if that person is a CrossFit-er there is an instant sense of familiarity. I found my tribe…
- I found the love of my life. My husband Brad and I met through CrossFit. He was one of the trainers at the box near my house. Our backgrounds couldn’t have been more different and our paths never would have crossed if not for CrossFit. He is 9 years younger than I am, we have different academic backgrounds, different professional backgrounds and not one friend in common outside of CrossFit. CrossFit was a very strong common bond we shared. What we found sexy about each other started in a CrossFit setting and blossomed from there. It gave us a platform from which our love could grow and discover we actually have a lot in common. We both love the same way. We want to live the same type of lifestyle. We just enjoy being around each other. Our individual strengths and weaknesses complement each other and we love and respect that about each other.
- It’s given me increased confidence in myself. While there is a fair amount of competition in CrossFit, the biggest competition lies within yourself. When we say things like, “Stronger than Yesterday” we really mean it. That is the goal every day. To be a stronger you than you were yesterday. If you accomplished that, than you’ve succeeded. “I can’t” is no longer a part of my vocabulary. It’s has become, “I can’t….today” but I’m working toward “I can” to be true tomorrow. The confidence CrossFit has given me due to all the “I can’t-s” that have become “I can-s” are mind blowing to me.
- It gave my body the strength to bear 2 more kids at the age of 43. When I look back at pictures of myself during my first 2 pregnancies while I was in my 20’s, the difference is startling. I was more tired and it showed. I gained more weight with each singleton than I did with twins. I lost my baby weight within 6 weeks this time rather than over a year with my first 2. I had more strength and energy to care for them compared to the first two (Did I mention I was also 13 years older than with the first 2?) I am a living example of how CrossFit enables your body to successfully handle just about any physical challenge! (I’m not kidding. Carrying both toddlers at the same time is like carrying a 20-25 lb. medicine ball under each arm while climbing up the stairs to put them to bed!)
- It’s given me a second career. A year ago this past March we opened Absolution CrossFit in La Grange, IL. I left my lucrative sales career to help get the business organized and build a strong base to build from. I will need to go back to work to earn enough income to support our family at some point as it will take a few years at least for the gym to produce enough income to support our family of 6 if ever, as it’s really more a labor of love. My ultimate goal is to build a platform through the gym and this blog from which we can communicate and educate how important loving your body and making healthy choices is to being happy, healthy and a productive member of society.
I could actually keep listing more reasons why starting Paleo and CrossFit were 2 of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but then this would be the longest blog post ever! My hope for this post is to encourage others to give it a try. I honestly believe that CrossFit can benefit every human body but it may not be for everyone. Not everyone will want to work this hard. Not everyone has the same resiliency to keep coming back despite feeling sore or weak. For those of you looking for the fitness challenge of your life that can literally change your life, here is your tribe. Give yourself the chance to remove “I can’t” from your life and discover all the “I cans” you didn’t even know were out there.
Until Next Time,