I am a 40-year-old physician who has been in a body image battle since I can remember. I tried every single “diet” available, from Weight Watchers to pills. I was never happy. Even if I did lose weight, I always gained it all back, plus some more.
Fast forward to three years after my son was born. I decided to stop sitting around being unhappy and just half-healthy. I started to visit a local (non-CrossFit) gym. I lost a good 30 pounds and fell in love with weightlifting.
I am competitive by nature and love to try new things. One time my girlfriend invited me to a local CrossFit to do a free WOD (workout of the day). She said that I should try it out because it was right up my alley. I was about to turn 40 and wanted to see what else I could get my body to do to continue to feel proud about myself. I filled myself with courage, but like many others I was erroneously scared of CrossFit. I walked into what is now “my box” and never left. (A “box” is a gym in the CrossFit world.)
WOD – Challenging, Fun, Compeititive and It Changes Daily
I remember the first WOD I did. Man, was that hard … but oh, so fun. It was wall ball squats, pushups and situps. As many rounds as possible in 15 minutes. Wow. I was both terrified and excited at the same time. I was sore, but wanted to get more rounds, and looking at that clock made me push myself harder every time.
Needless to say, my abs, legs and arms were in pain for days, but I just wanted to go back and do it again. So I did. When I am able and time allows, I try to visit the box at least three to four times a week. One of the things I absolutely adore about CrossFit is that no two workouts are the same and every day you get to do a different WOD, which is great for people like me who get bored easily.
The competitive aspect of CrossFit is also appealing to me. I get to compare my completion time with that of others and see how I can improve. I am glad I didn’t let my fears and misconceptions about CrossFit stop me from joining a box. The view that the box is mainly inhabited by muscle men and women is so erroneous. The truth of the matter is you will find people of all walks of life and fitness levels when you set foot in a box, which to me is a wonderful thing.
I have become so much stronger, agile and enriched by the people at the box. I have met many new people who have become more than just gym mates. They have become friends.
Please understand that injury is a risk of any sport. It falls to you and your box’s coach to be safe and learn the correct way to execute the basic moves before you get started. Research different boxes, make sure your coaches are certified, and make sure you feel comfortable so you can have fun.
CrossFit – the Mindset Changer
CrossFit for me has been a game changer, a second home and a second family. A place for unwinding, to feed my competitiveness, feel stronger and make new friends. It’s a “tribe” if you can call it that. Notice I did not say a place to help me lose weight, because since I started CrossFit my weight has been the last thing on my mind. I measure success by how much faster and stronger I am.
Let me give you an example. Last year I got stuck in one of the elevators at work. I had to climb out a huge ladder to another floor and I was able to do this without breaking a sweat. I felt great and powerful. Powerful is how I feel every time I do a WOD. I have come to understand that this is important for my mental health, too, because I’m not focused on my big belly, my thighs, my round face and my jiggly arms. Instead I’m thinking about how rewarding it is to be able to lift 180 pounds off the floor, not caring how I might look.
CrossFit’s Accepting Community
CrossFit’s greatest aspect is the people, the community. You will find muscle gals and guys sweet as can be, the plump mom of three who wants to be healthy, the 60-plus-year-old husband and wife who are doing competitions, the pregnant mighty mom staying healthy for her baby and the FATbulous 40-year-old physician who enjoys hard work, competition and making friends.
Finally, my all-time favorite thing about the box is no one is left behind. Even if you’re the last one to finish, you finish to cheers and encouragement, which makes you feel like you’re in first place. Then after it is all over, we are all on equal ground, tired but accomplished. Even if the WOD was hard, we always have fun.
I am in love with CrossFit and I hope my story changes at least one person’s mind to go for it. Every single move can be scaled down. If I can do it, so can you. I still struggle to finish WODs. I still can’t do a T2B (toes to bar), HSPU (handstand pushup) or C2B (chest to bar). I really hate running, but I do it because I love myself enough to continue to improve.
CrossFit is not for everybody, but fear of the unknown should not keep you from trying new things. Be bold and inspired. I promise you, it will not be in vain and you will not regret it. At the end of the day, if CrossFit was just not your thing, applaud yourself for trying something new and continue your journey. Find something that you love to do and have fun.