Stranger Danger and other newbie CrossFit problems

Chris Spealler

Chris Spealler

  • Don’t be judgmental.  When I started CrossFit I had never done anything like it in my life.  I was terrified.  I was overweight, unfit and, if I am totally honest, had been hiding behind a place of judgement my whole life.  I am thoroughly ashamed to admit it but I had convinced myself that men and women who were really muscly and fit were shallow, vain and probably quite stupid.  I told myself they couldn’t be that smart or funny or interesting…they just looked good.  That made sense to me in my smoking, drinking, junk food eating bubble because I was afraid and I was jealous.  I have been astounded at how sweet, friendly, intelligent and kind the people I have met through CrossFit are.  Even the ones that look like gods are only human!
  • Give yourself some credit.  I remember really early on puffing and panting my way through a WOD, face like a raspberry about to explode, and noticing that someone was looking at me.  Straight away I made the assumption that this big, muscular hulk of a man was judging me as I had judged people like him.  I bet he’s thinking look at that fat bitch.  Ha ha look at the state of her!  I put it out of my mind but I could not have been more surprised when later he came to me and said how impressed he was with how hard I worked, with how much effort I put in.   If you are new to CrossFit you have to get used to the fact that people might be looking at you, especially if you are last in the WOD.  It is a CrossFit tradition to gather round and cheer on the last person and that is not going to change –  what you have to change is the voice in your head telling you what they are thinking because it is probably less like look at that fatty and more like check out that badass, giving it everything they’ve got.
  • Be okay with being beaten.  Unless you are super fit and healthy already you will have to accept the fact that you are going to get beaten by middle aged women on a regular basis.  They will run faster than you, they will lift heavier than you, they will be able to do things you can’t.  Just go with it.
Annie Sakamoto

Annie Sakamoto

  • You are going to sweat.  Unlike globo-gyms, where perfectly coiffured women complete workouts with full makeup intact, CrossFit is a dirty, messy affair!  You are going to sweat so much it feels like even your eyeballs are sweating and in winter you will see steam rising from your sticky carcass as you stretch after a WOD.  Try and just view it in a positive light – as evidence of how hard you worked.  Take a hand towel and make sure you clean up that trail and wipe down your equipment.
  •  There will be strange things afoot.   This is not like a gym you have ever been to so when there are children and dogs running around, naked people (hopefully not at the same time as the children) and general oddness – embrace it – it’s fun!  CrossFit boxes are loud places full of the myriad sounds of grunting, shouting, sometimes crying, and very often laughter.
  • Don’t be a stranger.  It is really difficult going to a new place where relationships seem so secure and people are very familiar with one another but you have to dive in head first.  Introduce yourself, ask questions, speak to people, pair up with someone you’ve never met before.  It will enhance your experience and you will probably learn a great deal from them.
  • Etiquette.  There are definitely a lot of rules of CrossFit that you need to adhere to to ensure that the box is a happy little microcosm of humanity.  Read this article…its a good un’.
  • Learn the lingo.  There is a whole other language that comes with CrossFit and it will help you immensely if you learn it.  Ask coaches and fellow box goers by all means but here is a list from CrossFit HQ.
  • Be a social butterfly.  If there are events and socials make sure you go.  You might not want your entire social life to centre around the box but it will make your sessions better if you have chatted to people outside of a class environment.
  • Do your research.  This one is not a necessity but it will be helpful to you.  When we started CrossFit my husband did a lot of research on the origins of the sport of fitness.  I found it really inspirational finding out about the CrossFit Games and athletes like Chris Spealler and Annie Sakamoto (I love them because they are small like me).  Also when the 2014 Games come around and everyone at the box is talking about it, you will know what the hell they are going on about!  Watching the Games is SO much fun.  I have never in my life enjoyed watching sports until I started CrossFit and now I love it.

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Ten things I love about my new, CrossFitting, life

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I don’t really have any pressing things on my mind this week.  There are no big issues that are bothering me, no concerns I want to rant about, so I just thought I’d share some little things I have been noticing more and more lately that mean a lot to me.

  1. I spend most of my time smiling.  Whether I am at work, at the box or anywhere else I spend a lot of my life smiling and laughing.  It feels so much better than crying.
  2. Yesterday I ran, I mean really ran, for the bus.  I caught it and I wanted a chufty badge right there and then.
  3. I am happy to swan about with my thighs out and I could not give a shit who (if anyone) is judging me.
  4. I am 95% pain free in relation to my IBS and that is SUCH a relief.
  5. I get to hang out with really interesting and diverse people from all over the world and extremely varied walks of life.
  6. I am no longer afraid.  I have spent a lot of my life absolutely terrified of everything.  Not anymore.  CrossFit has taught me so much more than just how to move my body.  It has taught me patience, grit, determination, perseverance and the true meaning of strength.
  7. I am no longer angry.  I was doing a WOD today which included hitting a tyre with a hammer and I thought ‘this would be really good to get out anger and frustration,’ but I realised I don’t have any.
  8. I don’t see my body as my enemy any more.  I used to feel like my body hated me.  To be honest it probably did because I abused it.  Now I feel like me and my body are on the same team.
  9. I sleep really well.  And take naps.  Its lovely.
  10. I am absolutely certain that my life is going to just keep getting better and better.

I know I said ten but I have to include this one as an added bonus…

  • I like checking out my guns when I’m wearing short sleeves!

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Perspective

food

It’s very tempting to only blog when good things happen.  To edit out the bad days, low moods, rough times and pretend that everything is all hearts and flowers and rainbows and sunshine.  I’ve talked before about how life is not a show reel and in the interests of honesty I don’t want to pretend to be something, or someone, I’m not.  I have been really, really struggling over the last week and finding life hard to deal with.  A week of extremely long days with work (students from my school performed at the finale of the Brighton Festival and I could not be more proud) coupled with a horrible bout of PMT have knocked me for six and I have been struggling to make the right choices for my health.  Sometimes I have failed to do that and I have beaten myself up about it and felt guilt and shame for eating things I shouldn’t.  Aside from work and hormones I have also been really missing my husband.  I am extremely blessed to be married to someone who has seemingly never ending patience and understanding with me and without his support, sometimes it is really tough.  In these times of instant communication it has been hard to deal with the fact that I have been unable to even speak to him for a week and it is amazing how long a week can feel.

The best laid plans of mice and men

The best laid plans of mice and men

I tried really hard to be well prepared and take healthy food with me on set (see above), but I think it was the lack of exercise that broke me.  For almost a week I didn’t go to the box and I can see now that had huge effect on my mental state.  For some of that time I wasn’t physically able to go (if you are working 15 or 16 hour days and you can find the motivation to go to the gym before or after work you are a better person than I).  This week I have been three times and it has been hard.  I feel as though my body is made of rock, that I am running through treacle, that I am weak.  But even though it is hard, it is better than sitting at home weeping into a box of chocolates whilst my cats look at me indignantly for not stroking them.  Even if when I am there I am so hormonal that I can’t stop sweating just from the warm up, or I’m so grumpy I can’t even bring myself to talk to the lovely people I am surrounded by, it’s the right place to be (for me, maybe not for everyone else!).

This month I was Member of the Month at Reebok CrossFit Connect and when I read the newsletter I felt like a fraud because I know there are so many other people who are fitter, stronger and more committed than me.  Today a fellow box goer and truly lovely lady got frustrated with herself for finishing the WOD last.  She was using the same weight as the male coaches.  When people were looking at her as she finished those last few reps they were thinking’what an absolute bad ass.’  I know because that was what I was thinking and she has been a constant source of inspiration to me since I joined.  CrossFit encourages us to strive to be better, work harder, achieve more and we do, but sometimes we just need to get a little perspective.  We set enormously high standards for ourselves but we have to remember that we are only human.  Today I may not be exactly where I want to be, but I am on the right path and I am closer than I have ever been.

My 30th Birthday.  Drink in one hand, cigarette in the other.  Standard.

My 30th Birthday. Drink in one hand, cigarette in the other. Standard.

* Fellow CrossFitter Kay has written a lovely blog about how important CrossFit has been to her and her husband recently, whilst they have been dealing with some difficult health related issues.

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First World Pains

brighton beach

Does anyone else crave total independence whilst at the same time longing to be looked after?  Do you too want a highly successful, well paid career but also want to be a mum (or dad) and stay at home all day every day just staring at the tiny little creation you made out of love with another human being?  Do you want to feel the sun on your back and be warm, but not too warm and to live in the countryside but also by the sea?  Do you want a dog and a cat?  Do you want to be surrounded by friends and yet also to be alone to think, and create?  Do you want a tiny house but also loads of space and a big garden?  Do you want a car but not want the hassle and expense of owning one?

Do you want to have fun but also want to be healthy?   Do you want to do a WOD but also an oly lifting programme and gymnastics and Barbell Club?  To eat paleo but also have cups of tea with milk in and eat chocolate because it is frickin’ awesome?    Do you want to share your thoughts and feelings with everyone whilst at the same time being petrified of judgment and cruelty?  Do you want to care less about everything, but also care more?  Do you hope and dream and wish for more whilst at the same time feeling so totally lucky and blessed that these are the things that you have to worry about and not where the next meal is coming from or whether there is clean water to give your children?

Do you want it all, or is it just me?

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Health Challenge Update

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 Day 8 statistics update

Week One of my health challenge has been a success.  Some of you will be disappointed to find out that I am still the same height and have not shrunk or grown at all, as of yet, but I am okay with that!  Over the course of the week there have been a few tears (none of them over food I must emphasise) but overall I am happy with how it has gone.  I managed to eat out at a Thai restaurant called The Giggling Squid (highly recommended if you are in my neck of the woods) and at a friend’s house and I have eaten colourful, delicious food all week; at no point have I felt deprived or overly hungry.  The thing is I have always been great at starting diets or healthy eating plans (my record was the first week of Slimming World when I lost 5 kilos, which is almost a stone).  It is the sticking to it that I struggle with and why I decided to give myself this public challenge.

I have been blessed with the Easter holidays (one of the many joys of working in education.  I love those kids but I also love having a break from them!) so I have been dog walking, cycling and exercising in the sunshine.  It is times like this that I love living by the sea.  I have also been trying to do WODs (Workout of the Day) lately and yesterday I thought check me out I’m going to do this WOD (featured in the photo above) Rx’d.  That means at the prescribed weight, which in this case was 25 kilos.  Maths is not my strong suit and when I couldn’t find a spare 15 kilo bar to use I grabbed a 12 kilo training bar and shoved some weight on before dashing off to the loo, holding the whole class up while I did so (standard).  Three rounds in and I thought I was going to die; sick and dizzy, I had to swallow my pride and ask if I could lower my weight.  It was then that I realised that rather than using the prescribed weight of 25 kilos, I had 28 on my bar!  Sometimes I stagger myself.  I suppose what I learnt from this is that a) maths is important and that b) sometimes you have to listen to your body.  So I didn’t complete my first Rx’d WOD, but I did live to fight another day.

Also my blog has now had over 20,000 views from all around the world.  Thanks for reading and thank you for your kind, supportive comments!

Weight: 65.9 kilograms/ 10 stone 4 pounds

Body fat percentage: 34.4%

BMI: 27.2

Dress size: 12/14

Bust Size: 34 DD

Waist measurement: 82.55 centimeters/ 32.5 inches

Height: 154.94 centimeters/ 5 foot 1 inch

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Day 1

health-challenge

Here are my stats on Day 1 (yesterday) of my 365 Day Health Challenge:

Weight: 67.5 kilograms/ 10 stone 9 pounds

Body fat percentage: 34.4%

BMI: 28.1

Dress size: 12/14

Bust Size: 34 DD

Waist measurement: 83.9 centimeters/ 33 inches

Height: 154.94 centimeters/ 5 foot 1 inch

I know that as I will be doing a fair amount of exercise (particularly weight training) my weight and BMI are not totally reliable indicators but it will be interesting to see what changes occur.  I am also not predicting that my height is going to change dramatically but you never know!

I successfully completed day 1 of the challenge by managing to eat paleo despite going out for a meal (when you go out with three personal trainers it kind of helps with the motivation!) and I also did an awesome WOD at the box.   So far so good.

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Pickles the Spaniel puppy is a very welcome distraction from sugar.

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WODs and a Wedding: a year of Crossfit

I get really tired of all the negativity that is written about Crossfit, often it is poorly written, childlike mudslinging.  My experience of Crossfit, like many, many others, is that it is an incredibly positive, life affirming and inspiring sport … Continue reading