Lessons from a new CrossFitter…

Last week I finished an 8 week CrossFit “Resolution Revolution” challenge. It was an experience, let me tell you. I had heard of CrossFit in the past, but never thought about giving it a try myself. Then, while visiting my in-laws for Christmas, my father-in-law asked if I wanted to go with him to the CrossFit box (aka gym) that he had recently joined to try out a workout and I naively said, “Sure!” At this point I was about 4 months postpartum and still VERY out of shape. That first workout was rough and left me unable to move my arms or lift them higher than my head for over 3 days. There’s nothing like a good CrossFit butt kicking to make you realize just how out of shape you really are. But the class also left me intrigued with the sport after seeing what a great workout it was. Before heading back to FL, and once I regained full mobility of my arms, I accompanied my father-in-law to one last workout. After that last workout I was officially bitten by the “CrossFit bug” and I headed home knowing I needed to find a local CrossFit box.

After looking around and trying a few free classes, I found a local box that was starting an 8 week “Revolution Resolution” CrossFit challenge. It was the perfect place to start, since I would be completing a fitness and health assessment at the start and finish of the 8 weeks so I could see how much progress I made during the 2 months. I’ll be honest, when I started CrossFit my main goal was to lose the last of my pregnancy weight. I was tired of my clothes not fitting right and I just wanted to lose the weight and get my body back as quickly as possible. However, throughout the 8 weeks, it quickly became about so much more. I LOVED the challenge, pushing myself to see how strong I could get, how many more squats I could complete in a 2 minute rep, how much more weight I could push press…it was addicting. It wasn’t long before I found myself annoying the hubs, constantly telling him to feel this or that muscle that was getting stronger. “Brett…seriously, feel my leg…do you feel that muscle?! Isn’t that insane!?” or (my favorite), “Brett! Come feel my stomach! My abs are back!!” And Brett, the sweet man that he is, would give me the proper enthusiastic response of, “Oh wow, yeah..you’re getting so strong!”

But…even though it DID become about more than just losing the weight, I was still interested to see how much I would lose after the 8 weeks were complete. At our final measurements I was shocked to learn that I had lost 9 lbs, 5 inches off my waist, and almost 3 inches off my hips. After 8 weeks, I was not only officially back to my pre-baby weight, but I was also stronger and leaner than I was before I got pregnant. Please enjoy these awkward “Here’s the results!” self photos I took in our lovely guest bathroom. (Thank goodness Leah was willing to pose with me…)
IMG_1301 IMG_1302 IMG_1304 IMG_1310 IMG_1313With all that in mind, here are my pros and cons of the whole CrossFit lifestyle (because, yes, it’s not just a workout, it’s an entire lifestyle).

Pros

  1. The workouts are intense, but in a good way. The constant variation means that your body never settles into that “Oh, I’ve got this” routine that can happen when you only run or do the same workout at the gym every week. Some nights the workout was primarily weight training where others were very cardio focused. This made every workout, not only 100x more effective, but also 100x more fun since you never got bored! If you hated the workout one night, chances are you would like the workout better the next.
  2. You meet great friends. I was very lucky to meet an awesome friend right from the start and we continued on our “CrossFit Journey” together from there on out, attending the same workouts every week and pushing each other at each workout. (There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to make you do one more kettle bell swing before you let yourself set the weight down!) A great CrossFit friend also helps tremendously in keeping you accountable. There were so many nights I wouldn’t feel like working out, but if I knew Ellen was going to be there, and if I had already told her I was going, then I got off my butt and went.
  3. The crazy camaraderie that fellow CrossFitters have for each other. When I first started, certain people I saw really intimated me. I would watch them workout and I would think, “Oh man, I hope they’re never in my class…” It doesn’t help that most classes are very male dominated (sometimes my friend Ellen and I would be the only 2 females in the class) which means that I had to get over my insecurities that comes with bench pressing 70 lbs while the guy next to me pressed 250. But the crazy thing is, none of it mattered! Whether you had been doing CrossFit for 8 years, or you just started last week, everyone cheered everyone else on during the WOD (workout of the day) and was nothing less than crazy supportive of one another.
  4. If your goal is to lose weight, it’ll happen. During my 8 weeks of CrossFit I wasn’t all that careful with what I ate. I started off being really good, but around week 4 my ice cream eating habits went right back up to their normal status (this will be explained more in my “con” section). However, even with increasing my caloric intake and eating what I wanted, when I wanted, I still lost weight. A lot of weight. Yes, I know this is probably because the weight I had left on my body was not my “normal” weight so it came off easier than it would for others, but still. I’m all about the “let me workout my body to crazy limits as long as I can still eat my ice cream” mentality, so this worked well for me.

Cons

  1. The price. CrossFit is expensive. For an 8 week membership I was paying just about $300. This is much higher than any other gym membership. That being said, (and now this will sound less like a con) I feel like the $$ is 100% worth it. Yes, it is more than any gym membership, but you are also going to get a better workout than you would get at any other gym. The class sizes are also small and you receive a LOT of 1 on 1 coaching. Look at any personal training (or even small group training) prices and they would be much higher than this. I was also attending classes 3-4 time a week. When you look at it that way, I was really only paying around $10- $12 per class, which is nothing. But, all that being said, I know not everyone has $150-$200 extra a month in their budget to spend on a CrossFit membership. This exact reason is why I am not continuing with my CrossFit membership at the moment, even after how much I loved it. With all the crazy home remodeling hubs and I are doing at the moment, we need all the extra $$ we can get. (Although I do hope to return to it in the future!)
  2. It’s time consuming. Since I was paying for an unlimited (up to 5x a week) 8 week membership, I wanted to get my money’s worth so I was attending classes 3-4 times a week. This meant that 3-4 times a week hubs and I did not eat dinner together (since I was attending 7:30 classes, I would eat before he got home from work so my body had time to digest) and we did not get to spend much time at all together in the evenings. He would get home from work between 5:30-6 and I would be out the door at 7, not returning home until close to 9 pm. I love our family dinners and our evenings together with Leah and it was tough not having time together as a family on most weeknights. I saw a lot of couples attending CrossFit classes together (so awesome to see!) and I would have loved to do that if not for the fact that 1. Someone has to stay home to watch LeLe and 2. Hubs currently has absolute zero interest in the sport.
  3. This only relates to other nursing moms: Some of the intense workouts did decrease my milk supply. I was attending the 7:30 pm classes, since I had to wait for hubs to get home from work to watch Leah before I could get my workout in. This means that I was getting home around 8:45 where I would immediately nurse Leah before she went to bed for the night. Usually Leah eats around 8-8:30 pm and is fine until 6-7 am. However, after particularly grueling workouts she would seem frustrated while eating and would wake up around 3 am starving and ready to eat again. Again, this didn’t happen every night, only after particular workouts that seemed to really drain me physically. I also noticed my supply decrease while I pumped. This not only resulted from my intense workouts, but also from the fact that I was trying my best to eat clean during the 8 weeks and I think the workouts combined with my clean eating resulted in me not consuming enough calories. When I noticed this happening I increased my caloric intake and became more lax on my diet. I started eating a fun sized candy bar and drinking a whole water bottle every time I pumped and my supply shot right back up!

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons by a lot. CrossFit is an awesome workout and I’m so glad my father-in-law introduced me to this crazy sport. Now, being on a CrossFit break, I’m sure all my friends at work will miss me moaning on about how hard the posted WOD looks. Because let’s be honest, part of the fun that comes with the sport is complaining about the workout. “Oh, you think your workout yesterday was hard?! Just take a guess at how many squats I did last night….” I loved it so much I even convinced my mommy friend Brittany to join a box up where she lives and she currently has the same love/hate relationship with the sport many of us share. 🙂 So, CrossFit, I may be taking a break from those “I want to puke and pass out” WODs, but don’t worry, I’ll be back.

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