Living La Vida Crossfit

(I have to thank one of my favorite bloggers, Charlotte at The Great Fitness experiment, whose post on CrossFit, inspired me to get off my butt and write this post that has been percolating in my head for a week.)

The countdown begins.  Before it ends I hear “Athletes Ready”, and I look around before realizing that the coach is talking to me.   My WOD (Workout of the Day) has begun and for the next 15-50 minutes I will push myself completing prescribed exercises, trying to move a little faster, lift a little more and push myself a little harder than the workout before.

If you had told me seven months ago that I would be a devoted CrossFitter, I would have been the first to laugh.  My husband had just started doing CrossFit and was singing its praises and trying to get me to go.  And I would demur, “It looks too hard…. I’ll just hurt myself… I would miss the elliptical… I’m not fit enough to doCrossfit and people would laugh at me”.

Then my husband participated in a “Throw down” which was a group CrossFit competition at the box.   I came to the throw down with the kids to take photos, and provide moral support. There I saw a variety of people, from the very buff to the chubby, women who babies less than 3 months ago, and a woman in her 60’s, all competing in different events.  And even though it was a competition, everyone cheered everyone else on.

(Little did I know that 3 months later, I would be competing in a Thrown Down.  Yes, me, Maryrose, the girl who turned ditchng PE in High School into a “Cat Ate My Gymsuit” type art form.)

I was intrigued, and signed up for the trial class at CrossFit Synergistics.  And got my butt kicked.  But I like a challenge and there were women at the trial class in the same shape as me, so I signed up for the Foundations Class, something our box insists on to make sure that you know how to do the moves frequently used in Crossfit.  And everyone who wants to work out there goes, from a true newbie like me, to my husband who has long lifted weights and was a NSCA certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

I do not look like what you might think a typical crossfitter looks like.  I am a little overweight, but not as much as when I started.  I use bands to help me do pull ups, but the bands are getting progressively smaller.  I went from not being able to do a single real (non-knee) push up, to being able to do 15 in a row.

These small gains, steadily made while being cheered on by my coaches and the other athletes in the box are what keeps me coming back.  When I first started working out, every WOD scared me.  Now, I look at even the toughest WOD and figure out the best way to scale it to work within my fitness limitations, but still give me room to grow.  If I am unsure about scaling, the coaches are always there to provide suggestions and a gentle push in the right direction.

People talk about Crossfit being a cultish activity, and while that may have some merit, that can be said of the die-hard Zumba, turbo kick, or boot camp devotee.  We fall in love with our exercises for many reasons.  For me, it’s because Crossfit works for me.

I have also tried the Paleo diet.  There is a lot of dissent among the Paleo people about the use of dairy, but I enjoy my greek yogurt & butter.  Even Robb Wolfe, who is considered one of the top authorities on Paleo Eating and Crossfit believes that to get 95% of the benefits of Paleo, you only need to eat 85% Paleo.  I would say that I shoot for the 85% and am probably in the 70-75% range most days.

And with doing the Paleo I learned things.  I learned that if I eat a bowl of pasta I don’t feel well, so instead of pasta several times a week, a small serving is an occasional treat.  I’ve learned that I if I limit my dairy, my stomach feels better, and that I really enjoy sweet potatoes.

I have read the complaints about Crossfit/Paleo, but I really think that most of them can apply to any workout/diet.   Anything taken to excess is bad.

Is CrossFit hard?  Absolutely, but I am so much more satisfied after a 15 minute WOD than after spending 45 minutes on the elliptical, than hitting the bagel store next to the gym and wondering why I was still fat.

I know my limits.   I have worked out in boxes in MA, NYC and Maryland, and every place I went, I was pushed to do my best, but at the ends of the day, the limits I set for myself on movements, weights, repetitions or assistance, (bands, knee push ups) were respected by the coaches and other athletes.

It’s the people who work out with no respect for their limits and do not listen to their body and rest when their body says to rest and makes the modifications to fit in with their bodies needs that are asking for trouble.

If you want to learn more about Crossfit, choosing a box, and the frequency with which you work out, I recommend the website of my former box.

Today I am 10X the athlete I was back in February when I wandered in for my introductory class, and next February I expect to be 10X the athlete I am today.  The gains will be steady, the gains will be slow, but thanks to the support of my husband, the coaches and the other athletes, the gains will be there.



By the way, I’ll be at BlogHer’12.  I am hoping to meet bloggers from the Fitness World and many others there!  If you are going, please leave a note in the comments.


Paleo Without Pity-Day 1

I recently joined a cross fit gym and I am loving it, even though its made me a little angry at myself.  I am loving the workouts and variety, but I am angry because apparently all those years I THOUGHT I was working hard, (and all those times I went through the motions) was a bunch of bullshit.

The gym I go to is having a 3 month Paleo Challenge starting today.  The hubs was on the fence about trying it, but I really wanted to, so we both agreed to do it.

So from today, Monday, March 5, 2011 until Sunday, May 27, 2012 I will be following the Paleo Diet.  This means lots of lean proteins, fresh veggies, some fruit and nuts and no grains, dairy or legumes.  I did have a few ‘farewell’ meals so I could enjoy real pizza, ice cream, pasta, and grilled cheese, but today its a Paleo day.

At some point I’ll post some before pics, but my starting weight is 168.  I’m 5’4″ and that is not good.   I’ll get my body fat tested at my box this week.

I have stocked the fridge and I have planned ahead.  My planned meals for today are:

Breakfast: Spinach/Pineapple Smoothie

Morning Snack: Hard boiled egg

Lunch: Chili

Afternoon snack: Grapes

Dinner: Honey Mustard Pecan Turkey Cutlets, Cajun Sweet Potato Chunks, Roasted Asparagus

Evening Snack: Green tea with Stevia, sugar snap peas

I’ll post some recipes tomorrow.

Lets hope this is the beginning of a wonderful journey.

(Ryan Gosling photo Courtesy of

Going Paleo

I have started doing Crossfit, and while part of me is enjoying it, I have wondered at least once per workout if I need to up my life insurane and update my will, just in case I don’t survive the work out.

As part of the class they are sponsoring a three month Paleo challenge, which my Sweet Husband and I will be taking part of.

I am hoping this will really help me knock off  the fat sweater I am using to keep my abs all nice and cozy.  I am also hoping that I can go without cheese or bread or sugar for the greater part of three months without my freaking out in the bakery and lying on the floor of the artisan bread section of my local Wegmans holding a fresh baked Boule and weeping.

I have to admit a little skepticism about the whole paleo and clean eating and other low carb diets.  I just can’t suspend belief enough to buy into the fact that a simple baked potato is evil, yet I am encouraged to drink protein shakes, which seem to be as much of a science experiment as a tub of cool whip without the deliciousness or creamy texture.

One thing I will be doing for at least the 1st month is to plan out the entire month’s worth of meals and snacks to make sure that I don’t get bored, and that I have the food in the house, do I don’t default to dinner rolls or cereal.  I am debating whether or not to give myself a weekly cheat meal or two, or if I should go totally hardcore for the 1st month.

However, I want to encourage my Sweet Husband and by cutting out breads and sweets we should both be able to lose weight.

Maybe though I should consider some nose plugs for the grocery store to block out the smells of the bakery.

Wish me luck.  Hopefully there will be less of me by the end of May.