“Confessions of a Food Addict: My Journey with CrossFit & Paleo”
by Katie Tappe
I haven’t always struggled with my weight. I was a college athlete and in what I thought was the best shape of my life when I graduated college. Two years after graduating college, I found myself standing in a bar, looking around and realizing I wasn’t the hot girl anymore, I was the fat girl in the white pants with the hot friends. Four years and 60lbs later, I walked into a CrossFit looking for a quick solution to weight loss. I weighed over 200lbs and I had one goal; get skinny for my wedding. Looking back, I was a train wreck. Nothing about me said “future success story.” My on ramp coach told me later he figured I would quit in a week. He wasn’t a jerk, he was just honest and playing the odds. I was on slim fast and had no interest in this Paleo thing, I mean seriously, who gives up cheese and grains?! Is life even worth living if I can’t have a freakin’ ice cream cone and a slice of pizza?! And the workouts, geesh! Every single workout, for lack of better words, sucked and I dreaded going the next day. By noon every day I had already come up with 3-5 legitimate excuses for why I just didn’t have time to go to the gym. By the time I got home from work, all of those legitimate reasons disappeared and I was sitting in front of the couch eating crap and taking a nap. My husband was slightly more motivated than I was and with an expensive membership, missing the gym wasn’t really an option anymore. By the time he came home from work I was out of excuses and he was dragging me to the gym.
The first 3 months were the absolute worst. I was the fattest member in the gym, I felt awkward all the time and then there was the workout; did I mention how much awful they were? Somewhere within the first 3 months things started to suck less. I figured out how to put a clip on the bar and load the weights without looking like an idiot, I was getting stronger and my pants were getting too big. Ok, well my pants were actually fitting without my love handles hanging out on the sides and a few of my pants that actually fit were getting bigger, but either way my body was changing! 3 months in and there was a noticeable difference, but I still hated the workouts and when my husband signed up for the January Paleo challenge I refused. First of all, these people are clearly insane to even consider this Paleo thing. We bust our butts in the gym AND you want me to avoid pretty much all foods other than veggies and meat…yeah um no. So, I wished my husband good luck with his little challenge and continued to drink my slim fast, eat my yogurt and stuff myself silly on pasta and bread after every workout. Don’t judge me, I earned it! Those workouts were really hard!
Although I refused the January challenge, I did agree to check out a Saturday workout. My husband would talk about how awesome these “buddy workouts” were and he thought I would really like some of the girls, so after some complaining about getting up early on a Saturday I finally agreed to check it out. *$#& these workouts were hard! I survived my first workout, but then they paired me up with two veteran CrossFitters. My 200lb butt had to complete 50 Burpees while my super fit male teammates did 50 box jumps and then we had to switch. I was 15 Burpees in when they finished. At Burpee 25 I wanted to legitimately cry. These guys had six packs, I had a keg and there was no way I was going to finish. At that point I didn’t know what else to do but run to the bathroom, pretend to vomit and tell my teammates to finish the workout with out me. Don’t judge me, I panicked! Have you ever done 50 Burpees with a 60lb weight vest? It’s pretty much impossible and did I mention these guys had abs on abs on abs? I was embarrassed and decided vomiting was much cooler than choosing to quit. At least I got some sympathy and for some reason a few of these people thought it was “cool” that I puked. We even got invited to brunch afterwards! With everything considered, my first Saturday was a success. I even exchanged numbers with a few of the girls and joined Facebook so we could be FBO.
Four months into CrossFit and I was down a pant size and people at work were noticing my weight loss. I had made a few friends at the gym and starting making fewer and fewer excuses for going to the gym. It helped that a few of the girls were messaging me about what time I was going. I didn’t actually want to workout, but I liked hanging out with my new friends so I showed up anyway, suffered through the workout and got invited to my first CFGNO (CrossFit Girls Night Out) at a comedy club. I was excited, but super nervous. These girls were skinny and I was not. When I arrived I was expecting to eat dinner, but the only food they had was pizza and deep fried everything. I panicked and had my first mental battle over food. The first 4 girls didn’t order anything (no wonder they were skinny) and it was my turn next. I debated back and forth, to order or not to order, that is the question…I looked around the table, felt inspired to be skinny and managed to not order anything. This was a major accomplishment for me. I am sure I went home and stuffed my face with something, but I chose not to eat pizza and deep-fried food which was a major victory for me. Of course 1 girl at the table ordered pizza that I drooled over as she ate it, but I survived and it wasn’t too hard. I went home that night feeling very proud of myself and hungry, but mostly proud of myself.
Six months into CrossFit and I had lost 30lbs and dropped 3 sizes. More importantly, I was feeling good about myself and I no longer hated every second of my life at the gym. Don’t get me wrong, the workouts were still hard, but I was going to the gym on my own now and falling in love with my body again! At this point I was also starting to plateau and became more interested in this Paleo thing. I finally ditched the slim fast drinks and was eating again (I couldn’t recover from the workouts without food) so I decided I would stop buying cheese. Next to CrossFit and my husband, this was the single best decision I ever made in my life. Within a week my stomach was flatter and by week 2 my IBS had disappeared. I had more energy and did I mention my stomach was flatter? Although it would take me over a year to permanently eliminate dairy from my diet, this was my “aha” moment. Who knew my life was significantly better without dairy?! It didn’t take long before I was ordering everything without cheese and asking for dairy free options at restaurants, but I still indulged in pizza and ice cream once in a while. Every time I ate dairy my stomach would immediately bloat, my pants would get tighter and my IBS would return. It was a weeklong reminder that my body does not tolerate dairy and it took a full two weeks before my body was back to normal. Eliminating dairy permanently became easier and easier. It didn’t take long before I learned to fear dairy and no longer crave cheese and ice cream. Perhaps giving up bread wouldn’t be so bad either. Turns out eliminating bread was much easier for me. No bun, add bacon and guacamole tastes pretty amazing.
One year into CrossFit and I walked down the aisle in my size 10 wedding dress and weighed 160lbs (Weight seriously means nothing. The last time I was 160lbs I was a size 12). I felt amazing! For the first time, maybe ever, I was proud of my body. I had muscles in my arms and my abs felt solid. Two weeks before my wedding I went into Paleo “lock down” and refused to eat gluten or dairy, minus my wedding cake. I bought my first pair of size 8 jeans on my honeymoon. The last time I wore a size 8 I was 22 and had just lost weight for my new boyfriend (now my husband). A size 8! I was beyond ecstatic. I had reached my goal, I was happier than I have ever been and I was ready to spend the rest of my life with my incredible husband. Those girls I mentioned at the gym, well 2 of them stood up at my wedding (last minute) because I couldn’t imagine my wedding day without them. Their support and friendship had made this the best year of my life! CrossFit wasn’t a weight-loss program; CrossFit was a community of people who support each other in reaching their goals. It was this same community that helped me get through the next milestone in my life, living apart from my husband for 9 months while completed his job training in Bloomington.
After the wedding, I started going to the gym less. Honestly, I wasn’t as motivated anymore and my husband wasn’t there to encourage me to keep going. Even though I wasn’t going to the gym as often, I was still eating pretty strict Paleo and managed to cut out sugar and coconut milk from my coffee and stop eating dessert every night. I dropped another size without even trying. I even decided to get my Level 1 Certification in CrossFit with one of the girls from the gym. At this point to say CrossFit changed my life is an understatement. I was ready to live, sleep and breath CrossFit for the rest of my life. Six months later I moved to said goodbye to CrossFit and moved to Quincy and immediately began holding free workouts at Westview Park and preaching Paleo to anyone that would listen.
Two years into CrossFit and I met Andrew Baker during a free workout in the park. Andrew had several years of experience coaching CrossFit and was working on his OPT certification in nutrition. I was intrigued and signed up for his free session. I confidently gave Andrew my food journal believing I was on track with Paleo and there was nothing to change. I also gave Andrew my goals at the time; abs and digestive regularity. I wish I could tell you after 2 years of CrossFit my Paleo journey was about health and wellness, but it wasn’t. I still wanted to look good naked. It would take me another year to truly understand the value of Paleo and it’s impact on my health and wellness. I like to think that is why I still don’t rock a six pack, you know, because it’s about health and wellness not abs. The truth is, I don’t care about a six-pack anymore. I care about my body and the quality of food I eat and how healthy I feel, but I am no longer focused on what I look like, which is more liberating than abs on abs on abs (having a six-pack would be sweet though).
Andrew opened my eyes to how little I was eating. Through my weight-loss journey I managed to conquer over-eating, but somewhere along the way I started eating less and less. I started intermittent fasting and was taking in less than 1000 calories a day. When Andrew told me I had to eat breakfast I almost panicked. When he suggested I eat a carb with my breakfast I practically fell out of my chair. And when he said I had to eat more carbs for dinner I almost cried. I was afraid to gain weight. I thought he was crazy, but I ate breakfast anyway and added a sweet potato to my dinner. Immediately I noticed changes. I no longer got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and I slept like a baby. I also started going to the bathroom regularly for the first time in my entire life. If that wasn’t life-changing enough, by the end of summer, all my size 6 clothes I was so proud of were to big. I was now a size 4. Honestly, that still hasn’t sunk in yet. I have never been a size 4. I’m tall and I always thought I was “big-boned.” By the way, that’s not an actual thing, just something momma tells you growing up so you don’t feel bad that you aren’t itty bitty like the other girls in 5th grade. So yeah, I am a size 4. Four years into my journey with CrossFit and Paelo and I am still a size 4. I am 10lbs heavier than I was when I met Andrew (muscle is cool) but my pants are smaller. My shirts actually got bigger (lats are cool too), but did I mention I am a size 4? It’s not about a pant size, actually I am hoping to get back to a size 6 again (glutes and hamstrings are also really cool), but for someone who was busting out of a size 16, it is still kinda fun wearing a size 4.
My before picture is hanging in the gym and people ask me all the time, “How long did it take you to lose the weight”? As a society, we are programmed to ask this question, but it’s the wrong question to ask. Pick a diet program and it will work. Anyone can lose weight. Starvation diets (calorie deficits) are very successful. It is the ability to maintain a healthy diet through the holidays and stressful events that is the challenge. When people ask me this question, I always respond with how long I have maintained my weight and lived for health and wellness instead of living to eat. As I write this it is going on 5 years since I tipped the scale at 200lbs and I haven’t looked back. Sure I have good weeks and bad weeks, but my bad weeks don’t include pizza and trips to the ice cream store. My bad weeks include an indulgence of foods I miss that are gluten free and dairy free versions like desserts and pizza or a week where I don’t food prep and my caloric intake is low so I suffer from a lack of sleep. If I have too many bad weeks in a row my body suffers, my immune system weakens and I occasionally I suffer from a cold or flu like symptoms. This alone is enough to kick me back into gear and get right back to eating for health and wellness. My “weight” doesn’t fluctuate. I use the term “weight” loosely because I rarely get on a scale, what I mean is my pants always fit and if they start to get tight, so does my diet. Two weeks without Paleo treats and eating good quality food and the pants are loose again and the bloating is gone.
Looking back on my journey from an overweight, emotional eater to what some people call a “health nut,” I am a very unlikely candidate for success. My family struggles with weight and emotional eating and I was addicted to food. I spent two years fighting mental battles. For every battle I won, I lost three, until eventually I was winning more than I was losing. I could not have done this without the support of my CrossFit family and my husband. It is now my mission in life to help others achieve what I once thought was impossible; permanent lifestyle change. Permanent lifestyle change is hard and there will be plenty of times life gets in the way and you won’t be perfect. That’s ok! This is real life, not an infomercial. Each meal is an opportunity to reach your goal. And when life does knock you down, do a Burpee and eat some bacon!
Bad Exercising Days…..NOOOOOOO!
For the past 3-4 weeks, I have been doing the Barbell Club programming 3 days/week, regular CrossFit classes 1-2 days/week, mobilizing for an hour or more on another day and spending my weekends generally doing yard work or hauling firewood…LOTS OF FIREWOOD. I absolutely love the Barbell Club programming and love the coaching I receive from Kelsey and from Mike Davis while running through the programming. Often it’s just a little advice or tip one way or another that can make or break a lift and I can already tell I’m going to get stronger by following the “plan”.
That takes us to Wednesday (5/28) I have been completing the Barbell Club programming a week ahead of the rest of the class along with Katie Tappe to provide feedback to Kelsey and so she can see the “plan” in action. This past Wednesday was Max Effort day and I was pretty pumped up about it. I felt like I was going to do really well and even thought some PR’s were in my sights. So I get done with work, head over to the gym, get dressed and start going through my warm-up to get ready. I feel strong and my warm up lifts feel good and I’m getting more and more excited as I progress through this because if there’s one thing I love, it’s moving heavy weight and seeing my maxes go up.
Here’s where the trouble starts. Actually, let me backtrack a little to earlier in the week. I had taken a 2 day trip to Washington D.C. for work where I left Tuesday morning and was back in Quincy by Wednesday afternoon. Most of my days were spent either in a plane or in a car. That’s a LOT of sitting. And for those of you that are unaware, too much sitting is terrible for your hips and your overall health and can lead to some real tightness in your hip flexors among other health related problems. Here is a great article written by Chris Kresser about this very subject: (http://chriskresser.com/how-sitting-too-much-is-making-us-sick-and-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it). So I’ve been in a seated posture for most of the last 24 hours and here I am trying to max out on cleans and snatches. As the weights got progressively heavier and heavier, I really started to struggle completing my lifts. I got up to 90% of my snatch 1RM and missed. I hit it the next time and went up to 95% of my 1RM…and missed this one. Then I missed again. And again. I was pretty frustrated at this point because I should have already hit that weight and been well on my way to a new all time highs! But I wasn’t. I made the decision to leave it there and move on to cleans. I’m better at cleans anyway and just knew that I would be nailing this one no matter what!
Again, I felt strong and my lifts felt good as I went through my warm-ups. But as the weights got heavier, it just started to feel off. I felt uncomfortable in my starting position, the weights felt heavy even getting it off the floor and when I got to 90% of my 1RM…I missed. Like snatches, I hit it the next time and then went to 95% and missed. Then I missed again. Finally I missed a third time and was fed up to the point that I just didn’t want to do this anymore that day. The whole thing had gone poorly, I wasn’t setting new PR’s, and I was exhausted mentally and physically and just wanted to leave.
As I drove home(in my car that smells like rotten meat at the moment because of an escaping tube of frozen beef), I was actually mad. Mad…about missed lifts. I had put in a lot of time and effort to get better and that day, I just wasn’t. Then a female member of our gym came to mind and a conversation we had a few months back. I’ll paraphrase but she came to me and was frustrated at that time because she hadn’t hit a new PR in a while and didn’t feel like she was doing any better. She didn’t feel like she was gaining anything and wondered what was wrong with her. I let her talk and just listened for a bit because sometimes people just need to vent but then I told her something very simple: “Just Stick with It”. As athletes, we all go through periods of time where we plateau. Our body adapts to the level of training we’re putting it through and our gains slow down. But we are getting better because we’re showing up every day and putting the effort in. Just because we don’t PR every time does not mean we’re not improving. We might just be having an off day, or we didn’t eat right the day before, or we didn’t get enough sleep, or we spent the better part of a day and a half sitting while traveling. But it’s not worth getting upset over. Take the opportunity to learn from your experience from that day and build on it. Continue to expand your foundation and “Just Stick with it” and you will again start to experience those PR’s and new 1RM’s that we all covet so much. Just don’t panic and think that you need to start doing some sort of specialized programming or add in a bunch of extra work. It’s just additional stress you don’t need. Take a deep breath, come back in the next day, and continue to get better. I had to remind myself of that very fact this week and take my own advice. And so I’ll be right back at it this very week!
As for that female member, you might be wondering what happened with her? She had a skeptical look on her face but trusted what I was telling her and kept on coming. She has hit so many new all time highs over the last 45 days that we had to bestow “LadyBro” status on her. I don’t know how she gets anything done in class because she’s “PR Dancing” all the time!
JUST STICK WITH IT!
The 1st annual 12 Heroes in 12 Hours Memorial WOD was a huge success! We cannot wait to do it again next year! Thank you to all of our members who came out today to support Christine and Mike and help raise money for our troops. If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the event this year, mark your calendars for next year!
12 Hero WODs in 12 Hours…just EPIC!!!!
Not even sure how to start…today was so incredible and just overwhelming. First of all a huge thank you to Christine for being my partner in this awesome experience. Another thank you to all of the owners and the other coaches at QTown CrossFit who were behind us the whole way and were such a big part of this event. And of course the biggest THANK YOU goes out to the Qtown community who came out in a such a big way. I am absolutely blown away by how amazing this community is and how they supported this event. It was such a great day and THANK YOU to everyone who came out and supported us today. We raised so much money for the Devin Michel Memorial Fund and for the Active Duty Military Care Package fund! It would be impossible for me to list everyone that was part of this event, but I can tell all of you that there is NO way Christine and I could have finished this without all of YOU. Every one of you picked us up when we needed it most and were there for us the whole way. We did not do a single workout today alone and that speaks volumes about this community. Again thank you and I can’t wait until we do it again next year!
Every hour on the hour starting at 9am Christine & Mike will complete a Hero WOD to honor a fallen soldier. If you would like to join them you are more than welcome to do so as an individual or as a team. You can scale the WOD however you want so it is open to ALL skill levels!
If you decide to join them we ask that you make a $5 minimum donation to the fundraiser per WOD that you do. So lets say you get crazy and want to do 2 WODs* then you would donate $10. Members who wish to participate in more than 2 WODS must have clearance from coach Christine Williams prior to participating. The absolute max is 3 WODs, we want everyone to be safe and have a great experience!!
The Hero WODs and times are listed below:
9am Buddy WOD – Morrison (50-40-30-20-10 of WB, Box Jumps, KBS 53/35)
10am Buddy WOD – Tillman (7 RFT of 7 DL 315/225, 200m Run, 15 pullups)
11am Buddy WOD– Ryan (5 RFT of 7 MU, 21 burpees)
Noon Buddy WOD– Badger (3 RFT of 30 squat cleans 95/65, 30 pullups, 800m run)
1pm Buddy WOD – Adrian (7 RFT of 3 forward rolls, 5 wall walks, 7 T2B, 9 Box Jumps)
2pm Buddy WOD– Randy (75 power snatches 75/55)
3pm Buddy WOD– McGhee (30min AMRAP of 5 DL 275/185, 13 pushups, 9 box jumps)
4pm Buddy WOD– Josh (21 OHS, 42 pullups, 15 OHS, 30 pullups, 9 OHS, 18 pullups. OHS #95/65)
5pm Buddy WOD– Holleyman (30 RFT of 5 WB, 3 HSPU, 1 power clean 225/155)
6pm Buddy WOD– Nutts (10 HSPU, 15 DL 250/170, 25 Box Jumps, 50 pullups, 100 WB, 200 DU, 400m run w/plate #45/35)
7pm Buddy WOD– DT (5 RFT of 12 DL, 9 Hang PC, 6 Push Jerk, all weights 155/105)
8pm Buddy WOD– Devin (4RFT: 10 Power Snatch 95/65, 24 DU, 9 burpees)
The first 2 WODs will be part of the usual QTown Saturday Buddy WOD so you do NOT need to make a donation to do those WODs but of course you are welcome to do so if you want and we appreciate anything you can give!
All of the donations will be split between a fund for the family of Devin Michel who is from Christine’s hometown of Stockton, IL. He was an active duty solider who was serving in Afghanistan when he was killed in October 2009 at just 19 years old. The other half of the donations will be given to a fund that Celie Koetters has started which sends care packages to active duty Navy soldiers that do not have any family to send them anything.
This is our way of honoring both active duty soldiers and those solders that have fallen protecting our freedom. 100% of the money will be donated to these two causes.
Diet versus Lifestyle: 5 Signs You Are Transforming Your Life
We have all heard the popular phrase, “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle,” but do you know the difference? Are you currently stuck in a “diet mentality” or have you started your journey towards permanent lifestyle change? Changing your lifestyle begins with changing your mindset. Below are 5 signs you are moving away from a diet and towards permanent lifestyle change.
1. Your current “lifestyle change” is not convenient. Your routine now includes food prep, cooking and following recipes. Your biggest frustration is lack of fast food options and making time to cook. If your said yes to any of the above, congratulations, you are on your way to changing your life. Changing your lifestyle is difficult. It requires you to challenge yourself to be different than you currently are, to cast aside old habits and familiar routines and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
2. Diets start on Monday, your current “lifestyle change” begins with every meal. So Friday night you splurged with pizza and beer and topped off the night with a giant piece of cake, oh well, Saturday morning you are back on track eating your healthy protein, fat, and carb, assuming you aren’t suffering from a food hangover and the “I am never eating ___ again as you run to the bathroom.” You no longer allow a cheat meal to develop into a cheat week. Today’s weakness is quickly becoming tomorrow’s reminder of why you don’t eat those foods anymore.
3. Cheating on your lifestyle doesn’t make you feel guilty, it makes your feel physical sick. When someone offers you a piece of cake your first thought is, are there items in this cake that will make me sick? You find yourself cheating only out of necessity, i.e lack of options, mental break down, etc. When you cheat on your lifestyle, you reflect on it and over time become aware of your behavior patterns and strategies you can put in place to avoid cheating. Unlike a diet, you find yourself enjoying this lifestyle change; it is getting easier with time and you want to commit to it permanently.
4. Your new lifestyle is harder on your coworkers/friends/family than it is for you. Suddenly it is the end of the world if you don’t have that piece of cake with your friend or turn down a bite of that cheese dip everyone is eating. Your family may not understand your lifestyle and why you can’t just “live” once in awhile. As you develop this lifestyle change, you find you no longer live to eat, you eat to live; this is incredibly empowering and initially this can be difficult for the emotional eaters you work/hang out/live with. Use these opportunities to lead by example and avoid giving in to temptation as much as possible. When that temptation no longer exists, or becomes less frequent, you will know that lifestyle change is permanent!
5. You didn’t lose 10lbs in the first week, in fact you may not have lost any weight, but you have more energy, your pants are getting too big and your lifestyle is different. Diets don’t require a complete lifestyle change, they are just a means to an end. A lifestyle change requires you to permanently stop your bad habits, i.e. you gave up your soda at work, your chocolate fix at lunch or your latte habit at Starbucks. If you have completely removed an item from your daily routine, you are experiencing a lifestyle change. Still struggling to completely eliminate foods, this is also a sign you are experiencing a lifestyle change. Diets eliminate foods for a short time and requires nothing more than short-term will-power. A lifestyle change is challenging, it is difficult, you will fail many times before you succeed, but if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change your lifestyle.
Interested in starting your lifestyle transformation? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free initial consultation!
Crossfit has impacted my life in a lot of ways. It is surprising the changes that occur in such a short time (1 year). It’s all about trying new things, which is what happened with me when I first tried out Crossfit. Before I came to QTown, I had played baseball for around 4 years or so in grade school. I was put mostly in the outfield for the time that I played. I also had around 12 years of PE.
Before I joined CrossFit I was the exact opposite of what you would call physically fit. I lack a regular exercise daily, with the exception of occasionally attempting to work out, but those attempts didn’t last long since I had absolutely no idea how to do some movements, or even knowing any movements in general. I went on walks with my dog, Abby, on occasion, but that was about it. Before I joined CrossFit I was ill constantly. I thought I was eating healthy. I followed the FDA’s food pyramid and as a result, I had a diet high in grains and processed foods almost daily. Because of how out of shape I was at the time, I struggled with low confidence a lot and just in general found life a struggle every day. I would often have random panic attacks and acid stomach. I hated eating because I felt sick a lot when I did eat. I had always wanted to be big, strong, and in shape, but felt doomed to be forever out of shape since I could barely run 400 meters without getting gassed. At that point I couldn’t 10 pushups or a single pull up. I had no real motivation to work out because I was stuck doing the same old workout everyday and I would often exhaust myself in the first 5 minutes of working out.
I was still struggling with my anxiety and lack of confidence in early August of last year, which was when they replayed all of the 2012 CrossFit games on TV. I’d just happened upon it and thought that it would be nice to be fit enough to be able to do all that crazy stuff. About 2 weeks later my dad told me that QTown had just opened in Quincy. We checked for age limits but didn’t find any so I figured I would check it out. Before I had wanted to attempt getting in shape yet again, but this time I had wanted to do something different, like gymnastics. I didn’t feel like I was strong enough to do gymnastics at the time though so I completely ruled that out. I went and watched one of the workouts and just talked with Coach Sam about the different things QTown had to offer. He told me to come back the following Monday to check out some of the movements and try my very first WOD. I proceeded to come back after a lot of persuasion from my dad, because I wasn’t sure if I’d wanted to do it or not. I was immediately a fan of wall squats when Sam had me try them out because it was one of the few movements that I could do naturally well. After that I proceeded to try my first WOD, which was 20 pushups, 20 sit-ups, and 10 pull-ups, or something like that, and after the 20 pushups I was lightheaded and had to go sit on a tire for about an hour or so, and Sam had thought he’d killed me. I learned right then that I really wanted to get in shape, and CrossFit seemed like the best course of action for me, so I had my Dad sign me up for the On-ramp.
At first I really struggled with my motivation to keep coming back every day. The workouts were really, really hard for someone of my fitness level. I could barely make it through the warm-ups let alone the actual workouts. I was also extremely shy at the time so the idea of working out with other people made me nervous. It took me a long time to start to open up to people more. I had begun to gain some incentive after about two weeks of struggling with workouts, because I had started to make a little bit of progress. A lot of my incentive came from the encouraging words from my coaches, especially Coach Sam. These words gave me confidence in my abilities and I thought that I would keep trying to see where CrossFit would lead me. It helped that my first movement that had actually improved in those two weeks was my back squat. I had never been good at anything when working out before and that helped me to want to learn more and try harder.
Over the past year I tried many workouts and movements, and with them I have set many goals. Some of these goals I have already accomplished, while others it may be a while before I accomplish them. When I had started out I just wanted to be able to do a pull up, and eventually thanks to careful planning I was able to accomplish and even exceed that goal. It was difficult to get there though because a lot of times I just wanted to give up. There was a period of time where I skipped doing pull-ups and I really regret it now. I’ve also wanted to have a really heavy squat, like at least 300 lbs, and while I’m not there yet I have a feeling I’ll get there within the next year or two. I would also love to get a muscle up someday. I would also love to gain weight and add on muscle. Thanks to Coach Andrew I figured out that you have to eat big to get big, and as a result I have gained 5 lbs. I used to think fats were bad for you but as it turns out they’re absolutely essential for you if you eat the healthy types. I would also love to attempt Murph at some point. I haven’t tried it yet and I really need to because it seems like it’d be one of my favorite workouts to do once I try it.
CrossFit is challenging in more ways than I can count, but if it were easy we wouldn’t get the benefits that we do from it. Some of the most challenging parts for me are when I am in the middle of a WOD, and I’m exhausted and feel like I can’t do one more rep. I suck at self motivation Mid-WOD, and if it’s a really hard WOD I often feel like it’d almost be impossible to finish the rest of the reps. I also really like to have a coach watch my form to make sure I’m doing things correctly. Coach Christine is really good at helping me keep the proper form. Oftentimes what helps get me through these tough challenges are the people and the coaches. Their encouraging words and bits of advice are often what keep me going. Coaches Mike, Tim, Christine, and Kelsey are all especially helpful with this, but all the coaches have helped me at some point. The people that I WOD with are also a blessing to me because if I’m the last one doing the workout still, instead of leaving they stay there and give me encouragement until I’m finished. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work out with.
I’ve learned so much since starting my journey here. For starters I’ve learned that even a really skinny guy like me can lift a lot of weight if taught how to do the movement properly. I never knew I had the capacity to deadlift 300 lbs, do handstands, or push press 175 lbs. I’ve learned that diet affects our performance more than we realize it does. I hadn’t started eating strict Paleo until the beginning of the summer. As a result of poor diet, I had always struggled some on the WODs so I figured I would give the diet a try at the beginning of the summer. Almost immediately after starting it I felt better and made bigger gains while working out. I didn’t have to suffer as bad in the workouts if I kept it up, and on top of that I felt better about myself too.
Through CrossFit, I’ve learned that every now and then I need to sit back, relax, and have fun. Whether it’s at pool parties where I soak Sam Dancer and Katie Tappe, or whether it’s watching Jason Coplan “torment” the other coaches at QTown, every now and then you need to sit back and enjoy yourself. Even eating can be a source of enjoyment as long as you keep it healthy, and savor every bite. I’ve learned many times over that being social is a good thing and that it makes us happier as people. I’ve made so many awesome friends while at QTown that I can have a good time with. And I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world. A lot of them have helped me through tough times without even realizing it, and I’m forever grateful to them for that. I’m really, really excited to meet even more new people at QTown too, because you can never truly have enough friends. Finally I’ve also learned that it is ok to be last every now and then. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve finished last while doing Karen. It’s not a bad thing to finish last as long as you try your hardest. It just gives you a goal to beat the next time you do that workout. Being first isn’t always a good thing, because that sometimes can mean that you didn’t pick a hard enough weight, and therefore you’re not pushing yourself that hard.
I would recommend that anyone of nearly any age give CrossFit a change, it has changed my life and it can change many more people’s lives as well. I would recommend that if someone were to pick a box to start crossfitting, that they at least give QTown a try. There are many awesome coaches that are very helpful here. The people are awesome and you can generally get along with everyone. I like QTown because I get this sense of belonging somewhere when I go to QTown, which I didn’t have before at really anyplace else. I feel like I can be myself at QTown and not be judged because of it. We’re all like a big family. Overall, I’m glad I chose to do Crossfit. Crossfit is life changing and I’m glad I discovered it, and QTown.
I’ve played most sports but my loves are soccer and wrestling. I still compete in both of these sports and I would admit that both of these are challenging in their fitness. But I would never necessarily say that everyone needs to try each of them for the purposes of growth. But I will definitely step forward and say exactly that about CrossFit. Everyone should do it. The mother of three should do it. The older gentleman who has recently retired should do it. A Navy Seal should do it. And a high school bookworm should do it. Why? Because it makes you better.
The pure functionality of CrossFit cannot be overstated. Whether you’re an older person who wants to sit in your office chair a bit longer without complaining about your spine hurting or you’re an elite athlete who wants to improve your prowess, CrossFit allows all of this through functional training. People say that certain sports are either an individual sport or a team sport. The truth is that all sports are individual endeavors and many times, there is a team element when all of those individuals get together in a group. CrossFit is similar in that it is an individual endeavor that takes place in a group environment. Each person is an individual competing against him or herself in a group setting where others are alongside that person also competing against themselves. It’s a beautiful thing if you’ve ever seen it in person. Watch for 5 minutes in a box (the CrossFit vernacular for “gym.”)
Newcomers to CrossFit ask, “When is leg day?” “When do I get to work my abs?” “When do I get to work my shoulders?” “How do I clean?” “What is a snatch?” “What the heck is going on?” These questions draw multiple resounding answers but I will answer it like this: You will work most of your muscles nearly everyday or at least in a week’s time through intentional programming. You will have personal training. You will have people who care about what you are doing. You will row, you will Olympic lift, you will jump on a box, you will push yourself using resistance, and you will lift heavy things repeatedly while coaches, trainers, and owners challenge you to think positively, eat well, and exhibit kindness toward your fellow human beings.
Finally, I want to touch on something important. I want to talk about how difficult CrossFit is. If you’ve played a sport that involved physical activity, there is nothing in CrossFit that is out of the ordinary from what you have experienced sometime in your life. However, if you’ve never played a sport, you will learn what sports are about while entering the world of CrossFit. Is it difficult? Well, life is difficult. But there is nothing in life that is so hard that it should cause a person to not give it their all and expand their consciousness. And that’s what CrossFit does. Without religion, drugs, or Kool-Aid, it shows you yourself. Many people come to CrossFit not knowing much about it. But once they leave, they know the sport of CrossFit and more importantly, they can acknowledge that they know a little more about themselves as well. And guess what? You want to know if you can do it? I’m telling you: “You can.” Not only that, “You should.”
-Frankie Murphy-Giesing (picture far right)