A year ago, I never would have guessed these words would have come out of my mouth. Ever. In fact, a year ago, if someone had told me I could lose 60lbs by working out 5 days a week for the next 10 months, I would have turned them down flat. I would have been SURE that I could have doubled that loss in half the time with some hard core diet. When I finally got the courage to try CrossFit, something I had dreamed of for years, I was pretty positive that if I was able to stick to it, I’d drop 10 or more lbs a month until I was done. I really thought by summer of 2015, I could be strutting around in size 6, done forever with diet and rocking out pull-ups with the best of them.
Thank God I didn’t know how hard this was going to be. I truly am thankful, because I don’t know that I would have had the courage or the fortitude to start. I have never completed anything so difficult, let alone so often. I always give up. Scratch that. I used to give up. When it seemed to stop working, or when I wasn’t enjoying it, I’d give up.
My personal victories at the box are highly prized. Sometimes no one even knows what big accomplishment something simple is for me. Except maybe for Raina, my trainer. She’s been there since day 1. She gave me my first fit test, when I couldn’t squat past 45 degrees or touch my toes or strap myself into the rower. She was there the first day I could finally join the runners, instead of rowing, after 7 months of classes. She is there every time we run and I am the last one in the door-still. I know she will be there when I am not the last one, on a day that will be here before I know it.
Just this week, I have had two personal victories.
On Tuesday, after reading a fabulous article entitled I Took Last Place in the CrossFit Open I was compelled to actually complete jumps onto a box. This is a pretty common move for Crossfitters, with the prescribed height being 20” for women and 24” for men. It’s what it sounds like. You jump, from the ground, onto a box. Then you jump down. Back in August, I tried a few onto a 12” box, and a couple more onto a 12” box with a few plates stacked on it. I think I did 8-10 total. The next day my feet, knees and hips were crying out in pain.
Plyometric moves do not feel natural to an obese person. We always have the option of “scaling” the exercise to something we CAN do, so for months, I have been stepping up onto the small box, rather than jumping. After that article, I knew I had to start jumping. It takes 3 times the energy for me to jump than to just step up. Honestly, in the middle of a WOD, stepping up seems impossible at times. So Tuesday, when 2 sets of 20 box jumps showed up on the WOD, I was determined to do as many as I could before resorting to the step-ups.
On my 13th jump, I didn’t make it. I hit the box with my toes, stumbled and caught myself. That was my personal signal to stop and step up. But after 2 step-ups, I just KNEW I could do more jumps, so I finished the last 7. On the second set of 20, I stumbled with the very first one. I stopped for a second, recalibrated and knocked out the last 20. It’s silly, but I was holding back tears. I had done something that I hadn’t been able to do for many years. I wasn’t RXing it, but I made progress.
“I jumped!” I mouthed at Hugh, as he high-fived me.
Raina smiled my direction, and I knew she had noticed. It’s these small victories and imporvements that have come to matter to me the last 10 month. From my first actual sit up, to my first bar-hanging knee raise to the day I graduated from doing modified handstand hold on a box, to doing them against the wall. Oh, wait. That was today.
Yes, today was a big day for me, too. Handstands are something that happens almost daily at CrossFit. Sometimes it’s just a handstand hold, sometimes it handstand push-ups- which ARE exactly what they sound like. Ten months ago, when a handstand was called for, the closest I could get to it was putting my hands on a box that was 20” off the ground, leaning over in as close to an upside down V as I could get and then doing a weak push up. Eventually I used the floor, and then I moved onto the box with my knees and put my hands on the floor. It’s been getting easier, although I still don’t have the full range of motion I need unless I use bands to assist on the pushing-back-up part.
Last week, watched the 7 other people attending the class flip up against the wall for a handstand hold and I trudged to my box. All week, I have been meaning to practice at home- just to see if I could do it without my arms collapsing and breaking my neck. This morning, encouraged by the rest of the class (and especially by my son, Levi) I tried walking backwards up the wall into position. I did it, it wasn’t beautiful, or even close to vertical, but it WAS a better handstand hold than I have ever done.
These are the things that make me care about a whole different set of numbers. Not the number on the scale, which has literally crept down at an average of 6lbs per month. Now I care about how much I am increasing my deadlift, or how much faster I can run 400 meters. I care that can walk a brisk mile without even being a little winded. That I have mobility to put on my own shoes from a standing position or climb over an obstacle.
The biggest change I see in the photos I take are in my face. The one on the left was taken a couple days before my first CrossFit workout. The one on the right was a week ago. I will be posting my one year full progress pics on May 10th of this year, so this a preview. It’s interesting that a lot of the comments I get are “you look so healthy” rather than “you’ve lost a lot of weight”. I know that this is the healthiest I have ever been mentally with regards to my food choices and overall well-being. It’s nice to hear that it is reflected in my appearance.
Not that I don’t have my own bad moments. I feel so much better, every single day, that sometimes I actually forget how far I still have to go. I will catch my reflection in the window and see my size and for just a moment, my heart crumbles. Hugh assures me that the outside are just as monumental as the inside ones, but I see what I see. These moments are farther and farther apart, but still happen.
For today, and the next 5 weeks, my focus is on the Open. Each week on the Thursday evening, the week’s workout will be announced. This is the first year that they have offered a scaled division which SHOULD mean I can actually perform every move prescribed. I know I am going to face some of the things I hate; Burpees especially. I will be blogging about the workout each week, mostly to hold myself accountable to completing it whole heartedly. If I needed one last push to sign up, THIS PROMO was it.
I hope that next year, I will be able to compete in the non-scaled division. But for now, I am going to enjoy what has been accomplished in 300 days. I’d say wish me luck, but none of this is about luck. It’s about doing hard work over and over again and becoming stronger physically and mentally. It’s about cheering everyone else on and being driven to do one more rep by the cheers of others.