In May of last year, Will and I started working out with a personal trainer at Crossfit Simple. I would love to be able to say that I went to Crossfit to get healthy, to get in shape, and to feel better about myself, but alas, these were not my motivations – although they have been my results. Those were vague hopes that I did not really think would materialize, but my motivation was the health of my husband, Will.
Will, for over a year or two, had been ill with some sort of mystery illness. This made him short of breath, low on energy, and generally run down. We went to doctor after doctor, at first fearing that it was heart disease or something with his lungs. We saw specialists. Here is the thing that they do not tell you – if you have something that is not easily diagnosed, the medical system does not care about you and tends to think you are a crazy hypochondriac. You would think that with what doctors make they would be more diligent, but they weren’t. Will even spent over a week getting tests at the Mayo Clinic, but no one could diagnose him.
In August of 2010, Will was pretty disheartened that they were ever going to figure out what was wrong with him. He figured that since they cleared him of anything being wrong with his heart or lungs that what he would do is join Crossfit, as his parents really loved going. I think the vague hope was that he would lose weight and thus eliminate one of the issues the doctors said might be the cause of his mystery illness.
I thought the Crossfit idea sounded lovely, and wanted to join myself, but at 246 pounds in a size 24, I figured that I was too out of shape to be able to do most of what they were doing. Instead, I figured I would start walking and get my weight down, get in better shape and then join Crossfit (this logic seems crazy to me now, but at the time seemed reasonable). I have never really liked gyms, and working out with other people has always made me feel self conscious.
Will, being Will, did not go to Crossfit. He stayed sick but never went, even though this was his Plan. Around May of 2011, out of frustration with Will saying he didn’t have time and him never going, I decided to go myself. I knew if I went, he would go. However, being hugely out of shape and morbidly obese (seriously, I am 5’3” and weighed 246), I decided that if I called them, they would simply reassure me that I could join. If I went in person, they could see me and thus would be able to give me a better idea of whether or not this was for me. It one thing to hear someone say they are out of shape, it is another to see the proof.
Going in person was a good idea. The people I talked to at that time assured me that yes, I would be fine in Crossfit. They would scale the exercises to fit my abilities (or lack thereof). I then contacted one of the trainers, Rhonda, who set up a time for us to come in. Rhonda said that either she or another trainer, Scott, would be working with us.
Prior to going, I had dread. I figured it would be a somewhat humiliating experience, as most gym experiences tended to be for me. I never really had a good idea of what I was doing in a gym setting, and honestly, when someone very overweight goes to workout in many gyms (especially in this area at SIU’s Rec Center), there is little support and occasionally, open derision. I was happy to find out that this was NOT the case at Crossfit Simple. People there were supportive and encouraging from day one. The atmosphere is welcoming and everyone seems to be encouraging everyone else. This was such a change and a surprise for me, but one I gladly welcomed.
When we arrived, Rhonda told us that we would be working with Scott as a trainer. I had mixed feelings about this, because on one hand I figured that Will would probably do better with a male trainer, but I also worried that I would do worse. It didn’t help that Scott is in psychotically good shape. I know, he is a trainer and he is supposed to be in good shape, but at the time, I mainly thought, “Oh, crap. Yikes.” I comforted myself with the thought that chances were good I was smarter or more well read than he was, but both of these assertions turned out to be erroneous, as well. Sometimes I am hugely wrong, but hey, if you are going to be wrong, be wrong ALL THE WAY. (I will say that I am possibly a better speller than he is, but I would not bet money on that being true, either.) Scott (much like Will) is spooky smart and well versed on so many topics it is a bit crazy. Luckily, I did not know that the time. Now that I do know that, I just ask him a lot of questions about what books to read, how to survive the zombie apocalypse, and other things of great import.
Having Scott as a trainer turned out to be one of the best pieces of luck for Will and I. Scott scaled the exercises so I could do them, which all of the Crossfit Simple trainers will do. Explained thoroughly how to do the various things we did, and guided/prodded us along. He was enormously patient. He encouraged us and praised us when we did well, and corrected us when our form was bad as bad form = injury.
Will – the Love of My Life, Song of My Heart – has the capacity to be a bit cantankerous. He can be annoyed and frustrated one minute and jovial the next. I am always just pleased that his anger tends to be short lived. He has ADD, so that is a challenge, and he also has this stubborn streak where if something does not make sense or if he does not know why he is doing something, there is a good chance he simply will not do it. I could write another blog entry simply on Will and Geometry and Why Postulates Are Bad.
This is also true in Crossfit. When Scott would explain something to us that Will did not understand the why behind, (“Why am I jumping underneath this bar?”) Scott would not even miss a beat in explaining it in a way that would appeal to Will. The ability to try a different approach in teaching someone is a rare talent that only the best teachers seem to have. I have sat in many classrooms where the teacher will simply repeat what he said before, possibly more slowly or loudly, even though that clearly did not work the first time. Scott just explains it from a different angle, until it clicks.
Since starting Crossfit in May of 2011, my life and my outlook on life has changed considerably. My knees used to hurt simply getting out of bed in the morning. Going downstairs to do laundry used to be something that would wind me, and we do not have that many steps to the basement. Bringing laundry up from the basement would hurt my back, and I often had to pause halfway up. I would spend the majority of my time on the computer or in front of the television. I wanted to go out and be active, but it was exhausting.
Will and I have been hiking more in the last several months than we have the entire time we’ve been married (two months shy of 15 years). In the past, we would go hiking at Little Grand Canyon, and I would not even be able to make it to the very pretty valley area, but the last time went, I was able to hike the whole thing. I can carry more things with less stress. I have more energy, I think more clearly, and I want to do more things that involve activity. Will and I have twice done the High Ropes Course out at Touch of Nature in this past year, something that would not have even been possible prior to Crossfit.
I have lost 40 pounds and gone from a size 24 to a size 18. I still have quite a way to go on that front, but I have learned to listen less to the scale and more to the fit of my jeans. I can lift things and do things I never thought I would be able to do. When we first started Crossfit I was able to deadlift 45 pounds, and now I can deadlift 225 pounds (today I just set a new personal record and deadlifted 235!). Will has put on an impressive amount of muscle, and lost weight as well. He was always broad shouldered, but now those shoulders seem broader with larger, more defined muscle.
The other added bonus to Crossfit has been how much it has helped with my depression – days I work out tend to be good days. The boost to mood cannot be overstated, and it was this benefit that kept me coming back to Crossfit in the early days where I was still nervous and anxious about the whole process. It has even helped me kick a few unsavory habits, as after my dad died I developed a bit of an addiction problem. However, when you know that you may have to run laps, do kettle bell swings, squats, pushups, and god knows what else, you tend to think that maybe it would be better to just get a good night’s sleep instead.
I feel like I have been reborn into a world where anything is possible. I am so excited about the possibilities that I now have to choose from. The number of limitations my weight and being out of shape put on my life were many – too many. I did not even realize they were there until the limitations started going away. I feel almost evangelistic about Crossfit. Crossfit saved my life! It can save yours!
I am currently doing things that I have always wanted to do. In addition to doing Crossfit three times a week, I am also going to yoga classes at Crossfit Simple. Will and I are hiking at various parks in the area. I find myself thinking more about camping and less about what to watch next on the television. I have cut back on my computer time significantly, and instead of being online all day, I am usually online for work purposes, or to write and only online for fun an hour or so a day. I go outside more. It is really nice outside. Pretty too. Also, free. The loss of weight means I am not constantly too hot – losing 40 pounds of personal insulation has helped me enjoy hotter temperatures. Summer seems less daunting, more fun.
Will’s health issues seem to have gone away. That one is my favorite benefit of Crossfit.
If I could start Crossfit, anyone can. If I could succeed at it, anyone can.