Hungry? Check out my latest recipe: Sweet Potato Pork Chop Skillet
To get things kicked off on the right foot I’m going to be honest. I’m fat. Without getting in to the whole sob story about how I got fat, and why I got fat, and how come it was justifiable that I got fat, let’s just all agree that I got fat. In January 2013 I weighed a buck eighty five. That would be 185lbs, or a svelt 84kg if you prefer, and I’d hovered in this range, give or take five pounds for the whole of 2012. Observe.
Oh my giddy-odd, you guys. I’ve never shown that picture to a SOUL before today. But, that is the raw honest truth of where I was. On a stubby five-four frame, this is too much weight and while my body didn’t do well with hefting this poundage around it was my psychological body that took the most brutal beating. It’s one thing to look at yourself, nod, and say, “Yep. I’m fat.” It’s entirely another to look at yourself and say, “Yep. I’m fat. Now what can be done about it?” And, it’s an altogether different ball game to say, “Yep. I’m fat. Now what can *I* do about it?”
This is an abridged story of what I did about it. December 2012 my dear husband showed me a website for Crossfit Toro Grande and their Level One introduction class. At a bargain price for four weeks of class and the promise that I wasn’t going to have to swing a bar above my head or prove that I could run a mile clenching a kettle bell in my teeth I signed up. I wasn’t afraid of Crossfit, exactly. I was afraid of myself doing Crossfit. I mean, what I fell over? What if I blacked out? What if I puked? What if my kettle bell slipped from my hands and clobbered someone? What if I turned my head into a canoe with the bar? What if I took a wall ball to the face? What if I made a TOTAL ASS OF MYSELF?!?! For serious, the ability to embarrass myself in public is almost a part of my genetic profile, and it’s never an “if” question but a “when and how bad” kind of thing. (See: Zip Up Sports Bra Debacle of February 2014). Luckily, I was more afraid of being a quitter than I was about anything else and stuck it out and surprised even myself with how much I actually enjoyed it. Maybe it was the one hour of not having to be mom-wife-cook-maid-valet. Maybe it was re-learning about the addictive properties of self potential. Maybe it was the unexpectedly non-judgmental environment. Maybe it was all of those things, but at the end of those four weeks I felt a twinkle of hope sparking off deep in the dark abyss of my self perception. So I did what any self respecting fat ass would do: I signed up to do the Level 1 class again. The second time through the class I was more aware of the regular WOD class and the movements and skills they were using, so here are selected highlights from my memory of the things I noticed:
- Coach Mike is very tall and expertly groomed.
- It seems I’ve forgotten how to jump rope, since it’s been TWENTY-FIVE YEARS SINCE I DID IT LAST.
- Coach Laurie is very loud. I’ll bet she can kick a lot of ass and you don’t want to make her legitimately angry.
- Nobody looks overly panicked about having to pick up a bar and push it over head.
- Kenny is very fast.
- Kenny can jump freakishly high.
- Did Coach Ben actually serve in the Israeli army? Or does he just like that stocking hat best?
- I’m scared of Coach Gene.
- Coach Chad is impressively bombastic and encouraging.
- Coach Chad just drop-kicked me into the regular WOD class with Coach Mike, OMG OMG OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!
- Coach Mike is even taller when he’s standing in front of me explaining the WOD movements.
- Scaling movements is neither a crime nor a giant flag of incompetence. Who knew?!
- I didn’t fail in the regular WOD class.
- I think I’m in love with Crossfit
- I’m going to cry in the car because for the first time in YEARS I feel like there’s hope. I don’t have to be fat forever.
From there it was a grease fire. A grease fire made out of my sweat and cellulite! The dye was cast – I was a crossfitter. And, so began my obsessive Facebook postings.
Throughout the spring I went to two WOD classes per week. In between these classes I would bicycle the <4 mile round trip to the grocery store or the <12 mile round trip to my Pilates class, more often then not towing my two children in the bike trailer. In the summer, I cut the Pilates class and upped the WOD classes to three per week. By the end of the summer I was averaging 4 classes per week, bicycling myself and/or my kids to these classes at least 60% of the time. By the fall I was full tilt at 4-5 classes per week and I would be lying if I didn’t say I could see actual differences in my appearance. I still wore a size 14 pant. I still had (have) rolls of unfortunate placement and bulging capabilities, but the accursed boobdominals were fading! I had definition between my ab and chest regions! And?! AND?! I had an actual waist line. One that wasn’t created using control top underpants. By December I was shocked to see the scale read 165lbs. Twenty pounds (20!): gone. Through hard work that was the funnest hard work I’d ever experienced. Through good eating that was no longer a punishment and denial crucible. Through drinking deep from the cup of potential and tasting the sweet sweet success.
Here are my stats as of today:
5 ft 4 inches tall
Crossfitting since January 2013
Overweight since October 2010
1 mile run: 00:12:00
400m run: 00:02:00
Jump rope: Single Unders 180 unbroken
Pull ups: Scaled Banded (See: RhinoLifter)
Push ups: Scaled Knee
Dead Lift 1RM: 185lb
Front Squat 1RM: 125lb (sort of)
Back Squat 1RM: 135lb
Strict Press 1RM: 70lb
Power Clean 1RM: 75lb
I’m still too fat for only being 5’4″, and it would be a terrible falsehood to say I didn’t care what the scale says. I’m just as keen on the visceral neurochemical gratification that comes from the happy tidings of my bathroom scale as the next person. But now I have tangible experience in assessing gains beyond those dictated by the common household strain gauge.
So here I sit. A quarter of the way into 2014, twenty pounds lighter than I was a year ago, stronger, more energized, more optimistic, and more convinced than ever before that I can accomplish twice as much this year as last year. There’s so much detail to this story that’s missing, but I think you get the gist. Still, it’s not all butterfly kisses and unicorn rainbow farts. I struggle with motivation, diet, and routine. Perhaps I’ll always struggle with those things; but, now the struggle does not always win by default. The struggle clearly defines my choices and fuels my actions. I’m in charge of me. I’m in charge of what my body can accomplish. I’m in charge of how far I can go. Me. I’m in charge. Learning this lesson has been the biggest gain of the last 14 months – more than how much weight I lost, how much I can lift, how fast I can (or can’t) run, and how many unbroken burpees I can do. I’ve gained control over the voice in my head that said I was fat and I was going to stay fat, and I’ve forced that voice to change how it talks to me. My naturally self deprecating sense of humor is a function of my personality, the difference now is that I may joke about having assorted fat rolls and upsetting the local USGS richter scale when doing box jumps but I know the truth. The truth is I do have assorted fat rolls, but not for long. I may create a somewhat larger reverb than the average bear when hitting the box jumps, but not for long. I may be the slowest turtle in the race, but not for long.