How I Became a CrossFit Mom – Part One
This week I’ll be sharing my physical fitness journey from stuck-in-a-rut flabby and frustrated Mom to a healthy, fit, and happy CrossFit Mom.
This is not an “OMG look at what I’ve done!” story. My journey is humbling and intimate and hard for me to talk about. But I’ve decided to share it because #1) my exercise regimen is one of the top three things my readers ask me to talk about in the blog and #2) I believe from the very bottom of my heart that I’ve found a workout routine that can truly help busy stay-at-home moms like me achieve their fitness goals, gain immense strength and stamina, look great, and feel great.
Discouraged by the Baby Bod
The year I had my first baby, I ballooned at least three dress sizes (on a good day…with Spanx). I had dreamed of being one of those ladies whose baby weight evaporated simply from nursing my baby, but alas I am not one of those lucky mamas. The post-baby flab seemed there to stay, and so were the feelings of depression, disgust and desperation that kept me stuck in a rut and often turning to food for comfort.
I worked out as often as I had the energy and/or the time while caring for a high-maintenance newborn, turning to my collection of home workout DVDs, and I took my baby on long walks when the weather was nice. But still, my weight didn’t budge all that much. I also had trouble regularly sticking to my home workouts because they were close to 60 minutes long, and that was a big commitment for a new mom with a baby who only took catnaps.
Eight months after delivering my first baby, we found out baby #2 was on the way. Even though we were utterly elated by the news, there was nothing so demoralizing to my struggle with baby weight than to start gaining weight from a second pregnancy when the weight from Numero Uno was still sticking to my ribs and thighs. And pretty much everywhere else.
After my second son was born, I was determined that I was not going to wear a size blah for the rest of my life. I knew I could do better. What I didn’t know was where to find a diet and workout solution that I could stick to long term. I needed something that was fast, effective, uncomplicated, and that could be done from home. And did I mention it had to be fast?
Two specific resources rescued me. Weight Watchers Online and Jillian Michaels workout DVDs. Jillian’s workouts were about 30 minutes long, and that was doable (during the kids’ afternoon nap time) on most days. By the time my second baby was 6 months old I had lost 30 pounds of baby flab and was back in my pre-baby wardrobe. I cannot describe how happy I was to be back in a place where I felt like “me” and not like a blob who wore her husband’s sweat pants and oversized sweatshirts around the house because nothing on my side of the closet properly fit.
Late last spring, after half a year of doing Jillian workouts in my family room 4-5 times a week plus running or walking with the kids, I began to feel like I was in a different type of workout rut: I was bored. There’s only so much variety that Jillian uses in her home workout DVDs, and it was almost like my body knew which muscles were going to get a workout and I just kept going through the motions.
That’s about the time I discovered a new workout regimen that has made a world of difference in my physique, in my level of strength and stamina, in my physical and mental health, and in my self-confidence.
It’s called CROSSFIT.
In a nutshell the aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness. As described by the founder on CrossFit.com: “After looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is not specializing.”
I believe my husband describes CrossFit best. He calls it “building athletic ability through a focus on functionality, intensity, and diversity.”
Traditional fitness regimens typically focus on isolation, repetition, and predictability – the exact opposite of what CrossFit does. The end result is that modern systems tend to focus on a look first, performance second, and CrossFit is the other way around.
CrossFit workouts are often very short. They focus on working a targeted muscle group as hard as you possibly can, for short intense amounts of time.
The diversity in CrossFit is another signature trait. It’s often said you can CrossFit for six months and never see the same exact workout twice. I can testify first hand that this is true.
How I Became Interested in CrossFit
My husband has been a CrossFit athlete for almost four years. He loves it. Interestingly, he was convinced to start CrossFitting when he was tossing his nephews around on the living room floor and they remarked, “Uncle, you’re sweaty!” That meant that for all his weightlifting prowess [there’s a large military gym that has a poster of my Hubs on the wall for being the member who could dead lift the most weight…my guy has muscles], he couldn’t toss some 7-year-old around without breaking out into a fairly intense sweat. That wasn’t the long term physical fitness goal my Hubs was looking for. And that’s when he transitioned from an intense weight-lifting regimen to CrossFit.
My muscle-man is one of the main reasons I wouldn’t even entertain the thought of doing CrossFit myself for several years. I saw what he did during workout sessions. I was utterly convinced I couldn’t do that.
CrossFit intimidated the heck out of me. Have you ever seen a video or picture of a female CrossFit athlete? Those chicas are scaling ropes and hanging from rings and power lifting huge amounts of weight and making it look easy peasy in their washboard abs and sports bras! I never imagined that I could ever EVER do what they do or look like they look. I’m just a stay-at-home mom trying to keep the baby flab at bay. I couldn’t be strong and toned like those girls.
Or so I thought.
Last summer my husband had a day off from work and invited me to do his WOD (CrossFit lingo for “workout of the day”) with him. I was scared but I said yes.
The truth is I had so. much. fun. That day’s WOD was a timed workout in three rounds of short but intense intervals. I was red-faced, drenched in sweat, and panting like my heart would fall out of my chest after the 16 minutes it took me to complete the WOD.
I was sore for the next several days. But I was intrigued. The CrossFit workout I did with my husband was HALF the length of a Jillian Michaels DVD.
What if I could do a workout that took up HALF the length of time in my daily routine, but gave TWICE the punch to my body? What if this could actually be a workout system tailor made for someone like me who wanted to work out but was short on time to myself?
As I thought more about CrossFit, I happened to read an article about “mom fitness” written by Sarah Fragoso, cookbook author, CrossFit trainer and mother of three. She discussed the importance of moms not just being skinny but being STRONG since motherhood is a job that requires every day strength and stamina. She wrote:
“Imagine how great it would be to sling your kids easily out of the car and onto your hip, grab three bags of groceries in your other hand, squat down without dropping anybody or anything and pick up the keys that fell out of your purse, and jog into the house without hurting your back or being out of breath.”
Sarah described exactly what I was looking for in my life. Every-day practically-applicable “mama strength.” The type of workout regimen that would keep me fit, active and healthy, and would also help me keep up with the crazy toddler bear cubs that live at my house.
You see, I’m blessed with two toddler sons who weighed 65 lbs. between them by the time the eldest was two. I frequently carry those now 70+ lbs up and down the stairs at the same time. I often push those 70+ pounds in a double jogging stroller. And I stand holding at least 35 of those precious pounds in one arm and a hymnal or Bible in the other for an hour every Sunday morning. I want to be able to do these things and more without feeling winded, taxed, sore, or wiped out.
I want to have Mama strength. And I want to keep the baby flab at bay. CrossFit offered me the chance to attain both.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how I got started in CrossFit, how I stick with it, and how I CrossFit from home as a busy stay-at-home mom. Later this week, I’ll share how I CrossFit as a pregnant mom, and I’ll divulge the CrossFit resources that have helped me the most.
I hope you’ll join me right back here tomorrow! Now it’s time for me to go hang out with these friends: