How I Became a CrossFit Mom (Part Two)
Hi Friends! This week I’m sharing my post-having-babies fitness story and how I became a CrossFit Mom.
Yesterday I shared my postpartum baby bod struggles and how I was introduced to CrossFit. You can read Part One here.
After doing that first exhilarating CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) with my husband, I decided to give CrossFit a trial period to see if it could actually work for me.
When I started, I could not do a single pull-up. I couldn’t even hang for more than 2 seconds from the pull-up bar. (To be honest I’m not really sure I could hang for one whole second from the bar.) I could only do about 10 push ups per set (from my knees – not regulation) and I’d never done a box jump or a burpee or toe touches or Turkish getups or back extensions or wall balls or touch jumps in my entire life (these are all workout maneuvers commonly found in CrossFit WODs).
My husband refused to let me get discouraged by what I could not do. He just encouraged me to start CrossFitting from exactly where my level of strength was, to do as many rounds and reps as I could at my level, and to allow my body the chance to get stronger.
Within six weeks of doing CrossFit, I could do five rounds of 10 pull up progressions and as many push ups and burpees as the WOD required. My legs were burning from walking lunges and wall balls but it was the sting of progress so it felt great.
Within 12 weeks I had done my first regulation pull up all by myself. I can honestly say, before CrossFit, I never thought I’d see the day I had the strength to do a real pull up. As soon as I broke through this milestone, I burst into tears. I knew that CrossFit was making a real, tangible difference in my level of strength and physical stamina.
I mentioned in Part One of this series that diversity is one of the key components to CrossFit. CF has you working many different muscle groups many different ways so that you’re physically ready for any challenge.
I was shocked to find out how true this is on one particular Sunday afternoon. After doing CrossFit for about 2 months, I asked my husband if I could go on a run while he watched the kids. I had not run since I became pregnant with my second baby, which added up to about 18 months of no running at all. And yet on that very first jog, I ran four miles effortlessly. And if it hadn’t been time to go home and make dinner, I could’ve kept running. The big difference was my breathing. It was steady and controlled, not panicky and panting, and I had never experienced running like that for anything longer than a 5K. I realized that thanks to CrossFit my lungs were changing into athletic ones I’d never had before, regardless of how many hours of Jillian Michaels workouts and running I’d done in the past.
How I CrossFit: Gym vs. Home?
Most CrossFitters attend a “Box Gym” where they do a prescribed WOD and have CrossFit trainers and coaches on site to assist them. I do believe this is the ideal scenario, not only because of the vast equipment options at a Box, but also because of the awesome support and camaraderie from fellow CrossFitters.
A box gym was not an option for me, since my husband’s work schedule (translate, super early mornings), our family’s need to eat dinner early with little ones, and my night-time motherhood-induced exhaustion, didn’t make it feasible for me to get to a CrossFit gym regularly.
So I CrossFit from home.
Over the years my husband and I have collected various equipment pieces for a home gym. I use a pull-up bar that fits over a door jam in our house, rings (that attach to the pull-up bar), a medicine ball, various weighted dumbbells, a raised box (for box jumps), and a floor mat to do my workouts from home.
There are many CF workouts moves you can do without any equipment whatsoever. These include air squats, toe touches, back extensions, CF sit ups, short sprints, touch jumps, box jumps (if you use stairs in your house), walking lunges, and push ups.
Here’s an example of a beginner WOD that requires nothing but you:
5 rounds for time (meaning your goal is to complete as quickly as possible):
5 x push ups
10 x burpees
15 x walking lunges (each leg)
20 x CF sit ups
I scale the CrossFit WODs to my level. Sometimes I can do almost a full prescribed WOD, and some days I have to waayyyyy scale it back to a level I can successfully perform. Some WODs feature workout moves I can’t do from home, either because I don’t have the proper equipment, or I don’t have a spotter with me. But that’s okay – I just choose a different move that works the same muscle or muscle group with something I can do from home.
The Reason CrossFit was Tailor Made for SAHMs:
The #1 reason I believe CrossFit is an ideal workout for stay-at-home moms is the fact it is so freakin’ FAST. The longest workout I’ve ever done in 9 months of CrossFitting took just over 20 minutes. The shortest workout I’ve ever done took 6 minutes. Usually my workout is 12-15 minutes long, plus a full warm-up and cool-down stretch time.
That means, Mamas, in the time it takes for your toddlers to watch an episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on PBS.com, you can warm up, work out, cool down, and run to your bedroom for a quick clean up, change, and makeup party and be back in front of your toddlers by the time they are singing “It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive…”
It’s a short, dedicated, intense amount of time to yourself daily, but the rewards are tremendous. I have never had so much strength and stamina in my entire adult life. I’ve never achieved the type of workout goals even when I was single, working out at a gym 5x/week and running 3-5x/week. My self-confidence has risen. My energy has soared through the roof. My struggles with postpartum depression, exhaustion, baby weight, and feelings of “stuck-in-a-rut-ness” have evaporated as I’ve been able to achieve new physical accomplishments daily.
In CrossFit You’ll Find a Family
I once read a CrossFit t-shirt that said: “CrossFit: The only sport where the loudest cheers are for the last to finish.”
I have found this to be absolutely true, and I think it’s incredibly awesome.
CrossFit is about competing against one person: yourself. It’s about tearing down your current “limit” and reaching for a new one. It’s about pushing yourself to do that one more pull up or push up or dumbbell thruster. It’s about challenging your personal conformities and making yourself better and stronger, mentally and physically, each and every day.
When I started CrossFitting, I was overwhelmed with emails, texts, and messages of support and encouragement from other CrossFitters. “Just checking in to see how things are going!” “Have you tried wall balls yet?” “Just thinking of you.” I was amazed at the support for someone as inept as I was in the beginning (and still am – I have a long way to go!).
She Puts on Strength and Dignity, Not Skin and Bones
A final note: CrossFit is not a workout regimen for women whose exercise goal is to be as skinny and rail-like as possible. This is not a workout to produce bone-thin dancer arms like Lady Mary Crawley’s in the popular Downton Abbey. It’s not about being huge and butch-looking either. CrossFit is about building strength and stamina so the every day tasks and chores and mishaps and adventures you encounter in your family on a daily basis are doable, not taxing. It’s a workout that makes you sleep better, feel better, work better, play better, and build confidence in the gym (or home gym) that you never dreamed you could achieve.
I truly believe CrossFit is one of the modern answers to the picture of an ideal wife and mother the Bible describes in Proverbs 31:
“She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong… Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the times to come.”
– Proverbs 31:17, 25
Right now I’m 22 weeks pregnant with my third baby. In my next post, I’ll tell you about my experience CrossFitting pregnant. And on Friday, I’ll share the most helpful books, websites, smartphone Apps and resources that helped me get started in CrossFit (including how to learn how to do each CF move).