How I Lost Weight and Gained Health with Crossfit Workouts: Part 3, Results
Mindful that they were scaling down things for me, I returned to Crossfit and decided to enroll. The trainers, who were natural athletes young enough to be my kids, made all the moves seem effortless. The beginner’s class subsituted PVC pipe for weights and used slow single-reps for calisthenics. So everything seemed doable. I eagerly completed my week’s worth of learning and was eager to embark on real WODs (Workouts of the Day).
What I failed to grasp at the time was that real workouts added such inconveniences as actual weight, multiple reps and sets, distance and a time limit. For most adults with any kind of athletic skill, Crossfit is difficult enough. But for a couch potato such as myself, who had not exercised or played any sport in decades, the experience fit the definition of torture and required banning by the Geneva Convention.
Forget the complex moves such as the Turkish Getup, which started you from a lying position on the floor and then raised you to a standing position, all while holding a weighted iron ball above your head, with an extended arm. Even the veterans suffered with them. The killers proved to be the simple moves that were performed regularly and with multiple sets of up to 30 reps, such as:
- Jumping on and off wooden boxes up to three feet tall.
- Running for a mile.
- Crawling on hands and feet across the gym in a bear crawl.
- Standing next to a wall and throwing a medicine ball at it. And then catching the ball in both hands, squatting and then standing up to propel the ball back to the wall. This was called the wall ball.
Even basic calisthenics were beyond me. I couldn’t perform a single pushup, pullup or a ring dip. For any Olympic weight exercises, I struggled with a 15-pound bar that had no plates.
On some days, completing the WOD eluded me even at the rookie level. I’d sneak out of class in mid-workout, feeling embarrassed and angry at myself at being such a wimp. Defeated, I would wait in the car for my partner, who was having the time of his life.
He encouraged me to continue. And so did the trainers and the other participants. They cheered any of my minor victories and ignored any of my missteps. The only person who made me feel I didn’t belong was me.
My only achievements in four months were never missing a three-day-a-week schedule and following a new eating plan. The Crossfit diet of choice is the Paleo Diet. It basically removes carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice as well as dairy products such as milk and cheese. It favors the foods our cave-dwelling ancestors survived by: plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lots of protein like beef, chicken and fish. My eating regimen was strictly paleo for the first month. After that, I’d occasionally indulge in an ice cream or some French fries.
Abut I was wrong about those being my only achievements. Because when I stepped on the scale after four months, I discovered a loss of 30 pounds. My pants were now three inches too big around the waist. And when I saw my naked body in the mirror,
I was sexy!
Two Years Later
It’s been almost two years since I first quit Crossfit. And except for vacations and the occasional illness, I’ve never missed my three-days-a-week schedule. I’ve gained about ten pounds since my original 30-pound loss, but it’s been all muscle. Friends who haven’t seen me in awhile are full of compliments at my physical appearance.
Though the WODs are as hard as ever, they’ve transformed from terrifying instruments of hell to merely doable.
- Ten pushups are no problem, done with fists rather than open palms to the floor.
- I can do about six pullups and slightly more dips, but want to increase the reps.
- My Olympic lifting moves use the heaviest bar piled on with plates.
- Bear crawls are part of my standard warmup.
My physical goals have also become a bit more complex. I’m working on performing constant double-unders since I can only do a few at a time. On my future plate are running a full mile non-stop, handstand pushups, and muscle ups, where I raise my body on two overhead rings into a dip. I may even try a competition or two.
I’ve now passed the half-century mark. Yet I feel and look better than I ever have, and look forward to the WODs. My diet, once full of French fries, ice cream and fast food, is now heavy on fruits, vegetables and meat, helping to improve my health further. Because of Crossfit, I now feel that anything is possible, no matter how old you are.
If you’re interested in trying it out, which I especially encourage if you’re older, there’s probably an affiliate near you. But wait for my upcoming article on how to choose a Crossfit gym, and then let me know how you do.
Three Years Later
I'm still doing Crossfit regularly and also attend the twice-a-week weightlifting classes in the afternoons. My weight fluctuates between the 20-pound lost last year and a 25-pound loss. The workouts are no longer frightening insurmountable mountains. Instead, all challenges are doable and really hard ones are doable with more time.
For example, we have a pick-your-poison where anyone can choose their workout from a list. I'm invariably the only one or one of the few who picks a one-mile round-trip walk lifting a 54-pound kettlebell in each hand. Most fit people do it in 40 minutes. It usually takes me 1.5-hours. But I get it done.
Unfortunately, I still can't do a handstand nor a muscleup. But I'll keep trying.
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