Monday, April 5, 2010

Yep. Before and After time!

I recently received a string of emails from a bunch of the women that train with me about body composition and what CrossFit has done for their feelings of body image vs. body function. They were honest, heartfelt, and truly inspiring. This is just a little response.

Just wanted to say to all of you that I could not be more proud to be reading these emails... I wish that every woman I know could understand what it's like to feel free to move, be aggressive, and (weirdly) graceful all at the same time...maybe that's why I love Oly lifting and gymnastics so much. These women are in a class all their own - and they do not mind being different if different means being DROP DEAD AWESOME!

I came to CrossFit by way of the women of CrossFit - both their abilities and their bodies. I began my journey with no idea about what would happen on the other end of chasing performance. At the time all I saw in my job, in America, and in my nightmares - was death and dying... a slow descent into dysfunctional old age and general self loathing. All I knew was that at the end of months without moving and having to buy new clothes because of post-college weight gain... I had to do something more than just run up random hills and eat Amy's Tofu Stir Fry bowls.

I have always loved moving and the feeling of being in the "zone" as an athlete and as a human being - that place where anything that was bothering you doesn't matter anymore because all you see is doing what's right in front of you. It's instinctive. It's bold. It's fun. It's simple. And the aftermath is a feeling of accomplishment like none other I have really known.

There have been a lot of ups and downs but no matter which way I swing it... here I am at the end of about 2 years of CrossFit and I am:

Capable of doing *almost* everything in CrossFit as rx'd: MAJOR WIN.

15lbs. lighter than I was... and still losing fat (I began at 155lbs. and when exercising regularly would dip to 148-149 sometimes when all I did was run a 1/2 hour to an hour a day). The other day I was 139lbs after breakfast. SO weird.

I wear anywhere from a size 2 to a size 8 in stores (you know how that goes with the make) - I used to barely squeeze into 8s and have to settle for 10s and up to 12s. I actually have LOTS of pants and skirts that I can no longer wear because they fall off me.

I eat bread (usually in the form of breakfast sandwiches), oatmeal, and bacon a couple times a week (don't tell Steve, HAHAHA) but tend to do fine laying off fruit and trying to eat a TON of lean protein and some vegetables a couple days a week. I rarely eat fruit and if I do it's usually one piece - I used to eat BAGS of fruit every day.

I used to hate that I was doomed to never have stick legs... now I feel pretty awesome about being able to run around in shorts without chub rub (YEP, I SAID IT!) and loving the heck out of my now-very-visibly defined glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Seriously folks, it's super weird when you start moving around enough and your calves get thinner.

*aside from anything heavier than repping 185lbs. during WODs and maybe "Isabel"... which is 30 95lb. Snatches for time... but I should do that soon... ha! Also the odd weighted pullup WOD or L-pullup WOD is sometimes doable just smokes me.

Here are three simple things I've been doing for all this time that I think have made the difference:

1. Chase performance, not aesthetics. I've said it before and I will say it again - if you can do 10 deadhang pullups, deadlift 2x bodyweight, and run a 7 minute mile... you are going to LOOK like someone who can do all those things. So just work toward being able to do them and I guarantee you - you'll get your form with your function.

2. Try new things. Whether that's new things in training or new diet things... if it's not working - fix it. I debated with whether or not I should just title #2 "try new things" or "eat your bodyweight in grams of protein and don't drink like a fish". You can decide.

3. Stick to the plan, flighty. I'm as non-committal as they come when it comes to day to day routines and meals - but sometimes... you've got to do what you know works STRICTLY, FOR A WHILE. LIKE A MONTH. That's right. A MONTH. Put your body through a bit of discipline and it'll thank you. Don't be a bad scientist and claim you kept the controls in your experiment sound when REALLY every trial was filled with exceptions.

Most of all, I'd really encourage you all to keep having fun no matter what... untapped potential is a sad thing - but so is feeling like a slave to any kind of training regimen. It's normal to go through phases in your training where you don't feel like doing what you've been doing. I'd use those times to back off and re-evaluate what you want to get out of your training. The possibilities are endless. Competing is fun - but so is being really good at just one thing (rowing, olympic lifting, or just pull-ups).

CrossFit is supposed to be a lifelong way of creating a balanced body and strong mind. I couldn't be more thankful for the life that CrossFit has afforded me - or the joy and confidence that it has allowed me to give other women. I'm not saying I'm done, satisfied, or perfect either. On the contrary, I can't imagine what's next... but I'm totally game. :)


  1. we should have an "old pants day" at CFCC, where everyone lifts in suspenders and hilariously oversized pants

    kudos on the weight loss, i hear it's tougher for women than men =)

    hope you're ready to help me kick my fiancee's ass in the fall

  2. Hans - you're my favorite. If anyone asks... you're it. :) Thanks for the comment - and you can be sure I will gently join you in the ass-kicking. Mwahahaha...

  3. and my admiration for you gets even greater. You are so capable of suming up everything i feel its kinda scary. I am trying very hard to make those changes... just hard to break old habbits.. and for the record your "before and after" is not bad, should be labeled "normal and kick ass"

  4. great post Erin, love point #1!

  5. good post Erin!! all the truth! love it! I'm inspired to write one along the same vein, if I ever had time to sit down!