When CrossFit came into my life in late 2012, I was certainly not looking for it. I was depressed, grossly overweight, never slept well or ate right, and had been sedentary for years. Working out was not something that was on my mind at all.
I worked in a high-pressure sales job at the time, and that particular day my client had added one dangling, horrifying stipulation to our deal: I had to come for a workout in his CrossFit gym. I was terrified. Nothing had ever worked for me, having tried every diet and exercise video ever created, I had always failed. I needed the sale though, so reluctantly, and thankfully, I agreed.
Scared, shaking, and incredibly nauseous exactly three days later, I stood before my coach for that Friday’s 6 am class. “One hour,” I told myself. “I can do anything for one hour.” I survived, and to my surprise, I just kept going back, day after day. A year and a half later, I have lost so much in my life because of CrossFit, but those losses are actually all wins.
1. Lessons in Love
My first loss in CrossFit was highly emotional and unexpected. I hated my body most of my life, as many women do. I weighed 275 pounds, was unable to do one sit up, push up, or even run a quarter of a mile. However, doing the workouts with others you begin to bond. The cheering is always loudest for the person who is last, and through this support, I found the courage to keep going. I just did what my body would let me do, until day by day it would let me do more. I have learned to love my body for what it can do, how it responds to discipline, and how it is slowly changing. I have lost the hatred I had for how I looked.
2. The Fire Within
I used to agonize over working out and made up excuses not to go to the gym. I never knew what to do, or for how long, and always felt like such an amateur. CrossFit workouts are programmed by a coach, there is no thinking, wondering, or worrying. I just show up and do the WOD (workout of the day). I find myself so full of emotion when I do something exciting like deadlift 235 pounds or complete 30 pull-ups in a workout. Gone is the sense of dread I used to have, now pushing through the pain makes me feel alive. Being able to compare my old scores or times to new ones gives me a personal reward, and breaking personal records keeps me coming back for more.
3. Beauty in Its Most Evolved Form
Teamwork and the strong bonds it creates, the community, and the unwavering support are some of the most beautiful aspects of this sport. I fall in love with it and its people daily. I love it even more when everyone gathers around, cheering on the very people they are competing with, losing their voices from yelling encouragements to help those struggling to get that last rep before the clock runs out. I have lost my bias that beauty is purely visual.
4. Strong Body, Strong Mind
CrossFit is an experience that has developed skills I never thought I would possess. Passion, dedication, and persistency is included in the new definition of fitness. Learning movements like 20-foot rope climbs, handstand pushups, and Olympic lifting has given me a sense of self-worth I never had before. I have noticed that confidence from CrossFit also spills over into all aspects of my life. I am a better wife, business owner, friend, and leader because of it. More losses, as I have happily lost the terrible burden of constantly doubting myself.
5. Sorry, This Is a No Panic Zone
In CrossFit, we constantly train our bodies at high levels of intensity and demand multiple movements in our workouts. I really believe this is why it has worked for me, and probably why it could work for just about anyone. I now weigh 157 pounds, and feel that nothing is impossible. For me, and many like me, it has given me back my life. My health is no longer a question and not something that I stress over.
In all, CrossFit has taught me how to persist, given me strength I never imagined, developed my self-confidence, and shown me a kinder and gentler side of humanity; but most of all, it has taught me how to better love myself. People frequently ask me what I am doing, and I always encourage them to check out a CrossFit gym. CrossFit is for everyone. Remember, you cannot experience or witness it without it changing you. If you have been thinking about checking it out, go. After all, you might have a whole lot to lose. CrossFit can help you get there.
More From Carla Prada Akers:
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