If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you – no doubt – have seen my CrossFit photos lately. I want to take this opportunity to sincerely, genuinely apologize for inundating you with photos of me doing stuff that probably irritates, annoys, confuses or befuddles most of you (which I’m also about to do in this post).
Please understand, when you’ve been sitting on your arse for a year recovering from an autoimmune flair and adrenal fatigue and then get in the gym and deadlift 193lbs, you want to shout it from the rooftop and tell everyone you know. Especially after being morbidly obese for most of your life.
And who better to share it with than you – our dear readers – since we’re besties and all.
For the 5% of you that are interested in all this CrossFit jazz, I want to answer the most common questions I’ve gotten so far. I appear to have become the Average Woman & Mother Mascot of the paleo-sphere (which I adore, thank you) and thus all the women who thought CrossFit wasn’t for them are now thinking “Wow, maybe I can do this too!” (which is awesome, by the way)
How do I know I’m ready to start CrossFit and where do I even start?
I have absolutely no idea how to tell you that you’re ready for CrossFit. I’m neither a doctor, a trainer, a nutritionist or any variation thereof. That said, I waited several months from when I was invited to start CrossFit to when I felt I was ready. When my autoimmune condition was flaring up, when my sleep was diregulated and my adrenals needed supplements from the fatigue I brought about after the stress of finishing our first book, it was NOT the time to tax my body with more (physical) stress. As you recall, I sincerely focused on healing my body through the autoimmune protocol and I actively de-stressed my life, sleeping more and committing to less. Eventually, I realized my body rhythms were normal, my energy was increased and my food intolerances on the autoimmune protocol were less drastic. That’s how I knew my body was ready. [if you're having autoimmune issues, might I recommend my buddy Dr. Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom's upcoming book on how to heal your autoimmune conditions, The Paleo Aproach]
What I CAN tell you is that if it’s something you’re thinking about, you should research your local CrossFit boxes (you’ll learn that CrossFit is it’s own language) and find one that has good reviews. Make an appointment and then go talk to the coaches. Get a sense for their interest in your sleeping habits, your eating habits, your physical history. If they have no interest, find another gym that does.
I personally had the opportunity to join several CrossFit boxes in the area. I’m friends with several owners, actually. But I wanted to make sure that I joined the right gym that would be supportive of my individual needs. I found a woman-owned and woman-coached gym that talked to me extensively about the collar bone I broke in November as well as my eating habits. They understand I used to be obese, am metabolically broken and had been lacking any physical activity after recovering from stress and physical exhaustion last year. I also LOVE that NOVA Strong is a strength & conditioning focused gym that coaches men and women in Olympic Lifting as well as CrossFit – something I deeply admire after listening to Robb Wolf & Greg Everett for infinity.
I think the most important thing, for those of us are aren’t elite athletes, is that you find coaches who will on-ramp you slowly. You want more than 1 day to learn the proper forms of the long list of movements you’ll be performing. If you don’t take your time to learn to squat right then nearly everything you do in CrossFit will have your weight loaded incorrectly and you will likely injure yourself, not to mention your performance will suffer. I love that my coaches made me do a zillion squats before adding weight to it so that I’d have proper form when I actually did!
How fit do I need to be before I start?
Dude, I showed up at NOVA with a not-yet-completely-healed fractured collar bone, a ginormous fear of passing out after an incident brought about by my own idiocracy a few weeks earlier and a complete lack of movement for over half of 2012. I was also bloated and carrying extra weight from some holiday indulgences. If I can start, so can you!
How do I prepare?
I learned the hard way that you must come slightly prepared for CrossFit. Here are some recommendations I suggest you follow before your first day – lack of preparation WILL elongate recovery. Trust me on this one.
- Mentally, relax. Clear your head. Leave the world behind. What happens at CrossFit stays there. Your sweat (and maybe even blood) build the foundation of your relationship with the coaches and friends you’ll make. Do not allow yourself to be distracted – focus on you, your strength and the perseverance and accomplishment you will have after completing each session.
- Get yourself some good shoes. After a data collection through Facebook, the most recommended shoes are Reebok Oly’s (a hybrid shoe for CrossFit and lifting), Reebok Nano 2.0, New Balance Minimus Trail (WT20), Inov-8 195 and Inov-8 260. I’m using my Vibram 5 Fingers until No Spend Month is over, then I’ll get Oly’s to hopefully help my squat and lifting performance!
Bonus to not wearing toe shoes: wearing my Paleo knee-highs from NomNomPaleo, WellFed and BalancedBites! I need to get some from CivilizedCaveman too…
- Invest in a container of the best cheap stuff on earth, Epsom Salt. I had NO idea how awesome epsom salt soak baths were until I started taking them. As someone with a history of sugar over-consumption and insulin resistance, magnesium deficiencies are common. So by taking a relaxing soak I’m helping my muscles heal and my magnesium levels!
- Invest in good workout clothes. You can’t wear baggy pants or sports bras that don’t actually support you. Between the jumping, climbing and crawling on the floor, skin-hugging and supportive clothes are a must! I’ve been layering on the Athleta and this fantastic Panache Wired Sports Bra and the results have made my workouts much more comfortable. Fellow busty friend Vanessa from Healthy Living How To told me the Ta Ta Tamer from Luluemon is also awesome (although my fat girl experience is that Luluemon clothes have not been found to fit or be flattering, but Athleta is dreamy).
- Last but NOT least, properly nourish your body before and after a workout! My first couple sessions I was too afraid to eat carbohydrates afterwords and my recovery was AWFUL. A different session I didn’t eat a good lunch or snack before a 5:30PM session and I barely lasted through the WOD. I talked to my coaches and learned about the metabolic differences before and after a workout. I’ve learned that I must eat a protein, fat and significant carbohydrate post-workout and ensure good nutrition before hand! Here’s an article I found to get you started – I plan to have another post eventually with more information on the topic and some of our recipes for balanced PWO snacks. Also, now’s not the time to stop taking your FCLO.
Have you changed your diet?
Yes, on the days I work out I eat more carbohydrates. I go from about 75g/day to about 100g/day and I focus most of the carb consumption pre- and post-work out. This is easy since I work out in the evenings 2 out of the 3 days a week, and I simply add extra carbs to dinner – which are the ideal time to eat them anyway.
As a working mother of 3, how do you find the time?
I make time. I work out Monday and Wednesday at 5:30pm. That means I leave work a little early, but not so much that it’s a big deal. It means I arrive home a little late for dinner, but not so much that it’s a big deal. Then on Saturday mornings I work out. The boys are all a bunch of lazy bones on weekend mornings anyway, so they hardly realize I’ve gone. I also invite the older two when I go, since they like to climb ropes and practice muscle-ups.
Matt also has started CrossFit and he goes the two days a week both boys are in their co-op preschool as well as Sunday mornings, when again, the boys don’t even realize he’s gone because they’re busy being lazy.
This routine has afforded us much of our normal life… if we can do it while writing a 2nd cookbook, producing a podcast, running this blog, keeping 3 kids alive and managing my full-time job – you can do it too!
I’m scared, tell me what it’s really like!
I wouldn’t be taking and obnoxiously posting all these pictures everywhere on the internet if I wasn’t genuinely, sincerely loving going! I don’t know that I’d be that excited if it weren’t for my awesome trainers, so make sure you find people you want to get sweaty with ♥
I’m especially impressed with the arrival of my collar bone and developing muscles!
(check out my B&A pictures of a developing booty after just a couple weeks)
[edited to add, this funny article was pointed out to me and covers a few things I didn't since it wasn't really my angle - but it is great info!]