On Halloween of 2011 I went to my first ever Crossfit class. I was 3 months post-partum and a week into a 30 day break from drinking due to the fact that I had shredded my stomach lining with wine and Motrin. A picture of health! I arrived at the “Beginner Level” class and was dismayed to find about 30 extremely fit “beginners” milling about waiting for class to start. By the time I overheard some bro with his shirt off tell his friend that this was his 8th day working out in a row, my stomach was in my feet. I didn’t belong here. The coaches sent us on a run, there was a combat crawl and some other impossible movements. I thought I might be dying. Then they said it was time to start the workout. Fuck.
I tried to pep-talk myself through (“Start where you are!”) and swallowed down the rising lump as I realized I was going to be the only person who didn’t finish the WOD (workout of the day). The coaches started calling out for everyone to announce their finish times. I realized my failure, my fatness was going to be called out in front of everyone. I ran before they could see.
My goal for my life was not to be an overweight, suburban mother with a drinking problem who leaves an exercise class crying, but there I was. I don’t want to be dramatic because it is just Crossfit, but this was a defining moment for me. I disappointed myself by allowing my fear and shame to send me running, but at the same time a fire was lit. I was a little bit angry… at myself, at the world in general. Anger isn’t an emotion I’m comfortable with. And maybe this is the cosmos aligning for me because if I hadn’t been on a medically necessary dry spell, you can bet your ass I would have drank over this. I’d stuff it down, shut it away and say a big, “Fuck you!” to Crossfit. But I couldn’t drink over it, so I stewed about it for a month and somewhere inside me I decided that someday I would come back and kick Crossfit’s ass.
If I hadn’t gotten sober, this would have just been tacked onto the end of my “Shit I’ll Never Do” list. I conceded my alcoholism about three months later and around 90 days sober the opportunity to have another go with Crossfit manifested in a God-shot sort of way. I’ll spare you the story cause it’s not that interesting and this post is getting long, but I decided to try again in a different environment. It was still physically very uncomfortable. I felt all of my insecurities were on display, but I applied the tools I learned in AA to Crossfit. I could feel that fire that had been lit 6 months prior, so I surrendered to it. I made the commitment to just show up, no matter what I was thinking or feeling. Exactly like I did when I started attending meetings. Just show up and do the work. I pushed past the voice that said I’m too fat, too slow, too weak, too tired, too sore and put one foot in front of the other.
I got into action, and I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop until I didn’t want to stop anymore. Just like dieting, I was never able to stick with exercise. Exercising was always the thing I should do because I’m fat and unhealthy, and that is the absolute least inspiring reason to do something. From that perspective, exercise is a punishment. I’ve done bootcamps, stroller workouts, spinning, yoga, Zumba. I’ve tried it all. I have an idea about why Crossfit works for me, but I think that deserves a post of it’s own. What is important is that my WOD’s are a reward not a punishment. Even when it feels like I’m pushing myself to the physical brink, it’s one of the only times in my day where I’m not thinking about my kids, what’s for dinner, what I should do with my life, etc. All I’m thinking about is how the fuck I’m going to lift this 110 lb barbell over my head. Then I do it and am in awe of myself. And all I had to do was keep coming back.