• Crunching Numbers: The CrossFit Conversion

    October 5, 2012

    Hello, hello! I’m Meghan and I hail from my own little blog, TheMeghaMix, where I post recaps of my workouts and reviews of my latest fitness forays.  I also include the requisite photos of my eats, and elaborate tales of the things I do for fun (road trip!).

    From kempo karate to hot yoga to half marathons, I like to try all kinds of workouts and then evaluate the hype based on my personal experience. About 11 months ago, I took what I thought was a one-time visit to a local CrossFit box…but then I got hooked.

    I’ve noticed a lot of other Carrots ‘N’ Cake readers have had questions about CrossFit, so I thought it might be fitting to share one of the key aspects of the sport that converted me:

    Goal-setting.

    Like a lot of bloggers, I tend to set (sometimes unrealistic) goals, and then become elated when I achieve them and crushed when I don’t. When I was training for races, I found only two ways to measure progress: distance (which can take over your weekend) and speed (I’m naturally incredibly slow – poop). In hot yoga, I could either try to nail a certain pose or try not to compare myself to the gal next to me who did nail the pose while I almost fell on my face. Even with my regular strength training at the gym, the only measurable that I cared about was my body fat percentage…which didn’t always go down as quickly as I wanted it to. (Sensing a little impatience and type A? Same here.)

    With CrossFit, things were different. There was so much variety in all the workouts that I had a ton of mini goals I could set any day I went in for a WOD, and if I wasn’t progressing in one area (like double-unders), I could see progress in another area (like moving to the next band on my pullups).

    Here are some of the types of movements involved in typical CrossFit workouts:

    • Body-weight exercises – after two full years of work, I slowly but surely moved through four different band levels (they’re like big rubber bands that make pullups easier) until I could do one unassisted pullup, and now I’m doing multiple unassisted pullups in the actual workouts. My next body weight goal? To crush full-range-of-motion handstand pushups.

    Pushups – always a great body-weight exercise!

    • Gymnastic skills – It took almost eleven months, but last week I final did a WOD with double unders. Next on my list? To nail rope climbs like I did as a kid.
    • Cardio – Burpees came to me really easily (I was the only one at our box who was excited for the 7 minutes of burpees workout). Now I’m working to improve my form and speed on running and rowing.
    • Weight (Olympic) lifting – I currently designate at least one day a week to work on strength. I squat-cleaned 100 pounds recently, and now I’m trying to up my deadlift one-rep-max to 180 pounds. You always have a one-rep-max for each lift, no matter how light you start, and with good nutrition, form, and persistence, you can improve it!

    • Benchmark workouts – By this time, you’ve probably heard of “The Girls.” These are CrossFit benchmark workouts designed to kick your butt.  They also allow you to measure your fitness against the elite and your biggest competition – you.  Some times they are heavy (think 30 repetitions of a complicated lift at 95 pounds – 135 pounds if you’re a dude) or meant to test speed (think jumping rope combined with situps). Since CrossFitters do a different workout practically every day, it’s hard to measure progress by comparing your time for a 400 meter run with the time it took you to do 20 pushups.  But if you do a benchmark WOD (rumor has it they’re named after hurricanes or ex-girlfriends), you can call your CrossFit buddy in Baltimore and say, "Hey, I had a time of 12:42 for Helen!"  And they can say, "Sweet!  I did Helen last week and finally got her done in under 10:00!"  When I started CrossFit, I couldn’t do a single girl unless I scaled the weight and the movement significantly. I RX’ed my first Girl (“Jackie”) after 9 months of CrossFit and have been able to do more of “The Girls” since. My goal this month is to RX “Grace” for my birthday.

    Pullups without a band for "Jackie"

    I love CrossFit because almost every class marks a tiny victory for me in some way. In the short term, it keeps me motivated to come back for the next workout, and in the long term, it’s pretty empowering to have goals besides a number on the scale or the body fat tester. My mindset has shifted a little so that I focus less on comparing myself to others and more on improving my own capabilities. I never regret a WOD and I’m always excited to see the stronger, fitter me that I know I’ll find tomorrow.

    So…whether you run, lift, yoga, or Zumba (those are all verbs, right?), make sure you set a variety of goals so you don’t get discouraged focusing on only a few things. Remind yourself of the improvements you have made, and remember that smart consistency does pay off.

    And if you still get frustrated…well, there’s always CrossFit.

    What goals do you set for yourself? How do you stay motivated and fight discouragement when you don’t progress the way you planned?

    A huge thank you to Tina for “having me over” to guest post! Enjoy your trip to Seattle!

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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Lauren October 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks for the info on crossfit! I’ve never tried it, but would be interested! I’ll have to find a place that offers it and give it a try.

    Reply

    Sabrina October 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I set very lofty goals and last weekend was D-day for one of them. A 10 mile race. I ended up disappointed and devastated, but as each day passes I find a new lesson I can take away from that race.

    Before this year is over I will try a WOD.

    Reply

    Cara @ I Don't Believe in Diets October 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    For some reason I thought the girl WOD’s were the easier ones. I guess I need to try the boy ones. (I do these workouts on my own and have never attended an actual crossfit class).

    Reply

    Karen October 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Great post ! thanks for sharing !

    Reply

    Karen @ Runner Girl Eats October 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Great review! I have never tried crossfit but have been interested in it. I think I may have to look into finding some classes near me.

    Reply

    Jessica@SweatismySanity October 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I’ve never tried it either but my good friend swears by it. I saw one by my house the other day so I’ll probably check it out soon. Just trying to focus on my half marathon training. The only goals I’ve set for myself when it comes to fitness is w/ running, speed and distance. I love goal setting though so I really should try crossfit. I love mixing things up.

    Reply

    Cher @ Weddicted October 5, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    In term of fitness, if I don’t see progress when I expected it, I stay motivated because I know that no matter what, working out is keeping me healthy and in shape on inside (strong heart, lungs, etc). It will all be worth it later in life!

    Reply

    Carli October 6, 2012 at 2:20 am

    I Loved how you described CrossFit. I’ve yet to try.

    I can’t find a way to follow your blog. My preference is email but I can’t find any buttons.

    Reply

    Meghan@themeghamix October 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    @Carli: Hi, Carli! Thanks for your interest…sorry it was a little confusing. I am in the middle of a facelift for the blog. The follow button is more obvious now. Shoot me a DM on Twitter if you still have trouble. @meghamixer

    Reply

    Shannon b. October 7, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Thanks so much for featuring a link to her blog. Found out she works in the same city I live. It was great reading her reviews on different crossfit and yoga gyms. I’ll have to check out the Mercer Island Crossfit. :)

    Reply

    Kelly@BalancedDaily October 8, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Nice guest post. I just started CrossFit 2 weeks ago, so I’m still figuring everything out and how it works but I love how it’s really a competition with yourself. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging that you never feel like you are being compared to anyone else. Its truly an innovative “sport” and the atmosphere is unlike any other environment. Its awesome!

    Reply

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