In the beginning, there was Fat Girl

Although CrossFit is quickly growing in popularity, many people still have lots of questions — and possible misconceptions — about the exercise program. To give those who are interested a better idea about what CrossFit is like and what a first-timer can expect, new Black Hills CrossFit member Hillary Dobbs will blog about her experiences on a regular basis. Feel free to contact her with any questions or comments at

Before I get too far in to my first experiences with CrossFit, I wanted to explain a little about why I decided to try this particular exercise program. This post might be a little longer than future posts, but I promise to try to keep it as painless as possible. And I promise to be much briefer in upcoming blog updates.

In the beginning
About six or seven years ago, I had what could only be described in the immortal words of “Tommy Boy” as “a little bit of a weight problem.” In college, while most students put on the Freshmen 15, I decided to go for the Four-Year 50 — as in I gained at least 50 pounds from the time I was a freshman to the time I graduated. This extra weight was in addition to the 30 to 40 pounds of excess baggage I’d brought with me to college. So, by the time I was entering my 24th year of life, I weighed in at more than 240 pounds. Or, to be more precise, I was the walking definition of morbidly obese.

For the record, I don’t really enjoy talking about this part of my life. But the reason I wanted to do this blog was to provide encouragement and support for people who struggle with their weight. With the ever-growing percentage of the population who are overweight or obese, there are probably others out there who aren’t so different than me. So, if I can help someone else, then that will make admitting “holy cow, I was fat” worth the embarrassment.

Fat girl
As you can probably imagine, I was not happy with my size. What’s more, I had no idea how to lose weight or how to exercise or how to eat right. But I did know that I needed to do something different. Oddly enough, I didn’t want to lose weight to look a certain way or even to be healthier; I wanted to lose weight so that I could be comfortable in my own skin. For those of you who’ve never struggled with weight, being fat is an all-day, all-the-time thing. Wake up in the morning, you’re fat. Drive to work, still fat. Sleep at night, yep, still fat. And though it sounds strange, for me, that was the worst part.

Step one
So, I made some changes. I stopped eating refined flours and sugars, similar to the South Beach Diet. I started walking for an hour a day, four days a week. I’d like to say I never cheated on the diet or that I stuck to my workout routine religiously, but that would be a lie. Even so, after two years, I’d lost 60 pounds.

Step two
I’d also reached a point where my diet wasn’t really practical any more. So, I made another change. I attended exactly one Weight Watchers meeting, realized that particular setting wasn’t for me, bought all the required materials, and then never went back.

However, I did stick to the Weight Watchers regimen, added resistance bands and eventually a gym membership to my routine, and lost another 40 pounds in a little more than a year. So, in about three and a half years, I lost about 100 pounds. And for the past three years or so, I’ve managed to keep most of it off, save for the odd five or 10 pounds that tend to show up right around the holidays.

And now
So why did I decide to join CrossFit? Several reasons. I’ve been going to the gym now for about two and a half years, and I’m burnt out on my routine.

Also, this whole CrossFit thing came about because my colleague, Dan, started going to CrossFit about four months ago, and honestly, he would not shut up about how great it was. Seriously, it was kind of annoying. I took to calling him Evangelist Dan because of his religious fervor about the program.

When he first started describing the program, my immediate reaction was, “I would hate that.” It sounded hard and intense, and I don’t like either of those two things. But as I said, Dan talked about CrossFit all the time. Eventually, I started doing my own research about the program, weighing the pros — all-around workout in a short amount of time — and the cons — the intensity level. For some, an intense workout is a good thing; for me, not so much. I really like being able to breathe at a relatively normal rate, so that whole blood-pumping, gasping-for-breath thing doesn’t really appeal to me.

But there was one other reason I wanted to at least try CrossFit. I have an insatiable curiosity about my own capabilities. It doesn’t matter if it’s a video game or rock climbing; I want to know whether or not I can succeed at something that I try. When I mention this personality quirk, people assume it means I like to try new things. In reality, I hate trying new things. But at the same time, I can’t stop myself because I have to know what I can and can’t do.

So, toward the beginning of January, I started going to CrossFit. If you’ve stuck with me this far, hang on for a bit longer, and I’ll actually try to give you some useful information that I hope will pique your interest about the program.