CROSSFIT TOTAL CHALLENGE

March 11th and 12th we will be starting the Crossfit Total challenge.  The competition will consist of three lifts, max deadlift, squat, and press.  All three lifts will be done in the same workout.  We will then work on these lifts over the next 8 weeks.  This competition will have a buy in of $15.00 per person.  Prizes will be awarded to the top women and men.  The rest of the money that is raised will go towards buying new equipment.  You do not have to pay to be in the competition, but will not be eligible for prize money. 

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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 hillyru@hotmail.com.

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.

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Mon. Feb, 22 2010

For Time. “blind Melon”
50 Wall Balls
50 Burpees
40 Wall balls
40 Burpees
30 Wall balls
30 Burpees
20 Wall Balls
20 Burpees
10 Wall balls
10 Brupees
40 Burpees

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Of Botox, CrossFit … and Fear — Part II

When I was in high school, the T-shirts of choice were those from the “No Fear” line. You might remember these shirts (or still own two or three. Don’t worry; I’ll hardly judge you at all if so). The shirts were all a variation on the theme of “game’s on the line, and the odds are against you, but don’t worry about it.”

I never really liked the shirts. The cocky vibe wasn’t very clever, and if there’s anything I hate, it’s arrogance without at least a little funny. … Well, I also hate John Mayer, the color pink and snakes, but I digress.

Now what bothers me about the shirts is the unrealistic expectations that the messaging conveyed — that bravery can only exist in the absence of fear. Sure, you can find yourself in a situation where your adrenaline level is so high that you can’t feel anything, but that’s not always the case. And just because you’re scared — terrified even — doesn’t mean you can’t do something and do it well.

Fear probably keeps a lot of people from trying CrossFit. They might be afraid of looking stupid or of being too out of shape or of blisters or of just failing all together. For the most part, those are rational fears, because they could happen.

All of this goes back to my point I was meandering toward in Part I. If you want to be a certain way, act a certain way. If you don’t want to be afraid, act like your not. If fake fearlessness doesn’t work, meh. Do it anyway.

Full disclosure: I am pretty much a coward. Most days, fear overcomes me far more than I overcome it. So, it’s not really surprising that when I first heard about CrossFit, the very idea of it scared the bejesus out of me. The only reason I tried it was because I was more afraid that I was missing out on something. If I had given in to the lesser fear, I’d have lost out on something that completely changed what I knew about working out. And, to a greater extent, what I knew about myself.

You might look stupid — to yourself, at least — when you start CrossFit. Start anyway. You might not be able to complete an entire work out the first or third or ninth time you try. Try it anyway. You might be a blister from pull ups. Bandage technology is pretty amazing these days. And you might hate CrossFit all together and quit. But what if the opposite is true?

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Of Botox and CrossFit — Part I

I recently read an interesting article about research suggesting that people who had received Botox injections had a harder time being able to process angry and sad statements. According to the article “The study results support the ‘facial feedback hypothesis,’ which states that physical expressions, such as grinning or grimacing, signal our brains to produce an emotional responses. In this case, the Botox injections prevented frowning, and so delayed the perception of negative statements.”

In other grossly over-simplified words, they couldn’t get mad or sad because they couldn’t scowl or frown.

Although I don’t recommend injecting your face with botulism as a form of anger management, the article did get me thinking about CrossFit and my “Fake It ’Til You Make It” philosophy.

 Of course, this is not my own original idea. Like any good philosopher, I stole it from someone else. And like any good philosopher, I’ve conveniently forgotten who that person was. The basic idea is that if you want to be a certain kind of person, then act like the kind of person you want to be.

This the singular most frustrating piece of advice I’ve ever received (or stolen.) It’s frustrating because it almost always works. But despite that fact, I almost never do it. For example, if I wake up tired and cranky but don’t want to be tired and cranky, the simplest thing for me to do would be to act like I’m wide awake and chipper. Unfortunately, I’m usually too tired and cranky to do that. So, instead, I slog through the day, miserable.

What does any of this have to do with CrossFit?

I am not, by nature, an exerciser. I fall more of the “stay-inside-reading-a-book-napping-a-lot-and-then-watch-some-TV” kind of person. But for some reason, I always wanted to be an exerciser. More than that, I wanted to like exercise and be good at it and be in really, really good shape.

It has taken me more than a quarter of my life, but I’m slowly — ever so slowly — moving toward becoming that kind of person. And for the most part, I’ve had to fake it. There are very few moments in my life where I’ve ever thought, “Gee, I’d like to work out right now. And work out really hard. And sweat a whole bunch.” But every sweaty exercising session pushes me ever so slightly toward being someone I’ve always wanted to be. I realize that sounds kinda lame and simplistic, but it is the truth.

 So, tune in next time when I throw in a new wrinkle: fear. And don’t forget to turn that frown upside down. Or whatever annoying, hackneyed phrase brings a smile to your face.

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And then there were three

Back in the day when I sold books door-to-door for kicks and giggles and college beer money, they told us at sales school that it takes three weeks to form a habit. They meant 21 days. And although I haven’t gone to CrossFit 21 times in the past month, as of today, I have been going regularly for three weeks or a total of nine times. So, for my purpose, what I’ve got here is a habit.

Still, nine times obviously does not make me an expert in the world of CrossFit. But it does bring to mind a few tips I wanted to share for other newbies who decide to give this whole fitness thing a whirl. Here are my top three:

  1. Pace yourself. I’ve done this for three weeks now, and I’m still slow. I don’t like that I’m slow. It’s frustrating. I want to be instantly in shape because I’m an American, and it’s my unalienable right to have everything right now. But even worse than being slow would be passing out in front of everyone if I tried to keep up with the rock stars who have been at this for months. Maybe someday I too will achieve rock-star status. For now, I’ll stick to the pace that revs up my heart rate but doesn’t make me puke. You’re probably faster than I am, but no matter where you’re at physically, make sure your pace is right for you.
  2. Know why you’re here. On days I do CrossFit, I wake up with a mixture of excitement and dread, and those two emotions usually duke it out for most of the day until it’s time for me to partake in the W.O.D. During the times when dread has won a few rounds, I have to remind myself why I’m subjecting my body to this. It’s true that I like to test my limits and know just what I’m capable of, I also have very specific goals that I want to achieve each day and week and month and for the rest of the year. So when I start having arguments with myself about why I shouldn’t go work out, I start listing off what I want out of this whole experience and why. And mostly, it’s effective.
  3. Lie to yourself. Sometime last week, the W.O.D involved three or so rounds of 100 jump ropes each round. Jumping rope as a kid was fun. This was not. By the time I got to the final round, the only way I could finish was to promise myself I’d never have to jump rope as long as I lived. My brain knew this wasn’t really true, and my body knew it wasn’t really true, but at that point, I was just telling it what it wanted to hear. I got done with the workout and about five minutes later, forgot how much it’d sucked. Mostly.

Here’s to the next three weeks. … Well, here’s to W.O.D. No. 10. Pacing myself. …

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Fat girl tries CrossFit — The first week Day two

Fat girl tries CrossFit — The first week

Day two

And then there was day two. Day two took feeling stupid to a whole new low.

The W.O.D. for my second time around was four rounds of running a fourth mile, 10 pull ups, 15 push press and 20 burpees. As I started the first round, I made the rookie mistake of getting caught up in the pace of everyone around me rather than going at my own speed. By the time I was just starting the running portion of the first round, I was completely out of air. One moment, breathing, next moment, not breathing. I started to wheeze like an asthmatic with black lung.

One of the instructors, Keith, made me sit down and kept asking if I was OK and if this had ever happened before. I said — in between gasps and wiping away the tears streaming down my face — that it had not. He told me that in all likelihood, I’d hit my max heart rate. Or something like that. I wasn’t really listening, as I was distracted with trying to will myself into evaporating on the spot as the others jogged by. Stupidity mixed with an equal part total embarrassment. Awesome combo.

But I didn’t quit. My breathing and heart rate quieted, I slowed my pace to something I could handle and gutted out the next 20 minutes or so. I didn’t finish the workout; Keith made me stop at the half hour mark. Yes, I still felt super stupid and embarrassed, despite all the encouraging words from Keith and the other members. But I’d learn an invaluable lesson about pacing.

And I knew I was coming back until I got it right.

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Fat girl tries CrossFit — The first week

Fat girl tries CrossFit — The first week

Day one

Like most decisions in my life, I didn’t rush to try CrossFit. I am nothing if not a slow decision maker. I had to do as much research as possible. I had to think about what it would be like. I had to pester my co-worker, Dan, about what I could expect, what kind of workouts we’d do, how many other people would be there, what were the odds I’d pass out and die, etc. As you may have guessed, I’m not a fan of surprises.

So, by the time I started on Jan. 11, I had what I figured to be a fairly good grasp on what I was about to experience. I knew that 1) I was going to be breathing heavily, 2) I was going to be sweaty, 3) it was going to suck, and 4) I was going to mostly hate it.

Turns out, I was mostly right. The Workout Of The Day (from here on out to be referred to as “W.O.D.”) was five rounds of 25 situps, 20 lunges, 15 wallballs to the 10-foot mark and 10 pull ups (I’ll address all this fun new terminology in a later post). Since I was new, I did only three rounds. That was plenty.

I can’t say that I totally hated it though. It was tough and not a lot of fun, and I was breathing far heavier than I would prefer, but more than anything, I just felt what I feel whenever I start something new: stupid. It had nothing to do with the people or the instructors, all of whom are some of the nicest, most encouraging people I’ve possibly ever met. Stupid is just my default emotion whenever I’m learning something new.

But shortly after that first workout, the stupid faded and was replaced with giddy. I’d actually tried it. I hadn’t died. And I was kind of, sort of, oddly looking forward to the next go-round.

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Monday Jan 25, 2010, W.O.D

For Time:

30 Squats
20 Box Jumps
10 Pullups
5 117 ‘ Sprints

4 Rounds
1200
Kelie 1516
Hillery2031
Dan 1604
1300
Trojan1444
Val 2254
1300
Mindy1716
Scott 1244
Jami 1346
Marquis 1644
Chad 1549
Jackie 1601
1700
Betty 1006
Yanni 1134
Matt 1113
Kai 1344
“Cari”
Amanda 11:11

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