Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Recapping Two Years of Crossfit (or How I Came to Adore Calluses)

In a few days, I will celebrate my second full year of Crossfit.  It has been a great two years but I look forward to the next two even more.  I'm usually pretty sarcastic and tongue in cheek in these posts, but I want to be serious for a few minutes.

This year held a lot of ups and downs for me.  I'll admit, they were mostly ups.  New daughter, great job change, continuing a path to health, watching my teenagers mature, loving my wife more each day.  The downs were related somewhat to my health.  I gained back about 7 - 10 pounds (half muscle, half fat), I got slower in my runs, my lower back and knees started bothering me more and more.  The flip side is that I still set PRs in almost every repeated WOD except the pure running ones.  I guess I traded strength and size for speed and svelte.

I watched a lot of good friends leave the box for various reasons.  I made new friends as it continued to grow.

OK, yawn, I know... it get's boring reading a chronicle of someone else's year... so here come the insights I gleaned.

Top 10 Insights from 2 Years of Crossfit
10.  Crossfit is so diverse, so intense, so technical, it will keep you engaged, involved, and excited for a very long time.  I'm on year 2 and currently resting for a cycle.  I am so damn ready to get back in the gym, it's hard to keep my commitment to rest.
9.  For me, diet is way harder than completing the WODs.  It requires willpower every minute of every day and sometimes I simply don't have it.  Despite having felt the benefits, I still struggle to maintain it.
8.  It may be all about diet, but life needs to be worth living.  True.  That is why I've adopted the 85% rule.  I target to have 85% of my diet be "perfect" so I can eat 15% of whatever I want.  I've tried it two different ways, (a) cheating 15% everyday and (b) saving it all up for 1 day.  I've found it makes no difference weight/performance wise.  But I personally like (a).
7.  There are many paths to the same result.  I don't have much to say on this, but it's true :D.
6.  Crossfit isn't perfect.  No program is.  There have been many "breaks" from the community by experienced, highly visible Crossfitter trainers.  There are valid points to their criticisms of the Crossfit regimen.  However, I contend that on the whole, CF is accessible to "everyday people" and shakes "everyday people" out of their comfort zone... therefore, it is highly effective.  Many of the professional trainers, Oly lifters, and Navy SEAL BUD/S trainers can find faults, but for the everyday Joe, it's "good enough" to make us look and feel great.  It also inspires many, many people by flipping some hidden switch in some of us.  No other workout regime has ever done that.... so Crossfit ain't perfect, but nothing is.
5.  The spotlight can be good, it can be bad.  I'm still not sure how I like the Reebok agreement. I'll admit some of the allure of Crossfit is it is not a mainstream program.  I like feeling like a badass to other "mortal" exercisers.  I'm not a narcissist, but in this one area I feel cocky.  When Reebok introduces Crossfit "lite", which they must at some point to recoup their investment... I'm going to be pissed when Joe Smo from the local gym tells me he's doing Xfit when all he's doing is a couple of box jumps and pretending to toss a wall ball.
4.  While discipline can be public, motivation is highly personal,  Have you ever watched the Biggest Loser? I didn't for a long time because I assumed it was basically exploiting overweight people.  Boy was I wrong.  As a former fat ass, it is one of the most inspiring things to watch people transform themselves.  After seeing plenty of people in the gym and watching the show, I can say that motivation comes in all shapes and sizes, but it always personal and specific.
3. There is always room for improvement.  I am still working to improve my clean after 2 years and it is BY FAR, my best move.  I have continued to improve with methodical coaching and corrections to form.
2.  Crossfit people are the best.  I have met so many great people from such diverse backgrounds.  In the course of a 15 minute warm-up, I will talk to: a nurse, a financial planner, a logistics manager, a student, a marketer, a highway patrol officer, a corporate manager, a corporate executive, a stay at home mom, a sales person, a drug rep, a teacher, a solider, and numerous firefighters.  How cool is that?

and the # 1 thing I've learned:
1. Maintaining a healthy weight is mostly due to good eating habits, while maintaining a healthy fitness level is mostly due to good exercise habits.  They are certainly interdependent, but not as much as people want to believe.  Think about it for a minute, have you or anyone you know ever lost a significant amount of weight by simply adding an exercise routine to their lifestyle?  I'd guess "none".  How many people that lost a lot of weight do so by changing their diet?  I'd guess "all of them".  On the flip-side, eating raw veggies, lean meat and good fat ain't gonna make your mile faster if you don't go out and run on a regular basis.  You have to choose both to have a balanced, healthy life...

OK, now for the fun:

The Top 5 Things I Haven't Learned in 2 Years
5. How to keep someone stealing my damn box during the WOD.  I need it to get myself hooked onto the pull-up bar!
4. How to not get a "front wedgie" when using the pull-up bands.
3. That keeping up with a 20 year old on the first 800m run is STUPID.
2. To enjoy "All the Single Ladies" as a motivating workout song.  Bleech.

and the number one thing I still haven't learned...
1. WODs that look easy... aren't, WODs that look hard... usually suck worse than you can imagine.

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