While facing some health issues earlier this year, I decided to take better control of my health. Genetics are something I cannot control but I realized there were a lot of things that I can control that would help my quality of life. Since distance running is no longer a real option for me, I was looking for something that I could feel a similar passion toward. I am not really sure how Cross Fit appeared on my radar, but it did. I watched videos and researched Cross Fit gyms in my area. I finally found one that struck a chord with me; the atmosphere intense but balanced with a sense of acceptance for newbie’s like me. Cross Fit requires a significant financial and time commitment. For whatever reason, it felt like the right thing to do. I had to put my money where my mouth is and that is where my journey began.
Cross Fit is very difficult, painful and at times masochistic. My first session left me deflated and full of self-doubt. I could barely grasp the basics and my brain hurt trying to register all the components. I felt awkward and uncoordinated. What happened to the athlete in me? What happened to the girl that could blast through an icy downhill course with no fear? Didn’t I used to haul ass doing 30+ mph on my bike during road races? What about all those years running 25-50 miles per week? I felt like a whale in ballet slippers that first day…Try getting that vision out of your mind now!
I am not a quitter — I showed back up and faced the pain. I grunted, huffed, puffed and suffered. I hurt in places I did not even know existed. On day three, I could barely get in and out of my car without wincing from the pain. The lactic acid was pouring from every muscle in my body. I was in the Hurt Locker. When I showed up at my session I had tears in my eyes and I was honestly ready to admit defeat but my trainer recognized the pain. He had seen it before and he knew what had to be done. For the next hour we focused on using a foam roller to stretch out the major muscles. It was hard but I started feeling better. I realized that I could do this. I just needed to stay focused on that fact.
I diligently log my workouts and my food intake. I have to remind myself to stay focused and paying attention to proper form is critical to making healthy progress. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done but I am in love! The more I hurt, the more determined I become. The first two weeks were just BRUTAL, but now I am rolling into week four and I feel great. Instead of beating myself up for what I can’t do, I stay firmly focused on celebrating my progress. I am taking baby steps but I see progress with every session.
The first time I tried to do a backward bear crawl, I felt like the ballet-dancing whale, but now I can make it the length of the gym floor. Do I execute this with grace and ease? No Way! It’s hard as hell but I feel invincible at the other side. My biggest challenge is learning to do squats the right way. My right knee is a mess but I am getting the hang of it quickly and the muscles supporting my knees are getting much stronger. Week one I could barely do straight-arm sit ups – now I can do them with ease and I am ready to move up to more difficult abdominal work. I am still doing girl push-ups but I can feel my arms getting stronger with each day that passes. I am learning to jump rope. I now know what dead lifts and bench presses are and I am learning to do them safely. I grunt, groan and at times I roar! I feel empowered and satisfied…How cool is that?
For the time being I am drinking very little alcohol. I went four weeks completely without to break the habit. I am a pretty moderate person but I did realize I was consuming some type of alcohol almost daily. Even if it was just one beer, the amount of calories this added to my diet was really what made me realize I needed to cut back. With my hectic work schedule, travel and age, it is hard enough to stay healthy. Alcohol is not a bad thing but it is easy to get in a habit of drinking too much. For now, I have stopped coming home from work and using a beer or a glass of wine as my reward after a hard day. I am saving my alcohol consumption for social occasions right now. Do I miss my beer and wine? Yes I do – I love craft beer with every ounce of my being, but… I am sleeping better and my stress level is significantly reduced as a result of reduced alcohol consumption. That is far more important to me. I was taking anti-anxiety and depression meds to cope with the effects of menopause and some other serious health issues. I stopped taking them by gradually reducing the frequency. I am completely drug-free in just four weeks. My feelings of hopelessness are subsiding and for the first time in over a year I feel as if I want to fight the illness that plagues me.
As I finish up this post I am looking forward to brunch and some good beer or wine with my good friend Laurie. You may know her as @100Beers30Days. Laurie and I share a passion for craft beer and for wine. We get together on Sundays to explore the complexities of exceptional craft beer or fabulous wine and we talk about the journey that is called life. Today I feel strong and determined.
I know that I can do this!
The Art of Beer