Being a CrossFit Newbie – guest blog by Deanna Pitta Verbouwens

Being a CrossFit Newbie

Four years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ultramarathoner Amy Palmiero-Winters for a story I was writing.   Our meeting took place at a CrossFit facility. Amy is an incredible below-the-knee amputee athlete that holds 11 world records; she told me she transformed her running with CrossFit. I was intrigued. As a runner I know how important strength training is. My previous training experience consisted of strength training, running and a strict food plan which enabled me to lose 78 pounds. A few bumps in the road of life knocked me off the wagon of fitness. Being present in this CrossFit “box” put the fire and desire back in me. Having the knowledge that strong legs, core and body meant a better running experience, I craved that again. Soon after that interview, I investigated a few CrossFit boxes… but never pulled the trigger.

Fast forward four years, 25 of those 78 pounds back on my body and not feeling good about it. I was still competing in races (completed 10 half marathons, 5 triathlons and countless 5 and 10k’s) but wasn’t losing any weight and I wasn’t enjoying any of my races anymore. I hated that.

I finally pulled the trigger and the target was CrossFit165. I began CrossFitting at CrossFit165 in late March. My attendance at the box was spotty at best, a class here, a class there. I loved the workout but my schedule was erratic. Late May early June I started going twice a week. By the end of June a member told me if I wanted results I needed to go at least three times a week. Torture three times a week? How would I survive? I was a cardio queen. Running. Walking. Biking. That concept went against every thought in my head – I can’t do this three times a week, I ’m still a newbie but I trusted the advice and went for it!

So, what exactly is this newbie learning from CrossFit165?

Trust Your Coaches.

They’re smart, they’re direct, they’re wise asses, they’re encouraging, they get that it’s hard, they’re inspiring, they’ll show you how to lift and they really are nice! Everything you want in a Coach. And if they tell not to lift a certain weight, put your ego aside and trust them.

CrossFit Builds Character.

Each CrossFit workout is a character builder. You’ll be humbled, inspired and will be forced to look at yourself – you’re building your mental strength as well as the physical strength. Getting stronger mentally affects every area of your life –gives you the strength to deal with the white noise at work, home, in your own head or from wherever – the mental strength helps you manage those tough days and come out the other side with a smile on your face, or at least not so beat-up.

You Can Dig Deeper.

I never pushed myself in any of my half marathons or a triathlons – because I never trusted myself or my body that I could go any faster, longer or harder. Until last weekend. At my fifth triathlon I pushed as hard as I could. I added “You’ve got this, you’re CrossFit strong” to my racing mantras and that help me push through the pain; being CrossFit strong led me to really believe that I can trust my mind and my body to perform; I impressed myself and I even PR’d in two legs.

Trust the Process.

The scale goes up. As much as I hate that I know I need to trust this process. It’s not about the scale and I have to reprogram my mind. This is a life-long process that will help me grow old gracefully and strong. CrossFit is not a quick-fix gimmick or a gimmick at all. It’s a process to a healthier, stronger body and mind.

You are What You Eat.

Why am I working out this hard to put crap in my body? Why? Why? Because potato chips taste good! But seriously, why? It’s not worth it. It’s actually counter-productive. When I lost the original 78 pounds, I was eating an all green and clean diet, barely any processed foods; if I ate anything from a box or bag it had to have five (5) ingredients or less and I had to be able to pronounce each ingredient.   I’m getting back to that way of eating however I feel like I am beginning to be much more mindful of the choices – of the sugars, of good nutrition and I like that. I may still have a chip or two, hey, I’m human but now I know I won’t let it derail me for weeks. CrossFit will assist in a food plan for you too!

Strength in Numbers.

Even though I have one of my closest friends by my side at almost every workout – every other member I have had the pleasure of working out with has been helpful, dedicated, welcoming, encouraging, motivating and above everything else – – inspiring. From the simple tips on how to jump rope or row more effectively, adjust a weight bar – the members are generous with their tips because they know; they were newbies once too. Oh and watching them PR is just well, plain awesome.

CrossFit is hard work and will always be hard work but like my dad would say “hard work pays off”. As I become more dedicated to CrossFit, my fitness, my nutrition and myself there is no doubt in my mind that I will be able to reach any personal, professional or fitness goal that I set for myself – as long as I trust the process, my coaches and stay away from those chips!