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  • Deanna Kohlhofer

My CrossFit Experience

I hate to exercise. Truth is, I am pretty darn lazy. Some people get that “exercise high” after working out. I don’t. I just want to eat a donut. What can I say? Food motivates me. Good food though — not protein shakes.

I used to run regularly but suffered a little setback from training too hard. Or maybe it was bad running form. It could have been both. I actually suck at running too. I don’t have an athletic bone in my old body, but I do love to hit the pavement with tunes in my ears, leaving the world and its problems behind for a bit, while I struggle to breathe, sweat like I’m sitting in a sauna, and determine to have some fun while chasing a stupid 12-minute mile. Because I was injured, I was unable to run for an extended period of time, in which I ate my frustrations and gained at least 30 pounds. I stopped weighing in when the scale inched ever so close to 200.

At the beginning of 2018, my sweet husband started telling me about a new gym in town. I adamantly refused to go. It was a CrossFit gym. Did he even know what he was asking me to do? I talked him into the YMCA instead and proceeded to watch my son swim after a walk on the treadmill. After a month or two, I eased myself into a couple of classes. They were okay, but not great. I was not welcomed and felt as if I was taking up a “regular’s” spot. The instructors were so-so. They weren’t bad, but they didn’t really care about me or my fitness and I suffered another injury as a result of not being properly guided.

All-the-while, Mike kept telling me about that darn gym. He wanted me to be happy. He knew I was struggling with my weight and not feeling comfortable in my own skin, so he kept gently persuading me to try something different. I don’t like to try new things, so it took a lot for me to step out of my comfort zone and try CrossFit, but eventually I took the plunge.

The challenge offered at the gym was to lose 25 pounds in 6 weeks. I told the owner right off the bat that wouldn’t happen. He insisted that it could, if I tried, and reminded me of his success rate. I don’t believe it is healthy or safe to lose more than 2–3 pounds per week so my goal was 12–18 pounds.

The gym provides an eating plan — which I also didn’t follow. Clearly, I am a rule breaker. I’m sorry. But I like food too much and the eating plan didn’t allow much of anything I liked. Instead, I chose to stick with what I knew worked for me, which was simply clean eating. I did the Daniel Plan with some friends several years ago and it was a great thing for me. I just revisited that plan and got back to the basics when I started this challenge.

The first week of the challenge was absolutely the worst. I’m talking horrific, people. The thing about CrossFit is they make you do an insane amount of reps until you feel like your limbs are going to explode right off our body. It isn’t normal. I thought I was going to puke in the middle of a workout or two and I cried once (stupid bear crawls). But as the weeks went on, I started to notice something.

I was getting stronger.

It was such an odd thing for me to experience. I’ve never been physically strong — but here I am, actually getting there. Now, don’t get me wrong. I can’t rock out push-up’s and burpees. I hate the thought of doing pull-up’s. And the end-of-workout core routine is pure hell for a girl who likes donuts. But, instead of 5 burpees in a set, I can do 10 before I want to die. I can add 50 pound weights to my bar for deadlifts. I enjoy ab mat sit-ups more than any human should. And don’t even get me started talking about wall balls and kettlebell swings. It’s exhilarating! To some, my WOD is a warm-up. To me, it’s a strength builder — but not just physical strength.

I learned early on that running is a mental game. If my mind gave up on me, so did my legs and my lungs. CrossFit is much the same. I have learned to focus and really dial in on my mental thoughts. If I tell myself I am going to die if I do one more burpee (we do a lot of burpees), then I will. But if I tell myself I can do one more burpee, then I will. I have begun to master the art of self-talk that promotes self-confidence. And let's face it - that is an art form useful well beyond the gym.

Here I am, 18 pounds lighter, a bit stronger, minus a few inches, and so flipping excited for the next WOD. I used to refuse to step into the box. It was intimidating for me. I had no desire to lift heavy weights, flip tires, or drag large objects behind me while I tried to put one foot in front of the other in an attempt to move. Turns out, I had nothing to fear.

What’s your favorite form of exercise?