This is a novel. I know it. I am also in web, and I know how people don’t read novels online. But it’s a lengthy tale, one that I think is worth telling. I can’t believe I’m showing this to the world, because I’ve taken great lengths to hide this struggle from, well, everyone throughout the years, but I’m doing it. So read it. Plus I threw some witty banter in here and there and a few pics, so it shouldn’t be hard on your eyeballs. Get some Visine though, just in case.
Last June I went to the doctor. The lady doctor. So the trip was already not fun, but to compound my misery, as they were checking me in, a medical assistant who was training and new started to pull out that ‘cuff of death’ to take my blood pressure. The MA that was training her stopped her and said ‘No, you’ll need the large adult cuff’. I watch her take off the normal person cuff, and pull out one that was much bigger, and strap it to my arm.
I could feel the tears rising up, and I knew that it wasn’t from the noose around my buried bicep, getting tighter and tighter. It was at that moment, as my arm got squeezed like a water snake, that the truth of my reality hit me like a ton of Jello- I was out of control.
I had never been an unfit person. Sure I went through the normal, chubby-yet-adorable phase when I was a kid, but really, who doesn’t have periods like that as they go through the early stages of life? Once I hit my teens, I was an averagely thin, semi-athletic girl that routinely twirled baton (stop laughing) and played softball. I was under some sick, media-induced notion that I was fat then and really all through my high school years, but looking back at it, I had a pretty bangin’ body. When I went to college, I reversed the Freshman 15 by joining the crew team at my school. Holy crap, will crew whip you into shape in a hurry. I loved it though- my legs were strong, my stomach was flat- I was putting size 6 jeans in the dryer to shrink them. Life was good.
I eventually transferred schools so I could take a specialized major. This is where the typical-college-kid-bad-eating-habits started. I was moderately active- I ran, went hiking, picked up a baton here and there, and played some recreational softball. But it was nothing like I had been doing. Even so, I still managed to stay at a healthy weight.
Around the age of 21, I started gaining more noticeable weight. I attributed that to my new hobby of late night drinking in bars, making bad life decisions. I mean, alcohol has a lot of calories in it, and then of course, what do you do after a night of drinking yourself stupid? You eat. What’s open at 3 am when local watering hole shuts down? It ain’t a vegetarian joint, I can tell you that much. I partied and I ate like crap. It was inevitable that weight was going to happen. But I started to notice a difference around 23, when the partying slowed down (it got old, quick) and my friends that partook in the same lifestyle as me, weren’t gaining the way I was. Again, I attributed it to bad habits and vowed that I wouldn’t keep getting bigger. So I stopped eating more than 1 meal a day (man, I was a total genius back in my early 20’s). Shocker- It didn’t help. I kept gaining, and I was tired and losing my hair. I went to the doc after my stylist freaked out over the amount of strands I was losing and discovered I was hypothyridic. It didn’t function well, and it was assisting the weight gains. I got on Synthroid but my levels fluctuated and it was never under control. So I just figured since I couldn’t fight it, I was just going to carry on and enjoy life. At 24, I met a tall, broad, lumberjack lookin’ dude who I liked to have around a lot, and he liked having me around, which was pretty cool. But big lumberjack lookin’ dudes like to eat big, lumberjack lookin’ meals, and I followed suit. We were out to eat constantly. We are also huge Ohio State fans (O-H!) and so we ate a lot of game day food. I stopped exercising because I had a man that loved me enough to put a ring on it, and it wasn’t going to help anything, so why bother. Fast forward 7 years, a still crappy thyroid no one could regulate and 60 pounds trying to battle it, and you have a pretty unhealthy Tricia.
Which is who I was, sitting in that chair last year at the lady doctor, 217lbs at 5’4″. I almost didn’t fit into the clothes at Target, I couldn’t walk into my office building without being winded, I couldn’t wrap a normal towel all the way around my waist, I couldn’t cross my legs without grabbing onto my pants, and I needed shorts under a dress to keep my thighs from rubbing together. I was in denial until that very moment. I lived in Florida, and I wanted to wear shorts and tank tops and sundresses and bikinis while grocery shopping. Before I just sighed at my distant dream, chalked it up to being ‘not in the cards’ and went ignorantly on my way. But now it was different. I knew I had to do something.
I joined a gym called YouFit, because it was inexpensive, full of friendly people, and had clean machinery. There weren’t a lot of juicehead gorillas or Victoria’s Secret’s models, and I felt comfortable there. I lost 5 lbs and then 10. I changed to eating Paleo, and started a Pinterest board about fitness, pinning healthy recipes and workouts. One workout routine looked pretty intense, and linked back to video of this thing called CrossFit. I clicked on the video, and that was it. CrossFit was in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I had no idea at the time that it was in my life. I wasn’t all ‘CROSSSSSFIIITTTTTTT’ and such. In fact, it was the total opposite. What I was watching on that YouTube video TERRIFIED me. I had been lifting weights at the gym on machines per my husband’s instructions (I attempted a bench press once, but got too embarrassed and afraid I would drop the bar on my jugular that I gave up and ran to an elliptical with a towel over my head, going at like, 9MPH to prove I wasn’t, in fact, a wimp) and watching what some of those people could do on the video was astounding compared to what I was picking up off the ground. But there was no way I could do it. I was still overweight and out of shape. Those people were the direct descendants of Roman Gods and I had no business being part of that community. I was sure they didn’t want me either, and I would probably die. Or get embarrassed and yelled at. Rope climb? Cue Tom Hanks laugh in the Money Pit- I couldn’t even do that when I was 10 in gym class, let alone at 30. Pick up that bar with that thick weight thingy on the end and hoist it over my head? Fat chance, bro. No, no, no. CrossFit wasn’t for me. I clicked off that workout, put on a Zumba DVD, and went to town, jamming in my living room and shakin’ that ass.
I just couldn’t get it out of my head though, this CrossFit. It was impressive what these people were doing, and not even the weights part of it. Everything- push ups, pull ups, running, tossing a big puffy ball in the air. It was kind of intriguing. My friend Lyndsey had started, and she, as a mom of 2, was kicking ass. She had always been fit, but I could see her transformation. And if she could do it, maybe there was some hope for me. So I started doing some more research on it. My number one goal at the time was to lose weight and 10 lbs was cool and all, but I wanted more. I wanted to be back to my try-to-shrink-my-clothes college days, and I just wasn’t sure if CrossFit would get me there. It seemed like it was all weight lifting and body building and Arnold Schwarzenegger stuff. Which is cool, but looking like a body builder scared me. I mean, good for body builders, but for me personally, it wasn’t my goal. And besides, I just KNEW that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t run a mile or do that kick-back-jump-up thing (I’m still convinced that they named it a burpee because it’s meant to make you burpee up your lunch). And there were so many articles out there about how much it sucked and how dangerous it was (CrossFucked was one I can think of off the top of my head). There were stories about a creepy clown that makes you puke and people being hospitalized thanks to some Uncle Rhabdo guy. It was scary.
What I was reading wasn’t all bad though. I came across a really cool web series called Killing the Fatman with Gary Roberts. It’s exactly as it sounds…he was out of shape and decided to make a change. He started CrossFit and documented his journey, and he was now a svelte beast. It gave me some motivation. It was the first time I had seen someone transform in front of my eyes, and seeing how he made it along in CrossFit was encouraging. FYI, he’s now a coach and my friend on Facebook, so neener neener neener to that. But here come the excuses- he was a guy. And a former Marine. I was a marketing chick and a former athletic dropout. He could probably run farther than me when he started, he was probably stronger too, and that’s why he could lift those weights. He wasn’t Spaghetti Arms McGhee over here. Nope, not gonna do it.
Then one day at work, I got a new client. These three huge guys named Alex, Kyle and Shaun were sitting in the conference room, ready to talk about their business. They were from CrossFit Tampa Bay, and they intimidated the crap out of me. We started talking about their needs and what they did when Alex said these fateful words: ‘We’d like to invite you to try CrossFit, so you know what it’s like to help you work on our project’. I nervously glanced at my lean soccer playing boss who nervously chuckled, and then back at the guys. And then back at my boss. And then back at the guys. “I’ll do it”.
Wait, what? Who said that? That verbal diarrhea did NOT just come out of my mouth, did it? Holy shit, it did. It totally did. WTF, self? Go home, you’re drunk. The guys heads perked up and they looked at me and said ‘Really?’, and me, being obviously inebriated, reiterated ‘Yes’. Next thing you know I’m organizing a company session, planning a date and making sure everyone is ready.
The day of our class, I was worried all day long. Like sick worried. I literally counted down the hours until the class started. I agonized over lunch- ‘do I eat, and throw it all up? Or do I keep an empty stomach in case I do puke? But will that make me too weak? My coworkers are going to make fun of me. I know it. I’m going to be Trisloth. Oh god, I’m going to get yelled at. They’re going to drag my sorry ass across that gym and make me cry for my momma. How is my self esteem today? Can I handle it? Oh god, I’m not going to be able to do this. Do I have enough sick days in case I wind up in the hospital? WHY did I say YES?’. The agony continued as I pulled up to the box, as I sat in my car, stomach turning and mind telling me to run (ok let’s be honest- I wouldn’t have run. More like a fast walk or slow jog). But I had to save a little face in front of my coworkers, so I got out of my car and joined my fellow crazies for a guaranteed beat down.
Coach Shaun met us, and went through the Workout of the Day, or WOD, written up on a white board in front of the gym. That board may as well have been written in German and in the color Shame. It was full of acronyms and names of people far more fit than me. I didn’t know what a HPC or a HSPU or a NPUB was, or how people could do those in 8 minutes or 15 times in 12 minutes. I just wanted to survive.
Our workout was a partner WOD and all body weight, so luckily there were no barbells to be had, but 100 bloody squats? Who does this guy think he’s working with here? We broke into teams of 2 (I got paired with Amanda, my first badass CrossFit partner), and meticulously went over the movement with Shaun. He made sure all of our postures and stances were safe and correct, and made sure we knew what we were doing. I thought ‘Wow, they’re pretty serious about getting this right’. A rush of relief washed over me- I knew I wouldn’t be like some of those people in the videos I watched who blew out their back or twisted their knee. I actually understood what we needed to do, and felt good about it. So, we took our places, I said a little prayer, and we were off.
And you know what? I did it. I did the whole stinking thing in 11 minutes. As I laid there after, sweating profusely, staring up at the ceiling, wondering if I ever would catch my breath, I caught something else- the biggest rush I had ever had working out. I was amazed at what my body- what I- was able to do. Shaun never once yelled. He took the time to correct our form as we were going along, and spoke encouraging words as we ring-rowed ourselves to the finish line. When it was over, he fist bumped all of us, wrote our names on the whiteboard and asked if anyone wanted to sign up. I raised my hand.
So here I am, 6 months later, a complete CrossFit believer. Have these 6 months been peaches and cream? No way. Heck, I actually only went 2 times in my first 2 official weeks because I was just so freaking sore I couldn’t muster another class. I started with 2 classes a week, learning lifts and movements with a 15 lb bar. I couldn’t jump rope, and spent 2 classes just jumping in the air, flicking my wrists to get a rhythm. I skipped classes because I told myself I couldn’t do the workout, even though Coaches would scale so I COULD do it (stupid me). I’m up to 4-5 classes a week depending on work, yet running 400 meters is still a challenge (I hate running). I am just now to the point where I don’t feel scared in my car before I open the door to go in (no, I lied. I’m still scared every day, just not as much as I get more confident). No one has ever made fun of me or yelled at me. I’m down a total of 40lbs, and up about 40 friends, from all walks of life and sizes. I thought the only everyday people I would meet would be at a regular gym, but we’re all just regular, everyday people. Some can just lift more than others. But we’re all the same, and they all have my back, which is pretty amazing. I’m not a mother but I have met some incredible moms at my box that balance work and kids and kicking ass and taking names. I’ve met women and men in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s. I’ve met people who compete and people who come to supplement their regular workouts. And I’ve met me. It’s me again. As Jen Garner would say ‘Thirty, flirty and thriving!’. I’ve found a new sense of confidence that I lost for a long time. I also no longer make excuses. When I have a cheat meal or a little too much wine, I own up to it. But I know it’s just a temporary step back in a new lifelong journey.
So to recap, here is where I’m at stat-wise with CrossFit:
– Lost 35-40 lbs. I fluctuate all the time, but the scale is a terrible indicator of progress.
– Down 2 pants sizes
– Down 6 inches in my waist, 5 inches in my thighs and 5 inches in my arms. I think my arms and thighs would be more if I didn’t have all these glorious muscles
– All the cellulite in my legs and my butt are gone. Like G-O-N-E.
– I can do regular pushups now!
– My deadlift Personal Record (PR) is 220
– I have RX’d exactly 1 WOD
– I can now jump rope with the best of them and I’m working on being able to swing the rope under my feet 2 times in one jump (double unders)
– I can do pull ups with the second thickest band
– I still can’t climb a rope
Pictures, or it didn’t happen, right?
I know you are supposed to love yourself no matter what size you are, and I did really love me- I was still the smart, savvy motivated lady I had always been. My weight didn’t define me. But I wanted to be healthier, and CrossFit has gotten me there, both in the workouts and also by the people. I’m not always the last to finish, and even if I am, who cares? I’m there. I’m showing up. I’m doing it.
I’m starting this blog so you can see what CrossFit is really like for a woman in her 30’s, who is overweight and tired and not an actual athlete by any means. I’m going to be completely transparent about everything, from what I eat, to bad days, to great days, to days that my mind has won and chickened me out of a WOD. From the outside a box is a scary space to be, but it’s the only place you walk out stronger than when you came in. A workout routine is great no matter what you’re doing, but if you’re considering CrossFit, hopefully this helps you take the plunge.
I am nowhere near my goals, which have shifted from just losing weight to getting strongerr- getting stronger is so dang cool. So enjoy my ride, and if you’re taking it with me, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thanks to every single one of my box mates at CrossFit Tampa Bay and Underground Nation
Thanks to PaleOMG for filling my belly with gnarly eats
Thanks to my hubby for consistently grabbing my ass and telling me how it’s not there anymore
Thanks to my family who just treated me like me, and never said a word about how I looked. Love you.
Thanks to me for stopping the excuses and just doing it.