Thursday, 11 January 2018

#fitAF, My fitness story.

This post might be boring to anyone who is not me.

The above is a picture of myself power-cleaning 42.5kg, I am mid-air. I am blurry because it is a fast movement.

I go to crossfit 5 or 6 times a week. I see my box-mates more than I do my family or non-crossfit friends. Hence it is quite a big deal in my life. So I am gonna write about it.

I am now coming up to 3 years since I joined the Holy Church of Crossfit, and I can say with confidence that it is the best thing I have done, fitness wise. It is not for everybody, but it is for me.

I was never a fit or sporty kid at school or even really uni. I had my greasy nose in a book most of the time. I could not jump high or run fast, which was a big deal back in the day. Yet I am willing to bet that many of my athletically talented primary school contemporaries are now sliding into a middle age spread, and can barely touch their toes. (Though I have stalked Narelle, my school arch-enemy, on Facebook. She is a personal trainer who says things like "dream believe achieve"....I can't even. Silly Mole.)

I started running a lot when I had a bout of depression in my late 20s. I was not particularly good or fast at that, but I worked my way up to a half-marathon. I was running to "lose weight". I didn't lose a lot.

I had a second bout of depression, then a divorce. I upped my game to a full London marathon (distance ran proportional to trauma - here is hoping I never wish to run an ultramarathon), but got injured after so stopped. I trained with a now defunct running group. I still catch up with the women who I met there. Fabulous women, about 6 of us!

About 4 years back, I started doing some boot camp stuff with a lady whose alias shall be J. A lady in her late 40s, she was clawing her way through the menopause, one knee-destroying, crop top wearing, laser skin rejuvenation marathon at a time. At the time I thought she knew her stuff. She had a garage gym set up. She would look us up and down after we came back from holidays to see whether we had gained weight. She did not believe in positive reinforcement, and didn't like it when we cheered each other through a workout. She screamed and yelled. I trained with her for about 18 months. All the while, I was coming to an increasingly firm conclusion that she was, in fact, a bit of a cow.

One day, I had a tough day at work, and was in the thick of writing up my PhD. I did not go right to the end of a stair run, and one of the other bitches girls who was there dobbed me in. J yelled at me to do it again. I said "No.".

I never went back after that.

I had been a bit curious to try Crossfit, but it looked a bit scary. The official intro video showed fit people doing scary things. I ramped up the courage to call the owner, to see if I could try, and to outline my concerns. I did a trial session and from then on, I was hooked.

Soon after I started, I did run for the kids, and sustained a nasty sprain to my ankle. That cooled things for a bit. Then I had the infamous pregnancy/miscarriage event of 2015. I didn't train that hard until I finished my PhD at the end of 2015/early 2016.

The main improvement I have made since doing crossfit is in my strength.


I am in or near the "Strong" category relative to my body weight for all the moves listed above, except that I cannot do an unassisted pull up.

There are things that I can do that I could never do before I started, or even a year in. For example, we did 100 sit-ups for time yesterday. I did that without taking any more than a 2 second break.

I have been introduced to the wonderful world of Olympic lifting. I still giggle when I ask coach to come and watch my snatch. I clean weights better than I clean plates. 

I am not very fast, but I can jog 5 kilometres when the fancy takes me. I might struggle with 10 but it would not take me too long to train to it.

As with most things, though, most of the limitation occurs in the mind. There are a few things that I have not made much progress on - pull ups, kick up to handstand, and box jumps being the main things.

I realise that the error that I make with these is that I expect improvements to be made in large chunks rather than in small increments. These are "can or can't" movements but there are levels in between. I need to train with that in mind. Thankfully, our coaches have designed the program that allows us to make continuous incremental improvements without having achieved the complete movement. The coaches also let us know we are improving. I nearly did a kick up to handstand today! Not long now.

The other error that I make is that I compare myself to others, and get discouraged when I see other (often younger, skinner athletes) people pulling ahead of me in a workout. Hence, I have taken to consciously blocking them out and focussing on my own game.

I also used to freak out and slow the hell down when I got uncomfortable. I learned to deal with discomfort and work to the edge of it.

These skills - chipping away at things, enjoying the process and the millimetre increments, focussing on my own game, and dealing with discomfort - have bled over into other areas of my life.

That, for me, is the most powerful thing.

Also, though I have a bit of a belly and am fatter than when I thought I was fat, I have far better body image. I cringe when I hear women telling other women about "fat burning" or "not getting too big". and things along those lines. Crossfit delights in strong women, who sweat and cuss and grunt and have muscles and hand calluses. 


  1. A beautiful tribute to your fitness thing and all the amazing things your body and mind can do.

    SSG xxx

  2. Love the pic and I enjoyed every word
    Bring on fit strong women
    Cheekie x

  3. So proud of you! I always think of you whenI lift weights because you told me I should xx