Diary of a Fat CrossFitter – Things I’ve Been Reading

It’s “benchmark week” at my box gym, whatever that means. I think it means a lot of pain, but I could be wrong. No, wait, I’m probably right. Expect it to be described in excruciating and profane detail at the end of the week. Until then, here are a few articles that have crossed my radar in the last couple of days.

I offended Melissa McCarthy so you don’t have to

That’s not to say that we should ignore a woman’s size altogether, because as writer Lisa C. Knisely reminds us “the fucking worst thing you can tell a fat girl is that she isn’t fat,” but pointing it out in a cutesy, wink-wink,oh-we-get-it way might serve to make people feel infantilized or emphasize being treated differently. We need to celebrate people’s bodies for the right reasons.

I’m still a fat fucking CrossFitter, don’t you guys worry.

My ‘Naked’ Truth

Naked, I stood at the closet doors with the lights on and made myself ready. I took a deep breath and positioned the mirrors so I could see all of me. I consciously worked to remove my self-believed inner image. I opened my eyes and looked very carefully at my body. And my heart lurched at the truth: I am not a young woman anymore. I am a woman well-lived. My body tells of all the years she has carried my spirit through life.

Perhaps most appalling is her date’s blindness to how hurtful he was.

There are Two Kinds of Fat People

If people have studies that say that everyone going paleo and doing crossfit will save on healthcare costs and be better for the “good of society” do we all have to eat a steak while we flip tires in a garage with no air conditioning? The only good answer to this is that each of us gets to choose how highly we prioritize our health and what path we choose to get there. Public health should be about making information and options available to the public, not making individual bodies the public’s business. If people want to flip tires in an air conditioned gym while eating Kraft singles and wearing a plarn backpack that’s totally their deal, I say rock on.

BONUS NON BODY ACCEPTANCE LINK: I’m loving Cup of Jo’s Motherhood Around the World series. Raising Jasmine, then later Grace, in Freetown was an adventure, but so wonderful. In a world where every day there’s a new story on CNN about something awful happening to a toddler, I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had while raising my own wonderful daughters.

P.S. Deadlift PR last night.  It was awesome.

Diary of a Fat CrossFitter – In Translation

Two friends, both of whom I respect greatly, have shared criticisms of a recent post I wrote about a CrossFit class. Kool-Aid isn’t paleo, but if it were, I’d certainly have drunk it. Instead of promising to write a glossary and then not doing it, I’m just going to provide a (profanity-free*) translation.

I went to CrossFit on Thursday because I looked at the WOD and said to myself, “Running? Partner metcon? FUCK THIS SHIT, I’m staying home.”

I went to the gym on Thursday because I checked out the programmed workout posted online by the gym and said to myself, “A cardio conditioning workout that requires that I run while my partner does another activity, and then we switch back and forth for fifteen minutes? To heck with this! I’m staying home.”

So of course I went, because I’m not about to be like, “Wah wah wah, I only do metcons I like.”

So of course I went, because I’m not about to be like, “Wah way wah, I only do workouts I like.”

And of course, there was neither a partner workout or running, and I was like FUCK YEAH, THURSDAYS ROCK.

And of course, there was neither a partner workout or running, and I was like, YEAH! THURSDAYS ROCK!

And then the coach was like, burpees + thrusters, and I was like, FUCK, I knew I should have STAYED HOME.

And then the trainer was like, squat thrusts + a left that involves a squat + a push press and some explosive force, and I was like, MAN! I should not have come today.

And then I didn’t finish the metcon within the time limit, and I was like, FUCK, it’ll only take me 30 more seconds, might as well finish anyway. So I did.

And then I didn’t finish the cardio conditioning within the time limit, and instead of stopping, I took 30 more seconds to finish.

Sounds like progress to me.


* Future posts will certainly not be profanity free because I am secretly twelve and still think fart jokes are funny. Sorry.

Diary of a Fat CrossFitter – At CFSA, they are apparently called “Scotts”


I went to CrossFit on Thursday because I looked at the WOD and said to myself, “Running? Partner metcon? FUCK THIS SHIT, I’m staying home.”

So of course I went, because I’m not about to be like, “Wah wah wah, I only do metcons I like.”

And of course, there was neither a partner workout or running, and I was like FUCK YEAH, THURSDAYS ROCK.

And then the coach was like, burpees + thrusters, and I was like, FUCK, I knew I should have STAYED HOME.


And then I didn’t finish the metcon within the time limit, and I was like, FUCK, it’ll only take me 30 more seconds, might as well finish anyway. So I did.

Sounds like progress to me.

Diary of a Fat CrossFitter – CrossFit is secretly Drum Corps


Thought I was gonna puke halfway through last night’s workout. Bless his heart, the coach was like, “You should do a shorter run for this last round.” So I did, and I didn’t puke, and all was well with the world.

Crossfit seems to be about destroying yourself physically, workout after workout after workout.  Short term misery for long term gains. You work your ass off during the skills and strength training part of the class, then you dump everything you’ve got left into the metcon, until you’re utterly incapable of giving anything more, and lying on the floor after the workout of your life.

That moment when you’re finished. And you don’t have to take one more step. And you know you’ve given it everything you can. And you know that somehow, you still have to find the energy walk off the fieldwalk home.  And it’s the best feeling ever.

Also, it’s insanely expensive, has a rabidly obsessive community, instills in its followers sense of moral superiority over the rest of the world, and encourages a cult-like social scene.

Yup. CrossFit feels a lot like drum corps, sometimes.

Diary of a Fat CrossFitter: First time Fran

crossfit_not_drunk_squatsI <3 squats.  And lifting. But not benchmark WODs. No, indeed.  Helen, and Fran, and the rest could take a flying leap off a cliff, and I wouldn’t be upset to read about it in the paper the next day.

Monday night, I was the only person in my class. My box holds several novice classes on Mondays, and since I 1) care about seeing my kids on week nights and 2) don’t care about the World Cup (sacrilege, I know), I attend the 7:30 class. Since everyone else in the world watches the World Cup, I found myself alone w/ a coach.

When you’re by yourself, and your coach is hollering at you during all of Fran, albeit a heavily scaled Fran, and then, instead of letting you stop at the time cap as expected, he tells you to go ahead and fucking finish, well, fuck.  Walking home was difficult.

Needless to say, I am getting my money’s worth out of my membership.

{Diary of a Fat CrossFitter} On Kindness and Self-Love

how_do_you_know_crossfitOne of the things I like very much about the CrossFit coaches at my gym box is that they are very kind. Wait—I don’t mean kind.  I mean that the coaches effectively explain the purpose of workouts and how I can achieve that purpose.  I mean that they communicate clearly that there is no shame in scaling movements.  I mean that that they don’t embarrass me or anyone else about our lack of fitness.  Is that kindness?

It is not.

It’s basic human decency and professionalism.  It’s what I should expect from each and every other person I interact with during the day. But it’s so fucking rare, especially at a gym, that it feels like overwhelming kindness. So much so, that it’s occasionally grating. “YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE EXTRA NICE TO ME BECAUSE I’M FAT!!!” I want to scream. They’re not, of course. They’re paying the same attention to me as any other client with some special needs, as they do the injured, the fit, and anyone else who needs modifications for whatever reason to the prescribed Rx’d workouts.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the intersections of feminism, fat acceptance, the health at any size movement, and my own frustrations and insecurities.  These aren’t new thoughts, but I find it telling that I am so much fucking less tolerant of fat shaming bullshit now that I’m exercising regularly.  I shouldn’t have ever tolerated that bullshit, and I have to be constantly vigilant that my self-encouragement doesn’t take the form of fat shaming my former self (or anyone else!).  It’s a weird but interesting place to be in.

So. I am being kinder to myself, and other people are being regular decent human beings, and all is right with the world.

Also, I fucking love squats.

Diary of a Fat Crossfitter – Getting Started

I started CrossFit last week, and it is both as awesome and as miserable as expected.  That is to say, I feel like a million bucks after a workout, and then the next day, I can’t walk.  Or lift my backpack.  Or really, even crawl out of bed.  I made a four month commitment to my neighborhood CrossFit gym box*, and you, dear readers, are going to suffer right along side of me.  Well, perhaps not along side of me.  Probably a day or two after, once I’ve started to recover and manage to haul myself into an upright position and get some typing done.

Because I’m obsessive about researching expensive life decisions, I spent several weeks looking into CrossFit and the gyms boxes relatively near my home.  I queried friends.  I spent hours on seedy Internet forums.  And I finally checked out the box closest to where I live.  After two classes, I’m pretty confident I made the right decision.  I’ve been to a lot of gyms before where most of the people there are fit.  And slender.  And are confident they know what they’re doing.  And I feel completely out of place.  Even if people are patronizingly welcoming about this fattie joining their gym.

Here’s the thing that impressed me the most about this particular gym box.  All of the workouts are completely scaleable.  Unlike even in say, Zumba, where there’s a minimum level of capacity to dance and do an aerobic workout, every single CrossFit movement can be scaled up or down to meet your individual capacity.  Can’t master the push jerk with the 15 lb training bar?  NO PROBLEM.  Here are two 5 lb dumbbells.  Can’t figure that out?  Back to the PVC pipe.  Need it broken down even further?  Put down the pipe and let’s go through the motion with nothing in your hands.  In a Zumba class, a teacher never would have stood with me to break down the movements into individual bits and pieces because my clumsy ass couldn’t figure out when to dip, when to push, and when to press.

And there’s no shame in scaling.

Although I was certainly the most out of shape person in my class, my fellow CrossFitters were all quick to reassure me that they too are beginners.  And look at how quickly they’ve improved.  The class was a motley crew indeed, and everyone was incredibly friendly.  Real people.  Doing real workouts.  Together.  Team fitness, so to speak.


I don’t have a lot of patience for “my workout is better than yours” arguments.  I’ve been fat forever, and believe me, I have tried it all.

Right now.  Today.  At this moment.  In my crazy frantic globetrotting life, CrossFit is working for me.  I spent a fair amount of time debating whether I should write about working out and diet and obesity and all of the RAGE I feel about being so insanely successful elsewhere in my life, but finding myself absolutely incapable of changing my body composition (code for: less fat, more muscle).  Whether any of the changes I’m currently making in my life can do anything about that is up in the air, but here’s what I know: I am happier today than I was two weeks ago.  And two weeks ago, I was happier than I was two months ago.  And it has to do with changes in what I eat and how I move.

And whether I manage to change my body composition or not, happiness is a win in my book.

Four months.  Damn.  We’ll see how it goes.

* CrossFit gyms are actually called “boxes”; however, I feel like an asshole every time I say that I attend a “box”.

On the gym being something wonderful I do for myself

I started off the year without any resolutions. I swore I was going to “just breathe,” and that’s exactly what I’ve done. The past four months have been among the most mindful of my life. I’ve spent a lot of time making smart decisions. Stopping to take a short breath before I do something and asking myself, “Is this what I really want to be doing in this moment?” has drastically improved the way I live my life..

I’m more engaged with my kids.

My relationship with my husband is better.

I’m making better decisions about balancing work (studying Arabic), family, and my own need for moments of silence in my life.

But I haven’t been moving. I haven’t been making real measurable progress towards long term goals. That was the point of the exercise, of course, but it’s May, and I’m starting to itch a little bit. I want to move and shake and turn dreams into concrete reality. I’m actually pretty good at that, and now that I’ve spent a couple of months stopping and smelling the roses, I’m ready to dive back into todo lists and wild ideas and community organizing with abandon and joy. But I won’t, no matter how tempting it is. Looking back, I am appalled by the amount of stress I added to my own life over the past decade with my never ending lists of things to do and my impossible goals and expectations for myself … for shit that just doesn’t matter.

This week, I started going back to the gym. It’s a small thing. A tiny thing. Less than two hours a week (for now). I’m not fooling myself that 30 minutes on the elliptical 3 days a week is actually going to turn me into a lean mean toddler chasing machine. It sure as hell will make me a happier one, though. 30 minutes by myself. No kids. No husband. No phone. Just me and the exercise machines and some sweat.

I haven’t set any goals for my gym time, except consistency. My only goal is to just do it–to establish the habit of sweating. Three times a week. Without fail. And once I’ve done that for a while, I’ll move from the elliptical to the treadmill, if I feel like it. And once I’ve done that for a while, I’ll add in some weights, maybe. And then I’ll make some decisions about the long term, probably.

It’s refreshing to be able to sweat for the sake of sweating. The pressure’s off, and I’m kind of enjoying it.

This post is part of the FS Bloggers Spring Rejuvenation.

I walked 5k!

I had a wonderful weekend! I went to the beach, got a pedicure, ate delicious food, and walked 5k!

Of course, I chose to walk 5k downtown on a busy Sunday evening, in a see-through white T-Shirt, in sticky, sweaty, humid weather. It was like waving a sign, “Come harass Theresa!” Lucky for me, I’m an asshole, and totally over my need to make men feel better about rejection. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

Since I’ve started exercising several times a week, my walking speed has increased by 33%! The better to out walk the creeps, I suppose. I’m hoping that by the time I’m done c25k, I’ll actually be running 5k in 30 minutes, instead of 3k. Now that I’m walking at 4mph, instead of 3, I think I have a shot at it, if I can drag my lazy ass to the gym in the morning.

I brought sneakers to work today so that I can walk home afterwards. I’m not going to walk 5k because it takes too long, and I’ve got hella work to do tonight for the business.