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Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

Why You Should Try CrossFit (A Dietitian’s Testimony)

CrossFit…CrossFit is a lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition (according to www.crossfit.com). You might be thinking something like well of course CrossFit is going to say all the good things and glorify themselves!

But before you roll your eyes, hear me out. I was once a skeptic myself but sometimes it’s necessary to take matters into your own hands, jump in with both feet, and try things for yourself before making a judgment call. After all, you never know when taking a chance could actually lead to changing the course of your life in the most positive way. That’s what happened to me and it’s why I think you should try CrossFit. 

My story may not be anything special but I think you could easily make some similarities and/or references to your own life because we all go through seasons of low valleys where we’re burdened with a lack of motivation and feel uninspired. And that’s okay. But that’s when CrossFit came into my life, when I needed it most.

In college, I was a D1 athlete. Four years of running cross-country with a team of amazing girls and coaches that pushed me, believed in me, and forced me to be stronger everyday. And then it all changed. I grew up and graduated. And just like the break-up I had with my heavy, expensive, boring, university store-bought books (I’ve never ripped a band-aid off quicker if you know what I mean) and the parting of ways with classrooms, I soon and unexpectedly became aware that I also no longer had a coach or the teammates that were such a huge part of my life on a daily basis anymore. I didn’t even realize how much I relied on them to make running bearable let alone something I loved to do. It was a harsh reality but I still wanted to have some kind of physical activity in my life. I started entering a ton of 5ks and even a few marathons but it just wasn’t the same. I wasn’t able to push myself on my own and I was getting bored doing the same activity over and over again. Mile after mile, I became desperate for a new challenge and some inspiration when it came to my health and fitness.

And there shows up CrossFit, smack-dab center on my Instagram feed. Of course I had heard about it before but never actually considered it for myself – I was doubtful. Being a dietitian, I had this view that CrossFit would be an intense cult of people wearing ridiculous, neon-patterned, knee-high socks and eating meat off the bone with their bare hands while chanting “paleo for life” or something like that. Needless to say, I was wrong. Well at least about half of that assumption. The first part about the socks was very real my first day and a little off-putting but now I get why. The workout amongst other challenging moves entailed something insane like 30 rope climbs and I now have a permanent scar on my shin and I definitely ruined my Nike Free’s (Don’t worry, Nike replaced them and Metcons). I guess I should have borrowed my dad’s tall socks that he likes to wear with sandals (because sometimes safety > style…I guess). Click this link to avoid burning shins.

BUT after just one try at Crossfit, I was hooked and let me tell you why…

The Workouts

After recovering from the sock/shin incident, I quickly knew this sport was for me. Crossfit offers a different workout everyday with functional movement and training in all areas, which means nothing extremely repetitive and therefore not extremely boring. It was exactly the fresh challenge and motivation I was looking for! The workouts include 10 components of fitness include cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, strength, stamina, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy and each workout has both a purpose and a practical life application for the movement performed. They also make me practice things I’m not so good at (as much as I hate to admit it) and after going through the CrossFit Level 1 coaching course, I learned there was actually A LOT I wasn’t good at. After a full year I still don’t have my doubleunders but that’s okay and I’ll continue working on it! The ability to keep track of my progress is pretty motivating too. 

The Coaching

Having a coach is one of the biggest wins when it comes to CrossFit. Coaches are there to support and help you improve everyday and because of that I am able to grow as an athlete and a person when I’m at the box. Pretty cool, huh? I know many people are concerned or scared when it comes to their experience (or lack there of) of lifting weight – trust me, I’ve been there. But I have never felt judged by my coaches or my peers even on the days I can’t do the prescribed workout weight or when I have to scale back. So I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to have experience! That’s what your coach is for! And you won’t get experience without at least trying (just sayin’). The environment is so much different than any other gym I’ve been a member of not to mention the health benefits that strength and resistance training provides is second to none. This is a huge reason I became a coach myself. I want to empower others to take control of their health and change their perspective by valuing what our bodies can do.

Community & Friendships

Showing up to the box is one of the best parts of my day because I get to see my friends (new and old), do something positive for my body, and do it all with like-minded people. The CrossFit communities I have been a part of are all extremely diverse which is a big part of what makes it work. I can’t even come up with a stereotype for Crossfitters anymore because there’s room for everyone whether you’re a grandma, a ‘biker dude,’ a college-student, a girly girl, or anywhere in between. It’s amazing how the workouts can be customized to each individual’s level of fitness while still being fun.

Nutrition

As I mentioned before, I had my reservations. I wasn’t sure what CrossFit was preaching when it came to food and I have to admit; there have been some nasty comments and articles by CrossFit headquarters against dietitians. This really bothered me at first but there’s really no need to go into it because I’ve had nothing but good experiences at my gym and I can value and appreciate different opinions from others. That being said, since I stepped into the box and established myself as a dietitian, I’ve been given an even better platform. It’s amazing to be looked at as the nutrition expert and a resource for CrossFit members as an RD. I’ve been able to implement nutrition programming into my CrossFit community on top of growing as a coach. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is what I went to school for and now I actually feel like I am living and breathing it. I get to encourage people every single day and I’m beyond grateful for that.

So if I haven’t convinced you yet, I will leave you with this. Here is one of the comments I took away from the CrossFit course..

What’s more dangerous than CrossFit?

-Not doing CrossFit. 

If you aren’t doing anything nutrition and/or exercise related (P.S. it takes both) to improve your health… I suggest you start (and quick)! Find something sustainable and something that you love.

Some Other CrossFit Dietitian Thoughts:

Regardless if you are a CrossFit athlete or not, nutrition is key for disease prevention, athletic performance and overall health.

Nutrition 

1.) Needs to be a lifestyle, something that is a habit and that you enjoy.

2.) Is individualized. Don’t follow someone else’s plan. YOU are unique and so are your goals and needs.

3.) Means eat quality foods. Less processed & less added sugar. Focus on lean protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and complex carbs.

Practicing CrossFit without any regard to nutrition is similar to only having “one oar in the water,” according to CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman. 

Do you practice CrossFit or have a fitness routine in place? Let me know in the comments!

 

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