Crossfit, Exercise Shaming, and Reevaluating my Goals

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Changes in Goals over the Years

Over the years, my views and goals have drastically changed. As my body gets older and starts to change, so do my priorities. When I first started working out, my main goal was to improve myself aesthetically. I didn’t really care about my strength or endurance, I just wanted to look good and be skinny.

Then I had a turning point in my life where I had a goal of transforming myself from a non-runner to a runner, because it seemed impossible (in my mind) and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do whatever I set my mind to. So I did the C25K program and started running more often. I started running 5K’s and even had a goal at one point to run a half marathon. I was also taking a kickboxing class at the time, which I really enjoyed.  This was a pivotal point in my life, and was what got me so interested in fitness and nutrition, and improving my health.  You can read more about that in my post How Running helped me to Embrace Recovery.

As an accessory to running, I wanted to start building muscle in the gym.  So I started Jamie Eason’s Livefit program  at my local gym, and the more I progressed in the program the more I wanted to be “fit.” I wanted to build muscle and strength and lose body fat. I started to enjoy lifting weights and building more muscle.  Then I had surgery to correct an umbilical hernia, and had to be out of the gym for a while.

When I recovered and started to get back into working out, I was browsing through Groupon one day and found one for a month at a gym called Trans4mations, and I bought it.  It looked like fun. This gym incorporated circuits and some Olympic lifting, and for the month I was there, I loved it.  I loved all of the different movements I was doing and how my body was reacting.  I deadlifted for the first time at that gym.  It was only 80 pounds, but I was excited! But when the groupon ran out, I didn’t want to purchase a membership.  The gym was a bit of a drive from my apartment, and the membership price was over my budget.

Then came another Groupon, for a crossfit gym. I went to one workout and had my butt kicked, and I loved it. It was tough and I couldn’t do as much as others, but I still felt accomplished afterwards and I wanted to be as strong as the others. I signed up and became a member. And for years crossfit dominated my life. I “drank the Coolaid,” and I immersed myself into the crossfit world. My goals shifted from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be strong. I wanted to put more weight on the bar, and be able to lift heavier.

doing a push press in a crossfit gym

Exercise Shaming

When I first joined a crossfit gym, I heard a lot of crossfit shaming. Most of us have heard it, those people that say crossfit is dumb, the movements are dangerous, and it leads to injury. First of all, yes, you could get seriously injured in crossfit. As you can with any sport. Football, marathon running, cycling, dancing, you name it… each exercise has their own risks for injury. Listening to your body, placing your ego aside, and having good coaches teach you the proper mechanics of the movements will help you to avoid injury.
But the exercise shaming wasn’t just from non-crossfitters. Exercise shaming happens in every community. There are some who just believe their way of working out is the only way.  I’ve heard body-builders say cardio is worthless.  I’ve heard dancers call power-lifters “meatheads.”  I’ve heard power-lifters say crossfit is stupid.  And I’ve heard crossfitters bash runners.  I once heard a couple of crossfit athletes criticize a runner they saw on the street, saying something along the lines of “that poor guy,” and it made me a little angry.  That guy might have been really enjoying himself.  Maybe he loves running.  I know that’s hard for me to fathom sometimes, but there are those that actually enjoy running.  I know people that absolutely love it.  And while I don’t personally have that kind of relationship with running, that doesn’t make running any less effective.  Running, cycling, dancing, and lifting can all be great exercises.  And if that person is enjoying themselves, who am I to say that they should workout any differently?

Exercise shaming, no matter where it’s coming from, shouldn’t be happening.  We should encourage and lift these people up for wanting to better themselves through exercise.
The point is that they are exercising to begin with. They are consciously seeking to improve their health by moving. And that’s the whole point of exercise, to improve your health. That person who is just walking around the block is still lapping everyone on the couch.

My Changing Views on Crossfit

I will always love crossfit because it changed my views on fitness and my relationship with food. I cared more about the weight on the bar than the weight on my scale, and I learned to eat for fuel. The community also helped to bring me out of my introvert shell and it became like a second family to me for a while. But in the past year, I feel like I have put my body through a lot, and things started to feel different. Movements started to feel harder and I didn’t have as much energy for workouts. I wasn’t looking forward to going to workouts anymore. I felt spent after a workout, and not in a good way. I evaluated my diet and tried changing a few things, but still felt like my body was fighting me. I didn’t have energy, wasn’t sleeping as well, was losing hair, and started to feel more stressed.  To the point where I thought I either had adrenal fatigue, or I was just getting too old for crossfit.  I started decreasing the amount of days I went.  It just wasn’t making me as happy as it used to.  Then, when I had surgery on my wrist and was out, I had to sit and reevaluate my goals.

Reevaluating my Goals

When I was at the peak of my crossfit days, I was working out 6 days a week, and sometimes twice a day–I would do the workout and strength portion, and do extra strength or cardio.  I was also taking supplements and eating a lot of calories in order to increase my strength, and counting macros.  It felt good to get stronger, but at the same time it was stressful to have to eat as much as I did and count calories, and it took up the majority of my free time.  I felt like I was getting too obsessive. But I had to ask myself, why? I wanted to get stronger and lift the heaviest weight I could, but I’ve never had any desire to compete. Sure, it was fun doing the Open, but I wouldn’t ever want to go to Regionals or the Games.  I am not a professional athlete, I am not aspiring to break any records or be the best female lifter, so why do I need to clean-and-jerk as much as one?  Sure, it feels good to be able to say that I can deadlift 220 pounds, but do I really need to?  If my body is feeling the way it does and telling me that I’m doing too much, shouldn’t I listen to it?

Where I stand Now

I am at a point in my life where I care more about working out for my overall health rather than to get as strong as possible. Any type of exercise is better than no exercise. Having endurance and good cardio is beneficial to your overall cardiovascular health (plus, it would be helpful if a zombie apocalypse ever broke out). Building muscle helps your body to burn more calories at rest. I sometimes miss running for longer than 2 miles, or just lifting weights on my own at the gym, or going for bike rides on Sundays. So why don’t I do these things more often? I love doing a crossfit workout every once in a while, but I just personally can’t do it every day like I used to.  And if I’m honest with myself, I don’t think I should be going so hard and working myself into exhaustion every day.  My body just can’t take the constant stress anymore.  I start to lose energy, hair, sleep, and motivation.  Especially now that I’m back in school with my life as busy as it is, and my history of not handling stress very well.  There needs to be a balance.  Once I heal completely, I might crossfit 1-2 days per week, but I’ll also do other things that I enjoy as well.

Going for a run on a nice day in the park can feel invigorating. It can relieve a lot of frustration to punch the sh*t out of a punching bag. Yoga can be stress relieving and centering. It can be a heck of a fun time at a Zumba class. Acro-yoga looks impressive. One workout isn’t better than the other, but one might be better for you. Don’t let someone tell you your workout is not good enough. Do what works for you, and what makes you happy. 🙂

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