Nat_november8479

Why I caved to the cult…

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

It all started about a year ago when my husband joined CrossFit.  To be honest, I was so excited he had found something he absolutely, wholeheartedly loved.  After each session he’d come home and pour his heart out to me about his 1 hour (and some) gruelling workout.  That’s kind of where it ended for me.  Time after time, I tried my hardest to listen to him, to be interested as he’d tell me with so much passion about his workouts – it was enough to light him up inside all the while I’d sit there mumbling to myself “I think I’ve lost my husband to a cult and I think he is nuts.”  The workouts sounded ridiculous, like something of a military nature and I couldn’t understand why somebody would want to do that to themselves.  More over, I’d observed hundreds of women walk through my doors experiencing hormone issues because of two main offenders – over exercise and eating disorders.  I couldn’t condone his new love.  My friends would joke too and we’d each give one other a wee little eye roll when he’d announce his march out the door as to his destination of choice “I’m off to the ‘gym’ darl’ – always en route to his cross fit workout.  I have to admit, what worked in my favour was that I was having myself a dandy time too, he would go off to CrossFit and I was ever so slightly stretching myself outside my comfort zone loving my 3 pilates sessions each week – we had a good thing going on.  He’d torture himself at cross fit and walk in the door as if he’d just swam the local pool for 25 laps and I’d come home with a drop or two of sweat on my brow.  It also meant I didn’t have to wash my hair too regularly (have you seen my mop!?) which was of course a terrific bonus.

As time went on my resistance to cross fit grew.  Look, in all honesty it wasn’t so much him going to CrossFit but more my understanding of what intense workouts could do to those hormonally challenged.  Based on what my husband was telling me, these were no workouts for women.  Period. (or should I say lack of) I made the conclusion that he was in fact mad and that I could see great reason to recommend to women to avoid such activities at all cost.

Aaaaand… then I joined cross fit.

Of course it didn’t happen that quickly.  I resisted and bagged the absolute crapola out of him and his cult and then set about trying to convince others around me that it was a terrible idea for them too, until one day he had me caught between a rock and a hard place where I had no place to go than to the gym to actually find out what all the noise was about.

So I gave it a go.  Was I impressed?  No.  Was I sore – hell to the Y.E.S.

For the first three sessions, post workout I was like a complete, total zombie.  Fatigued, nauseous and completely spent as if somebody had unscrewed my arms and legs and I was just a helpless torso slumped on the couch.  I did more burpees in those three sessions than I had done in my complete lifetime and spent more time complaining to my husband than I had since giving birth (that was no small effort either), yet each time he asked if I was coming along, my curiosity got the better of me and I’d show up.

Like so many things in life, I didn’t completely understand CrossFit, and so it was easier to ridicule it than to embrace it.  I was approaching it from fear because I didn’t fully understand it (and I still don’t fully to be honest!) and like with so many other examples in life, I was letting my inner fear drive me home.  How often do we do this around our health, our hormones, the thought of a new routine or job, even having children or everyday opportunities that come our way that we resist simply because fear likes to sit behind the wheel?

I see this so often, especially around health, that we don’t want to change simply because we fear the unknown.  Some of us have gotten so used to being unwell, that it’s our new norm.  And then of course we can also fall into the trap of becoming our illness rather than having one.  It’s like the saying goes, “you are not fat, you have fat, just like you have fingernails.  You are not, a fingernail.”  What it takes is stepping outside our comfort zones to substantially make a difference to our selves.  My cross fit experience is the perfect example of that.

So do I still think CrossFit is terrible for those with hormone issues?  Actually no – here’s why;

  1. Conventional gym sessions see us isolate body parts and work them like nothing else. CrossFit actually is more like primal fitness – using the entire body based on day to day actives our bodies are designed to do (yet we can lose our flexibility and movement because we are so sedentary and regularly practice poor posture).
  2. Most of the high intensity is done in short bursts – exactly the way your hormones like it.  It’s not about hour long vigorous sessions, most of the action is over and done with in minutes (think 6 – 20 minutes).  Of course there is the weight lifting factor which again, is short sharp bursts – exactly how our body’s are designed to move.
  3. Warm up’s are commenced at the beginning of each session that are all about mobility and range of movement, to condition your body and reduce the risk of injury (I have to send 10000 apologies, because this I never knew until I commenced at the gym)
  4. At ANY sign of injury, your always encouraged to listen to your body (ahhhh how much I love this)

All in all CrossFit’s main focus is on mobility and strength as well as overall fitness.

So you see, everything I’ve banged on about for like ever, is right there.  I’ve always talked about exercising right for your hormones and I will absolutely continue to maintain that stance, but for the average Jo-Blow-anne, CrossFit workouts aren’t at all any different to what I’ve been banging on about for years.  Short stints of exercise that get your body revving which trumps long haul workouts that only impact your cortisol levels leaving your sex hormones down and out.

Of course, we can all get caught up in the wrong type of exercise and regime too easily.  I’m certainly not here to say that CrossFit is for everybody, since it’s all about finding what works for you and most importantly understanding why.  But equally, as I share in my book Eat Fat, Be Lean all over exercise like surfing, CrossFit, martial arts and alike do provide you with exactly that – the incorporation of all your muscle groups working in synergy for all over health.

So next time you’re totally resisting something, I’d love to encourage you to find out why.  Why is it that it triggers you?.  Why is it that I was totally anti-CrossFit.  Bottom line was because I didn’t actually have any clue what I was talking about (like so many other things I don’t fully understand).  Rather than react and retaliate, get curious.  Allow your inner curiosity to spark investigation to really take you on a path of discovery – because really it’s only from this place that we can truly make a sound decision.

I’m loving my time so far at cross fit.  Will I always love it – who knows but at least now I’ve given it a go, my body feels flexible, strong, I’m sleeping beautifully, I’m less of a grumpy witch to be around because I’m less stressed (there are days I beg to exercise let me tell you) and I exercise with my husband which is a real treat.  I’m here to say, I’ve embraced it all.

I am in no way endorsed by CrossFit – all of the above is simply my experience.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you’ve tried CrossFit, liked it, loathed it or you’re still on the fence with this one.  In any case, we can all take something from my experience – that is, allowing fear to drive us if not nurtured properly can keep us in a rut for the rest of our days.  What are you choosing?

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5 Responses to “Why I caved to the cult…”

  1. Angela

    Hi Nat, great article. I’m all about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I’m a Pilates instructor and have done Pilates for 15 years. Safe to say I love Pilates! Some circumstances left me looking for something different and I came across cross fit. It can seem intimidating to women especially, because of the free weights and thinking they may bulk up. I absolutely love crossfit and find it a natural progression from Pilates because of that primal, all body work out. It is incredibly technique focussed, which I love, so it requires mindful movement as well, being aware of your body and how it moves. The interval training has provided me with a great level of fitness, so that I even am able to run 5km comfortably and enjoy it (I’ve always hated running). And the best bit, I love every inch of my athletic body and I feel the strongest and fittest I have ever been in my life in my late 30’s!

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  2. Pip

    Hi Nat,
    I was a regular gym go-er and liked to think I was reasonably fit- boy was I wrong after attempting crossfit! I never thought I’d do crossfit, like you, until I thought I’d just give the free trials a go and see what all the fuss was about! I have found it to be yes, very painful, but such a fantastic work out that target your whole body and in turn, I am feeling so much better. Better sleep, feel better within myself and the added bonus of becoming fitter! Great example of “don’t knock it til you try!” In saying this, I try to mix up my week with 3 crossfit sessions then some low intensity exercises such as walking, yoga, pilates etc, as I need a balance of both and that’s what works well for my body!

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