Six months ago I started a new adventure unlike any before. Tired of being a weakling, and an increasingly plump marshmallow since my food writing career began to take off, I dove into Derby City CrossFit with vague ideas of being strong enough to carry a basket of heavy produce at the market and move my massive Le Creuset cookware around the kitchen without injuring myself. In the beginning I was utterly intimidated by the gym, commenting in my first blog post,
Feeling ridiculously out of place I showed up to meet Ben in a gym that looked like something Rocky Balboa might have trained in. There were actually chains in there!
I’d have never imagined a scene like my workout Saturday morning – slapping chalk on my back with some of the toughest guys in the gym to prepare for speed squats with those very chains. Ben, it seems, knew it would happen before I did. Day 1, he was confident. “Reduce body fat, increase muscle tone and strength, piece of cake!” I wasn’t nearly so sure.
But day after day, week after week, I worked. With Ben’s guidance I learned to do not just one, but multiple chin-ups. I ran with sandbags, I carried dumbbells around the gym, I did the infamous burpees, I sprinted with a loaded prowler, I did push-ups, I worked many days until I thought I would be sick or pass out (though I never actually did). I became completely addicted.
And I got really, really into lifting weights. The rush of completing a difficult set, the feeling of pushing through what feels impossible, the sound of the barbell crashing back into the rack, it drew me in until I even began to dream about squats. I competed in a power-lifting meet, not performing as well as I’d hoped, but more than respectably for my body weight.
And six months in I still marvel at the changes I’ve wrought. I’m clueless at times, like asking Dr. Kyle if my knees are swollen, pointing at the rounded area on the inner side above kneecap. “That’s well-developed muscle,” he explained kindly, trying not to make me feel like an idiot. I’ve leveled out at about 11 pounds of weight loss after dropping a little too much then increasing some. Without fancy equipment I can only guess at numbers, but since I’ve lost 3 inches around my hips alone I suspect I’ve lost far more than 11 pounds of fat, and added several pounds of muscle.
I still face new challenges all the time. There’s still so much I don’t know how to do and I rely on the good nature of many of the great people at the gym to show me how to do new things. Lately it seems like a lot of the hard work is catching up in the form of injuries. This really distresses me, not so much because of the pain (although some of the stuff has really hurt!) but because it means I have to lay off certain workouts. I worry about losing the progress I’ve made, but Ben helps me work around the injuries and makes sure I’m still progressing in other ways. And I’m lucky to have Dr. Kyle on site to tape me up and perform his magic on my various bumps and bruises.
I’ve surpassed my original vague goals by about a million miles (forget the Le Creuset, I can squat 150 pounds, bench 80 and deadlift 155, not to mention knock out 6 chin-ups, pick up the 115-lb Atlas stone and do handstand push-ups) but am always excited to be working on the next thing, whatever that may be. I have a crazy high squat goal in mind for this summer, and after that, who knows? If I’ve learned anything in my six months here it’s that anything is possible.