Life changes after Crossfit: Q&A Session with Callie

Today I talk with my friend Callie who started Crossfit about 9 months ago – or at the start of 2016. Callie and I were roommates in college at Bama so we have known each other for a few years and I want to share with you all how her life changed for the better when she started a regular workout program by joining a Crossfit gym. Callie went from someone not so comfortable working out, to someone who lifts weights and touches a barbell numerous times a week and feels very confident doing so. I hope this blog inspires you to incorporate weightlifting into your life – seeing a perspective from someone who went from not lifting weights at all to lifting regularly. She can tell you how much her life improved and how much better she feels after making this lifestyle change. I am so proud of her dedication and it shows that Crossfit gyms are so welcoming and perfect for ANYONE. So let’s get started!

How long have you been doing Crossfit and what made you decide to start?

I went to my first Crossfit class at Crossfit Over The Mountain (OTM) on February 3, 2016. So, I’ve just been doing this about 9 months. I never really worked out before for a multitude of reasons. (I never felt confident enough in a gym, I didn’t have time, I can’t do that with my level of skill, etc.) The main reason was pain.  I made the decision to undergo a breast reduction in December 2015. I was in constant pain and was having chronic migraines, so much so that I decided to get Botox treatment for them. I literally had a headache almost every day of my life. I had to take muscle relaxers to sleep. It was rough. Honestly, before I had surgery, I never felt physically able to lift weights or workout because I was in so much pain. I spent all my energy just getting through my day and working out was the farthest thing from my mind. After literally having a weight lifted on my shoulders, my headaches and back pain began to improve drastically. One of my closest friends, Chris, has been doing crossfit for about 5 years. Since he started, he has been asking me to try it. After my surgery, I was finally ready to take the plunge. My first workout was an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) and I think I did air squats, sit ups, and push-ups. It. Kicked. My. Ass. I was hooked. I had so much support and love from Chris and a few people I had met from OTM before I ever started going.For the first time EVER, I felt like I had found something I could do and would enjoy doing on a regular basis. I went back a couple of days later, and decided to join OTM. The rest is history.

How has your life improved since you became active (joining the CF gym) on a multiple-times-per-week basis?

I sleep better, I have more energy, I haven’t had a migraine that required prescription medication in two months, I have a fantastic group of friends that I have gotten to experience amazing things with. The community support system is one of the best things about Crossfit. Overall, I am SO much happier. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life. It’s a story for another day, but the difference in my attitude and outlook on life is astonishing. The gym keeps me sane when I’ve had a stressful day. It makes me feel powerful when my mind is trying to convince me that I’m weak. It pushes me beyond the limits I impose on myself.

Did your eating habits change when you started Crossfit and if so, how?

I’m not nearly as dedicated as you, but for the last several years I’ve tried to make sure most of what I eat is fresh, simple, and not processed. Am I perfect? Definitely not. I’m a busy girl. I have a house to take care of, two dogs, and a busy career. Sometimes I gotta just get a salad from Urban Cookhouse and move on. In general, I try to eat less processed carbs (bread is a big weakness for me), more fresh veggies, and lots of protein. I meal prep as much as a can, but again, I’m not perfect. I also hate reheated food, so I have to find things that are healthy to prep that I will actually eat throughout the week. I eat lots of soups, chili, sweet potatoes, grilled chicken, etc. I’ll also cook my meat and carbs, but I won’t pre-cook veggies because I just can’t handle microwaved broccoli (bleh). A good trick is to just zap frozen green beans in the microwave at work so they’re still crunchy. It’s about finding what works for your lifestyle and your taste buds. Just try to make the best choice as much as you can and you’ll feel the changes.

For those who may be afraid to start Crossfit, or, to lift weights, what advice would you give them?

Nike it. Just do it. Just walk through the door. Come to OTM! It’s scary walking in there with all these good looking people who are strong as hell when you can’t even do an air squat without wanting to die. Just go. Go again. They will love you. They will support you. You will get stronger and it will all be worth it. You’re not going to be the best in the first 3 months or the first year. Just get started.

Would you say your confidence has improved, comparing today to this time last year? If so, tell us more.

My confidence is through the roof. It’s something I’ve worked on for many years, and I’ll say that I was pretty confident in most aspects of my life before I started Crossfit, but it’s only built upon that foundation. Setting your own goals in the gym and achieving them will work wonders for your ability to set goals and achieve them in other areas of your life. I will say that pushing beyond my comfort zone in the gym has helped me push beyond my comfort zone in my career, which has been amazing.

What “fit tips” help you stay on track with your workouts and your eating? And tell us how you stay motivated.

I am a stickler for schedules and calendars. I have when I’m supposed to be at the gym on my work calendar, I get a reminder on my phone, it’s written in my planner. I see that reminder that I need to work out many times a day so it’s on my mind. I prefer to work out after work since I’m not a morning person. I’ve integrated that into my schedule and committed to making it a part of my day. I work through lunch, leave work at 4:30, work out, and I’m home by 6:30 every night. Also, at a Crossfit gym, you will get asked where the hell you’ve been if you don’t show up for a few days. The community keeps you accountable, so that helps a lot. Plus the people are awesome and you’ll miss them! I also don’t have to figure out anything when it comes to training. I don’t have time for that! The programming at our gym keeps me progressing in my skills and strength without me having to put hours into planning workouts for the week. It’s okay if that’s what you like to do, but having someone else do all the thinking and planning and just showing up to do the work is what’s best for my lifestyle.

Staying on track with eating, for me, is all about what happens on the weekend. If I prepare on Sunday, I know my whole week will be good and I’ll stay on track. If I miss that afternoon of getting ready for the week, it can be a struggle. Setting aside time to make sure I’m prepared makes all the difference.  I’m not meticulous with tracking my calories or macros, but I know that if I’m eating lots of lean protein, veggies, and a bit of fruit during the day I’m probably okay.

Fav indulgence food? Fav clean meal?

I have a huge sweet tooth, so if I’m going to indulge, it’s probably going to be some form of cake.  As far as a clean meal goes, I don’t think there’s anything better than a good steak with a sweet potato and some broccoli. Yum.

If you could give one piece of advice to those out there who haven’t gotten the courage to take the first step and improve their lives through regular workouts and eating better, what would it be?

I think what really helped me was having a complete paradigm shift, which was in part caused by going through my surgery. I honestly had a conversation with myself about all the challenges I had overcome in my life and how, if I could make it through all of that, I could challenge myself to become healthier. I am not a natural athlete, I have never played a sport, and I had never picked up a barbell before my first week of Crossfit. Your change starts with you and a commitment to yourself. I started this journey for me and me only. I didn’t go into this in February wanting a “summer body” or trying to fit into a dress or trying to get a boyfriend with a hot new bod. I walked in just wanting to feel better, feel stronger, and do something I was proud of.  Believe me, if I can do it, you can.

What motivates you or keeps you going during a tough workout?

Does knowing that it’ll be over soon count? Just kidding. I keep reminding myself that 9 months ago I couldn’t do any of this. That most people on earth can’t do what I do, and that if I just keep moving and finish this WOD I will get better. A lot of people who do Crossfit are naturally competitive, and that really isn’t the case for me. I’m not trying to finish the WOD before anyone else in class or beat my friend’s time. I don’t compare myself to anyone else at my gym. I compare me today to me 6 months ago, 6 weeks ago, or 6 days ago. Am I getting better every day? Am I pushing myself to be the best I can be for the next 20 minutes of this WOD? What is the thing I hate about this WOD and how can I push myself through the misery and come out better on the other side? I also divide hard workouts into sections and focus on getting through each little piece. (Once I finish these 10 burpees I only have 10 more. Once I run 400m I’m halfway through this workout.  20 more kettle bell swings and I can rest, etc.) Alternatively you can just do some squats and then look at your butt. That’s what keeps me going most days.

ANYTHING else you want to add or include?!

Yes! Thank you to you for always being a supportive friend and sharing your passion. And, of course, thanks to my OTM family for being so wonderful. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

Below is Callie and 1 year later on the right – pictured with her Crossfit BFF, Chris



Q and A session with Crossfit Owner & Coach, Will Richardson

MORE Q & A SESSIONS! Today I want to bring to your attention my amazing cousin-in-law, Will Richardson. Will is a self-made entrepreneur and business owner in Mobile, Alabama. He owns numerous Crossfit gyms in Mobile and while he started out pretty small, he has grown his businesses tremendously! I want to ask Will some questions because he not only coaches at his gyms, but also coaches and trains other Crossfit coaches. So if anyone knows his stuff, it’s Will. Will manages to run his businesses as well as maintain an active lifestyle, working out 5-6 days per week. He’s also a father and a husband. So if you think you are too busy to find time to train, take a look at his schedule! If you live in the Mobile, Alabama area I recommend you step into one of his gyms to begin a healthier lifestyle with the help of some awesome and supportive coaches. Let’s get started!

How long have you been doing Crossfit, and when did you become a coach? Also, give a brief history of the gyms you own in Mobile (locations, name, when they opened). I started CrossFit in late 2007 at a gym downtown with a buddy of mine, Ross. After a month or so the owner basically kicked us out for getting chalk everywhere and taking up half the gym to do our workouts! LOL.. .so we decided to build our own setup in my backyard so we could train whenever we wanted without worrying if we were bothering anyone.  Everyday after work we would meet at my house and do the WOD (workout of the day posted on the site).  After a year of doing this we decided we wanted to open our own CrossFit gym and share what we had grown to love so much. Over the following 8 years I opened 3 different CrossFit boxes (gyms) (CrossFit Mobile, CrossFit Mobile Midtown, and CrossFit Mobile Downtown). In May of 2016 I sold my midtown location.

How many workouts do you usually fit in each week? Also please tell us about the importance of incorporating stretching/yoga-type exercises as well. 

I try and do 2 separate sessions a day, 5 days a week, and an active recovery day on Thursday which consist of some sort of rowing, biking or mobility work. Sunday is my day for complete rest as well as spending time with my wife Tiffany and son Tucker. On my workout days I spend about 30 min before and after each session mobilizing, you can never get too much of that.  I also require my competitors as well as my class athletes to mobilize on their own and in class. The key to avoiding injury and executing movements with more power and efficiency is MOBILITY!

How do you manage such a busy lifestyle – between coaching, your own workouts, as well as being a father and husband? What do you say when people tell you “I don’t have time to workout”?
 I still haven’t figured this one out yet! LOL. I just do what I can and try to balance each one the best I know how. I think Programming takes up the most time.  Trying to program for class athletes, individuals and teams takes up a ton of time.  I’m usually up each night until 2am studying results and making the changes needed to continue building a better program.  Most people don’t realize how much time is put into each day.  I am usually up and going around 8 and don’t finish my day until around 1:30-2am.  So anyone that says they don’t have time to workout needs to come do my job for one day and I promise they will find time!
What kind of foods do you eat on a daily basis? And, if you ever have a “cheat” food, what are your favorites?
 I follow Titan Trained Nutrition which my buddy Spencer Murphy and his wife Melissa own. They focus on macros and customized meal plans. I follow a higher protein and fat diet with moderate carbs that are focused around my workouts 5 days a week, on the other 2 days I use them as re-feed days in which I up my carbs and lower my protein intake.  There’s a lot of good info out there and a lot of good nutrition coaches that can help anyone achieve there goals but I feel like Spencer and his wife do a better job of creating a plan that’s easier to follow than most. I’m also just like everyone else and love sweets! If I see something I want then I’m going to eat it.  If you never cheat it makes most people hate eating healthy so I say if you want it, eat it.  Just don’t over do it and make sure you’re not stepping out all the time. It’s about balance.
Why is weight training so important for everyone, including middle-aged+ people? Also, please explain why it’s never “too late” to get started.
 Weightlifting not only helps you burn calories and increase metabolism but it helps keep your bones strong and healthy. Most people don’t realize that after a weightlifting session your body continues to burn calories for hours (as opposed to cardio where you burn calories during the movement only). So those who are trying to burn fat and lose extra pounds should start supplementing weightlifting into their normal routines and they will see faster results and start feeling healthier and stronger much faster than doing cardio alone.
What is your favorite CF workout or favorite exercise to do (e.g., a specific one or deadlifts or snatches or squats etc.)? If you have more than one favorite, feel free to list.
 My favorite CrossFit would have to be “Murph” which is a hero WOD named after a fallen Navy Seal named Michael Murphy, who I also named my dog after. The workout consists of a 1mile run followed my 100 pull-ups, 200, pushups, 300 squats and then another mile run.  I have a few close friends that were Navy Seals so this one really hits home when doing it..  The funny thing about it is, if you ask any one that knows me they would tell you that I hate running and this has 2 miles of running in it! LOL… I like workouts with more Olympic lifts in them (snatch or the clean & jerk).
If you had to pick ONE fit tip to give others who are beginning an active lifestyle, what would it be?
 Definitely to stick to a program and don’t give up. Think about how long it took you to get “out” of shape, so don’t expect  to get “in” shape over night. It takes time, so trust in the program whatever it is you choose to follow. I prefer CrossFit or Olympic Lifting.  Don’t be intimidated by what you read or see on TV.  CrossFit is a program that can fit anyone’s needs no matter your level of fitness.
Lastly, please tell us why you love Crossfit and the benefits you’ve seen in your life since incorporating Crossfit on an almost daily basis?

 I fell in love with CrossFit on day 1.  I loved every aspect of it especially the community.  I love how everyone comes together and forms a gym family that carries outside the walls of the gym.  You won’t go into one single CrossFit facility and find a stranger.  Not only is everyone there to help themselves but they are also there to help make you a better you. Like I said earlier, CrossFit is for EVERYONE as long as you’re willing to put the time in and learn.  CrossFit will create a “you” that you’ve never seen before. My goal is to live a long healthy life and be able to do the things I do now with my children and their children and I feel like CrossFit will allow me to achieve that.