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