Each month, I will post a Status Update where I highlight my progress – this will include physical progress, and progress photos, as well as updated lifting stats. I also want to take this time to reflect on the past month’s achievements and failures and assess my mental progress. I think this piece of the pie is just as important as the physical changes that occur in our bodies, if not more important – if you remember from my biography, I was drawn to Crossfit because it celebrated goals over appearance, and that will continue to be my mission.
I am now 5 months into Crossfit! What’s changed so far?
Not a lot, physically. 5 months isn’t actually a ton of time, and I know I won’t see tons of changes month-to-month as I continue with these regular posts. Have things changed in my body? Of course – but I think so far, they’re really only changes I can see. I look at myself in the mirror every day, so I’m going to notice subtle results. I know my body backwards and forwards, in terrible (dressing room) lighting and in natural light. I spend 24 hours a day with my body!
So what has changed, physically, that I’ve noticed?
- My waistline is the most obvious difference for me. I’m flexing in the photos above, but I can see clear definition “under the fluff” that wasn’t there before Crossfit, 5 months ago. Most interesting to me are my side obliques, the muscles that make up that “v cut” shape when you’re really lean. Of course, back to the “only I notice” part? My boyfriend doesn’t see them. It doesn’t mean they’re not there!
- Upper body thickness. My arms have ALWAYS been my weak spot – literally. I can’t lift a lot up top, and I don’t have a lot of muscle there. While I still don’t, I can tell there’s more going on than before. Teeny little delts beginning to grow, subtly wider lats … baby steps.
- Thighs! I’ve always had developed quads; they were my best feature back in my bikini competition days. I grow faster in my lower body, and that’s just the way I am. I’m also strong in my legs, so I’m more willing to push myself there because I feel like I can handle it. Nothing monumental has taken place in my legs recently, but I do feel like I’ve gained a bit of size in my inner quads (formerly non-existant).
I am going to post my weight and measurements below, but I want the focus to be on the measurements – muscle does a funny thing to the body, and while my weight may go up because I am eating for size gain, my measurements may reflect otherwise in certain areas.
Body fat %: 25%
Lean body mass: 122.05
Chest: 36 5/8″
Waist: 29 1/2″
Hips: 40 1/2″
Thigh (3″ from crotch): 23 3/4″
Bicep (4″ from elbow): 10 1/2″
But I want to talk about the other changes I’ve really noticed.
This is what is most different, and significant, to me.
I’ve always focused on what I look like. If physical changes aren’t happening, I’m not trying, or doing things right. This is a terrible way to think about your body! Would you say to your friend, who’s been consistently working out and eating well, that they aren’t trying because they don’t look dramatically different? Why don’t we treat ourselves with the same outlook?
Recently, I’ve found a huge shift in the way I perceive myself. Instead of leaving workouts with thoughts like “I hope all this is going to make my arms look nice”, the dialogue is more along the lines of “I’m happy I pushed myself today.” My goal tracker is filled with weight targets – weight lifted – and not what I’d like myself to weigh. During difficult WODs I’m not pushing myself through with negative thoughts about what bad things I ate that week and how this workout is going to undo those mistakes. Rather, I’m motivating myself by thinking about how much faster I’m completing burpees and wall balls compared to the month before.
So what is progress? What does it mean?
The primary definition of progress is: a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal).
However, the secondary definition is my favorite: progress is gradual betterment. Making yourself better. Improving who you are and what you are doing.
Do physical changes in your body make you better? Does looking a certain way improve who you are as a person? No. Are these things nice? Of course! I’m not in any way discounting aesthetic improvement – anyone who achieves this works HARD to get there. I’m more talking about shifting our mindsets from “I need to look better” to “I want to be better, and I may look better as a result”.
Crossfit is, and will continue, to slowly change the way my body looks, but that’s not why I do it. I’m happy with every little physical improvement that happens along the way – more because it’s just what will naturally happen with this lifestyle. That isn’t the end goal anymore. I’m proud of what I’ve learned, and who I’ve become, through this process. I’m happy with my achievements, and how I’ve changed the “background voice” in my workouts to one that cheers me on and pushes me forward. I’m happy with the way I look right now, even if it isn’t what I may have had in mind before I started – because it will continue to positively evolve with me as I grow further, both physically and mentally. Whatever I end up looking like during each monthly check-in is what I’m meant to look like. I feel happier because I feel like I’m in the thick of gradual betterment and it has nothing to do with my appearance. I feel healthier than I ever have, in all regards. That, as a result, makes me feel good about myself, no matter what!
Here is where I am currently with my progress. I’ve outlined Level 2 achievements in red, for when I start getting closer to that goal. This post’s achievements will be a bit crazy, since it culminates 5 months of work – next month’s check-in will likely be smaller. Additionally, my front and back squat, as well as my deadlift, don’t look super exciting because I’ve started the tracker where I am currently – I’ve been working up to those numbers for a few weeks now.
Some of the end goal weights are a bit arbitrary, but this is a working document I will continue to tweak forever!
What am I the most excited about?
- I did a rope climb! This is probably my favorite achievement so far – the first time I tried these, I couldn’t do it at all. They showed up in a WOD a few weeks later, and feelings of serious doubt started creeping in. I literally walked into the gym saying “I will have to modify this workout”. Why would I start off like that? That just gives me an excuse not to try something that scares me! You know what? I gave it a second chance and up the rope I went. SO much of being able to do something is in your head.
- Snatches. I’ve been working on nailing form (not jumping around too much, getting my stance right, the “hip brush”, and getting under the bar quick enough in a squat snatch). My coach gave me some pointers the other day, and it just clicked. This has been one of the hardest lifts for me, just because it involves so many moving pieces! I tend to think about things too much when I’m doing them, and it trips me up. Just gotta do it.
- While the tracker doesn’t show this, burpees have been my BIGGEST stressor since starting. As a tall person (5′ 10″), I struggle with the amount of energy required to jump back upright from being on the ground. This wears me out like crazy. I also have exercise-induced asthma, so my breathing struggles during cardio-heavy workouts! I remember a warm-up we did months ago, where we had to do 4 burpees in 15 seconds, 4 times. I couldn’t even fit all 4 in there. It ended up being a whole miserable minute of constant burpees. Guess what? We did this same warm-up last week, and I not only fit all 4 in there – I HAD 7 SECONDS TO SPARE! These are the little successes that make my day.
- I did a handstand! No push-up …baby steps here. Going upside down was quite scary and took a few tries (and painful falls), and I definitely had a mental wall put up!
What needs work?
- Double-unders. As you saw from last week’s post, I have a fun issue with those! I’ve worked up to 9 strung together, but I still struggle with timing / jumping high enough / turning my wrists fast enough.
- Ring dips are VERY hard for me. I just need to build up more upper body strength here, and get my form down – I tend to flare out my elbows too much and not keep things tight.
- Cleans. I will be doing the Festivus Games in April (designed for beginners), and a heavy 1RM clean is one of the WODs! My form isn’t perfect here, so sometimes I muscle up the bar and that prevents me from going as heavy as I should.
- Cardio, in general! I’m currently working through some breathing issues from a bad cough that’s left fluid in my lungs. This is holding me back a ton – but I’m trying to stay positive and do my best. I’ve had a few discouraging workouts this past week that left me winded and exhausted – but showing up is step one!
What have you gotten out of fitness? Have you surprised yourself in what you’ve learned? I’d love to hear your experiences!