In Writing

I don’t like working out under the best of circumstances, but CrossFit is a special kind of hell. Designed with the idea that lifting ridiculous amounts of weight lots and lots of times is a good idea for everyone, dragging my carcass there takes the willpower of a thousand monks. Why do I do it? Because it’s the only workout I’ve ever done that doesn’t make me want to nap from boredom.

I got into CF hard core in the spring, but fell off the wagon in June and July, when I did a fair amount of travel. I kept working out in hotel gyms and in my house, but I push myself the way a toddler pushes those little rolly toys – haphazardly and only while it holds my attention. A planned series of 10 wind sprints might get reduced down to 4 when, well, sprints make me out of breath. A planned set of 8 deadlifts turns into 3 because… is that a twinge in my hamstring? Can’t go hurting myself.

Luckily, for the desperately lazy like me, CrossFit instructions take no BS. Today, for example, the workout was 50 deadlifts, 40 pullups (don’t fret, I can’t get this Latin butt up over a pull-up bar even once. They modify for the weaklings. I do ring rows), 30 front squats, 20 ring dips and 10 thrusters, all with a 25-pound bar that they expected me to load up with more weight (except for the pullups and ring rows, which some crazy guys were doing with weight hanging from their feet but which, mercifully, I did not need to add any more weight than that of my own body).

The instructor, nicknamed Tarzan (no, I am not making this up), cranked up the music and everyone got going. One thing I do like about CrossFit is that you go at your own pace, competing only against yourself. The deadlifts went relatively easy, because baby got back and, luckily, that means there’s some muscle under there. The ring rows were another story. My back sort of laughed at my hopefulness in thinking I could lift any significant portion of my body weight with my arms. How quaint of me! Tarzan strolled over and said I should extend my legs out further to make it more of a challenge. I would have laughed if I could breathe.

The front squats went okay, except I got totally dizzy about halfway through, the ring dips were just me hanging off the side of a box and wondering why my wrists hurt, and the thrusters (squats up to overhead presses) were not as bad as I thought they’d be. Because I’d only put 20 pounds on my bar (in addition to the bar’s weight of 25, for a total of 45), I got done before the other workout nuts around me who were dripping sweat and lifting 100+ pounds over their heads. When it was over, I had a pain deep in my center of the bones of my shoulder. But I felt like I’d accomplished something.

I came home, made a protein smoothie and took my branched chain amino acids, which are supposed to help build muscle so that these exercises will stop feeling like carrying the proverbial cross. I flexed in the mirror looking for triceps. They chose to remain hidden under the flappy part of my arm.

So… am I back on the wagon? Kind of. I always imagined I could one day be the sort of person that’s hooked on exercise, that misses it and can’t wait to do it again. I’m beginning to realize that maybe the best I can hope for is to be the kind of person that finds her way back and works through it because she likes a challenge. And maybe that’s enough.

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