First bnd foremost I need to make a disclaimer on this post. I am not anti-crossfit. I want to explain why I don’t do crossfire and why I don’t think a lot of us women should either. Or at least not make it the gold standard of ideal workouts.
I also want to mention that my husband does CrossFit. And guess what, he loves it. It’s his favorite type of workout he’s done and it works really well for his personality type and body type. Now that we’ve gotten the I’m-not-anti-CrossFit conversation out of the way I want you to know why I personally don’t do CrossFit and never will.
What is CrossFit?
You may or may not be familiar with CrossFit. I want you to know what this type of workout is before you know why I don’t do the workouts. The definition of CrossFit is “Constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.”
The definition of CrossFit from the official website:
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
CrossFit contends that a person is as fit as they are proficient in each of ten general physical skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.
In other words, Crossfit is a high intensity, push you harder and farther to gain more power, strength and endurance workout. It’s meant to kick your booty. And in my opinion, not always in the best way. It is very focused on a muscular physique and that you can always look better, get fitter and be stronger.
In my opinion, this isn’t a good mindset for 99% of women. Can I even say it increases our insecurity and dissatisfaction with our bodies? Ok, I am getting ahead of myself here. I have so much more to share on this later in this post.
Why I personally don’t do CrossFit
I spent about 10 years of my life getting my health back. I worked hard to heal my digestive system, heal my brain to be able to concentrate and focus again, and get my body composition healthy again. When I was fighting for my health I was pretty weak. From the outside I may have looked healthy and you could even go as far as to say “fit”. But on the inside I was a very weak both physically and emotionally.
Stress exhausted me and while in chiropractic school I was under a lot of stress which meant I was extremely fatigued almost every second of every day. Working out was something I wanted to do but only happened a couple of times per week. I barely had enough energy to do my laundry and do the dishes. It wasn’t possible at that time to follow an intense workout program.
When I did a workout of moderate intensity I would physically crash and it would take me days to recover and feel like I could do another workout. That’s just physically.
Mentally I was pushing myself hard to get up and do daily tasks that had to happen. I didn’t have enough mental get-up-and-go to push myself in a workout. I felt horrible about my inability to workout consistently and beat myself up for not being able to be super fit, have abs and workout like other people were. I really hated exercise and shamed myself into exercise, not because I wanted to but because I felt bad about myself.
Now that I’m healthy again and am finding it possible (and can I even say enjoyable) to exercise I realize that a high intensity program will never be good for me physically, mentally and spiritually. This may be the same for you too.
Open your mind and heart to figure out what exercise works best for you, even if it’s not what you think it is. Or maybe that little voice in your head that tells you what you should do needs to be silenced.
I am by nature a slow moving person. I like to take my time and do things in a detailed and methodical manner. I don’t run fast, I don’t jump high and I don’t naturally excel with athletics. I don’t say that to be negative but actually the reverse. I know this about myself because I know where my strengths lie, and it’s not in competitive and intense activities.
I love Yoga, Pilates and Barre work. I like gentle HIIT (High Intensity) workouts and walks for my cardio. They make me feel good about my body. They workout my body and also support a healthy mindset. My body feels great when I’m done and recovers quickly from the workout. That doesn’t mean I’m not sore, it just means that I can function and recover well from the workout. It gives me energy and doesn’t tire me out.
If I did CrossFit I would quickly wear myself out. I couldn’t do it longer than a week because my whole body would start to hurt and actually break down. I have to be careful with my spine because I have a lumbar curve in my back which is one more reason I’m thankful to be a chiropractor (and live a chiropractic lifestyle) and know my need for my body to be adjusted weekly.
Because of my low back I can’t do a full squat in good form without some discomfort in my back. I can body squat (enter Yoga, Pilates and Barre). I hurt when I try to add a lot of weight to my body. Do you see where I’m going? More pain, more discomfort and ultimately this will harm my body and my health.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Workout like an Olympian?” in relation to a certain workout. Let me de-bunk that.
If you’re not an Olympian don’t work out like an Olympian.
If you sit at a desk all day, don’t work out like your job is to compete physically. It’s just silly and you can get hurt believing this.
If you’re busy and can only workout for 20-40 minutes a day (or 3-4x per week) choose a workout that supports your lifestyle. One where you move your body and get all of the positive benefits of exercise.
What’s the best for you? Do you know if your body is fueled by slower movements? Body weight exercises? Lower weight reps? Figure out what your body does well with. Not what you are told to do. CrossFit or another very high intensity workout doesn’t mean you physically get a better workout. It actually may be worse for your body.
Six pack abs, defined biceps and a sculpted backside shouldn’t be the standard we feel we should measure up to. Physically that’s not always healthy, and often very unhealthy. Let’s focus on physical health so we can do the things in life that matter like being the best wife, mom, friend etc we can be.
Did you know that a workout is mental too? For a long time I thought it was just physical. I wouldn’t like working out and it would be a mental battle to get myself through a workout or just keep telling myself to move faster, harder and lift more.
Guess what? My mind works better when I am relaxed, encouraged and exercising slowly focusing on good form, not a faster and more intense movement. I don’t move quickly, jump high or have the ability to keep up with fast paced workouts. I never have been able to and realized 2 years ago that was how I was created and it was ok to embrace that slower movement.
I have learned in the last couple years to enjoy workouts. They are still a mental battle sometimes to start and finish. I pray a lot for God to give me the strength and endurance to finish it. I’m not naturally in love with exercise. It’s a discipline for me but I always feel better after I workout. I found an exercise program and routine that works for my body it has become more of an enjoyable habit and I have found myself looking forward to workouts.
I believe deeply your workouts should support a healthy body and a healthy mind. It should encourage you and leave you feeling strong and not discouraged or disheartened. If you feel less-than or not-enough after a workout program.
If you leave a workout feeling worse about yourself I believe you need to think hard about switching the workout you are doing. Find one that nourishes your mind as well as your body.
I’m going to talk about the wanted six pack abs one more time. I have read blogpost after blogpost of someone who felt their worst when they had the “perfect” body and the six pack abs. They had the worst relationship with their bodies, were the most stressed, and spent countless hours in the gym and being obsessed with the food they were eating.
I’ve also talked with people who’s health has deteriorated to the point where they need to spend years healing because they stressed their body so much from a fitness competition or obsessive dieting and exercising. Some people are naturally more muscular than others, so muscles and fitness doesn’t always mean unhealthy. But more than not it is too hard for our bodies.
Remember, the “perfect” body doesn’t exist. Loving your body, especially right where it is at, is incredibly important. Don’t let a picture on the screen of a sculpted body make you feel bad about yourself. That person in the picture may not be as healthy as you think they are. Having more mental energy to spend time where it matters, like with your family, is so important. Don’t let yourself forget that.
Did you know that workouts can be spiritual in nature? They can encourage you or discourage you. Another way to say this is your faith can grow or your faith can be hurt by the workouts you do. You may have never heard this concept before, and that’s ok. Stick with me.
You also may have been feeling this stirring in your spirit about this very topic. Take it seriously, it makes a big difference in your life. Take the stirring from the Holy Spirit. Being spiritually encouraged by a workout and allowing God into your workouts can make such a big difference in how we view our bodies and their ability to move well through the workout.
Let me take a minute to explain this for myself. I am not filled up, energized and encouraged by intense exercise. It makes me feel very tired, worn out and like I don’t have much to give to others. It’s true and my introverted self is worn out by intensity in exercise. I feel more able to do ministry and life when I am filled up spiritually and that often times comes into play in how I start my day. When I start my day with positive exercise I am able to serve my family, my relationships and even my business well.
Does this sound like you? For me I want my workouts to also be worship to God and I want to praise him for my body’s ability to move, to accomplish the things I do in my life and be thankful during the workout time. I can’t be thankful when I’m worn out or hating a workout. I can’t be thankful when I’m not appreciating the movement my body is able to do.
I remember doing a workout from Revelation Wellness VIP TV. I love their workouts so much and the heart behind them. (check them out if you haven’t) I was feeling tired out from the workout (the normal kind of tired out from a good workout). I really wanted to quit because nobody would have known if I did, I’m at home by myself. At that same time the thought went through my head the instructor said something that was one of the most profound things I’ve ever heart in a workout. She said “Ask God for strength to finish the workout. He is our source of strength for everything in life, even during our workouts”.
What was that?
I can go to God and ask him to get me through my workouts? I can do this working out thing with Him and He’s for me as I’m sweating lifting my light weights and doing my body squats? For some reason I always saw a disconnect with my workouts and my spiritual life. But they aren’t separate, they are very much together. I would bet even more intertwined then I even know at this point in my journey.
Make sure however you are working out that your workouts are encouraging your spirit and creating a heart of gratitude while looking to God. Don’t get caught in the beat-your-body-down comparison trap that is so common amongst our fitness culture. Love your body and workout in celebration of that. And this is true even if you are working on loving your body and may not even be close to there yet.
Why Are You Working Out?
One thing you need to ask yourself is why you are working out. Is it in love and thankfulness of your body (regardless of your current health status) or do you feel like you have to punish your body, change some flaw or insecurity you have, or out of comparison of others (this could be social media based)?
Let’s get to the heart of why we work out.
Why are you working out?
Are you doing a workout that you love?
If not, go and find what makes you excited to workout and move your body. Whatever it may be. Don’t let someone or a voice in your head tell you the workouts you love aren’t good enough or won’t make you fit enough. All exercise is of benefit to our bodies.
What does Exercise Look Like for Me?
At the beginning of 2015 I wanted to get into a more consistent exercise routine. I wanted to feel good about the exercise I was doing and find something that was enjoyable to me. I wanted to shake off all of the junk in my mind that I had to work out a certain way to be healthy or to get get results or to get fit be a certain size or weight on the scale. I also wanted to toss aside the comparison to other people and their way of exercising. I wanted to do what was best for me no matter how that looked.
I asked myself what kind of exercise do I love to do? Where do I want to workout, at home or at the gym? How long do I want to work out for? How many days a week do I want to workout?
Here are the answers to my questions above:
- I love to do exercise that is mind/ body like barre, yoga and pilates. I like to walk. I am not a runner and never will be (my body hurts when I run and it’s not good for my spine). I also like quick bursts of cardio like HIIT and Tabata.
- I do love the gym. But I don’t like to drive there, check in, get a locker, workout and have to grab my stuff and drive all the way back home. It creates more stress and takes up too much time so I found myself never getting to the gym. I cancelled my gym membership and knew that if I was going to make exercise a routine it was going to be working out at home. I changed my old mindset I had that you couldn’t have a good workout at home.
- I do best with shorter workouts. Anything much over 30 minutes and I get really fatigued. If it’s a gentler yoga or pilates class then I am able to 60 minutes. I keep my workouts to around 15-35 minutes now and if it’s the right season I try and walk daily.
- My goal is to move my body daily. It could be just a few stretches, but at least I’m getting in the habit of moving my body. I usually get a workout in 4-5 days per week.
The workouts I do at home I stream online so I can always add variety to my workout. I stream workouts from Suzanne Bowen Fitness and Revelation Wellness. I am completely covered for all of my workouts with these two websites. I will occasionally YouTube stretches or a yoga routine, but that is definitely more rare.
**For prenatal fitness I have mixed it up a little bit. I don’t do any HIIT workouts or things of higher intensity. I workout the same amount but I do slower and shorter workouts, and a lot more stretching. I don’t do anything from Revelation Wellness (only because the intensity is a little too much for me in pregnancy). I have Suzanne Bowen’s prenatal DVD’s and they are amazing. I love doing her prenatal workouts both in her online streaming program and in her DVD’s (Sleek and Toned Prenatal, Long and Lean Prenatal, Slim and Toned Prenatal). I have learned to listen to my body in pregnancy and focus more on maintaining strength and flexibility and preparing my body for labor and birth. It’s not about getting fit or having any major fitness goal at this time.
How about you?
As you can see this post was not anti-crossfit. It wasn’t all about crossfit. But it was all about the heart of why you workout and why crossfit specifically isn’t for me and how I’m wired.
The exercise type isn’t important. The label isn’t important. The important thing is evaluating what is the best for your body overall. The physical, mental, and spiritual.
Learn to leave behind the voices and beliefs that tell you a certain workout is better than others. Maybe it’s about your physical body, that you’re not fit enough or you haven’t dealt with your trouble area like you would like.
Remember, you can go to God and ask him what your workouts should look like and what should be your focus during your workouts. He will answer.
And directly from me, you are an amazing woman. You are capable. You are fit and your body always benefits from moving your body. Go and have some fun.
Ask yourself the same questions. Don’t let other people or social media fitness profiles influence your decisions. You loving a workout is more important than the actual workout. What do you do for a workout? Tell me in the comments. If you’re looking for something new please try out Suzanne Bowen Fitness or Revelation Wellness.
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