Having just finished my 14th month at Crossfit, it really has been an amazing and life-changing experience. Many thanks obviously to Ben and the coaches number 1...you guys are truly the best. I just hope to be able to keep all this up. But I thought I'd also share some things I've learned firsthand over the last year for those people who are starting where I started. So here goes.
1. Crossfit CAN improve your overall health. Just got back from my physical from my doctor, and he was truly shocked at the change over just one year. In addition to losing over 50 lbs, all my other health metrics were dramatically improved. Blood pressure went from 128/90 to 108/76 and resting heartrate went from 56 to 42. But more importantly, he was amazed at the change in my cholesterol levels. Overall cholesterol went from 190 to 165, HDL went from 43 to 80 and LDL went from 127 to 75. He said it was the most impressive change he had ever seen.
2. If you want to lose weight, Crossfit needs to be combined with a change in diet (like the Paleo Diet). For my first two months at Crossfit, I certainly did get more fit (albeit off a low base). But I remember talking to Pete S. and Joe about being frustrated at my lack of more noticeable progress on the weight front. They said it would take time, but also said that changing the diet was critical. When I started the first Paleo challenge in September 2009, it only took a month before the weight really started to come off. And so far it's been great...still losing weight although on a slower pace. But I can't stress enough how important the diet is to overall healthy living and losing weight (if that's your goal), or just getting leaner. And losing weight does help out in the workouts!
3. Any change is gradual...you just need to be patient. I've seen so many people get frustrated with how long it takes to lose weight or get fitter. But I've noticed that you just need to be patient. If you come to the gym and follow the diet, results WILL come. I've also noticed that many of my changes came in step functions. For instance, I would lose 5 lbs, then stabilize. Then another 10 lbs and stabilize again. I felt like it was my body adjusting to the new weight, saying "hey, this feels pretty good", then deciding it's time to resume the march down. Same with fitness. You go from no pull-ups, to 1, to 6, to 12 to 20+. Being patient, not giving up and keeping up with the workouts and diet is critical.
4. Crossfit is (in my view) the best way to increase overall fitness. Here are a few representative stats from last September to June. No way I could have done any of this without Ben and the team at Crossfit. I still have a long, long way to go, but certainly getting there every day.
Sep-09 Jan-10 Mar-10 Jun-10
Pullups 1:02 hang 8 12 24
Mile Run 7:31 NA 6:36 6:14
2K Row 8:30 7:46 7:45 7:46
Fran 10:19 (75#, jumping PU) DNF 7:14 (RX)
Helen 12:17 (45#, PU w/band) 11:42 (45#) 10:22 (RX)
5. Crossfit can even dramatically improve other sports without specific training. For instance, running is one area where I've seen huge improvements, even though I haven't really supplemented the running we do in class (other than the occasional 6 mile run). After running a 7:01 pace 5K in March and a 7:17 pace 10K in April, I ended up running a 7:03 pace 5 Miler this past July. All faster times than I've run in the past when I ran all the time (albeit a long time ago), and without anything other than our daily workouts. Next up is the Boston 1/2 Marathon in October which I plan to run also without any serious long distance training. I also play tennis and golf. Needless to say it's improved my tennis game as I can move around a lot quicker and hit the ball better. Golf...well, if Crossfit could improve my putting, that would be amazing.
6. We are all fortunate to train at CFNE. This goes without saying, but Ben and the coaches have created an amazingly supportive environment with fantastic programming and coaching that helps each of us individually succeed. Ben, I owe all my results to you. Heather, amazing performances and I always learn something from you when I see you. Mat, we both have come a long way since that day last July with you and Harry (I will always remember that)...it's been fun seeing you turn into a machine and an amazing coach. Mel, you are kicking butt every day, and love seeing you in the 5:30 am class pushing us.