My CrossFit Birthday

Hey guys! Happy hump day! I've been writing this post for several days now! I'm excited to finally release it!

The occasion? Welp, this month marks my 1st CrossFit birthday! Yay! An occasion indeed!

In May of last year, Aaron and I had just moved to Falls Church from Fairfax and I was full-on raving about this new trendy workout everyone was doing called CrossFit.

I knew it was expensive and there was no way I'd be able to do it without Aaron's support, but let me tell you: never in a million years did I think he would one day want to do it with me! Initially, I think he was intrigued by its popularity, but I also made a strong case for it after sampling a class at CrossFit Silver Spring. When we discovered there was a CrossFit box near our new home, we committed to trying the free one Saturday...

I vividly remember leaving Aaron in my dust during that WOD (Haha! Sorry, hunny, it's true!); I believe it was an AMRAP of box jumps, burpees, and a 10-meter sprint. But, to my surprise, he loved it just as much as I did and we both left feeling invigorated.

At the time, our box was running a special for the required Elements class through Groupon and we knew we had to strike while the iron was hot to get the deal. We bite the bullet, seized the moment, and started Elements first thing that June! (We loved it so much we even did a CrossFit-style workout on our cruise vacation that month!) Since then, we've been going regularly, averaging about 10 classes per month.


My love for CrossFit is pretty obvious... I blog about it all the time and this blog has even morphed into a wedding-CrossFit blog! Who would have thought?!

I also shared exciting changes I was seeing in my self-confidence, strength and weight around my 4-month mark, and both Aaron and me have blogged about the way it's changed our marriage.

Now, 6 months after that, a full year in, and an Open competition under my belt, I have even more progress and praises to share about this sport!

First, let's take a look back after that first Elements class!


Oh y’all. We did it! Survived our first #crossfit #elementsclass and let me tell you: I am in SHOCK! Those #pullups killed me! Going from those to push-ups SUCKED. My arms were literally giving out! SO frustrating!! But, the silver lining was my babe (@aarellis) helping me add an extra band and continually asking ‘you ok?’ It was sweet! (And as you see from this photo, he’s quite pleased with his abilities tonight– he acted like it was a stroll in the park! Made jokes and kept the mood light and fun.) As for me, this is gonna be a real wakeup call/challenge! Glad I have this guy along for the show!

I remember being in shock after that first class! Even though I'd been working out for a few years at that point (had even run a marathon!) and generally loved tough workouts, it was still quite the challenge! I remember thinking "Pull-ups?! Are these people crazy? I can't do a pull-up!" Well, a year later (about a week ago), I got my first kipping pull-up! And that, really, is the testament I want to share on this anniversary: I'm doing things I never thought I could do and it's awesome! 

I probably experienced the most growth during the Open in March because I really pushed myself to try new things, like doubleunders and chest-to-bar pull-ups; things that I would otherwise scale during class.

The Open also highlighted my strengths and weaknesses. In the beginning everyone was asking what I was hoping the workouts would be, "What are you good at?" And I honestly had no clue! I just kept thinking please, no pull-ups!

Now, I know I'm much better with the barbell than with any body weight movements. I'd prefer to do 100 snatches and cleans before any push-ups, pull-ups or handstands! I also know that if I'm determined enough, I just might do something I otherwise thought I couldn't, like doubleunders! :)

I think realizing my strengths has played a part in my growth. Of course it's always easier to focus on what you can't do, but I've learned that acknowledging what you can builds confidence and in turn, improves performance!

The Open also brought me closer to other CrossFitters at my box! I really felt a sense of community seeing the same faces every weekend and cheering each other on! Now CrossFit is a lot funnier because they're not just familiar faces, they're friends! I'm looking at you Wendy, Brendan, Naomi, Lynn, and Brandi! You guys are the best!


Going back to the barbell for a minute, it's funny, I used to hate weight lifting when I went to a regular gym. I would get so bored using the machines and hate the feeling of trying to lift something heavy for 3 sets of 12! Now, I love strength training! That is, if it involves a barbell! If it's a workout with cleans, especially, I want to be there. I also like the 5x5 sets we do before workouts, especially front and back squats! I just love 'em!

CrossFit -1

I want to be able to look back and see how I've improved in another year, so here are my current one rep maxes for some of the main movements:

  • Overhead Squat: 105 lbs
  • Back Squat: 185 lbs
  • Front Squat: 170 lbs
  • Split Jerk: 105 lbs -- recently PR'd this at 115! 
  • Clean & Jerk: 110 lbs
  • Push Press: 75 lbs
  • Snatch: 85 lbs

As for body weight movements, I'm a lot better off than I was before CrossFit, but I still have a long way to go. What I mean is that I never knew just how uncomfortable I was with my body weight until I started CrossFit and had to try to do things like pull-ups and handstands. As I did them - reluctantly! - I realized I had some major mental blocks and fears surrounding them!

As an example, during a recent warmup one of the coaches wanted us to do cartwheels and I immediately bucked: I can't do cartwheels! She suggested I just attempt a round-off or something of the sort and guys, when I threw my body up in the air it totally freaked me out!! My STRENGTH freaked me out! I quickly jumped down because I'm still really uncomfortable being inverted but in that moment I realized, my strength is not my issue, my mind is!

vvv Case in point vvv

Crossfit 2

Here's a look at where I stand with some of the other major body weight movements:

Handstands: As you can see from the photo above, I can do a handstand but they're still new to me and I'm not comfortable doing them during a workout. It takes quite a bit of mental focus to successfully get inverted against the wall and during a workout, I just don't have the strength or focus. Obviously I don't have handstand push-ups either, but I hope that once I get more comfortable upside down, that'll come next.

Pull-ups: I started out using a box and two blue bands and now, I'm using the small red band and even kipping sometimes! It's hard and I often get frustrated quickly, but when I go into it with the right mindset, I do OK! Like handstands, pull-ups have a bad connotation in my mind and I think part of this battle is overcoming that.

Push-ups: Ugh. What can I say? Not my favorite movement! Especially renegade rows. Blah! It's hard to stay locked out through the entire movement for several sets, but I've definitely gotten better since before I started CrossFit (my trainer at work commented on a noticeable improvement in my push-ups since CrossFit).

Funny story: Aaron does push-ups on his fists!! He swears it's because they're "easier" that way, but I think he just likes showing off! I'm certainly not there yet!

Rope climbs: I got a few rope climbs in this year (and two the other night!) but I don't feel consistent or strong in this area. Again, I know I have the strength to do them, but I don't have a reliable technique yet. I need to practice them A LOT more to begin to feel confident, but hey, I would have never thought I could do one and I can now say I have!

Toes-to-bar: We've been doing these a lot lately and they aren't getting easier; they were especially brutal during 14.4. Again, I think it goes back to being more confident and comfortable controlling my body weight. Even knees-to-elbows, which is a slight modification are tough. It's particularly hard on my hands as well, and is something I need to get used to!


Other areas for improvement: 

Choosing a weight: This is something Aaron and me discuss a lot - the balance between challenging ourselves with a heavier weight and working slower versus using a comfortable weight and blowing through a workout. I almost always know when I went too light because I finish a workout too fast and it's really frustrating to know I didn't push myself enough!

On the other hand, it can be hard to know whether a heavier weight is feasible... so there's a happy medium I have to find each class. It's really hit or miss, but lately I've been challenging myself to go a little heavier, and it's been rewarding to get through a workout! (I used the 55 lb dumbbell for the first time Saturday! Woo hoo!)

Keeping better records: This is a biggie! I'd really like to keep better records. It can be very frustrating to not remember my one rep max and therefore, not know my 80 percent for a workout. Along those same lines, I'd like to purposefully do some benchmark workouts to compare to down the road. I'd love to hear your method of record keeping and tracking progress in the comments!

Diet: Of course, I am always trying to improve my diet. As many of you know, Paleo is the preferred diet of most CrossFitters and while I felt great during the Paleo challenge, I haven't converted 100 percent to this lifestyle! I think improving my nutrition would definitely improve my performance and it's something I have my eyes set on really working on this next year.

Yep, because I don't plan to stop doing CrossFit anytime soon!!! :)

Finally (and I'm sorry this post is becoming really long!), if you don't take anything else away, I think the most important take-away and testament to this is just the fact that we've been doing this an entire year, still love it, still see positive change, and still feel challenged! I think this is in part due to CrossFit's consistently varied programming, but also the amazing instructors at my box - thanks for being awesome, CFFC!

And to end with something a little funny:

CrossFit Has You

Yes, it does! Haha.

Time to share your CrossFit story!!

What's been your experience with CrossFit within the first year? 

Are you a new-comer or have you been doing it even longer?

Are you someone who wants to do it but hasn't yet? 

PS: I wasn't lying when I said I blog about CrossFit a lot!