Lara's CrossFit Journey

Six years ago, when my third child was about six months old, I weighed 54kg and could barely hold my hands above my head for more than 10 seconds. My back was so weak that I could not carry a 9kg gas bottle or shift a small cupboard without having lower backache for three days. I distinctly remember looking at my three children (three years and younger) playing on the carpet and thinking; “I am not going to be strong enough to raise them”. Granted, this was due to no time to exercise and a very low daily calorie intake. I was raised in the generation, as all of us have been, that girls need to look a certain way and in order to achieve that goal I would have to eat very little.

However, I slowly began to train when my youngest was about three and a half years old - that age where you know they won't do something fatal if you leave the room for two minutes :) A little 2km jog here and there and training with a trainer twice a week.

A few months into this and a mom at the school asked me if I would try CrossFit. I cannot remember how it was that a stumbled across CrossFit 360 Vida, but I remember parking outside and looking at this unfamiliar 'Box' and something inside me just knew I was meant to be there. So, I phoned the number and spoke to Di for the first time :) She has become far more than a Physio and CrossFit coach but a precious friend - all I can say is thank you!

This was the beginning of my love for a sport, which until that point I knew nothing about.

Initially I was entirely intimidated: code names and acronyms that baffled me for weeks like WOD, AMRAP, T2B, METCON, HELEN, and the list goes on. I remember staring at the whiteboard thinking I can't possibly ask what I am supposed to be doing again! Not to mention that I had never picked up a barbell in my life, let alone even heard the word before. I thought heavy weights would surely make a girl unfeminine. But I didn't stop because it intrigued me far more than it intimidated me.

I fondly remember standing at the whiteboard with its heading 'Glory in Tribulation', after a metabolic conditioning class and not having faired particularly well and my coach was discussing the different results with us. She closed by saying "... and that will determine what kind of athlete you are!" Half of my mind laughed at myself saying; "I am no athlete at all and never will be", while the other half just loved the idea. I decided to go with that half!

WHAT HAS CROSSFIT TAUGHT ME?

1. It has taught me that women can be strong and strong is beautiful.
2. It has taught me about flexibility and mobility.
3. It has taught me how to do pull ups - yes they eventually come!
4. It has taught me about powerlifting and gymnastics.
5. It has pushed me to run faster than I ever dared to.
6. It has taught me a lot about beautiful girl names like Grace!
7. It has taught me to eat burpees for breakfast and box jumps for dessert :)

But that is just a snippet of the physical side of CrossFit. THE MENTAL SIDE OF CROSSFIT has actually changed me:

I have learnt my mind will try to give up 10 times before my body ever will - so I am learning to train my mind to listen to my body.
I have learnt that CrossFit class is not over until the very last person has finished their WOD with the faster/stronger person in that WOD finishing   alongside them in encouragement.
I have learnt you can be comfortable in your body no matter what shape you are - when you train hard your confidence increases. God has exquisitely designed our human bodies in many shapes and sizes and all bodies are extremely capable and beautiful.
My calculations, memory and strategic reasoning has improved.
I have learned that our coaches truly care about their athletes.
I have learnt to race my children in handstand walking - it's worth it just to hear the laughing!
I have a better eye to help encourage them in their gymnastics, swimming and running and I at least stand a better chance when they are showing me their karate moves.
I have learned how to teach my children, by example, not to give up so easily when something begins to get hard.
I have learned my husband loves me strong and flexible. The bug has bitten him too now and we CrossFit together when our schedules allow.
I have learnt to EAT properly! Thank you, William, for the lifestyle challenge - I crashed and burned on the first one but over the months it really changedhow I chose what food to eat and what not to eat. I now eat clean and I eat LOTS and I have never felt so content with so few bad cravings - my body is satisfied and well nourished.
I have met beautiful and strong willed athletes who have become special friends and they have all taught me something new in their own beautiful way.

So today, after just over two years of CrossFit, (and weighing 64kg) I can not only carry a 9kg gas bottle into the house, I can overhead lunge it into the house and then do a burden carry (using my 9-year-old) around the block. At 34, I can run half marathons and deadlift 100kgs. I don't feel strong and fit for a girl, I just feel strong and fit :) I feel confident. Confident to do things that I would have run away from in the past and confident to raise my children to aspire to do great things, if only they have the will to do it. But I also feel humbled, humbled by the fact that you can always be better than yesterday and there are still many, many things to learn.

So, if you think CrossFit is too much for you and you can't do it - just remember you are stronger than you think! And there are people out there who would love to show you how!

By Lara van Aswegan, member at CrossFit 360Vida