It’s like this. My husband, Gary, has been doing CrossFit for…oh…a few years now. He’s got a group at work that use CrossFit to stay in shape, and he and his good buddy, Kenny, have gotten so into it that Gary got certified as an instructor and Kenny opened a box. My husband is 55 and a hoss. Why the high school jock married a sedentary, klutzy nerd is anyone’s guess, but he still seems to like me anyway.

I, on the other hand, just turned 50 and have had chronic health issues and am seriously overweight. Okay, I’ll just say it: I’m an obese 5’5″ fattie weighing in at 242 lbs. Some of it has accumulated from binge eating when I’m stressed; some of it came from a medication which made me balloon 70 lbs in about 6 months. But that was over a decade ago, and I’m still looking down at the basketball that lives over my abdomen.

Gary’s been trying to tell me for…oh…probably friggin’ years that I needed to exercise (and drink more water and eat better and take Megamucil — these I’ve finally given in on) for health and weight loss. I generally stuck my fingers in my ears and said “Lalalalala — I can’t hear you.” I grew up believing in the magic pill. When I was 16 and 120 lbs, my mother took me to a fat doctor for the first time (no, not an doctor who is overweight; I believe the technical term is now “a bariatric specialist”). The guy’s office was in a shady part of town, which should have given me a clue that perhaps Mom wasn’t really on the right track about this, but, no, I bought into it. And continued to. For years. For decades.

So once Gary got into CrossFit, he kept harping on about how great it was and anyone could do it. I thought back over my multiple times to physical therapists (at least 11 times I can count offhand) and the countless minor injuries that I’d had at lower body weight (which lead to my 3-week rule: three weeks of any exercise, no matter how benign, and I’m down for 6), and rejected the idea out of hand.

Then Gary got certified, and has been using family members as guinea pigs to hone his coaching abilities. I had started having chronic migraines (5-7 per week) some months before, and after one feeble attempt, gave it up as a lost cause. Of course, at that point I’d given up driving, socializing, and pretty much anything other than huddling in a dark and quiet room as a lost cause.

Then, right after my 50th birthday, I finally caught a break. I was accepted by a headache specialist who is so well-respected and in demand that you pretty much have to audition to get to be a patient. He identified the weirdnesses associated with my migraines, and the solution also applied to almost every other disease or syndrome I have. (Basically, if it will make you miserable but probably won’t kill you, there’s a high likelihood I’ve got it.) So the drug he put me on began decreasing intensity and frequency of the migraines, but slowly. The side effects, mostly being what my daughter tells me is definitely the equivalent of being stoned, wouldn’t go ahead and go away, though, because the dose was never quite enough, and kept going up, and every time the dosage went up, any side effect improvement went away.

But a little over a week ago, a window of coherence appeared. And the man I live with said, “Lo, a time to try CrossFit, as it has been prophesied.” (Okay, what he really said was something more like “CrossFit?” He’s extremely economical with words, a failing I obviously do not share.)

So he made me a babystep CrossFit plan. A sorta-squat using a plyo box, a press using PVC pipe, a shrug using a 10 lb medicine ball (who knew those things still existed…don’t they predate Jack LaLanne?), all preceded by a 10 minute walk on the treadmill. I started at 2.5mph on the treadmill and kept trying to cry when he was instructing me on the techniques I needed to do.

“It’s too much.”

“I’m overwhelmed.”

Yeah, basic whining and complaining. The only thing I was ever good at athletically was doing the splits and now out-of-date dancing; other than that, I was slower and clumsier than anyone else. I missed being high school valedictorian because I got a D one semester in PE. So I pretty much count on being a failure at anything athletic.

And then my wonderful husband said something amazing as I sat on the plyo box with tears welling up in my eyes: “You can’t fail at CrossFit. When I say ‘working until you fail,’ I only mean that you do something until you can’t do it any more. That’s not a failure; that’s a success. It means you are challenging yourself and getting better. You are the only measure of success; improvement is success.” And, for once, I actually heard, all the way down in my heart, what the man was saying.

So, although I’m still terrified I’m going to screw up or hurt myself, I’m committed to trying. That’s my first goal: consistency. And I managed to weasel a deal out of my husband: After I’ve done 2 sets of 5-day workouts, I get a foot rub. Now that’s what I call motivation.

  1. lizjaegs says:

    Jodi, I LOVE your blog!! It’s so hilarious ! True, true 🙂 … I keep dabbling at crossfit, trying to find an affiliate I like – sounds like yours is perfect LOL!!!

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