Your First Month of CrossFit (Post #2 of 6): Maintaining a Healthy Perspective
One of the biggest challenges new community members experience when first begin their training journey with CrossFit Threshold Training involves managing expectations. Because the TT training program empowers so many to work harder towards their fitness goals than ever before, new members often start to develop unrealistic expectations of what they can expect from their first several weeks of training. Some folks envision themselves dropping 20 lbs. within the first 3 weeks of starting the program, while others imagine developing the ripped physique of an action movie star or NBA forward overnight. Although achievable, such expectations aren’t necessarily realistic, particularly for individuals who’re just starting their fitness journey in earnest. To help ensure that individuals don’t become frustrated by an apparent lack of progress, we’ve assembled a brief synopsis of many the changes folks can expect to see after their first few weeks of training with us…along with what changes you shouldn’t expect to see. The list below captures many of the changes and expectations other community members recall from their first few weeks training at CrossFit TT, along with other insights and observations from members of CrossFit TT’s coaching staff explaining such experiences. To ensure that your expectations stay calibrated, take a look at the list below. Feeling the same way? Leave a comment at the end of the thread.
Thing #1: “You’ll feel ‘out-of-shape,” Says one CrossFit TT Member. “I thought I was in really good shape before I started CrossFit. I followed a training program for running that had be running between 30 and 40 miles a week. I lifted weights twice a week. And I ate a pretty good diet. But the first WOD I did at CrossFit TT in On-Ramp had me gasping for air, and left me sore for days afterwards. I couldn’t believe it.”
If we (your coaches) had a nickel for every time we’ve heard this one, we’d have no trouble regularly financing new gym equipment! Virtually ALL of us – from those of us with deep fitness backgrounds, to those of us who’re getting off of the couch for the first time in years – feel out of shape during the first few weeks that we start training at CrossFit TT. Why? Recall that in addition to helping you achieve your individual fitness goals, we’re also trying to identify and address your specific athletic weaknesses. For some of us, these weaknesses are structural – we have muscle imbalances, mobility issues, or just general movement-pattern issues that are keeping us from moving, looking, and feeling our best. For others, these weaknesses involve liabilities with our metabolic systems – we struggle to maintain form (or to keep going) when our heart rate is elevated. During your first few weeks of training, these liabilities will undoubtedly be exposed, and you’ll be challenged to work on them. This’ll be hard, and may make you feel like you’re out of shape. DON’T GIVE UP. This feeling is temporary – within a few weeks, you should find that you’re making significant progress with the movement/energy system that’s challenging you (and if you’re not, shoot us an email – we’ll be happy to help you get over the hump). These developments will release endorphins that will make you feel a LOT better, and should start making the process a whole lot more fun.
Thing #2: You’ll have a LOT more energy. “It was weird. Immediately after I’d finish a morning WOD, I’d be lying on the ground, so tired that I could barely move, let alone get to work. By the time I showered, changed, and got to work, I’d feel a lot better; by 5:00, I’d feel like a completely new man. I remember having so much more energy than I’d ever had, particularly in the afternoon. When I’d get home, I’d find myself really energized. I run out to play with the kids, or get excited to do a project like mow the lawn. It was amazing!”
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll actually get excited to mow the lawn, we can say that like Matt, you too will feel as though you have a LOT more energy throughout the day, particularly in the afternoon hours. Because you’re both losing fat, and improving the efficacy of your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, you’ll have an easier time keeping pace with your peers, co-workers and colleagues, and kids. Arguably the biggest benefits from this boost are peripheral: with increases in energy come commensurate increases in productivity, confidence, and ultimately, happiness. Enjoy them…and recognize that they’ll only stay for as long as you keep with your training.
Thing #3: You’ll be sore. “There was one day where my arms were so sore from the previous day’s workout that I literally didn’t think I was going to be able to wash my hair.” Says Milissa. “If you’d have asked me then, I would’ve told you that there was NO WAY that I was going to be able to do that day’s workout. But I did…and afterwards, I felt a MILLION times better. That was an important lesson for me.”
Coach Matt’s insights are just as valuable. “I distinctly remember the day when I stopped getting sore. I did a WOD that I was sure would make it difficult to go up and down stairs the next day…but the next day came, and I was fine! Eventually, it you just start to adapt to (the work)…That’s not to say that I never get sore any more – I do! But it is to say that there comes a time when you stop becoming debilitatingly sore after every workout.” As your body starts to adapt to the workloads, energy system demands, and movement patterns, the workouts will stop leaving you so sore…provided you’re consistent with them, and that you don’t conveniently skip days that feature movements you don’t like.
THING #4: You will gain (yes, that’s right – we said GAIN) weight. “This one was a game changer for me.” Says one long-time client. “I always measured my success with a training program by the numbers on the scale. After my first month at CrossFit TT, I both looked great and felt great. All the little ‘problem areas’ I’d always wanted to address were finally starting to go away, my body felt tight and toned, and for the first time in a long time, I really felt comfortable looking at myself in a mirror when I just had a bra on. I was really pleased with my progress. You can imagine my surprise when I stepped on a scale, and found that I’d gained 4 lbs. over the past month. I nearly had a heart attack!!! I immediately called my coaches, who explained what was happening, and why. Then, they reviewed my goals with me, and reminded me that at the end of the day, I wanted to look better, and feel better about myself. They reminded me that I myself had said that I didn’t care what the numbers on the scale said, provided that I looked the way that I wanted to look, and felt the way I wanted to feel. I’ll never forget how empowering that was – to realize that the number on the scale was just that – a number – and that it my expectations regarding what that number ‘should’ be didn’t have any correlation at all to what my actual goals were. They also reminded me that after a certain point, I could expect to see the numbers on the scale start to drop. Sure enough, they did. Thank you, Tyler and Meghan, for helping me see the forest-from-the-trees. I can’t remember the last time I felt this liberated.”
This is arguably the most difficult realization for many clients to accept; however it’s also arguably the most important. Many folks start CrossFit hoping to achieve a certain ‘look’ or ‘physique’. Very rarely can such physiques be achieved without specific compositions of muscle mass. We’re not talking about freakish, bodybuilder-mass so much as we are saying this: if you want to improve the shape of your legs and or butt, then it goes without saying that you’ll have to have leg and butt muscles to begin with. Developing these tissues will cause slight short-term weight gain…however once these tissues are developed, then your metabolism will also increase in kind, and you’ll start to notice remarkable changes in body composition and, in some cases, dramatic weight loss. Being a slave to the scale, however, is a sure-fire path to frustration and discouragement. It’s ok to be mindful of your weight, but don’t let it be your only barometer for success. Look for a follow-up blog-post on specific tips and tactics for being hijacked by this phenomenon soon.
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