Crossfit: A Love, Hate Relationship

Hi friends! I hope you had a great weekend or enjoying a fabulous long weekend. Awhile back, you might remember that I started doing Crossfit. My knee injury caused me to take a bit of a hiatus but I’ve since been back at it these past couple of weeks. Verdict? Love. Hate.

Let me back up and explain a little…

I used to weight lift in college for basketball: four times a week out of season and three times in season. At first I really enjoyed it and I thought I was pretty strong for a little thing. I could bench my body weight and throw down a pretty nice squat. Cool.

But then my weight started to creep up and I thought I was “big.” I felt bulky and gross. So what did I do? I stopped lifting. I totally fell into the trap that most women fall into as well: we are scared of lifting (and lifting heavy) because we think we will get “big.” I now know that my physique was largely a result of my less than stellar diet, not the dumb-bells.

Today, women are weight lifting more and more — which is really motivating for me. I still have an annoying little voice in the back of my mind but I don’t want to fall into the trap again. I do want to get stronger yet still wear strapless dresses. My athletic trainer in college writes an awesome blog and she recently wrote this wonderful post on weight lifting, getting bulky and body changes — I found it to be extremely helpful.

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So I’ve been trying to get back into weight lifting but going to the gym and banging out a solo weight workout is so not appealing to me. Crossfit seemed like the right environment for me: a supportive team yet competitive atmosphere. Perfect.

Okay but I was a bit intimidated at first. Like I had noooo idea what any of the exercises were. But I’m not shy, so I just asked. Jerk is not chicken. Clean is not scrubbing the floor. I also jump out of my pants anytime anyone drops weights. It’s loud!! And scary!! I always gently place my barbell to the ground… hah! Who said weight lifting couldn’t be dainty and ladylike?

Crossfit workouts combine skill work and a workout of the day (WOD) in order to increase cardio and build strength. I’m great at the cardio stuff. The strength stuff… not so much. Working on it.

I love the people – everyone is so supportive! On Friday, we did a WOD called “Ollie”. It was super tough and I was the last one to finish but everyone was cheering me on, which was a great feeling.

Crossfit gym

There are definitely things about the Crossfit philosophy that I am not a fan of right now. For instance: strength train, strength train, strength train and strength train some more. Um no thanks. I like to run. And do yoga. And spin. Apparently, spinning is doing more harm than good for me. Well that might be the case for my squat weight, but it is helping my knee fully heal and keeping me in running shape so I don’t plan on stopping.

I am also in a constant battle with the Crossfit nutrition philosophy… namely the Paleo diet. The Paleo diet in nutshell is to eat fish, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts… don’t eat: grains, legumes, dairy products, refined salt, refined sugar. It’s good in theory but I am not sold and I could not imagine eating a chicken breast and cashews at 5am before a 6am WOD.

My Crossfit coach has also been trying to get me to stop eating peanut butter (peanuts are a legume and not paleo approved). Oh my gosh. I am still researching about the claims of the phytic acid and lectins found in PB and other legumes….

All In

Since getting back into Crossfit, I have been very hungry. I know that weight lifting requires the proper fuel (aka… FOOD) so I have been adjusting accordingly. There are some aspects of strength training nutrition that I do think are beneficial and I have been trying to employ. I am focussing on eating some form of protein and fat at every meal. I have also been trying to eat before my strength workouts, eat larger meals earlier in the day and decrease the spikes in my insulin levels. I will talk more about this tomorrow and Wednesday.

All in all I have been loving the addition of strength training to my life. But, calluses suck.


Questions of the day…

Do you lift weights and strength train?

What’s the deal with Crossfitters hating peanuts and legumes?! 

Is this feeling normal?!


77 thoughts on “Crossfit: A Love, Hate Relationship

  1. I have always wanted to try Crossfit. It seems like a really fun and challenging thing for me. I do weight lift now, but I strictly stay to the weights and not classes. I’m a shy girl, which sucks at times, but I’m working on it! I couldn’t do the paleo diet.. I just.. I can’t give up the peanut butter and quinoa. I like the balance I am at now. I think in time, it will get more adjustable, but keep doing what you’re doing. I;d love to try it sometime.

    P.S. calluses do suck. Weight lifting gloves help!

    I also have the eat.all.the,food after my workouts as well. :)

  2. Oh I love this post so much Amy!! I did Crossfit a year ago for about 2 months, but the box there was so unprofessional, so I stopped. Now my working colleague dragged me to a bigger and better box and I was at a friend’s day last Saturday – and was HOOKED! I will start this Wednesday with regular workouts and I can not wait.
    As you, I need the variety – I still go to the gym to do some solo stuff, I love my runs to clear the head and my 2 Yoga Classes a week will still be happening, as they give me back the grace and length I somehow seem to lose with all the pumping.
    I tried paleo and it definitely is not for me – as any kind of diets that ‘forbid’ certain foods. I do eat bodybuilding style, but I definitely add my own rules. For example, if I train at 6am I just can not eat before, I tried. So I eat a late snack which works.
    I’m excited to hear more about your journey here, as I am just in the same boat now!

    1. I’m glad we are in similar situations and are both doing what works best for us. I’m excited to get updated on how you are doing too! Looking forward to a post on that :)

  3. I love my callouses and hate them too at the same time! Ever since I started Tara’s program and proper weight lifting I have really been enjoying it. Everything I read in the last 2 years brought me back to realizing that lifting weights and lifting heavy does not equal making you look big and bulky as a woman and countless hours of cardio are not the answer either.

    I think it is so good you are doing Crossfit but that you are smart enough to know you need more than just strength training.

    I would never give up peanut butter. I’ve never ever ever heard of it referred to as a legume, that just sounds like crazy talk to me ;)

    1. I think finding a balance between the two (cardio and strength training) will be perfect for us. I know we both love running too much to solely weight lift

  4. I had a similar issue with crossfit, I think I have mentioned it before, but I definitely put on more muscle than I wanted. I’m not saying that it is a “bad” look per se, but the female crossfit athletes are too big in my opinion, and I don’t really want to be a super butch beast, but some people do and that’s fine.

    The problem I found with crossfit was the diet side, it literally made me really hungry ALL THE TIME! You need to really fuel your body in order to train at such a high intensity, so ultimately I put on size, but it was pure, solid muscle. I guess it just depends on what your goals are, but sometimes really intense exercise isn’t the answer.
    All in all, I’m glad I tried it out, but it was really expensive and just too hard on my body for long-term training. I am looking for a more moderate approach because it started to make me feel unhealthy, which isn’t my goal when it comes to exercise.

    I also totally DO NOT believe in the paleo diet, or really any diet. There is nothing wrong with peanut butter…haters gonna hate.
    I love cheese, and no paleo-diet junkie can convince me that its bad for you, because I love it and it isn’t doing me any harm.

    I hope you figure out what works best for you and your goals :)

    1. I do remember you talking about putting on more muscle than you would have liked and that is definitely a concern for me too. I am not looking to become a “super butch beast” (haha) but hoping I can strike a balance with Crossfit-ing and my other activities. I am glad you realized that it wasn’t for you because that is not always easy to do. It is definitely not cheap but I got a deal so hoping I can still budget for it.

  5. Thanks for the link up Amy! As for your post — I feel very similarly about paleo. I can go grain free, no problem… But ask me to cut out greek yogurt and peanut butter and you’ve lost me :) And it is TOTALLY normal to feel super hungry with this type of training. Your muscles need a lot of nutrients to repair after a workout like that, and since you’re building muscle, you’re burning more calories over all during the day. Just make sure to keep the protein levels up, and include fat like you’re doing, and it should help!

    Also, I am all for Crossfit, even though I don’t do it, but I really don’t like the way they push paleo on people. It’s not for everyone. I don’t think you could pay me enough to eat a chicken breast and cashews for breakfast!

    1. Thank you so much for the tips Steph! The addition of fat (even just a handful of nuts or more olive oil on my salad) has definitely helped to keep me satisfied. Glad I’m not the only one who can’t stomach the chicken and nuts…

  6. I definitely lift weights. I think lifting is super important especially for woman. Do woman need to lift crazy heavy weights all day, and drink protein shakes . No (unless that’s what you are into) I think it’s just important to stay tone and strong. I think you need to try to get big if you are a girl, it’s a lot harder then people think.

    Also I was exactly like you in college, I got pretty big at one point but I think it’s because I was pounding food and then lifting heavy so of course I was going to gain weight lol

  7. I want to start weight training, but I have nooo idea where to start. Crossfit has always sounded intimidating to me, but it’s good to hear that they are so supportive of you (minus the diet stuff). I wouldn’t want to go paleo either, although I’m sure I could throw back a piece of chicken for breakfast ;)

    I’m sure there is a balance between looking big and looking toned. Not sure how to achieve the latter, but I know women who have done it (and still lift really heavy). That’s where I want to get.

    1. That’s exactly where I want to get too and I wasn’t sure how to start/get there. I am hoping Crossfit is my answer but if not, try and try again :)

  8. Just say yes to peanut butter!!! ;) And the next time your CF coach tells you otherwise, just refer him to the multiple articles that say too much protein is bad for a diet too ;) Okay, now in all seriousness, I love the idea of CrossFit too but I think – as with any workout – it is good to mix other types of fitness in as well which is sounds like you’re doing! I’m glad your knee is starting to improve – hopefully it’s 100% by the time spring decides to show its pretty face :)

    1. My Crossfit coach and I email back and forth with article disproving eachother haha. I am not budging on the PB don’t you worry! I am definitely all about variety and love trying new classes… next up: body pump! When I find one…

  9. Lol. I used to hate on the Paleo diet too, but it actually does work for a lot of people because it eliminates common allergens. They hate grains, peanuts & legumes because they contain phytic acid which irritate the digestive tract & bind to nutrients, preventing them from being absorbed. My view is, it’s not so much the foods themselves that are the problem, but the way they’re prepared or underlying issues (stress!!!) that can cause leaky gut issues.

    I love lifting weights – I’m really proud of my lady muscles. I don’t go crazy in the gym – I do Bodypump 2-3 times a week, along with some yoga and cardio. My goal is to be fit & strong.

    1. I totally agree on the allergen aspect! I did two months worth of food elimination in the fall and I was basically doing paleo but now that I have added some of the foods back, I have been totally fine. It’s definitely about finding what works for you. And I have the same goal :)

  10. I strength train about 4 times a week but I never tried cross fit. I have nothing against it, I just prefer to git ‘er done at a cheaper gym. And yes I eat all the food on the days I strength train! It’s important! I am currently having tuna for my post lifting breakfast. Not that exciting but I need to repair!

  11. I have began to love strength training but I still like my cardio I’ve actually move from running, to strength train, and now I do classes and just use my body for working out. I had an eating disorder so and the end when I though I was recovered I was all about Paleo. Now… I just eat! I don’t like any type of diet/lifestyle. Not for me!

  12. I really want to try CrossFit but I’ve been putting it off because I’m a bit intimidated by it. I really love strength training though and try to do it 3-4 times per week. I’ve noticed some definite changes in my upper body (goodbye chicken arms and hello wider back) and other than having to go up a size in dress shirts, I’m loving it.

    I think it’s kind of silly that your CrossFit coach is trying to get you to change your diet though. Diet is a personal choice and I hate it when people try to push their ideals on others!

    1. I think with Crossfit, the idea is that it is also a lifestyle and the belief is that eating this way will help achieve the best results. It’s interesting but ultimately it’s my choice.

  13. Stop eating peanut butter?!?! Who are these people?! I think I’d like the style of crossfit workouts, but it’s too expensive for me. I definitely agree that strength training is important, but I feel like I get positive results from lighter weights and bodyweight exercises, so I don’t know about moving to super heavy weights.

  14. I had no idea I Train, Therefore I Eat was your athletic trainer at one point! I love browsing around her blog when I want some lifting motivation.
    As for strength training, you know I love it. But I also think it’s important to mix it up – I’ll strength train, but I also do some cardio and yoga in a regular week too. My body has definitely changed from lifting weights over the last couple of years. I’ve got a broader back, thicker arms and muscular legs. But in 100% trasparency, it has done wonderful, wonderful things for my backside ;-) my clothing style has had to change to accommodate those changes (I don’t like wearing strapless dresses/tops anymore) but I’m happy with how I look and how strong I feel.
    As for diet…just do you, girl. Nothing is more frustrating than someone trying to push their diet ideals onto others – I certainly wouldn’t want to give up peanut butter either!

    1. Hehe small world! It is so wonderful to hear that you are happy with how you look and I know you love your strength training. I am trying to love it more too and so far so good :)

  15. I don’t do Crossfit but one of my best friends does and her boyfriend actually works at the box she works out at. She does it in moderation though – 3 times a week and then supplements with runs, spin, yoga, swimming – other things she loves.

    We had a great discussion about paleo on our run yesterday, actually. She follows ‘paleo-esque’ 80% of the time and then whatever else the other 20%. Beans aren’t bad. Quinoa isn’t bad. A piece of whole grain toast every once in a while isn’t bad. I think we should focus on veggies then protein, carbs & fruit, but I’m not about to give up things I love. Plus… cavemen didn’t cook their meat or make sausage so Paleo is a little off…

    1. Haha so true! And very interesting about your friend’s philosophy about paelo. I think that’s great and a really good balance. I’d feel too deprived!

  16. I’ve never tried CrossFit and I’m not sure I would like it….I mean, I’d be willing to try but I’m not a naturally competitive person so I’m not so sure. Anyway, I do agree that it’s a great workout (from what I know) and overall good for the body, but you do have to do what’s best for YOU. If you like peanut butter. eat peanut butter! If someone told me I could be in the best shape of my life but all I’d have to do was give up chocolate, I don’t know if I could and/or would. That’s just me though. I am glad to hear your knee is feeling better and that CrossFit is working for you!

    1. I don’t think you need to be competitive but it certainly depends on the gym. I am so with ya on not giving things up just to be in good shape — I think that’s taking things too far.

  17. Really loved your honest review of cross-fit! I love the sounds of the workout but not the whole ‘lifestyle’ that goes along with it… Sounds like you are keeping to what works best for you which is awesome!

  18. I love that you’re so honest about what you like and dislike about Crossfit. I haven’t yet tried it (it’s so dang expensive!!) but everything you mentioned about cardio being bad and non-Paleo foods being bad is what rubs me the wrong way. I eat in a way I know works for MY body – it likely won’t work for others and that’s okay! I dislike the “my way or the highway” attitude in some fitness arenas.

    1. The price is definitely a downside as well but thankfully I got a deal :) It definitely rubs me the wrong way too but I am determined to stay strong in my beliefs and yes everyone is different so we have to do what works for us!

  19. I did crossfit this past summer, I had a groupon, it was so much fun! I like the idea of eating real foods more than paleo. I don’t think I could ever go without my peanut butter! I try to lift a few times a week but don’t think ill ever feel big, I don’t have the patience to lift enough to get big.

  20. I love strength training! For me, I complete Bodypump classes and HIT workouts. Both are total body strength training that get the heart rate going for some cardio too. For a while I was lifting free weights, which was great but for me the group classes are much more fun!

  21. So, I’ve always wanted to try Crossfit, but to be honest, I’m kind of intimidated by it. I’m definitely more of a cardio junkie and I like to do strength training moves, but I’m only using 8-10 lbs. In general, although I’ve done it in the past, weight lifting isn’t really my thing, and I’ve always had the same thoughts…I don’t want to get bulky.

    1. Holly I hear ya! It’s totally how I felt/feel. I certainly don’t want to get bulky but I also haven’t been seeing any results using 8-10 lbs so I wanted to try something different. I definitely say to give it a shot… if you lived closer I’d totally go with you :)

  22. The peanut thing is the number one reason I would never, ever, ever go Paleo. F that. I like peanut butter, I even have peanuts on my blog header. The day I give up peanut butter is the day hell freezes over.

    I think that a love-hate relationship is a totally normal thing, especially with groups that have such pointed opinions. We can’t always agree 100% with something, even if we really love part of it. Personally, I think that if CF works for you, then you do it. If you want to do running, spin, yoga and all that along with it – go for it. No CF coach should be able to convince you otherwise. Plus, I wouldn’t really call that “coaching,” I’d call that more “controlling.” Your fitness and food decisions are up to you.

  23. I would probably get offended if someone asked me to stop eating peanut butter! I haven’t jumped on the crossfit train because I am not a fan of doing 50 reps at a time of one exercise- I have round it’s hard on my knees, but I still like lifting heavy, just in a different format. :)

  24. Ya know, I love that you were open and honest about what you love and don’t love. It’s usually just an automatic, I love everything about Crossfit and I’m a diehard now. I love that you stood your ground on not becoming Paleo and that you were going to continue cycling and eating peanut butter! Keep doing whatever you love and it will work out :)

  25. I love your old ATCs blog post. I always tell my students they should lift heavy, and if they ask about getting bulky I say “no, you would have to take steroids… unless you think I’m bulky then yes, you got me.” Anyway, I love that you are willing to be a dissenter in the CrossFit community. So many people blindly accept whatever their coach says to them even if it doesn’t feel right. Yet another reason why you are amazing :) I lift weights and do strength training, but I do it my way. I lift heavy, but I’m not obsessed about HOW heavy I can lift. I don’t care about the numbers, I just care that I’m doing something good for my body. A lot of the heavy lifters I know fall into the trap of getting as obsessive about their lifting numbers as they used to be about counting calories, and to me, that isn’t better, it’s just a new outlet for the same unhealthy obsession. Not that you would ever be one of them! I’m just rambling now, because I’ve had a post about this in the works for a while, sorry!!! In conclusion, I love that you are loving CF and as long as you keep doing what feels right for you and your body that is all that matters <3

    1. You always apologize for your rambles. Yet, I love them. I love that you strength train your way and it is seriously so motivational. I know that I will not do it on my own that’s why this works for me but I will always stay true to myself.

  26. I enjoyed reading this post. For one, I get the overall concept of Paleo and agree with most of their arguments but people also have to understand that we are living COMPLETELY different lives than our primal ancestors did. Completely. Our bodies have evolved to eat different things. If a food is good for you, but doesn’t fall in the Paleo spectrum, then I see no reasons why you shouldn’t eat it. For someone to sit there and seriously tell me that chickpeas are not healthy for you, I shake my fists at them.

    1. Tara I could not have said it any better!! Thank you! I can understand paleo from a food sensitivity aspect but ultimately if your body can handle chickpeas, peanut butter or whatever… then it should be eaten :)

  27. Weight training is my favorite…But I can’t tell you how many of my girl students always say they don’t want to lift weights because they’re afraid of looking manly or bulky. You may have to eat more but just eat the things YOU like. Your athletic trainer has it right, some things will change but you can look fit and muscular while looking feminine. You would never lose your beauty anyway, Amy!!

    I don’t think you have to categorize yourself as far as your workouts and food is concerned. If you want to do cross fit moves, spin and do yoga then YOU DO IT! Fitness is about feeling good about yourself not falling under a category. You make your own category!

    Ps. I have a serious love for my hand calluses, I even mention them in my confessions

    1. I was really looking forward to your feedback on this because I know you are a big fan of weight training. The body changes is still a bit of a concern for me but you really did make me feel better (may send you an email one of these days if that’s okay!) You are so sweet and I truly appreciate your support. Maybe I will learn to love my hand calluses too… as long as my nails are painted hah

  28. Thanks for this post- You really have me intrigued because I’ve been keen to try a crossfit class for ages and seeing as it’s big in Sydney – it’s on the list!

    As for the dieting side of it, I wouldn’t mind giving it a go for maybe a week- just to see how my body reacts. Seeing as I eat cold pizza, pasta or even chicken nuggets for breakfast…it wouldn’t be the worst. ;)

    1. I am super excited for you to give it a go! Hoping the trip to Sydney is going well. I feel like I could do 80/20 paleo or something along those lines but never fully!

  29. I do Crossfit, and one thing I’ve definitely noticed is that every box is different! I’ve been to 2 for a long time each, and never once has anyone mentioned eating. The box I really loved formatted their workouts so that ever other day was a strength day, and the days in between were skills, so it was a better mix of lifting heavy and cardio-that being said, I definitely run and spin on my own!

    1. Interesting! This is the first box I have been to so I didn’t realize that. I love that format – so smart. I’m now intrigued to check out other boxes; although I do love the people at mine.

  30. Strength training ALWAYS boosts my appetite like crazy!! This is a really good thing because it just means you’re boosting your metabolism via building lean muscle. So, if you find yourself consistently more hungry from doing crossfit, you’re building lean muscle! :)

    And I cannot get on broad with no peanut butter either. thumbs. down.


  31. Loved this post! I have been contemplating trying crossfit for awhile now but it always seems super intimidating to me. I actually really enjoy strength training in the gym and have found a passion in weight lifting. It’s very empowering feeling strong and challenging your body. That being said I am by no means “bulky” or have huge muscles like some crossfit girls. But I did find that my hunger levels completely spiked once I started weight training. My meals have become bigger and I always have to eat before a strength training workout. Through research I’ve learned that carbs and protein are really important in these types of workouts but I’m still trying to find whats best for me!
    I’m not a fan of counting calories, or macro nutrients. And there is no way I could give up eating peanut butter or chocolate or whole grains! Those are the basis of my diet and I don’t believe in restricting yourself because I think that leads to an unhealthy mentality. I make sure I get in my veggies and I eat what I feel like eating, at a balanced level.
    You may have inspired me to just suck it up and try out crossfit! I’ll let you know if I do! :)

    1. I think it is wonderful the feeling you get from lifting weights… I hope to get that too! Please do let me know if you try it out, I hope you have a positive experience if you do :)

  32. I want t like crossfit, I really do. I just can’t get into the aggressiveness of the workouts. I mean I know that it’s a supportive environment, I just like having a more calming, personal workout experience, like yoga ;) Awesome that you tried it and are liking it though!

  33. When it comes to weight lifting I have always kind of enjoyed doing it solo but I have been taking a strength training class once a week which has made it nice to have some people around. Nice work getting back in the gym, and yes you are a pretty beast! :)

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