Vivian started out with CrossFit two years ago simply because it was the closest gym to her. It didn’t matter that it was a CrossFit gym, but it was convenient to her life in Baltimore and a good change of pace after working with a private trainer. The gym she found was welcoming - the coaches were great, programming was good, and the people were friendly (but not annoyingly so). But life doesn’t always cater to make fitness easy. Vivian got a new job in Virginia and began the CrossFit search again.
The first Virginia gym Vivian found was close to her job but pricey, and even after a few trial classes, it was not a place she would feel comfortable. After searching a bit more, Vivian tried a class at CrossFit Tysons Corner, and she liked it. According to Vivian, the person who taught her Day One class was really nice - they were accommodating, they scaled things, they were friendly. And there was also inclusivity. Vivian describes it as a fine line between community that feels like a cool-kids club, and community that feels like people willing to engage others that aren’t part of their group yet.
But then there had to be Day Two. “The thing is, I’m not really good with change. What’s going to happen now?” Vivian thought. Yet, the second day was also good - two classes, two hits. Vivian could see herself sticking with it. She was consistent, showing up multiple times a week, gradually building strength and what became more important - building a routine and building confidence.
I don’t do well with change, but I really liked this gym a lot more than I had liked other gyms.
Then came CFTC’s most recent nutrition challenge. During the spring and summer of 2018 CFTC held an 8-week nutrition challenge with body composition before and after the challenge. Vivian had tried every nutrition challenge out there - short paleo challenges, Whole30, you name it. With those challenges, though, the extreme restriction was just too much. It wasn’t something that could last.
I’ve done every nutrition challenge you could possible think of. Paleo challenges, Whole30, this, that I’ve done it all.
The CFTC nutrition challenge had participants record and track their food every day for 55 days. The experience of tracking and balancing macros was an eye-opener to Vivian. It made her really choose what food she valued on a given day. Was it something she was craving and would really enjoy, or was it food just out of boredom and habit? Vivian described a default snack she would always have - hummus. During the challenge though she realized that the hummus should would seek out, wasn’t actually something she enjoyed, especially when you started to count its carb and fat content. For Vivian she could spend those macros on food she actually valued for that day.
It was a really useful experience of finding how I valued food - what I really wanted to eat vs. what I was just eating. What is the thing I really want to eat today vs. what is just filler on a busy day?
In terms of advice for people who have hit a wall with nutrition, Vivian’s advice is to get to a place where there’s room to add in what can be a very mentally difficult battle.
I needed to be in the mental headspace to change the food to begin with. I wasn’t there yet six months ago or nine months ago. I couldn’t address nutrition until I was in a fitness routine, and I had already set aside an hour of my day to take a break.
During weeks one and two of the challenge, Vivian saw a significant amount of weight loss. Even with some slip-ups in weeks three and four, Vivian used the full eight weeks to establish more sustainable routines. Over the eight weeks, she lost over two percent body fat with the majority of the fat loss coming from the gynoid (midsection) region. Her results were obvious to everyone in the gym, regardless of the quantified measurements of the second scan.
More than 2% bodyfat and 10 lbs. lost
She admits that one of her main goals was aesthetic - to look good in a business suit during an important presentation that would last through August. The fitness progress was a side benfit, but we all have our reasons.
Next up for Vivian is getting that first pull-up before the end of the year - she’s the closest she’s ever been.
Vivian’s advice to people just starting out?
Build a routine. Get to a space where you’re going to go, regardless of the workout. I’m at the point where I’ll look at the workout, dislike it, and still show up. That’s what it takes. I’m really happy here.
Dolores has been a CFTC member since 2015, and we've been fortunate to see her grow through milestones of engagement, marriage and now the start of a family. Dolores and her husband (and fellow CFTC member) Denis welcomed Lukas into the world in March after CrossFitting through her pregnancy up until her 38th week.
Committing to CrossFit throughout her pregnancy, Dolores took the advice of active moms before her, with her number one rule being to listen to her body. She let our coaches know of moves particular to her pregnancy which should would not be comfortable with and CFTC followed the guidelines of several articles detailing how to scale workouts during pregnancy. Dolores primarily focused on maintaining her form and just trying to move in ways that were comfortable during her pregnancy. In general, she tried to work at a level where she could have a conversation and maintain her composure during workouts.
"When I found out I was pregnant, I took it easy and did 50% less weight than I would usually do. Once I passed the first trimester, I went 75 - 100% of what I had done previously depending on the movement. Gradually I switched things out - trading step-ups for box jumps, and doing movements where I felt comfortable."
However, it was the mental toughness that CrossFit truly helped her to develop which made the delivery of Lukas manageable. A week past the due date, Dolores went into labor and after being in labor for over 24 hours, the doctors made the decision to induce the C-section procedure. The surprise of the surgery after having a birth plan in place required quick adjustments and the ability to remain positive. Lukas was born at 9.5 pounds, much larger than expected. However, the weeks of hard workouts leading up to and during her pregnancy contributed to Dolores knowing that her body was strong, capable and adaptable to deliver a healthy baby boy.
We are all inspired by Dolores and have been glad to see her back at CFTC after about two months away. Her advice for CrossFitting moms is to continue to work out in some way during your pregnancy. Workout as long as possible, because the mental aspect of keeping your body strong is important.
"I wouldn't have been able to get through that 24 hour labor if I hadn't come to CrossFit."
As Dolores transitions back to working out, she's committing to coming 2-3 times per week, re-committing to form by going slow, adjusting to a different body shape, and restoring flexibility. Dolores, Denis and Lukas are doing wellsupported by friends and family in the area and Denis preparing to be a federal police officer . Say hi to Lukas the next time he visits the gym!
Drew credits his success in weight loss to two things: 1) his doctors and 2) the CFTC coaches and community. We will say from the start that Drew's transformation includes bariatric surgery - the sleeve. This surgery is not the easy way to weight loss. It requires a lifestyle change, personal commitment and a support structure and is a serious medical decision. Finding himself above 300 pounds and sedentary after a knee surgery, Drew chose this option but it is not the path for everyone.
A collegiate lacrosse athlete, Drew came to CFTC in 2015 after seeing a deterioration in his physical abilities. He came in with a good attitude and progressed in each class, building to a serious amount of strength and capacity. However, after aggravating his hip in daily life activities, Drew had to undergo surgery. Like a lot of injuries, there was no one event that caused it - Drew lifted the day before his injury occurred with no issues - the next day was unable to get out of bed.
Between an increasingly inactive lifestyle and the slow path back from surgery, the fitness Drew developed from 2015 - 2016 deteriorated further, resulting in a weight that got up to 330 pounds and an unsustainable lifestyle. With the injury, Drew entered a spiral of not eating well, feeling bad about not being active to work it off, and cycling between those two states. The point when he stepped on the scale and was north of 300 was the point Drew knew he had to make a change.
"I knew I had to change my lifestyle, and I knew I wanted CrossFit to be a part of that. The group here is fantastic - being able to connect with people, being able to do stuff I actually enjoy doing, that's why I came back."
In 2017, Drew returned to CFTC, with a heightened attitude of humility and the knowledge that the path to surpassing his previous levels of fitness would be a long one.
Drew committed to coming 3 days per week for several months. He did not rush to get to his previous strength numbers or workout times. He was consistent, persistent and dedicated. The days went by and his body adapted, leading to the day in May 2018 where he reached a milestone of being under 200 pounds for the first time since early high school.
"I had to realize there was certain things I could do and certain things I couldn't do coming back. Before my break I was squatting 340, and when I returned I know I would be starting back in the low 200s."
Drew will be the first to tell you that although he turned his life around with the help of surgery, the vigilance he now has to have for nutrition is something he will need to keep for the rest of his life. He must maintain a regimented way of eating, and with or without surgery, this will be true for everyone.
"For people intimidated by CrossFit, don't look at other people in terms of weights. Find what you can do - if it's on the bar, if it's only a ten point plate, that's fine. Don't psych yourself out and say you can't do it. Just go in and do it."
These days, Drew is surprising himself every day with what is now possible. Even through college, pull-ups were not possible, and with the Open in 2018, he was able to get more than 30 in 18.5. He keeps coming back because of the people and how much the athletes and coaches want you to succeed.