Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jes' CrossFit Beginnings

Skinny Fat (January 2008) vs. Fit (September 2011) vs. Twig (May 2010).

Lately, I have been frequently asked about my CrossFit beginnings.  How did I get started, did I have any fitness background beforehand, how often did I go, do I have before and after pictures, etc.  So this post will be about how I started CrossFit and why I stuck to it.

How did I get started?
Two main reasons: to efficiently get stronger and healthier.
I knew the general idea of CrossFit for awhile.  I had a few college friends who did it religiously.  However, I did not try it until the start of this year because I was lazy, really into yoga, and feared "looking stupid" in front of a bunch of people.  Around the holiday season last year, I could predict the next five movements in my fitness classes and workout in makeup and not break a sweat (that's when you know it's time for a change).  It was not challenging anymore and I got bored.  I wanted to get stronger, and gain weight (break 100lb!!), but not from fat.
I do not have a sweet story about how I lost XX pounds from CrossFit.  In fact, quite the opposite.  My story is on gaining almost 15 pounds from CrossFit and transforming away from being skinny fat and very, very scrawny.  (Side note to all the skinny Asian people out there who want to "gain weight": it is not from eating more crappy food).  I have always been pretty petite and for the most part perceived as physically weak.  During my last year in college I was diagnosed with a disease that made me metabolize food at a ridiculous rate (really not a blessing).   Regardless of how much I ate, I quickly dropped weight.  I also constantly got sick, and would stay sick for a long time.  I knew about the wonders of daily exercise on health.  My active dad rarely gets sick, even when surrounded by sick people, and is in great health.  Therefore, with New Year around the corner, I decided to give CrossFit a try with the intention of getting stronger and healthy.  I did my first CrossFit class at Fitness Gone Bad in Hawaii, at 88 pounds.

Did I have any fitness background prior to CrossFit?
Not really.  I started CrossFit about 8 months after I graduated from college.  I worked my ass off at CMU on very little sleep.  I ate like crap: ramen, dino nuggets, free food, and tons of ice cream and did absolutely no exercise unless you count walking to class.  However in high school I was a cheerleader and frequently went hiking with my dad and Daisy.  I started doing Yogalates (yoga + pilates) with more of an Ashtanga influence in September 2010, and those fitness classes at your typical GloboGym.  It was really tough for the first couple months and then I got used to it.

My first month of CrossFit.
After my first class while at home on vacation at Fitness Gone Bad, I was sold on CrossFit and wanted to continue it in the Bay Area.  I googled the crap out of nearby CrossFit gyms and decided to sign up at Jason Khalipa's box: CrossFit Santa Clara/Mountain View, mainly because of the dual gym membership (Santa Clara near work, Mountain View closer to home) and Jason's reputation.  When I first walked into Jason's box, I could not do a pull-up (used to use the super thick green band) and pressing 33# was reallyyyy tough.  I was able to do push-ups, lunges, and high-rep sets of toes-to-bar and knees-to-elbows, though.  All my movements were reallyyyyyyyyy "slow and graceful."  I had an extremely hard time with oly lifts, particularly exploding with the hips and moving quick.  I still do to this day, but not nearly as bad.  Jason used to yell at me all the time for being too graceful and for thinking too much.  I was also really nervous about the community factor at first and working out with a bunch of very athletic people.  It quickly went away after my first group class at CrossFit Santa Clara (01/10/11) when I realized everyone was there to motivate and help each other.  Now, the community is one of my favorite aspects of CrossFit! 


How often did I go?
I started off by going 2-3 times a week, while still actively going to yoga 4-5 times a week and occasionally those fitness classes.  Initially, I had my doubts.  I was scared of becoming "large" or over-the-top muscular by lifting heavy.  I voiced my concerns and did my research.  Ladies, we naturally cannot get "huge HUGE" (Side note: check out this really good post on Women and Muscle).  Anyway, back on track, within no time, my weekly attendance at CrossFit quickly jumped to 5 times a week by early February.  At that point I stopped going to those fitness classes but continued to do yoga.  I remained quite active with yoga until about May, when my attendance quickly dropped to zero.  I have not done yoga in almost 3 months.  Going to try to get back into it as I think it really helps with recovery and some of the gymnastic movements.  Now I CrossFit six times a week, Monday - Saturday.  Good thing CrossFit Mountain View is closed on Sunday's or else I would not be taking a rest day!

Before CrossFit Pictures:
2. December 2008, Sophomore/Junior year in college - Skinny-Fat.  92lb.

3. November 2009, Grad Student, hardest semester at CMU.  Sick-sick and a Low-Point. 82lb.

4. May 2010, Grad Student Banquet - 85lb.

5. December 2010 on the Koko Head Crater Hike - 3 months into yoga and fitness classes at the Globo Gym.  88lb.


After CrossFit Pictures:
6. January 1st, 2011.  My first CrossFit class at Fitness Gone Bad - chalk love started early.  88lb.

7. March 2011, 3 months - I remember 1 month ago I tried to convince my trainers that a 100# deadlift was too heavy, lol.  95lb.


8. June 2011, 6 months - My first muscle-up.  100lb.  First time I broke 100lb!!!!!!!!


9. September 2011, 9 months - I gained almost 15 pounds from CrossFit.  I lift heavy shit.  I still look like a girl and  I'm not HUGE (see Women and Muscle).  100-103lb.


10. December 2011, 11 months - Catching a WOD at FGB Hawaii Kai on Christmas Day.  103-104lb.


11. January 2012, 1 year - First time I broke 200#!  200.5# Deadlift.  102lb.


12. January 2012, 1 year - in non-workout clothing. Ladies, asses are made from squats [see squat section in Strength] not shape-ups.  102lb.

13. May 2012 in Cannes, France.  103lb 


14. July 2013 at the USAW Senior National Championships!  46.6kg (~102.7lb)

That's how I started and I'm gonna keep going!  I accomplished physical movements I thought I would never be able to do.  I am fully recovered and I cut my recovery time from that stress-induced disease in half.  I have not been sick since starting CrossFit.  I am currently in the best shape and overall health in my life.  And the best part is, I am having so much fun!

Related Posts: My First Kipping Bar Muscle Up | 2013 Goals | Progress - Memorial Day Murph | 2012 Goals

18 comments:

  1. Jes, as with the rest of your posts this was a fun read. Though there are certainly differences in my path into crossfit (e.g., I spent 27 years in University life before deciding it was time to get back into shape, I needed to lose weight, and nobody has ever associated graceful with my name), there are lots of similarities including getting bored with the very predictable "classic" fitness classes, wanting to increase strength, loving the crossfit community and support it provides, and that it's a good thing CrossFit Mountain View is closed on Sunday's or else I would not be taking a rest day!

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  2. Hey Jes- I found your blog through VCF on Facebook. We briefly met at CFSC back in March when we were visiting from Portland. I check the CFSC blog sometimes and say you got your 1st muscle-up awhile back and can do a pistol on a KB handle- amazing.
    Hopefully I will catch a WOD with you when we visit the Bay Area again. Take care
    Heather

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  3. Hey Heather! Yes, yes i remember you! your husband came in with you too yeah?

    thank you for the sweet words! what CF gym do you train at in portland? i might be visiting soon!

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  4. Great post and interesting read Jes! I remember your first day at Fitness Gone Bad and you sure have come a long way and accomplished quite a bit since then. You're also looking terrific! Keep up the good work. - "Aunty Nadyne" aka Envy Cano

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  6. I'm planning to start the programs offered by CrossFit because I heard a lot of good reviews about it. Good thing you shared your thoughts on it.

    gymnastics for toddlers

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  7. Pretty amazing transformation Jes. Heather and I thought you looked even more amazing when we saw you at Hardass over the Holidays compared to when we saw you at the Heroes WOD.

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  8. ahem... i like to think that you had some earlier influence ;). You ROCK now though! total transformation.

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  9. Jes, great read. Seeing your progression over the years is really something. Women of all shapes and sizes should read this, as you are living proof why getting stronger (and not skinnier) should be the goal.
    You're on your way to beast mode status, just keep at it.

    By the way, love the background picture. Makes me want to book a trip to Hawaii.

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  10. Wow, great pics, and nice shoulders in your December 2011, 11 months pic! Keep it up girl!

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  11. I absolutely loved your post!
    I feel like I can relate so much! I too am trying to get out of the "skinny girl" mentality/body type and into a strong, confident female body. (My coach has also told me that I am thinking too much. And I don't think I am as explosive as I should/could be)
    I started CF back in September (officially). Admittedly, I haven't been totally committed to the WODs/skills/technique because my first love has always been running. However, I am seeing a shift for me between running and Crossfit, similar to your yoga and CF story.
    What advice could you give me for improving myself and to one day get a 200# DL?

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    1. Thanks Alyssa! Means a bunch :)

      Funny you ask, deadlifts are my nemesis and you pretty much have to twist my arm to get me to do them. For overall strength, I highly recommend getting on a squat program... ideally one that includes front squats since that translates to other lifts so well. Also just focusing on 1-2 weaknesses to work on for a month or so works well for me too.

      hope this helps!
      jes

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  12. Deadlifts are actually one of my strongest things..I think I have pretty strong hamstrings from running. It's overhead stuff that I am terrible at because I have limited mobility in my shoulders/lats. I have been working on this since starting, using my foam roller and lacrosse ball (so much tissue to get rid of!).

    Could you explain what a squat program would be like? I am not familiar with that.
    This month I am religiously working on pull ups :) I have also gotten into doing snatches more (focusing on technique).

    Thank you so much for your help!

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    1. you can email me at liao.jes [at] gmail.com

      I'd be happy to share my thoughts offline :)

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  13. You have a very inspiring story. Keep up the good work :)

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