My testimony isn’t anything special. I was a D1 athlete, grew up, graduated and realized I didn’t have a coach or teammates making running bearable. I was entering a ton of 5ks and even marathons and it just wasn’t the same. I wasn’t pushing myself and I was doing the same activity over and over again. Mile after mile, I became desperate for a new challenge and some motivation.

At first I was skeptical. Being a dietitian, I had this view that CrossFit would be an intense cult of people wearing ridiculous socks and eating meat off the bone chanting “paleo for life”. Well, I was wrong about half of that assumption. The first part about the socks was very real my first day. The workout had something stupid like 30 rope climbs and I now have a permanent scar on my shin. It definitely ruined my Nike Frees (don’t worry Nike replaced them). I guess I should have borrowed my dad’s tall socks that he likes to wear with sandals.

BUT I was hooked and let me tell you why…

The Workouts

After recovering from the sock incident, I immediately knew this sport was for me. I love having a different workout everyday with functional movement and training in all areas. The 10 components of fitness include cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, strength, stamina, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. Each workout has a purpose and a practical life application for the movement performed. As much as I hate to say it, the workouts also make me practice things I’m not so good at and after going through the CrossFit Level 1 coaching course, I learned there was A LOT I wasn’t good at.

The Coaching

Having a coach is another huge win. I am able to grow as an athlete and a person when I’m at the box. It’s pretty cool to have someone there to support and help you improve everyday. I have never felt judged on the days I can’t do the prescribed workout weight or when I have to scale down workouts either. So many of my girlfriends are worried about their lack of experience with lifting. If they only knew the environment is so much different than any other gym and the health benefits that strength and resistance training provides they wouldn’t have to be worried about being intimidated or judged. This is a huge reason I am training to become a coach myself. I want to empower others to take control of their health and change their perspective by valuing what our bodies can do.

Community & Friendships

It’s one of the best parts of my day to see my friends and finish a great workout together. The CrossFit communities I have been a part of are all extremely different which makes it work. I can’t even come up with a stereotype for Crossfitters anymore because there’s everything from grandmas to biker dudes to girly girls. It’s amazing how the workouts can be customized to each individual’s level of fitness while it still being fun and for everyone.

Nutrition

Like I said, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure what CrossFit was preaching when it came to food. There have been some nasty comments and articles by CrossFit headquarters against dietitians, which really bothered me at first. I won’t get started on that though because I have had nothing but good experiences and have been supported by the owners, coaches and athletes. It’s awesome to be looked at as an expert and a resource for the members as an RD. I am so excited to continue implementing nutrition programming into our gym and also start coaching. Promoting healthy lifestyle is what I went to school for and I now actually feel like I am doing it.

So if I haven’t convinced you, here is one of the comments I took away from the Crossfit course

What’s more dangerous than Crossfit?

-Not doing Crossfit. 

If you aren’t doing anything nutrition and exercise related to improve your health… I suggest you start. Find something sustainable that you love.

Other Dietitian Thoughts:

Regardless if you are a Crossfit athlete or not, nutrition is key for disease prevention, athletic performance and overall health.

Nutrition 

1.) Needs to be a lifestyle, something that is a habit and that you enjoy.

2.) Is individualized. Don’t follow someone else’s plan. YOU have unique goals and needs.

3.) Means eat quality foods. Less processed foods, less added sugar. Focus on lean protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and complex carbs.

 

Practicing CrossFit without any regard to nutrition is similar to only having “one oar in the water,” according to CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman. 

Haley Hughes MS, RD, CDE, CF-L1