Fatty McFatty Pants (The Gremlin)

You may recall in Right On Hereford, Left on Boylston, I completed the 2014 Boston Marathon; a lifetime dream of mine came true on April 21st.  Despite my months of training, particularly through New England’s Artic Vortex and miles upon miles logged; I somehow experienced a hip labral tear just past mile seven.  Because I am incredibly stubborn and ­­­_______________ (reader’s choice, you pick: crazy, tough as nails, resilient, stupid, mental, stubborn again…..), I did finish; albeit nearly an hour and a half after I expected to.

After a very painful (mental, not physical) six week, doctor-ordered mandated break from working out, I returned to Crossfit.  For those of you who have deemed Crossfit a cult, that “cult” welcomed me with open arms and had me feeling as if I were not only genuinely missed but everyone was proud of me for coming back in.  My workout “family” was non-judgmental and gently nursed my bruised ego as I crossed the gym floor to resume my vacant spot.

A gentle manner and easing into something is not a regular habit of mine; so I was even a bit worried about how my still healing hip would feel as I resumed throwing weight around – both that on my body and that on my barbell.  The pain was virtually non-existent in my hip, but there was a good instability and a random clicking to remind me to be safe.  My coach was excellent about providing modifications to me that did not further add insult to injury.  On top of that, my “box-mates” were constantly asking me if I felt good, if I was okay, and so forth on making sure I respected my bodily boundaries as I regained my pre-marathon weights and workouts.

Surrounding yourself with caring people in an environment where each person is out for his or her own, but he or she pushes you to hit new personal bests or simply get through a bad day is most rewarding.  I know I can rely upon myself to push myself harder than most, which is a hard-wired trait of mine. However, I cannot always stop the Gremlin – the voice that enters my head and tells me that I should have pushed harder, faster, stronger or better.


Last week was a perfect example of how my Gremlin started to take over when she had NO business being anywhere near my sweatiness.  Our strength portion of our workout was a 1RM (one round max) of a bench press; or in other words, the heaviest we could go for one rep.  I had not done a bench press for a max in a very long time, so I had no recollection of what weight I should be at.  Instantly, I asked a strong Crossfitter friend of mine to work with her, as I am typically 10-20 lbs behind her and she’s an inspiration for me to work with.  This fellow Crossfitter is always encouraging me in the kindest of ways and making me strive to find my peak strength without losing my femininity (yes, I joke about my growing man-muscles).

We added weights and benched pressed our way up and down the rack.  Once I hit 125 pounds, I lost my mojo and simply could not get the bar up over a certain sticking point.  My box-mate rallied and pushed her way through to 137.5 pounds.  As we put the weights away to prepare for the next phase of our workout, I started to allow myself some disappointment that I did not hit the 130 pounds I deemed as the appropriate number for myself.  The funny thing is I have no manual on what numbers I should be hitting.  Crossfit, itself, has no manuals on what numbers I should be racking up.  My body told me last week that 125 pounds was the max it was going to afford that day.  Enough said.

We finished the rest of the workout, which included things such as toes-to-bar, handstand holds and double unders.  Yes, toes-to-bar. Anyone who is overweight and has had 3 kids has something of a pooch (not a dog, but a hanging flabalanche that starts just below the boobs and ends somewhere in the southern nethers) that is a clear obstacle to your toes meeting the bar.  Ah, yes, there’s a thing called a modification: knees to chest. Let us just say that my knees get parallel and I have to be happy with that (for now).  However, I swing and I sway so that my movements sort of blend in with the rest of the monkeys who make getting their toes to a bar over their head second nature; as if they have been practicing since they were in utero.  Maybe I should stick to running…….Fatty McFatty Pants can cover the distance.

Handstands. Publicly, I will admit it: I am TERRIFIED to try a real handstand in the vicinity of other people, regardless of how much they love me and how they would NEVER <ahem, publicly> judge me or laugh at me. I reluctantly did the modified version and I felt strong despite leaning the opposite way of my box-mates.  Take your weight and invert it upside down using the strength of your upper-body to hold it versus your legs?!?!  Who ARE these people?

Photo: crossfitannarbor
Photo: crossfitannarbor

Recently, another WOD (workout of the day) had me doing thrusters and pull-ups.  Thrusters are a barbell exercise that require you to clean the bar to your collarbone from the ground, squat and then press the weight up over your head.  While I manage to be fairly strong in any barbell required exercises like thrusters, I still carry a tremendous amount of extra weight for body weight movements – making things like pull-ups all but nearly impossible (did I not just outline the pretty picture with toes-to-bar above?!).  However, instead of just jumping up trying to reach the bar as I have for months on end, I am noticing lately that I can actually get my chinny chin-chin up there to the bar.  With more work and practice, I know someday I will be able to do a pull-up without using the force of my jumping legs up to get there.  I may actually complete a handstand as well.  (Insert eyeball roll as I wonder if I will EVERRRRRR get a toes-to-bar).

Every single day has become a routine:   I look at the posted workout on my CrossFit page and a part of me gets giddy. I anxiously await the time of day later that belongs to ME.  I *strut* into my box knowing full well I am about to get my big ass handed to me in some terrible manner, courtesy of no one but myself and my enormous girth.

During the workout, I will curse myself a million times over, and then a few times over again – for being crazy and out of my mind. I will actually question my sanity. I will tear myself down for being so overweight and for allowing myself to get there (chemo weight or not…it still feels like an excuse).

I will complete the workout to the best of my ability on that given day. Most days are given a good effort, but there is a random day where the energy cannot be mustered from any source. However, nine times out of ten, I will walk out of the vast gym feeling like a million dollars and high on an ever-growing addiction to endorphins.


CrossFit is hard; that is why it is not for everyone. CrossFit is not the latest fitness craze that anyone can just jump into. The workouts take hours practice for proper form, the weights take time to build up to, the endurance adds with each push or pull given by you.  CrossFit is commitment.  CrossFit is determination.  CrossFit is a lifestyle change.

One would not expect their life savings to grow overnight, much as one should not expect their health to grow overnight as well.  With each deposit into my health bank (i.e. a completed WOD), my health is vastly expanding.  I am chipping away at my future health by giving my body the strength it needs to be strong, whether it is in my muscles, my cardiac system or my mental health (including kicking that ugly Gremlin to the corner once and for all).  Each day I complete a workout, I am one day closer to changing my name from Fatty McFattyPants to something more appealing…….(i.e. The Beccinator; Beastly Rebec; Sweaty Bec; Bodacious Becca…….) but until then……..


Yes, I am stronger, I am leaner, and I am a better person than I was the day before.

Should that not be the goal for each of us?


P.S.  What do you do with YOUR Gremlin?

How Do I Love Thee Crossfit, Let Me Count The Ways

cf love

Back in July, a new “box” (lingo for gym in Crossfit speak) opened up less than a mile from my house. At the time, I was intrigued, yet, super intimidated about this new place to exercise on my side of town. Thanks to social media, I was soon seeing offers to join up and my curiosity piqued. From those in my own circles, Crossfit seemed to have a love/hate affair – some swore by their relationship with their box and associated family; while others screamed the opposite banter: “Don’t you know you WILL get hurt doing Crossfit?” “Those people at Crossfit are just plain nuts!” “It’s a cult. Don’t do it!”

After a not so gentle push from a friend of mine, I dove in and signed up. I shared that newbie experience here:  After easing myself into the WODs (lingo for workout of the day), coupled with my hectic schedule of working, coaching soccer teams, playing taxi and mom, by November I was able to start hitting my box at least three times a week regularly, sometimes four times a week. Suddenly, I was shifting from “I cannot go today because I have……….<insert random responsibility or excuse here>.” to newfound proclaimations of “Listen, I am GOING to Crossfit today, so everything else is just going to have to wait until I am done!” (and the subsequent racing from the box to dance, or to soccer, or to a board meeting is just that, rushing from point A to point B, but damn, I have fit my WOD in and let me tell you how I feel!

How do I love thee Crossfit? Seriously, let me count the ways for you! 

The team-like environment is unlike any other gym I have EVER been to (and I have been to pretty much all of them in the local area). For those of us who participated in team sports back in the day, well, after the first few times of awkwardness, the team-like environment is part of the appeal. Suddenly, there’s an underlying accountability from your regular WOD-mates. “Hey, I missed you yesterday – it was a tough one!” You begin showing up because you know so-and-so is counting on you to be there to suffer workout with them, or you want to experience the burpee sandwich with someone who is going to despise it relish it as much as you (in the accomplishment thereafter). Even if your gym mates finish their WOD before you, they will come over to cheer you on to finish yours strong; or perhaps, they may even join in and do more with you. Let me tell you, it is very hard to slack off when your gym mate is yelling at encouraging you to finish. Somehow, you dig deeper than you would have for yourself and your WOD is complete. How’s that for love?

The aforementioned sense of accomplishment, how can you not love a feeling of pulling off a workout that includes the dreaded burpees, or TTB (toes to bar), or deadlifts, or any other one of the many elements that make up Crossfit?

Fortunately, for me, I have a great sense of humor so the first million hundred thousand times I have tried to wrestle shimmy freaking move sway my large girth hanging from a pole into a kipping, gymnastic-like being who gets her toes gracefully to that same pole my hands are hanging off of…..well, it was anything but graceful, ok, it is downright hysterical (I now apologize to all of the lovely people of Crossfit978) but damn, I am going to keep trying until I hit that day where the grand choruses of the world start in unison with “Hallelujah!”


Same with C2B (chest to bars), in a few months I have gone from hanging like a lounging chimpanzee (Orangutan? Gorilla?) to……….hanging like a lounging chimpanzee with a mere 2” improvement in my attempt to bring my boobs to that godforsaken pole I am STILL hanging from! Perhaps in another four months, I will be another 2” closer and that, for me, is a sense of accomplishment!


The Opens. A couple of months ago, the same friend who pushed me to sign up for Crossfit in the first place asked me if I was going to sign up for Opens. I cackled. I did. Literally, a loud and annoying are-you-freakin-kidding me laugh (yes, Ashley is out of her mind, bhahahahahaha). Opens is a Crossfit competition! I have only been going to my box regularly for a few months; I am so NOT ready for a competition, even if it’s online. Bahahahahahahahahahahaha. Boy, maybe this friend IS drinking too much of the Crossfit Kool-Aid. She walked me through what the Opens actually are and firmly told me if I did not sign up for the Opens *THAT* night, she would take the liberty of signing me up herself. <Insert my famous eyeball roll right here.>

cf kool aid

I signed up. 2014 is about facing my fears, remember that? So what if I end up in the bottom of the barrel because I am not ready? At least I did it and I have that aforementioned sense of accomplishment I keep chatting about, right? Yes, I think I started having explosive diarrhea at that precise moment because I feared I was in way over my head.

The Opens is an online competition, however, you are going to do the workout anyway as part of your box’s regularly scheduled WOD, you may as well be scored on your efforts! The rules of the Opens is to report your score by a deadline to see where you stand in the world, in your region, in your state and in your own Crossfit box. I figured at a minimum, I would have a baseline to compare my growth to the next time I repeated any of these workouts in the future.

Enter 14.1, which consisted of 30DUs (double unders; or your ability to jump rope but pass the rope not once, but twice under your feet in a single jump) and 15 snatches; AMRAP 10 (as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes). My sense of humor kicked in with my fellow 4 pm crossfitters as we realized that if you did NOT do 30DUs, you could NOT move on to the snatches. Wait, what?

You see, in prior workouts, if you could not complete a double under you were allowed to single jump rope with attempts to double under every five jumps or so. NOT IN THE OPENS. Since I have only ever gotten four double unders, by some miraculous coming of God freak chance, prior to 14.1 – I figured my 10 minute workout would consist solely of jump roping and I would do something else thereafter.

How do I love Crossfit? Well, let me tell you something – that day, trying to complete 14.1, I was able to get double unders. My score was an 88 (30 double unders, 15 snatches, 30 double unders, 13 snatches). That is the beauty of the Opens – and I now saw it! Focus, determination, drive – these all led me to get 60 double unders in ONE workout when I had never before gotten more than four! Sure, I may have had to get them single double under by single double under, maybe stringing together a few sets of doubles, but damn, man, I got 60! Many of my fellow athletes nailed *their* first double unders that day! I walked out of my box that day with a Cheshire Cat worthy grin.

cheshire cat

The beauty of the Opens is you have until Monday night after the workout is released (on the prior Thursday night) to submit your score. You may *re-do* your workout to get a higher score. Yes, that is when the *sickness* kicks in. Who would want to *re-do* a workout? A box full of crossfitters, that’s who (sick bunch of freaks!). I re-did the workout the following Monday and scored a 128. Having the top woman athlete in our gym judging me was certainly motivational and I was determined to improve my score.

Moving on to WOD 14.2, we can avoid talking about that one if you would like. Do you recall the C2Bs I described above? Well, I was able to get my OHS (overhead squats) without any issue but I was unable to chimpanzee myself enough to get my chest to that bar. Meh. 10 points baby. No matter how much gorilla punching I did on my own chest, I could not garner any acrobatic strength enough to match boobies to bar height. (Can we stop talking about this now?)


14.3 is where I want to be. I missed the Friday performance of the WOD because we were away for the weekend and my family overruled my innate desire to leave AFTER my performance of week three of the Opens. I was anxious about 14.3 ALL WEEKEND LONG and I could not wait to get in to my box to undertake it. This third workout consisted of deadlifts and box jumps, with the deadlifts increasing in weight (i.e. 95#, 135#, 155#, 185#, 205#, etc.) and repetitions (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, etc) while doing 15 box jumps in between each set of deadlifts. Strength is my forte and after a pathetic attempt at 14.2, I was ready to redeem myself in 14.3. My coach freakishly demonstrated a perception that I would not reach a certain weight in this particular workout and I was not happy. How DARE he place limitations on me that were not about keeping myself safe or injury-free, but perceived by me to be his doubts about my ability to perform. I would show him he was WRONG. (Okay, so he was right….but just by a mere margin). My performance in 14.3 was exactly where I had set my goal and I walked out of the building as if I were just newly crowned a super hero (and silently whispering that said coach could kiss my ass because *boo-yeah*, I just about nearly nailed what you said I couldn’t).

14.4 was similar to 14.2 in that I handled the 60 seconds of rowing in a fair time, but my repeated attempts to get my toes to the @#(*&$^% bar were silly and not happening. My pride was a bit crushed, but my beloved new friends at my box were quick to remind me that NEXT year at this time, I will be crushing the toes to bar and I was complacent in cursing and moving on accepting that.

14.5 is today. I will admit I am scared and anxious because the workout consists of movements that I am capable of doing. Rumor on the street has it that this WOD is mentally tough. I am mentally tough, should be a good match, right? Burpees, people. A million infinite amount of burpees await me this afternoon. Thrusters and burpees in a descending repetitious manner……..and I am worried. Thrusters are not sexual, although, I almost wish they were……using a #65 pound barbell on my collarbone as I do a deep squat followed by my thrusting of the bar up overhead and back down again and again and again and again is not quite a *pleasurable* experience.

I want to do my best! I know I will do my best, but the pattern of 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 keeps surging through my ears and I am replaying over and over again how I *think* this WOD is going to go down. In my mental head, I am strong, I am fast and I will finish the WOD in XX:XX. Again, I feel the need to redeem myself after a poor showing in 14.4 – but will this be my opportunity? That bitchy gremlin that lives in my brain keeps trying to show up and offer poor excuses, namely, that I ran 16+ miles on Saturday and that my joints are not ready for this showcase; or perhaps that I just need to work on my burpees. However, my rational side of me tells her to literally STFU quiet herself and I am positively confident that I will do *my* best.

After five weeks, my first Opens experience is nearly over. I cannot wait to get myself re-focused and start working on new PRs, new firsts (like a @#@*#!@#&@* TTB), and to continue walking into my box strong, but walking out stronger. My muscles continue to earn more definition and contour, my inches are finally starting to drop, my innate ability to be hard on myself continues to wean and my love for myself is growing.

THAT is how I love thee Crossfit. Are you ready to join me?

start to be great

(*Ask me about their On Ramp program for newbies!)

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