One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ASK RONI Q&A

Ask Roni: CrossFit, Weight Loss, and Skinniness

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I just started CrossFit a month ago, and my clothes aren’t fitting better AT ALL. I expected a slight weight gain due to muscle, but my clothes not fitting better is frustrating me. CrossFit is too expensive to not see results. I weigh 176, and I’m 5’6″ tall. I was wondering if WW is a good compliment to CF in terms of fat and protein needs. I would fail at the Paleo they endorse! Thank you. Your blog is fantastic!
— Nicole

Hi Nicole!

Thanks so much! I’m so glad you like it.

Let me first say congrats on trying CrossFit. I know how intimidating it is to walk through those doors for the first time. When I did it two years ago I never imagined I’d keep it up this long and come this far in my health and fitness.

Notice I said health and fitness, not weight loss or “skinniness.” I am by no means the smallest I’ve been nor the lightest. I haven’t gotten on the scale since a doctor appointment a few months back but my weight was higher than it’s been in quite some time. Could I diet and get smaller? Sure, maybe a size or 2 if I hit my lowest weight again but doing so is no longer a priority. I’d much rather build muscle, get stronger and see progress in my overall fitness. So you may be asking the wrong person these questions but I’ll try to tackle your email a few chunks at a time.

First, your clothes not fitting better.

I’m equating this part of your question with skinniness as many of us generally feel like we should wear a particular size and that size should fit us perfectly. I used to fall in this camp. Once a size 6 fit me at my lowest weight then I used all size 6’s as the measure of my success. I remember fitting into a size 4 dress once and then it became my NEW measure of success. So when anything size 6 even became slightly tight I felt like a failure — fat, big, gross, bulky.

Stupid, right? I mean… first of all sizing is completely arbitrary, I can wear a 4 in one brand and an 8 in another based on cut and style. My body has also changed over the years and I don’t mean weight-wise, I just mean aging. And as I’ve continued with CrossFit and weight training these past few years I am more muscular than I’ve ever been.

I’m bringing all this up as I want you to think about how you are evaluating your success. If you are starting CrossFit to “thin out” and get smaller it may not be the best choice for those goals.

Take a look at these famous CrossFit athletes. (All images from Top 20 Fittest Bodies of Crossfit 2014 via TheAthleticBuild.com)

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None of these women would be considered “skinny” in the traditional supermodel, Hollywood sense, but damn are they fit and strong.

I know the common thought process is that women can’t get bulky when they start weight lifting but I find, like most things, it really depends on your body type. I have gotten bigger. For me to be slim in that traditional supermodel, Hollywood sense I would need to eat less, run more, and weight train in a different way. I know this because when I did eat less, run more and weight train differently (lighter) my body was different.

You asked if Weight Watchers (WW) is a good complement to CrossFit and my answer, as always, is it depends on your goals. For me, no, WW is not a good complement. I have no desire to jeopardize my performance at the gym by reducing calories, and that’s really what WW is all about. If your goal is weight loss and weight loss only then maybe they can complement each other, although I can’t speak to the fat and protein part of your question. I’m still figuring all that out myself.

Like you, I have zero desire to eat Paleo. My diet is naturally getting cleaner but diets that make complete food groups off limits have never worked for me. Instead I try to eat intuitively, pushing myself to incorporate more vegetables and keeping my focus on real, natural, whole foods the best I can.

Since starting CrossFit my goals have shifted even farther from trying to hit a number on the scale or a certain size. Instead, I now focus on my performance at the gym and remind myself that my body will naturally be the product of my lifestyle.

I feel like I’m doing your question a disservice but all I can do is answer it from my current perspective. For me the expense of CrossFit is completely worth it because I feel the best I ever have in my entire life. I have a group of friends there who support and push me physically, I have an hour a day to myself of stress relief. I am, without a doubt, the strongest I’ve ever been. And I’m showing my boys that physical fitness is an important aspect of life. If that means I have to wear a size 8 instead of a size 6 I’ll take it. Skinny, small and thin are no longer my goals. Strong, fit, and happy are.

I hope that gives you a little insight into my thought process. Like I said I may not be the best person to ask as my idea of “results” may be different than yours.



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Discussion

There are 8 comments so far.

    Eric

    March 9, 2015

    Hi Roni (and Nicole) –

    I may be able to offer a little insight. Keeping in mind that I am a guy…but I have lost at my lowest weight, 50 pounds, with WW.

    I have been seriously Crossfitting for a year and three months now. Prior to that however, I had been struggling to get back to goal for almost two years – mainly because I was half assing WW. I would lose for two or three weeks then just eat to my heart’s content to then gain it all back.

    Okay – so –

    1) I have made Crossfit and WW work for me. It required me to find balance between my eating and activity. CF wasn’t like running, so I couldn’t eat crap and run it off. Since CHRISTMAS I have lost 12.2 pounds. I made both CF and WW work for me.
    2) I do not eat paleo. I have been a WW since 19 – I’m now 32. My eating habits at this point are ingrained. But like Roni said, by virtue of just wanting to eat well, my diet has become a bit cleaner.
    3) I had to accept that with Crossfit, I may gain weight on occasion. It’s normal. But as long as I am mindful of my eating habits and work hard, it will all balance out.
    4) even if I am not losing weight, my body has changed slowly. I am stronger. I see muscles and others do too. Clothes don’t fit not because I am fat again, but because my shoulders have gotten broader and I have gained a butt. It’s what us WW call the NSVs. With Crossfit, you need to look past the scale.
    5) Recognizing what Crossfit was doing to my body, I changed my goal weight from 185 to 199. I knew it was something I could maintain by eating well and Crossfitting.
    6) Tracking activity has been a challenge for me. I still wear my AL religiously, but it may not reflect the work I do accurately. I also tend not to eat my activity points…so I use it more as a gauge to see where I am at…even though I’m used to earning 10+ points when I am training for races
    7) I also order some premade paleo meals (more out of convenience – like I said – Im not paleo.) it’s veggies and protein – but they don’t provide the fiber and they count carbs for fruits and veggies – when you cook with WW, you usually don’t. They then have higher PP value, but I know I am eating better than I have before. Again – it’s about finding balance and what works for you.

    My point is, one can be a WW and Crossfitter, I just found I needed to reframe my thinking and readjust my goals for WW to accommodate my new activity routine.

    I am @TheMochnacz on Twitter if you have any other questions.

    Megan

    March 9, 2015

    Roni – you rock! That gave me chills – “strong, fit, and happy”. NO numbers, but definitely something we can work towards. Keep on inspiring us!
    (I love your podcast videos!)

    Claude (Ironman) M.

    March 9, 2015

    Roni- from a private trainer, You could be one, easily! You guided Nicole flawlessly. But I guess that’s what your blog is about.
    Since I run in those circles, I too know many Women who weigh 150-160 lbs who look like they’re 125-130 and fit in clothes fabulously. It’s all muscle (which is 2 or 3 times more dense than fat, meaning 2 or 3 times less voluminous).
    You’re concentrating on what really matters, and You’re a great role model for your children, and You’re happy with your body image, what more can you ask for?
    Everytime you post about crossfit, I say I have to find a way to incorporate it in my training, keep posting those beautiful pics!

    Hassan Taye

    March 11, 2015

    Hi Roni,

    Your response to Nicole has been very insightful and an eye opener to me, which helps me to understand that the main focus ought to be on overall fitness and being healthy rather than purely on weight loss which is an aspect of being fit (am I right?). Of course, CF is a kind of still new to me but I intend to learn more about it as I read more of your posts in days to come. Keep up the good work, and keep posting. Cheers.

    Eileen

    March 11, 2015

    Nicole doesn’t really say if she’s interested in weight loss or how much, so it’s hard to know what to encourage. In just 1 month (not sure of frequency), I’m not sure any exercise/fitness program is going to make noticeable differences in how clothes fit. But we can notice if a movement is easier, reps are increasing, etc.

    I’ve also got a little experience with WW and CF. I spent 6 months on WW and lost about 40 lbs. After my first month on WW I started using a Couch to 5K program and completed it. After I ran an actual 5k (which was a big deal for me), I decided to try a Boot Camp that was run by a nearby CF. It was CF-centric obviously, but less use of the free weights. I lost another 5-7 lbs doing both programs and felt VERY good about how I felt AND looked.

    But aside from all the above, I knew that getting cardio exercise via my little running program was valuable. I noticed a difference on how easily I could trot from the bottom of my kids HS bleachers to the top. I noticed how quickly I ‘caught my breath’ after I stopped running.

    In CF, I noticed how many more pushups or burpees I could do, etc. I noticed I wasn’t as sore from certain things I had done a few months prior. I knew I was gaining strength from the process.

    Since my gym discontinued that class, I have been searching for something similar (I’m not currently interested in a regular CF membership) because I know I was fitter and healthier when I was doing it.

      roni

      March 11, 2015

      I would say she implied it by saying her clothes aren’t fitting better and she isn’t sure is CrossFit is worth it if she’s not seeing results. You hit the nail on the head with everything else though… you see “Results” in different ways.

    Mary Nell

    March 11, 2015

    Best sentence ever: “Skinny, small and thin are no longer my goals. Strong, fit, and happy are.”

    Hi Roni. You are awesome! Thanks for this inspiring post. And I totally agree with you, we need people like you in the pro-health campaign.

    By the way, I’m Laura and my experience on was that after I had my second daughter I was frustrated and depressed about the way my body looked and felt.

    I couldn’t get back to where I was. I started to look for a way to get in shape and shed those unwanted pounds from pregnancy but going to the gym was not in the budget at the time.

    I began my fitness journey just 3 years ago. On July 4, 2010 I began a weight loss Challenge which changed my life. I felt great.