Monday, 31 March 2014

3 Surprising Life Lessons CrossFit taught me - and why YOU should give it a try!

I have been CrossFitting for over a year now. Life in the ‘box’ has been wonderful to say the least, but the benefits that have surprised me the most have not necessarily been strength, fitness or even endorphin-rush related. Even though all those things have been a huge hunk of the awesomeness, (including making some great friends along the way, feeling a part of a group of people who are all about support, positivity and leading a healthy balanced lifestyle), these are not the things that have blown me away the most or what will keep me going back.

I have learned life skills that would otherwise seemingly have no correlation to the lifting of olympic weights above my head.


The first thing, and probably most important thing, is that I learned the greater meaning of the word ‘yet’.

One of the first coaches I began training with made it very clear that in her class we were not allowed to say the word ‘can’t’ without following it up with a resounding ‘yet’.

For example, ‘I can’t do a push-up’ – or even ‘I can’t do a hand-stand push up!’ (I mean, who can?!?)(…er…besides all those who can, obviously…)(This is CrossFit after all, not a light walk in the park!) was not allowed to be uttered by an upside down huffing me. I had to say ‘I can’t do a push-up - YET’, or ‘I can’t do a hand-stand push up – YET’ and then she would be happy. Even though I still can’t do hand-stand push ups – yet - I learnt that that little word ‘yet’ makes all the difference.

Yet encompasses a vast gulf, the gap between not being able to do it and being able to do it, prop-vol of the unknown and triumph. Thanx to the scaling CrossFit is famous for (there is always a way to scale a workout down to something you are able to do no matter your fitness or strength level) and the strengthening of appropriate muscle groups when doing a particular move, ‘yet’ involves so much more than just doing what you currently can do, or staying in the same place or giving up entirely. Because ‘yet’ is a forward thinking concept. When it comes to scaling, the scale tends to always lean forward.

‘Yet’ has become one of the most important things to me in life now, both in and outside the box. When I quit my job to pursue my dreams, I had no proof that I would succeed, because I couldn’t write a book, couldn’t play the piano – yet. Now I can.


The next surprising thing I learnt at CrossFit is that I am my own Lab Rat. The coaches, though wonderful leaders and highly qualified trainers who constantly teach and help guide me, have always given me the same message: ‘Pull on your white lab coat and strap on those pink Nanos – it’s your own body and you are the only one who really knows and feels what’s going on inside it.’

When it coms to diet, exercise and even rest, I have become so much more in control of what I do with my body. Joining CrossFit was like being handed the keys to my own future, and now that I am behind the wheel, I am so much happier and have a much better understanding of what is going on inside me. And I like being in control.

I know that CrossFit is not the only way, but for me, it was the first time I really did start to take notice and internalize my progress. Following mapped out schedules, keeping track of my progress in my own log-book app and deciding for myself how far I will be able to push myself each day has done wonders for me. When you really do listen to your body, you need not follow fads or the latest trends in exercise or diet blindly. You can try things out for fun or curiosity, but always in a mindful way.

This means that there is a constant ‘cha-cha-chaa’ going on in my progress. Today I might feel stronger and take two steps forward. Next week I may be dealing with something and am not quite as strong, but then I only take one step back.

I have dealt with a bit of a physical blow the first few months this year after a surgery in December and have not been able to give my workouts quite as much gusto as before. But after feeling really down about it and that I was failing, I realized that I can still do things now in my current recovering state that I could not do before I joined CrossFit over a year ago – two steps forward, one step back. And that’s OK.

No matter how things are going, how my body is healing and progressing, how much I overindulged over the weekend, or how sluggish I may feel after a bad nights sleep, I keep working - and I always end up further along the path to success than I was before I began. This double-sided approach of active patience is extremely helpful to me in this time of recovery.


Perhaps the most surprising thing of all is the difference CrossFit has made to my dream world, or my nightmare world, to be more specific. 

I suffer from terrible night terrors and have done so since childhood. There is one specific scenario that comes up over and over again in the worst of them, where I am being chased by someone or a group of people, but I am paralyzed in some way – either unable to move my legs, or blinded and can’t see where I’m going, or struck with a voice-sucking black hole inside me so I can’t yell for help no matter how hard I try - and I always get caught. It’s in that terrifying moment when I usually wake up screaming (and freaking poor Husband out).

But ever since I joined CrossFit, I have begun to fight back in these nightmares. I still wake up with heart-palpitations, but instead of getting caught, I am now finding my strength, actively bracing myself to defend, and even doing superhuman things to dissolve the situation. In the most recent one, I jumped up into the air high above my attacking mob’s heads, to give me the time as I came down to breathe deeply and set my core and fists, ready to fight.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think CrossFit can make me Super Woman and defy the laws of gravity, but I believe there is a positive change in my conscious and subconscious mind as my body grows stronger. Taking the cha-cha lab rat ownership of my fitness journey (a cornerstone of CrossFit lore) has resulted in me ‘knowing’ I am stronger than before, even in my sleep.

It’s not rah-rah-dead-lift or look-at-me-look-at-me-and-my-muscles… it’s Back-off-would-be-attacker-I-could-kick-your-ass!

So take it from me. If you haven’t joined CrossFit – yet – or you don’t like CrossFit – yet – or if your fitness regime is something you are simply slumping by on in hopes that all the gym-entrance-card-swipes will magically make you skinny, maybe think about how much more you can be gaining while getting fit.

And if you are still anti-CrossFit and afraid of our ‘Strong is the new Skinny’ mantra’s, don’t picture those orange-tanned women on the internet with muscles bulging out left right and center…
Think of me, a girl who couldn’t do a push up. But who can now not only do full unassisted push-ups, but who can also fly!

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

(Go check out the TaggCrossFit site if you are keen to give it a try too!)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Princess Project

I don't know about you, but a new year always gives me the sense of wanting to start afresh, de-clutter, and inject my life with some soul-lifting inspiration. Often, I start the process of down-sizing my wardrobe in hopes of creating a welcoming space (goodbye last year's style, hellloooooo brand new gorgeous high heels!) but tend to be left at a loss when it comes to throwing out my old party dresses. They were more than just clothes, after all, they were really special.

I would love to say that they were with me during some of the happiest moments of my life, but that would be a lie. The truth of the matter, and all women can attest to this I am sure, is that sometimes life sucks. Just because you have your best friends 21st summer cruise boat-party to go to doesn't mean that your life sucks any less. Or just because you are the bridesmaid at your favorite cousins wedding, her happiest day, doesn't automatically make it your happiest day too.

But if there is anything that can help a girl feel a little bit better, ever so slightly, it is putting on a gorgeous dress and suddenly filled with the feeling of being a beautiful princess, even if only for a moment. All my princess-moment-dresses are still lining the back of my closet and I didn't ever want to part with them, even though I know I will never wear them again, because they were so special once upon a time. I don't want to just give them away. And so January has come and gone - my wardrobe is only a 'little' lighter, and I am still sitting with the problem of owning clothes I can never wear again.

Until now that is. A friend of mine told me about The Princess Project - a charity organization that helps 'donate your ex-matric farewell/bridesmaids/party dresses to the less fortunate, so that they too can feel like a princess for a night.' Isn't that amazing?! I contacted the organization to find out more about their charity and found that they do such a great thing for these girls. I desperately wanted to be involved.

And so I hosted a Princess Project Party, just a little cocktail gathering, for all friends, to come and bring their old matric ball gowns, or sparkly New Years party dresses, or even that bridesmaids dress from their favorite cousins wedding, that, lets face it, they will NEVER wear again, so we could donate them all to the future princesses out there. 

Even though it was just a small private event at my house, I was blown away at the response. All my luscious ladies were not only delighted to help out, but donated with both hands! All together we collected 22 gorgeous dresses to donate!

Dresses weren't the only thing we were told that was needed, and so we gathered 15 pairs of shoes, 6 evening handbags, loads of jewellery, and a bag full of sparkly make up to add to the pile.

Some of the items gathered had quite amazing stories attached, and we had a wonderful time doing a little 'show and tell' of the journeys they had been on. There was a necklace that had been to the Emmys in LA, the wearer being nominated for her part in the set design of a movie. One dress had met Nelson Mandela in 2004. Hilarious regales of bridesmaid's stories kept us giggling over our spoils as we prepared to part with them. I am so proud of all my friends for being such lovely giving ladies.

And what better way to spend an evening than drink champagne with your besties in your own (current) pretty cocktail dresses, having a fun and fabulous time while gathering, mixing, matching and putting together Princess packages so that those young woman will get to have their moment in the moonlight someday soon too.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom