Monday, October 27, 2014

Why The Girl Who Didn't Like to Sweat Does CrossFit

Over the past three weeks we've hosted and participated in two CrossFit competitions with athletes from around the world, here in Brunei. By my own volition, I spent two days running through a jungle, swimming laps, lifting weights, and sweating. My team got last place, but we had a gloriously good time and wore superhero capes. Hi, I'm Anna Aderton, and I'm blowing my own mind. 

Let's take a quick jog walk (running sucks) down my athletic career memory lane. 

I come from a big family that enjoys sport and wanted to give us ample opportunity to explore what we like. I tried ballet, tap dance,
gymnastics, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and softball. I was a decent second baseman, but once while pitching I walked in 12 runs in a single inning, causing the opposing team's coach to yell, "JUST SWING" so that we could end the most embarrassing moment of my life. I realized I wasn't on the same path as my three siblings, all who had the title of "All Conference Pitcher". I also hated running bases during practice and playing when it was cold outside. And when it was hot. 

I loved playing basketball, still do, but did not like how competitive, cliquey, and stressful it could be. It was not a fun or encouraging environment. I also really hated sweating at the time, wanted to learn how to knit, and decided to focus more on playing piano, just like every 70 year old grandmother 15 year old girl.

I was on a great volleyball team that I truly loved and was so thankful for after moving to a new high school when I was 16. But, my senior year of high school I was given the lead role in a community musical. I said a tearful, "buh bye" to bump-set-spike and dove head first into my role as Maude Draper-Cowles. 

Luckily, I come from a family who also values the arts and enthusiastically supported my decisions. In the short and long run, this was all beneficial. I went on to place first in vocal and piano competitions, have more leads in musicals, complete my bachelor's in music education, and gain a greater understanding of the world of music. I learned that I love to perform and feel so alive when doing so. 

Now, here I am doing high-intensity training - CrossFit. Sixteen, twenty, and twenty-two year old Anna would laugh in twenty-six year old Anna's face if they got a chance to chat (I've been watching a lot of Dr. Who lately, so who knows, it could happen). Here are the reasons why I am so enjoying this sport.

I really like people. I like getting to know someone, sharing stories, encouraging people, etc. CrossFit is a fun way to build community. There is social time before and after class to get to know each other. And there is something primal that happens when people come together do something hard. Accomplishing a difficult workout and encouraging each other through it brings people together, just like in life. We are also learning new skills at the same time, gaining knowledge and growing. 

In my mid-twenties, I have gained a value for health. In high school I ate an entire frozen pizza before dinner. In college I had a regular diet of mac&cheese straight out of the pot. I didn't even put it on a plate. My favorite food is Macaroni and Cheese Pizza. I'd work out every once in a while, do lots of crunches in my room, power walk, etc, and that amount of physical activity (when paired with good eating habits) really works for some people. But for me, something mystical and strange happened when I turned 26 and had twins. Apparently there is real science to back it up, but I can't eat the way I used to, work out the way I used to, and still live the kind of life I want. I fully recognize and embrace that my body will change for the rest of my life as I get older and have children, and doing CrossFit helps me keep it in the best possible shape. I want to be able to run around the park with Eli and Ella, lift them over my head, carry them both up the stairs at the same time, teach them how to play sports, and let's be real, I want to maintain a fit body. I think it is important to honor God by living a healthy lifestyle. CrossFit is an effective activity that has shown me results. It also encourages me to eat well by valuing nutrition and teaching this in its foundation classes.

Photo cred: Ain Lim
I have a competitive nature in me, but I don't like when competition becomes prideful, stressful, or shameful. I like the healthy competition I see in our gyms and athletes. For example, when we begin a workout I simultaneously want to lift more and go faster than my friend, while wanting her to do the best she can, even if that means beating me. It is a fun atmosphere that also encourages me to work hard. 

It can be scaled to where you are. It would be detrimental to my body if I tried to do the exact same workout as Dan (because he's so strong and such a hunk). I will always be working toward doing the prescribed weights, but in the meantime I will be lifting the weight that is beneficial to my growth. This makes CrossFit very inclusive. After not working out for over a year and having twins, I was in rough shape. I couldn't keep up with anyone at the gym, but it didn't matter. I didn't feel shamed or embarrassed. I was encouraged and have now grown so much. People can start from wherever they are.

I like the time commitment it requires for someone like me. A typical workout never goes over 30 minutes (max), which leaves enough time for a good warm-up, skill lesson, and cool down.

And last but not least, I like that this is something Dan and I can enjoy together! Before I (really actually consistently) did CrossFit, Dan would come home after a WOD, say a bunch of weights, movements, and times that meant nothing to me. Now I understand! We bond over this common interest. We encourage each other to grow and develop our skills. I'm now teaching Dan piano, and he occasionally gives me private training. I like knowing if Dan's clean & jerk looked sloppy or pristine. I like knowing that when Dan says, "good job" he knows that I actually did a good job.

Isn't it encouraging to see how much a person can develop interests, gain values, etc? I, for one, like knowing that I will continue to change for the better. With guidance and wisdom, I will never be the same as I was yesterday. I am choosing to no longer be fearful of or stubborn to change. I am learning to have faith in the One who knows me better than I know myself. I am an ever refining loved one, counting on grace, learning as I go. And thank God for that. 


  1. Good job! As I remember, dad made you write a list of pros and cons regarding whether you should stay in basketball or not your sophomore year. The only comment on the pro side of the page was that the team was going to order look alike scarf and mitten sets. Dad said, "Honey, you'd better quit." Hahaha! Proud of how far you've come!