As a CrossFit Coach I hear a lot of questions about CrossFit. One of the ones that I hear (most often from the women) is “Will CrossFit Help Me Lose Weight?”
I always cringe a little when I hear that question (but not as much as when I hear “will crossfit make me bulky?!” ugh- another post for another day). The short answer? It’s complicated. Weight is just a number on the scale. It is a tool used by many medical professionals to help assess your health but it is NOT the only thing that indicates health or fitness level.
Plan and simple by getting up off the couch and moving more you are going to burn more calories, which would mean you should lose some weight then… right? Well, yes. But at the same time CrossFit also involves a lot of weight lifting as well. So, while you will be likely to lose FAT you may not see that on the scale right away because at the same time you are going to be building muscle. I make sure to tell my clients this! Don’t simply look at the scale as your measure of progress with CrossFit, because you are likely to be disappointed, frustrated, and confused if you do. Some people actually GAIN weight in their first few months because they are building muscle. Your body WILL change shape and size… but that may not equate to a drop on the scale, or if the scale does move it may be in the wrong direction.
I’m not saying that it is impossible to lose weight with crossfit, because I have done just that. But I have also found myself so incredibly frustrated when people would tell me I looked so great and asked me how much weight I was losing… because reality was for a good long while I wasn’t losing any weight at all. When I started CrossFit I was 214 lbs and a size 20. The first few months I did CrossFit I did mostly Paleo and lost just under 20lbs. And then it stalled. I was around 195ish for a good LONG time. Of course I fluctuated up and down 5 lbs here and there, but was frustrated because the scale wasn’t moving. The thing was my body was still changing!
This picture shows a difference on the scale of roughly 30 lbs. From 214lbs on the top to 183-184lbs on the bottom. Yes, I lost weight on the scale. But in my opinion it looks like a lot more than 30lbs. I also went from a size 20 down to a size 14 in jeans, and even fit into some size 12′s! Lifting heavy and building muscle has changed my body. If that means I never weigh below 150 then so be it.
Another HUGE factor to weight loss and CrossFit is your diet. 95% of the time if you are working out with CrossFit several times a week you are probably not eating enough to be able to fuel your workouts and your fat loss. Most women are told that 1200 calories is the magic number for weight loss… IT IS NOT. If you CrossFit regularly there should be no reason for you to dip below 1600 calories! For the last few months working with a nutrition coach I have been eating 1600-2000 calories a day! and losing fat!! To show you how much of a difference your diet makes look at the change that has happened in my body just in the last few months of working with Precision Fitness STL
My workouts haven’t changed much, just the standard box WODs except maybe some extra work on skills (dang those double unders, one day I’ll get more than 7 unbroken…) What I did change was my diet. Instead of eating just to eat I began eating for a goal. I’m not perfect, I still have an occasional dessert and pizza night, but for the most part I’m eating 5-6 clean meals a day.
So, like I said before it is possible to lose weight with CrossFit. But I guess what it really comes down to is realizing that you are more than a number and that progress is not in the pooch (<– two amazing posts by two of my favorite bloggers. go read them now). Before you decide to quit CrossFit because you aren’t losing weight take a minute and look back at where you were when you started. Are you more fit? Are you happier? Are you stronger? CrossFit started out as a way for me to lose weight, but what really happened is that it came me the opportunity to find myself.
So stop relying on the scale, because it doesn’t tell the whole story.