on paleo + crossfit

I’ve discussed similar issues in the past, but after a talk with a friend a week ago, decided to put this out there since most people have very strong reactions to paleo and CrossFit. People who do one or the other, or even worse, people like me who do both, are
crazy. We are obsessed with all things paleo and Crossfit and think everyone who isn’t paleo isn’t healthy every workout other than CrossFit is insignificant.


Paleo isn’t for everyone. Like vegetarians. Or people who love cheese. And I believe that paleo isn’t the only healthy way to eat. I think you can follow a clean diet but eat grains or cheese and be very healthy. If I’m at a restaurant and the bread basket comes out, I won’t
throw it across the room or rant about how terrible grains are. I’ll
have bread if I feel like it or won’t if I don’t. No need to talk about it, because it’s that simple. If
it’s Christmas and there are cookies, you can bet I’ll have a few of
those. And if I want pizza I’ll have pizza–I just don’t need those things all the time. If I felt deprived, I’d be miserable. I’d be living life on a diet, feeling unhappy, and that
wouldn’t get me anywhere. Paleo and CrossFit got me to a very healthy place with diet and exercise. I like where I am, and it works for me.

CrossFit isn’t for everyone, either. If weight lifting isn’t your thing, you’ll probably hate it. But here’s what happened. I spent the entirety of my 20s trying to be the girl who worked out regularly because I wanted to be skinny. I was always counting calories for the same reason. Forget health and strength–I wanted to be skinny. I also hated working out. H-a-t-e-d it. And the girl who hated working out found CrossFit, became ridiculously excited about it, and wanted everyone to be as happy as she was.

And that’s where I messed up.

I felt great. Confident, stronger, happier, and healthier. I wanted to go to cf at the end of the day and couldn’t wait for my Saturday morning WOD. I still love it. And I wanted everyone to know about it. I felt like I emphasized that cf and paleo weren’t the answers for everyone. That you should find the thing that’s right for you and go with it. But there were aspects of my love of CrossFit that were a little extreme. Or I see how they could have seemed that way.

I don’t regret sharing the information that I’ve shared thus far because quite a few readers have found CrossFit because of this blog. I would absolutely take back my posts with goals, because going to cf and trying is enough. I no longer have goals when it comes to lifting. Yes, I’d like to be able to do hand stand push ups during a WOD, and I’ll get there. But there isn’t a timeline. I’m not a slacker when it comes to working out, and I’ll get there when I get there. I’m getting a great workout, and it doesn’t matter if I back squat 125 or 160. My back squat is a good 20-40lbs behind most of my friends at cf, but that’s ok. I am a much stronger, happier, and more confident version of the girl I was the day I walked into RNCF. The type a overachiever in me who likes to set the bar really high finally calmed down. I’m enjoying it for what it is and not overdoing it or comparing myself to anyone.

Live and learn, people. 

The first time I tore my meniscus I was shopping with my mom. It’s a common injury and could happen with any workout, or in my case, doing anything at all. And yes, I spent a good amount of time in physical therapy, because I went from doing nothing to lifting weights. From not working out to working out like an athlete. And because I was so excited, I had the tendency to keep piling on weights and overdid it a little bit. I wasn’t in PT because I was injured. Yes, my back hurt, but it hurt because I was using my back instead of my glutes, lats, and hamstrings. So I worked on other areas of my body, went back to cf, and I was fine. This seems crazy to some, but it was worth it to me because I love CrossFit.

I had a long talk with my surgeon and told him that I’d quit CrossFit tomorrow if he said that’s what was best for my body. He said he thought it was a great workout and that I’d be fine to return in early Feb. I think I must have asked the same question 5x, almost as if I was waiting for him to tell me to quit, because everyone (aside from my friends at cf) blames my workouts for any problem I’ve had the past year.

But lots of things come with risk.

Any exercise can result in injury. Running, spinning, rowing–my mom knows someone who hit her head riding a bike, was hospitalized, and died as a result of a head injury. I have a cousin who died hang gliding. A good friend just hurt his foot climbing a mountain. People fall in love and have their hearts broken. There are over 6 million car crashes each year. So I’ll quit CrossFit, stop dating, and never go in a car again–and you should all do the same. Let’s just hang out at home and never do anything ever.

I just wanted to put this out there for anyone who has followed me and wondered about paleo and CrossFit. I’ve written very similar posts (links below) but after talks with a few friends decided to share again. CrossFit is a very important part of my life, but I’ve been approaching things differently since PT and haven’t really had time to write much about that. The past year has been one about finding balance, and while I honestly don’t care what anyone thinks because I know where I stand, I wanted to share this with those of you who are interested in these topics, or who have been put off by how crazy I was about them.

A big thanks to my friend Jess who inspired this post after a girls night a few weeks ago. We talked about everything–past issues with body image, food, exercise, finding balance etc. It was that talk that inspired me to share what I’ve learned the past year. I’m hoping this will inspire some of you to find balance, too.

Similar paleo/cf posts:
So you want to try CrossFit? Let’s talk about it.
Why I CrossFit

Leave a comment
  • I found your blog and became a regular reader because you mentioned CrossFit, which I love. I think that it makes sense that CrossFit will mean different things to you at different times in your life. I completely welcome any posts about your experience!

  • I've had 3 surgeries on my knees. I broke my leg and tore my meniscus several years ago (go carting at 3 AM, no more explaining necessary). I had to go back for the 2nd and 3rd surgeries to take out the hardware and remove the meniscus. I share this bc I have been a Crossfitter for almost 3 years without any issues. I don't use the tallest box, and I modify lunges (no walking for me…just repeaters in place). I just listen to my body and rest when I need it. I'll tell you what…a night out in high heels hurts WAY MORE then a good workout the next day 🙂

  • Hi Danielle- just wanted to pop in for a comment. I've always enjoyed reading your blog, and while I know you're busy, the sporadic posting is still always appreciated!
    I've never tried Crossfit, but I'm an avid workout-er; pilates, yoga, running, weightlifting, etc. I can't say I've ever been turned off by your posts on the topic, it just seemed like you were REALLY into it, which from what I have come to understand is generally how it works with people starting out. And you know, it's that way for anybody with anything- you're excited about something new! So, please continue to post on it, it's great to hear that you've slightly altered your viewpoint, if only to something that is more realistic and maintainable.

    Happy New Year!

  • I love your blog & I'm glad you posted this, I like hearing about how other people have come to love working out because I am still working on getting there! I haven't tried Crossfit yet because it's so pricey, it's clear that you love it and think it's totally worth it, but being young and on a budget in Chicago, I haven't been able to justify it, do you hear this a lot? How did you get over the "sticker shock"? I've also noticed that you post about being sick a lot, do you think that has anything to do with your workout regime/diet?

  • I'm glad you posted this! I think its so important to find something you love doing so that you look forward to doing it every day and aren't just doing it to be skinny, as you say. I've recently started taking Core Fusion classes and feel the same way about it. Besides the fact that it's just a couple blocks from my office and apt (necessary for me as I wouldn't go otherwise), I really love the class! You don't sound crazy at all to me…. (And come on – it's easy to become a little obsessed with something that makes you feel great and look great… so good for you!)

  • Hi Sara,

    I was locked in at a lower rate since I started about a year and a half ago, so I'm paying quite a bit less than new members. I would look around at different rates, plans, and workout options. There are gyms that offer classes that are somewhat comparable (or so I've heard). I feel like $175 a month is worth it for me, and I find a way to make it work. I don't order take out and don't go out to dinner often. This is something that is very, very important to me, and when I go 4-5x a week, it just feels like it's worth it. I couldn't justify $250 a month though. That's too much.

    Being sick is from being overworked and not sleeping. I'm sure working out as hard as I did when tired and exhausted probably wouldn't be ideal, but I'm doing much better at finding balance and taking time away from work. Or I'm trying.

    Hope that helps!

  • I really appreciate this post, and your sentiments about balance, and doing what works for you. I think Crossfitters and Paleo peeps get a bad wrap for being preachy, but I think there are plenty of other preachy fitness/diet people out there! One thing I learned about paleo is you need to tweek it so it works for you, and for me it's a bit of rice in the mix. I also love working out in the gym and focus on strength and performance, rather than being skinny. It's a relief! I hope you continue to post about all topics, crossfit and paleo included.

  • I totally agree with what you are saying.
    This I know for sure: an inactive body will grow older and weaker at a faster rate.
    (And I'll add that walking is not being 'active'.)
    I have been training since I was 14 and I'm reaping the rewards.

  • Danielle I so respect your thoughts about both paleo and crossfit. I'm always someone who likes knowing about all different kinds of workouts because I struggled to find my balance throughout college. Now that I live at home, running and Jillian workouts have been my go tos, but once I move I want to try to find a gym that gets a great workout and a great experience with wonderful people, which is what you've always said that CrossFit has done for you! So to me, a great workout with people who are helping you feel great is completely worth it! I hope you had an amazing Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  • Bravo, Danielle!

    I love this not only for your bravery in saying what you want, but also for finding the balance that comes from your intuition, rather than internal expectation (skinny, lift x number of pounds by x date, etc) or external expectation (what people think about your choice).

  • i love this post! i rock climb and everyone always looks at me like i am crazy and am going to hurt myself. but i honestly had way more injuries ice skating than i have had rock climbing. as long as you love it and you know your limit, that's all that matters. i also feel like climbing and crossfit have similar communities. everyone is there to support you and you immediately have new wonderful friends. i understand why you want to share with everyone, it's fun, it's a good workout and you meet great people!

  • Danielle- how brave of you to put this out there. For yourself. Because it's so hard to write these feelings down. I believe we're always learning and figuring out who we are. This is just one part of you and it will grow and change with you as things balance out. All everyone wants is for you to keep on being happy and healthy in any way you want! Thanks for sharing. Here's to a new year!

  • I sprained my foot last summer, and was on crutches/limping for 7 miserable weeks. I sprained my foot on a dry summer day, walking on flat pavement, in ballet flats (I am an unbelievable klutz).
    My point is, injuries happen. I didn't give up ballet flats, or walking, so you shouldn't feel you have to justify something you love because you have been injured. We are constantly seeking cause and effect, and if it were that easy to find, the world would be a very different place. Have a wonderful 2014!