How I happily lost $599


Well, maybe “happily” is a strong word. A wrong word. Let’s rephrase — “How I okayed’ly lost $599.”

After getting into the best shape of my adult life ten years ago, I gradually got into the worst shape of my adult life.

Tired of feeling and looking like a schlub, last Spring I signed up for a contest at my gym and kicked off a month and a half journey by sharing my weight (eep; highest it had ever been) and asking for cheers. I lost. Both pounds — 35 — and the contest — no $1000. I was devastated and salty. Still am.

I fell off the wagon over the summer and gained ten pounds back.

In August, I started two new challenges. And won both.

I became addicted to one of them (DietBet), won it a couple of more times, and am currently in a six-month’er with one month to go. Stay tuned.

At the start of November though, even with all this progress, I was concerned. Holidays + travel every week for five weeks + busy’ness. Well, we know what that means. Bye bye healthy choices. This concern plus scrolling Facebook late at night, well, we know where that leads. Bad decisions.

I saw an ad for a free six-week challenge. I love free. I love timeframes that are long enough so that you can accomplish something but no so long that it takes over your life. The catch? It was a Crossfit challenge.

Crossfit? Crossfit?! Crossfit is for not-me’s. It’s for Todds and Ashleys. It’s for thick necks and people who are “ripped.” It’s for booty shorts and those who know what a burpee is let alone can do one.

My weight lifting experience was putting back the eight pounders someone had left on the studio floor.

I don’t do protein shakes or athletic gloves.

I think you get arrested if you call it a “gym” and not a “box.”

The only time I squat is when I’m peeing in the woods. I haven’t been to the woods in five years. 

What the hell is a WOD?

Group fitness? Like, doing things I can’t do in front of people? With people? While people are waiting on me? It sounded horrible.

I signed up.

See, I have this thing, this track record of doing things that sound horrible and like certain death and then not only not dying but achieving and surprising myself and feeling good. Like asking guys out. Going places solo. Giving a presentation in a place I didn’t belong. Dancing in front of 700. Improv in front of 700. Stepping. Storytelling. Giving a TedX (no notes, what?!). Entering a comedy festival. Climbing mountains in Norway, Maine, Ireland when I hate heights and become an illogical, paralyzed, crying adult baby.

I also have this thing where I get tired of complaining, excuses, and wanting change but not doing anything to create that change (both from me and from others).

Which is how I found myself saying yes to the Bucktown Crossfit Six-Week Challenge.

That $599 twist was not in the ad I saw. I don’t think I would’ve gone in had it been. Smart sales technique. After I got the run down at my informational meeting, I was asked, “So what do you think?”

I felt the words “I need to think about it” forming in my throat. We know what those words mean — if I left to “think about it,” I’d never sign up, I’d never come back. 

Perhaps it was because when the gal heard the name of my company she responded, “You’re Mac & Cheese?! I know you, I was on your mailing list for years. I need to get back on that!”

I felt my insides cave. “Ok, let’s do it.

Day of my weigh-in, I treated myself to my last meal.

As if signing up for Crossfit wasn’t horrible enough, I had to get weighed in front of a room full of people. And then record my weight on a clipboard that would be left out for everyone to see for six weeks. I don’t like to weigh myself in front of myself let alone in front of thirty strangers. That was fun.

Getting weighed in and BMI recorded

What I Liked & Where I was Successful

  • From Day Two, I was in pain. It hurt going up and down stairs. It hurt sitting on the toilet. It hurt stirring my oatmeal. And I loved it. It felt wonderful to use areas of my body I didn’t know I could use. It felt wonderful to be reminded of how hard I pushed myself during class.
  • I enjoyed not having to think about how to push myself in class and having someone else tell me what to do
  • The variety of what we did was stimulating and dare I say fun?
  • There were activities that I couldn’t do at all and there were activities that I could do fairly well, and everything in-between; I enjoyed this range and the resulting range of emotion and effort
  • Classes are an hour but with the warmup and the teaching component, the actual workouts are usually only 30-10 minutes. A hard 30-10 minutes but the short duration gives you an “I can do this!” mentality 
  • The coaches were great at —
    • making adjustments for people dependent on skill level and doing so in a way that was still encouraging and never from a place of “you failed, here’s a cop out solution”
    • pushing you in a way that didn’t make you want to punch them in the face; they know when to push and they know when to pull back
    • getting to know names and faces and making you feel like you were a part of the community
    • answering questions, both online and in person
  • There were a gaggle of six-week challengers, both ones who started when I did and those a bit into it, and a gaggle of veterans in the classes; it was nice both having others who didn’t know how to find the clampy things you put on weights or know what an AMRAP is — “As Many Reps (sometimes Rounds) as Possible” — and having folks who knew the ropes (ha, Crossfit pun!)
  • Fellow classmates were friendly — I can see why folks talk about “community” all the time when they talk about Crossfit
  • Callouses! I felt like a real Crossfitter
  • I LOVE following a “make it easy” philosophy in life and the fact that you don’t need tons of fancy and expensive stuff to do most of the Crossfit exercises makes it awesome in my book. Simple simple simple.
  • Learning proper technique and how to use equipment I had never used before. Row machines, weights, wallballs, sandbags, kettlebells
  • Learning new ways to use equipment I had used before
  • Progress. I could do things at the end I couldn’t do at the start. Clothes were looser. When I got my Before & After photos, I admit; I got teary-eyed. So I wasn’t just imagining things!
  • Unlike my gym contest where I could do everything right and push myself to the limit and still lose, this challenge was wholly on me and mine to win or lose

The Whiteboard — where you see what you’ll be doing (the WOD — Workout of the Day) and where you record your time. Also, my “What did I just do?!” face.

What I Didn’t Like & Where I Stumbled

  • The food. The thinking about it. The restrictiveness. The grocery shopping — do you know how hard it is to find Ezekiel bread? Granted, they try to make it as easy as possible, with charts, recipes, what to do when traveling, what to do if you’re vegan/vegetarian, and various tips and tricks. I stuck to the food plan for about 1.5 days. I still ate relatively healthy* but strayed outside the plan by doing things like putting parmesan cheese on my roasted broccoli, ignoring the protein shake, and eating carbs for dinner.
  • *When I traveled, I did not eat healthy. So most of the weekends over the six weeks were not ideal in the food department.
  • Partner and group work.** It’s a slow-fat-non athletic person’s nightmare. Even if you have the nicest folks cheering you on — which I did — all those horrible middle-school memories of being bullied and shamed come rushing back, and that’s never a place I want to revisit
  • **Though I didn’t like the partner and group work, I guess I’m glad it was part of the journey. Another “I survived, pat myself on the back” opportunity and one can never get enough of those

Congratulations on completion of the Bucktown Crossfit 6-Week Challenge!

I did it. I completed it.
But I also didn’t do it. I didn’t achieve the requirements to get my money back.

You, Saya Hillman, currently have $204 in gym credit:

  • Deposit: $599
  • Goal: 5% body fat loss or 20 lbs lost
  • Result: 9.2 lbs / 1.7% lost 
  • Partial Credit: $120 credit for each 1% lost
  • Gym Credit received: $204

As you may know, monthly, unlimited membership at Bucktown Crossfit is $200. Your membership is all set up and with the credit applied, your monthly rate is $183.

I chose not to continue.
It’s pricey.
I already belong to a gym I like.
Bucktown Crossfit is just far enough that in bad weather or when I’m feeling particularly excuse’y, I wouldn’t go.
My gym is three blocks away on purpose. It has to be as easy as possible for me to workout. I need something I can walk to in less than five minutes.
My unofficial data — pre and post-class conversations — showed that it appears most folks continue on and the ones that don’t are like me. They enjoyed the experience and saw results but finances kept them from staying.
So, I lost $599.

I’m in no position to lose $599. I’m a self-employed gal who never knows when and from where my next paycheck will come. Yet after the initial “Bummer!”, I quickly shook it off. Why not winning $1000 in my gym contest resulted in tears and losing $599 resulted in “Bummer!”, I’m not sure.

But here I am, ok with it and not feeling end of world’y.

Before & Afters — six week timeframe

I find it hilarious that I became a Crossfitter and Best Friend a vegan. I’m sure you’ve heard the joke “How do you know someone does Crossfit?” OR “How do you know someone’s a vegan?” — “They tell you.” I guess we became the most insufferable couple in the world for six weeks. He’s still vegan’ing so really World, I didn’t continue for your benefit. We don’t want to be insufferable, we want to be loved!

I still can only jump an inch off the ground — people who can do Box Jumps, I am in awe. I’m out a wad of cash I would love to have back. I “lost” and I don’t like to lose. But no regrets.

I became stronger.

I weigh less.

I met lovely people.

I learned. About myself and about things I didn’t know about.

I did another thing I knew I couldn’t do.

I’ll be partnering with Bucktown Crossfit to offer our respective members a Life of Yes℠ experience, Improv for Non-Improvisers for their members and Crossfit for Non-Crossfitters for Cheese-Its.

So, I lost. But I lost-won.

Here’s to doing horrible things that turn out not to be horrible. Wondering what the next installment will be…