Raeanne: A Grinder’s Story

There are thousands of grinder stories in the CrossFit Community From time to time, I’ll share some of them in this column. My story is my own, but it’s not unique to the grinder experience in countless
By Jamie Toland, CF-L1,

There are thousands of grinder stories in the CrossFit Community From time to time, I’ll share some of them in this column. My story is my own, but it’s not unique to the grinder experience in countless boxes around the world.

This grinder story is about Raeanne Sisson, a 33-year-old sixth-grade math teacher and photographer from CrossFit Enhance in Decatur, Ill. Raeanne first walked into Enhance in January of 2012, and she was hooked from the start.

“I had come to a standstill with my physical progress. I had just run a marathon in October of 2011, and noticed my body didn't exactly react very well. I had gained weight even while running 40 miles a week, and my body was inflamed. I wanted something that would continue to help me stay in top shape but something that would make me stronger and help with muscle tone,” Raeanne explains.

Like many other grinders, Raeanne admits she ran the gamut when it came to trying new workout trends. She says, “Prior to CrossFit I had been a runner for about two years. This was after slowly starting to work out in order to help me lose over 100 pounds. Before that, I was a cheerleader in high school and dabbled in basketball and soccer, but nothing serious. I thought I was "fit" because I had completed P90X, Insanity, run several half marathons and even run a full marathon — but there is no fit like CrossFit.”

Getting started in CrossFit, even after doing other types of training, is not a simple process, but Raeanne approached it head on. One of her CrossFit trainers, Kristin Buttz, says she could tell she was going to be one to watch around Enhance. “Raeanne has a true passion for CrossFit! She has always been a supporter of our gym, the members and coaches. She gives 100 percent effort every time she walks through our doors,” Buttz says.

I would definitely not try to pass CrossFit off as a weight-loss program, but one of the side effects of increased metabolic and strength training in conjunction with better nutrition could sometimes be a loss of weight. For Raeanne, her past struggle with weight was one thing that initially turned her on to CrossFit. Once she started training, she realized it was more than just a way to trim down.

“I topped out at around 255 pounds.” Raeanne recalls. “By March of 2008, right after my mom passed away unexpectedly, I decided that enough was enough. I wanted to lose weight and I didn't know much about how to. CrossFit is also different because the entire community and outlook is about being YOUR best. They don't encourage you to be someone else or to compare yourself to others. Every day when I go to the box, it's me vs. me.”

With her weight leveled out at a place where she is both comfortable (she says that’s around 160 to 170 pounds) and able to do the type of things she wants to at her box, Raeanne is now focused on grinding out WODs in order to reach her next goal, competing in a local CrossFit-style competition.

Her trainer says she’s on track to make it a success. “My personal goals for her right now are to stay focused on her training and nutrition. She has been incorporating more lifting and skill work into her daily routine of class WODs. Raeanne has a tendency to overtrain at times, and so I have been encouraging her to listen to her body and to take good care of herself outside of our gym,” Buttz says.

It can be a long and sometimes daunting task for a grinder to take the first steps and come in to a CrossFit box. Learning the movements and battling through WODs can teach people a lot about themselves. Raeanne is now on the brink of her first local competition, and this will be a big step for her.

Raeanne says, “I signed up to be part of a team because I enjoyed participating in the Open workouts so much. I find that in a competition setting I push myself past the usual limits. I’m nervous about what the events will be because I know my weaknesses will be an issue, but at the same time, my only expectation is to do my best and contribute to my team in a meaningful way.”

This would be true for any grinder going toe-to-toe in their first competition, but this type of event should be manageable for someone with Raeanne’s background in competitive running and a year of CrossFit under her belt. She knows the element of the unknown will be a factor, and just like any grinder, she’ll need to game-plan her approach and focus on her strengths and weaknesses leading up to the competition.

“I am working on improving my weaknesses: butterfly kipping, kipping pull-ups and in general, HSPUs (hand stand push-ups) and becoming more efficient in DUs (double-unders). I have also added a 5-3-1 strength cycle in addition to my usual workouts in order to build strength,” Raeanne says of her preparations for the event.

As she continues her journey from being overweight and struggling to find her way with exercising routines and diet, Raeanne is the type of grinder who will ultimately be successful because she continues to develop goals, reach them and then move on to the next one. Grinding it out along the way.

If you have a grinder story you think might be worth sharing, email me at jtolgrinder @ gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter: @Grindersgrind.

Stay on the grind.

— JTol

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