Athlete of the Month: Annette DeFrancisco

Athlete of the Month: Annette DeFrancisco

Birthday: June 20, 1971
Crossfit Birthday: June 20, 2011 … my 40th birthday.

How did you hear about crossfit?
The internet. I found out the way I eat (no dairy / no gluten / low sugar) is called paleoand actually found Crossfit via Paleo recipe sites. My favorite food bloggers were always dropping tidbits about how hard / fun / satisfying the WOD was with clean & jerks and PRs and sweat angels and such. But what actually got me here was my best friend, Jodi. I told her I was thinking about, maybe, trying CrossFit and she jumped in with both feet and I followed her. I wish I had spoken up sooner! I thank her all the time, but I’ll thank her here again!

Favorite workouts?
My favorite workouts – hands down – are the lifting days. I love seeing more weight go on the bar and going until failure and knowing that you gave it your all for that day. Weightlifting was a totally new thing for me and it really surprised me how much I like it and how much I want to get better. There is more interaction in the gym on those days, too, and that’s how I’ve gotten to know a lot of you: sharing a rack or weights and watching each other lift.

Least favorite?
Not really a least favorite, just a lot of weaknesses. Crossfit will not let you hide from your weaknesses. Metcons never get any easier. Whatever you can’t do, keeps showing up on the whiteboard! One year ago, I did not think I would ever be able to do a BLACK WOD as rx’d. Seriously, I couldn’t imagine it. So far my focus has been to build the strength and skills I needed and it has been fun tackling them one by one and working my way from grey to blue to black as rx’d (or as close to it) as I can. This has left me with something still to learn: mental toughness for intensity. For a long time, All the WODs were new and I had no idea how long they would take me – just doing all the reps was an accomplishment. Now I fear the WOD that I can do (or worse have done before) and should do as fast and hard as I can for time. I have terrible butterflies in my stomach before those. I have to learn to push myself to fight through the I-just-want-to-stop-and-rest-awhile …. Because when I’m done and I’m not dead, I wish I would have pushed myself harder. See? They never get any easier.

Also, whenever I tear my hands. I really hate tearing my hands, it slows me down. I should have put that first.

How has crossfit changed your life?
I am definitely in the best shape of my life. I have always enjoyed being active and exercised, but I never really got anywhere. I didn’t realize how true that statement was until I started doing Crossfit. Now I can do things I never thought I’d be able to do and I don’t feel like I’m done yet. Even when I feel so sore, I feel GOOD. The workouts are hard, but ridiculously effective and strangely addicting. I’ve tried to figure it out and I can’t. Trust it. Get here, do the best you can, be patient. It works.

Having said that, Crossfit is so much more than the WOD. It really is the community that sets it apart. When I saw the 515 t-shirt that said, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” I thought, “That’s it! That’s it exactly.” I knew I had found a place that was going to challenge me every day and it has. I look forward to coming to the gym and I am inspired and motivated by everyone at 515 – it’s really powerfully positive atmosphere – when I see others going for it, I want to jump in and do the same. The community support makes all the difference – I wasn’t able to get there on my own. There is definitely healthy competition in the gym – trying to keep up with those that put up numbers just out of your reach. But no one there is going to pick on you for struggling through pull-ups or double-unders (two of my favorites), in fact they are probably going to tell you that you can do it and cheer you on! Your PRs will be celebrated by everyone. The responsibility to get better, stronger, faster is your own, but how could you not with all this support around you? The successes build bit by bit until you find yourself where you never imagined you’d be. Recording my workouts has been really valuable to me, because the workouts don’t get any easier but I can see that I am more capable. The boost to my confidence after one year of Crossfit has been huge. I spend most of my day focused on the needs of others, supporting my kids teams and activities and it feels really good to claim something as my own; I defend my gym time with a passion! That took a little adjusting, but they see that I am healthier physically and mentally and happier, too.

About Me:
I have been married for 20 years to Jeff, an Internal Medicine physician at The Iowa Clinic. I am a full-time mom to our three sons: Matt (19, a sophomore at the University of Iowa), Joe (15, a sophomore at Johnston High School) and Sam (10, a 5th grader at Wallace Elementary). When I’m not at the gym, I do all the usual mom-stuff and spend a lot of time hunting & gathering & preparing good food! (Bad Paleo joke, but I do wish one grocery store carried all the things we love!) I am absolutely passionate about fueling my body with the good stuff and teaching my kids (and anyone else who will listen) about the value of good nutrition. I am a terrible procrastinator and hopeless day dreamer which leaves me with a bucket list a mile long! The older I get (and the cleaner my diet), the more awe-inspiring and peaceful I find nature to be so it’s full of things like hikes in the state parks and exploring the miles of trails on my bike. I want to learn to rock-climb, kayak and paddle-board and cross-country ski or snow-shoe to get me out of the house in every season. I am always trying new recipes, because I have to eat! I also love to read. The internet is an awesome and dangerous thing… a great, big, interactive BOOK! I end up in all sorts of crazy places online, like Alice falling down a rabbit hole, and have to make rules to limit my ‘net time or I’d never get anything done. Ah, well, that is probably more than you wanted to know!

Favorite sayings: My bookmark reminds me to:
Live Simply. Love Generously. Speak Kindly. Forgive Easily. Laugh Often.

It is our choices, far more than our abilities, that show what we truly are.
-JK Rowling

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