Introducing: Jessica Fitzgibbons

By Jessica Fitzgibbons

Have you ever been insecure? I have. I’ve been really insecure.

I have two children. A week before my daughter was born, I weighed 198 pounds. I’m only 5’2”, so I know exactly what some of the women I work with feel like. In fact, my journey’s been longer than many of theirs.

It’s been a rewarding journey, though. A secure one. What I’ve learned along the way has been the importance of distracting myself from looking at the mirror by being active and focusing on achieving goals and learning skills, instead of constantly obsessing over what the scale says. You don’t need a scale or a mirror to tell you how you feel.

The Long Road Back

When I weighed close to 200 pounds, I knew I had to do something to shock my body. When you train a certain way—or you’re in a period where you’re not training at all—your body tends to get used to what it’s doing. That’s one of the reasons I love CrossFit and being a CrossFit competitor, because the things you’re working on will constantly vary. Add a little muscle to that variation, and things start to happen. I’ll explain this later on.

After giving birth to my daughter, my weight continued to hover around 170 pounds. For the past seventeen years, my primary sport has been hockey, so I decided to try Muay Thai boxing as a form of off-ice training. I loved it, and a year later, I took my first fight. It was during my training for that fight that I first tried CrossFit, thinking it was something that could help me.

My trainers told me my priorities were backward because I liked my workouts better than I liked fighting. I mean, fighters like to fight, right? Our training group consisted of me and five guys, so I was always working against them, being pushed harder and harder. If the guys ran a six-minute mile, that would be my goal. Whatever they did, I wanted to beat it—or at least match it.

After my first year of Muay Thai, my weight had dropped to 150 pounds. Once I agreed to take a fight, I had eight weeks to get to 130—a twenty pound drop. I managed this through a combination of CrossFit, lifting, and fight training. I didn’t even have to consciously cut weight, and I rarely looked at a scale. Within a year, I’d lost the weight I’d put on, and I’d developed a new philosophy I wanted to share with everyone.

What We’re Not Doing

JDeadliftI’m living proof of everything that’s been written about on this site with regard to how women should be training—and what they’re not doing in the gym. If you want the best possible results from your exercise program, you have to lift heavy weights. If the dumbbells you’re using weigh less than the toddler you’re picking up and carrying around all day, something’s wrong, and you need to fix it immediately.

If you’ve developed the wrong idea about lifting weights, it’s time to change your mindset. Getting under heavy weights will change everything in your life, both physically and psychologically. Your body reacts quickly to it, it’s the fastest way to change your body composition—and, therefore, how you look—and you can’t get “toned” without having any muscle underneath. You can’t tone what’s not there.

The Right Goals For Women

The best way to get started is to forget about the scale and find a goal you want to attain. I never ask any of my clients to tell me how much they want to weigh. That’s not the point of all of this. Once we’ve learned the fundamental movements we’ll be doing regularly, I tell them to give me a goal they think would be reachable within a few months, followed by a long-term goal that’s totally skill-oriented.

What I mean by “skill-oriented” is developing the ability to do something you’ve never done before. If you can’t do a pull-up, or you’ve never climbed a rope, I want you to learn how to do those things. Your goal can even be something very basic, like a simple push-up. If you’ve never been able to do a fundamentally correct push-up in your life, the idea here is to spend the next few months developing the ability to do that—without looking at the scale. The weight—and fat—will come off by itself as a byproduct of everything else you’re doing.

Why is This Important?

I train my female clients this way because as women, we already have issues with our bodies. We’re insecure. When your goal changes from hitting a number on a scale to building a skill you’ve never had, you feel strong, powerful, and confident, because you’re learning something new that’s going to keep you interested. You won’t get discouraged by the scale. Instead, you’ll experience the excitement of doing something with your body that you’ve never been able to do before.

pullupThis is your ultimate solution to all those “hamster wheel” marathons you’ve been putting in on all the cardio machines in your gym. If you’ve never done a pull-up before, the idea is to learn where your weaknesses are and address them so you can do pull-ups. We accomplish this by breaking down your skill goal and figuring out where you need work—your weak points. From there, we design workouts that build those weaknesses up to the point where they’re strengths.

In the coming weeks and months, especially once this site is relaunched, my plan is to give you skills to work on, and goals to set. I’ll start you off with an end result, like doing a real pull-up or a real push-up, and I’ll show you how to deconstruct things in order to find out where you need work. From there, I’ll show you how to custom design your workouts based on where you need the most help.

Your results? They’ll absolutely astonish you. Take a few months to learn a new skill, use The Carb Nite Solution and Carb Back-Loading, then step on the scale and look at your before/after photos once you’ve hit your goal. I guarantee you’ll be pleased. 

  • disqus_jvOVPJtm4R

    SOunds like a plan for me! I have been crosffitting for 4 yrs. Not as a compeitior but to get fit and toned. I have followed the CNS strict for 6weeks. Im 50 and my body is not caring about how I workout or how clean I am eating..its doing it own thing..not gaining but not losing or toning either..blah! I work too hard to still have this thickness!! HELP.. blood work shows my metabolism is nil. I am taking b12 b d dhea for 3 months…still nothing.I was an athlete as a kid and love working out..I just want to see some results..a goal is a good idea… I can do kipping pull ups, I lift decent weight nothing outstanding..but Id really like to get a muscle up….will be watching for the steps to help me reach this goal..this is exactly what I need.. a goal to focus on instead of weight. glad I saw this article.

    • ddbig

      Sounds like a cortisol issue. Robb Wolf brings up cortisol issue’s various times in his podcast, generally due to over training and not enough rest.

      Chris Kresser brings this up and other hormonal issue’s
      http://chriskresser.com/why-you-may-need-to-exercise-less

      • Karen Crosier Edenfield

        Blood work in January showed my cortisol was fine… It is very frustrating. I do sleep better, like a rock on CNS and that is motivation enough to continue. BUt I really would like to see loss of inches or lbs.

        Thanks for any advice.

        • Jason Detwiler

          It could be training related. Crossfit obviously isn’t giving you what you need, results wise. Have you tried a strength training program?

          • disqus_jvOVPJtm4R

            My husband keeps saying this same thing.. I just really like the wods.. SOme people say I need longer cardio (rowing or running) and some say strength.. I can lift at my gym, so I guess I need to do this..but then I see the wod and really want to do it.. Would say a 5×5 back squat or deadlift session then do the wod be okay? advise please…

          • Jason Detwiler

            I’d say look into Stronglifts 5×5, Shockwave (on this web site), or New Rules of Lifting for Women. Use your WOD as conditioning to supplement your lifting. More cardio is not the answer.

    • Jabbica9

      Hello, glad you like the article.
      Always good to have a full panel done and nice to know all is ok. Now it’s just about finding out what works for you. You may just need to add as little as two solid max effort power lifting sessions a week. I will be touching more on how power lifting and crossfit can compliment each other in this series, and I hope it helps you get some results.

  • Julie

    Wow! I can’t even begin to tell you how much this article’s message spoke to me. I can’t wait to her more. One if my goals in my road to fitness is a pull-up. I have always thought it was a skill that could save your life. The ability to pull yourself up or out IOC something. Can’t wait to hear more!

    • Jabbica9

      Thank you Julie, I am excited to break it down for everyone. I will be going over a few movements in this series that tend to be “problem” movements especially for women and how to start putting it all together.

  • Damon Amato

    lots of respect for anyone who gets into a muay thai ring and throws elbows and knees.

  • Erin Stimac

    Awesome article Jessica! I look forward to reading more of your posts. It is SO important to get away from the scale and focus on something else-the results WILL come! It’s getting others to understand this that is so difficult. Well said! :)

  • frutfulstrength

    Such a great article. I really look forward to more once the site relaunches. I’m a new trainer and in just my limited experience I see a huge difference in results between the clients that have a weight goal and those that have a skill goal. This teaches me to help emphasize a new skill.

  • Tracey

    I think I am somewhat of an anomaly. I feel like i do everything right, but end up gaining weight. Let me just preface, I was a figure competitor for about two years am a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. I have definitely gained about 25 pounds of muscle since my figure competition days but I can not drop fat for anything. I know I somewhere along the line I may have screwed up my hormones and my metabolism with the crazy dieting but it has been over two years since my last competition. I carry water and am so bloated all the time its crazy. I really dont eat that many carbs (a learned behavior from my competition days) but I started putting them in more often and added more food. That is when i finally dropped 8 pounds (about two months ago). YIPEE! So the only thing in the last two months that I changed is adding hot yoga and running (to increase my endurance), lo and behold I got super watery again and gained the 8 pounds back. I have helped countless number of people drop pounds and now I am so stuck and so frustrated it makes me want to cry. I have had my hormones, adrenals, lipids checked and nothing is irregular. I am starting backloading but I definitely feel like crap when I take out carbs completely and end up not losing weight. Should I still do the prep phase for 10 days or cut it down? Im also a heavy lifter in CrossFit but should I leave the WODS alone and concentrate on just powerlifting and perhaps a strength split routine? My goal is really to get a muscle up in less than 6 months and be able to do 12 pullups. By the by I am 5’9 and 180 pounds. Thanks!

  • roberto reyes

    your perfect jessica