On July 29, 2016, I made a decision that would impact my life forever. Of course, I did not know the magnitude of impact at the time. All I knew was that I was very unhappy with the state of my body… I had gained 35 pounds since my days as a personal trainer. I lost almost all of the muscle mass I once had. I was at a point where I had trouble getting out of low-riding cars because my leg muscles were so weak. I had a moment where I decided I didn’t care to fight the weight gain and started eating ALL THE THINGS… well, that didn’t help. In fact, I reached a point where I couldn’t fit into ANY of my clothes and mostly tried to wear spandex. At work, I only wore scrubs but those were tight too.
Instead of letting this overtake my life, something inside of me said, just ask Lexi about CrossFit and see what she says. You have wanted to do this for years, money is no longer an excuse, and there is a CrossFit down the road from you, so traveling isn’t a good excuse either. Lexi explained that because of my back problems, the best way to approach CrossFit was to do an On-Ramp program. On-Ramp is 1 on 1 coaching that would take my needs/injuries into consideration while introducing me to the core CrossFit lifting moves. I knew right away that this was definitely what I needed – which meant traveling to Epsom or Concord and spending a decent amount of money to start. It didn’t matter… I contacted Battle CrossFit in Epsom and got signed up to start working out with Danielle. I was nervous but I went.
I started out with a deadlift of 75 pounds and I could barely breathe during my first run. My knees ached and I had to walk instead of run. I could feel all my body fat jiggling. But I did it… and I came back for more. Almost immediately, I started seeing my strength grow… I could use the lawn mower because I was strong enough to dump the bucket when it was full of grass and leaves.
I have had NO BACK PAIN since the day I started CrossFit. For someone who was a personal trainer and has struggled with back pain since 2002 despite lifting weights and exercising, this has had a huge impact on the quality of my life. For the longest time, I would avoid activities for fear that I would hurt my back. Now, I only hesitate when lifting very heavy weight, but unless I am trying to get a one rep max deadlift, I do not hesitate. I confidently lift objects without fear that my back is going to hurt for days.
Speaking of confidence…when I started, Danielle (my coach) told me to do a handstand. I just looked at her. I hadn’t done a handstand since I was about a young teen. I didn’t even realize how much it scared me until she asked me to do one. I hesitated…at which point she said in “typical” Danielle fashion…”what’s the worst that could happen?” That question resonated with me…the worst that could happen is that I could FAIL. I have realized the extent that my life has been controlled by the fear of failure. I never realized just how many things I was scared of until I joined CrossFit. Well, that first day, I did a handstand. It wasn’t pretty nor did it last very long, but I did it. I overcame a fear. Then I started realizing I needed to try things whether I was scared or not.
Recently, I dared to try something that frightens me to my core (even now it still does)… I signed up for a rappelling trip as a “field trip” with a group of Battles. What was I thinking? I was thinking about the first day I started CrossFit and what Danielle said to me… what’s the worst that could happen? Although, I am terrified of heights, and I didn’t do it on my own, I was able to rappel down a 120 foot cliff with the instructor. And now that I understand how it works, I think I could do it by myself if I went again. My fellow Battles were cheering me on the whole way, encouraging me to push myself, to overcome my fears, to try even if I failed. I haven’t overcome this fear, but I am one step closer.
That’s what CrossFit is all about…being the best version of yourself. If you never start, how will you be the best version of yourself? As overwhelming as it was (and sometimes still is), I go to class with the goal of beating my last PR (personal record). And usually, I succeed at this but sometimes I still fail. However I have learned in the past 9 months, that if I never try, I will never know.
I even started changing my eating habits. I only cook/prepare whole foods. I literally threw everything out in my house that did not meet this standard. I have never been successful at dieting (as a strategy for long term weight loss). I lose and gain it back plus some. I can’t say that I will stick with this way of eating for the rest of my life (I will let you know later in my life if I stuck with it), but I can say that I have never felt so good with the changes I have made. My GI tract is actually functioning again… it took a break for a while much to my despair. I can think more clearly. I have lost inches. ALL of my clothes I was wearing 2 years ago (that have not fit since then) fit again! ALL OF THEM! I decided nine months ago, that I was not going to buy any larger clothes… and with exception of a few items, I didn’t. Now I don’t need those clothes and I am confident I never will again.
So what is next? I will continue the new way of eating I have adapted with the goal of seeing even more improvements to my mental and GI tract function. Even though I have seen an improvement, I am far from optimal health. I am hopeful that this will help me continue to lose inches, have lots of energy, and help me with a few other health issues I struggle with. I am now deadlifting 200 lbs and have a goal in the upcoming weeks to try another 1 RM at 210-215. I now push press 105, but feel fairly confident that I can do 110 the next time I try. Lastly, the thing I love the most… I started running again. It has been a long time, but yesterday on my 9 month anniversary of making the BEST life change I have EVER made, I ran. It might have only been for 1 mile, but I ran the whole mile. The goal is to run a 5K this year and a 10K the year after that and maybe at some point my confidence will grow so much that I will do a Tough Mudder/obstacle race. I also want to master multiple “toes to bar” by my one year anniversary and by my 2 year anniversary, I want to be able to do a pull-up.
I am so grateful to Battle CrossFit, the trainers and the members who have made me feel welcome and accepted. I did not think the changes I have seen in myself were possible. Since my first class, you have been encouraging me to do my best and to not put a ceiling on my abilities. Looking forward to spending many more months/years ahead getting to know you better and getting stronger with you guys!