Listen up ladies & gentlemen – do yourself a favor – stop using FEAR as an excuse for not trying CrossFit. Do you even know what CrossFit is? Do you know what it does for your health & fitness? If you did, there’s not an excuse in the world that would keep you from walking through the door of your local box & changing your life. What you should be afraid of is the bullshit diet fads, cleanses, & “cardio-only” mentality you’re being spoon-fed that has you working so hard for little results that cannot be realistically maintained.
Who the hell do I think I am to call you out like this? What gives me the right? My multiple certifications & education don’t mean shit for credibility. Ten years of experience in the fitness industry – maybe gives me some pull, but still hasn’t sold you. I’ve got something better than a couple of certificates with Glassman’s name on it and a fancy seal.
I have a “before” picture. I have an imprint in my mind of how it feels to be morbidly obese. I have experienced how differently people treat you when you’re “heavy”. I have physical scars on my body that are constant reminders of where I have been and where I am going. I have the emotional battles of self-worth & self-esteem that still sneak up long after the weight is gone. I HAVE BEEN THERE. I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE. I AM YOU.
Often times, you hear trainers refer to fitness as a “journey”. Gag me, right? Cliche as it may be, it’s nothing short of true in my case. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I was going to be a CrossFit athlete. In fact, if you told me back in 2014, when I took my first class, that just short of 4 years later I would be the head coach and co-owner of my own CrossFit gym, I would have smirked & told you to eff off.
The journey for me, goes back much further than 2014. I was overweight my whole entire life. I was an active child who enjoyed dance, team sports, & being outdoors with my friends running the streets of Mayfair. Playing sports through high school was my ticket out of obesity. I ate whatever I wanted. I smoked cigarettes regularly. I drank with my friends on the weekends. And I was completely checked out with what I was doing to my body.
When I left for college, I left any active part of my life behind & focus more on things like drinking, smoking, studying, stressing, pulling all-nighters, boys, parties, working, etc, etc, etc… By my junior year, I began to see changes in my health status. I was sick all the time. My digestive system was fucked from all the abuse. Acid reflux, IBS, medications out the wazoo. I couldn’t go up the stairs without losing my breath & breaking a sweat. I hated how I looked. I hated how I felt. I hated everything about myself.
So what did I do? I ate. I ate alone. Food was my company. It made me “feel better”.
By the time I graduated college, I was fat, sick, unemployed, & utterly depressed. My fragile life was being held together only by the Tastycakes & Kraft mac & cheese I was living on. So what did I do? I ate some more.
This destruction continued for several more years. I was on the road to an early grave until the simplest thing – a picture of myself at a birthday party – completely changed the trajectory of my life. At first glance the picture was of a sad young woman, despite her half-assed smile. “Oh”, I thought, “I have that same purple shirt. Oh My God…. Oh My God. That’s me. That’s. ME.”
I weighed 235 lbs.
THE DOWN & UP
Naturally, I felt sorry for myself for a few days after this revelation. Then I committed myself to get moving again & I joined Curves. I was motivated & excited but it didn’t last.
I joined another few gyms along the way. I took up running & did a couch to 5K program. I started eating healthier foods. I saw progress which motivated me to keep going. By 2011, I was down to 218 lbs. I was proud of myself. I was motivated. I kept with running until the Fall when I broke my foot in 2 places. My doctor told me it was a result of a stress fracture that had been there for some time. He advised me to stop running – crushing my motivation & leaving me feeling lost again on this journey. Over the 14 weeks it took my foot to heal, I managed to erase all of my progress on the scale & gained even more weight on top of my original 235.
The next year was the most difficult physically, mentally, & emotionally. I fought depression on my own, too embarrassed to ask for help. Zero self confidence left me feeling hopeless in the journey to get healthy. I accepted failure and wore it as a badge. It matched well with my size 20 jeans.
I weighed over 250 lbs.
A month before my 30th birthday, I started to try a new group fitness class every month in an attempt to get back on track. I was even working a part-time job just to pay for these classes. I loved the people I met & the confidence I found a small group of strong, supportive women. I had lost about 20 lbs, but found myself not making further progress in fitness or on the scale. I needed a change.
A few girls started talking about taking CrossFit as a supplement to their dance class. I couldn’t do CrossFit! Me, fuck no. No way. I’m was fat! I couldn’t do pull-ups, push-ups were a joke, I didn’t have washboard abs, and those crazy CrossFit people make you go on this extreme diet without bread and cheese. Not a chance… I had counted myself out. (Sound familiar?)
Another couple weeks & I had become restless in my routine. I could see myself heading down the same path I had taken back and forth between the same 20lbs. I needed to act before my motivation was gone. Nervously, I took my 225lb ass to a local affiliate & I decided to try CrossFit for a month. “What do I have to lose?”, I asked myself. If I only knew!
The workouts were challenging. I didn’t know what any of the movements were or if I could even perform them! There was barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells – all things I had never utilized. I was intimidated but curious. I learned quickly there was a way to change movements to make them work for my level of fitness – progressions & scales. While I was working up the strength or technique I needed to do the actual movements, I was fully included in the group doing exercise that fit me as an individual. Something else I learned was that along with me, most of the people in the gym modified the workout in some way. Very few in class were doing the workouts exactly as they were written. I was the majority when I expected to be in the minority. I never got bored because every day was different. I saw progress almost immediately losing 9lbs in the first month.
For the first time in my life, I loved working out. Six months into CrossFit I took my certification to be a coach & I have never looked back.
Nearly 4 years into this journey, CrossFit still challenges me. I still scale my workouts when needed – yes, even as coach & owner. It has made me a better coach to work my way up from the bottom. Perspective isn’t something you can learn from a book. I know what it’s like because I’ve been there. And I know how to train you to reach your goals. I have trained beginners from day one, masters athletes in their 50s & 60s, teenagers just familiarizing themselves with how to move their bodies, & the everyday people just looking to workout & have fun with some pretty cool people.
My most treasured benefit of CrossFit is not a physical attribute. It isn’t that I can lift heavy weights. It isn’t the number on the scale. When I say that CrossFit saved my life, I am referring to the confidence I found in the gym. I am referring to the passion I feel when I am doing something I love – helping people. I am talking about the light returning to my eyes after the world tried to break me. I am talking about my smile that reaches my eyes because happiness is a real & true thing.
In Part II of this blog, I discuss CrossFit’s positive effects in my life outside of the gym. My life was on a completely different path two years ago. The confidence & courage I found in myself allowed me to make tough decisions to change all of the unhealthy situations in my life, not just my weight. Stay tuned for Part II later this week!