I was never into any team sports and had never competed in any sort of competition. At different times, I would start jogging or work out at a gym on machines, but it was never all that satisfying and always related to losing weight. I have struggled with weight my entire life, going through cycles of over-eating, followed by starvation diets. I worked out with a trainer to get “fit” for my wedding 11 years ago, but put on 10lbs during our two week honeymoon. Having four children over the last 10 years played havoc with my weight. When my youngest was 4 months old, I was weighing in at 200lbs and at age 42, knew I was either destined to wear baggy clothes for the rest of my life or get serious. I started seeing a trainer, running, seriously restricted my diet and lost 50lbs. But my body fat was still relatively high; I was hungry much of the time and I was getting bored with long, repetitive workouts. My friend, Emily O’Marah, is a long-term member of the CFNE community and she had been telling me that Crossfit was something I should try. I went to my first Elements class in November 2009 and from my first conversations with Ben, I was hooked. The positive way in which the coaches took me through the Elements course and Paleo nutrition made me realize I, too, could be strong and healthy. Looking around at the people in the gym, I could see how fit they looked and how they were hanging out as if they didn’t want to leave. I had walked in thinking: “A. I bet I can’t do this, especially at my age and B. maybe I’ll get to the point where I come in to a class once a week”. I walked out thinking: “I can’t wait to come back”.
From the first day until now:
There is so much to say in how things have changed for me since my first nervous steps through that garage door. I do love the fact that I weigh less (I dropped about 20 more lbs and my body fat is significantly reduced) and look better, but more so, it is the way that I feel: energetic, in control, and strong. I can do pullups! I continue to be amazed at how each class at CFNE is not only a great workout, but also a learning experience – about me and others. I never realized how much I tend to motivate myself with negativity – “No wonder I can’t lift this weight, what was I thinking?” or “I am so slow today”. Ben has taught me that repeating “I am fast and strong” in my head during a workout yields a much better result. So I have become a better self-coach. Whenever I “hit the wall” in a WoD (and increasingly in life), I can will myself to break through it. One of the many reasons “My Gym is Different” (if you haven’t seen it yet, check out this awesome video … I was lucky enough to be in it!) is the coaches educate us about all aspects of fitness – not just exercise, but also nutrition, stretching and recovery. Before CFNE, I was a fully fledged sugar addict and I have kicked that addiction. Due to the workout program and clean eating, I have fundamentally altered my metabolism and my weight is consistent for the first time in my life. And one of the reasons I don’t see my involvement with CFNE as a fad or the answer to some mid-life crisis, is that it WORKS for me and is so much fun! The programming is ingenious – always keeping you guessing, never repetitive, very finely crafted. Just when I think I have something nailed, I get hooked on improving in a different area.
The influence of CFNE has also affected my family for the better. Not only do I feel I am a good role model for my kids, but my 9-year old son participates in Crossfit Kids. Heather has taught him so much about training and the importance of healthy eating. My husband took the Elements course about a year after I did and while his work schedule prevents him from attending classes, he has successfully adopted crossfit-style training and Paleo eating habits into his life.
The community at CFNE is amazing. I have made great friends there, which was totally unexpected. The atmosphere is one of absolute respect for everyone regardless of ability. I get more consistent recognition for my efforts there than any other aspect of my daily life. The programming is nationally recognized, but there is nothing like being at the box for a class. I now have a full crossfit set-up at home and I still choose to drive 25 minutes each way to East Natick as often as possible because of the coaches and the athletes that they train. Ben and Mel and the other coaches each bring a perspective and enthusiasm to the classes and I learn something new every time. I walk out feeling better about myself and the group of people I just trained with. While most of my friends and family have been supportive and admire the changes I have made thanks to CFNE, I have had a number of doubters that have questioned my choices or treated me differently. The friendships and support of CFNE members help me keep focused. The website is excellent and is my connection with the community when I am traveling. It is a wealth of information and often provides me with new perspectives and ideas (and quite often a few laughs along the way).
I have always been quite goal-orientated. My previous fitness goal-setting always revolved around weight loss. Being freed from that as a goal is an extraordinary relief. Now I get to focus on milestones that are much more fun – about gaining (strength) instead of losing. The coaches encourage creating an annual set of goals – I use the fitness standard as a guide – and they check in periodically to help you review and meet them. I am very careful to record and log my weights and times every day and competing with my prior performances is my best indicator of how I am doing over time. I have specific goals for the next year for each movement or skill, but my overall goal is to keep being a part of this community for another 40 years!