Monday, December 12, 2011

The Will to Overcome

Cici Does Work!

This woman intends to be the best every time she steps on the gym floor. If you ever met somebody who is competitive down to the deepest root of their being, it is her. She will watch somebody do something then replicate it. She is a fast learner, and waiting for somebody to teach her how is not an option.

What is great about Cici is she only enters that zone during her own training time. Outside of that, she is a humble and genuine person. She shows so much care to everyone she speaks to!

When Cici first told me she was in a bout with cancer, I had a hard time seeing it. She was consistently showing up to class at 5:30am and booking it out quickly to get to work by 7am, and her work day lasts for 8 to 10 hours. What blew my mind the most was when she would tell me about running 12 to 15 miles in the evenings. All I could think is "Who is this person?"

I knew she was a fighter and that the chances of her being defeated by anything were going to be very low! I immediately found myself having a deep level of respect for this lady and at all cost wanted to see her overcome her situation. During her time away from the gym for extensive treatment, I really believed and anticipated that she
would return.

Now that she has, I feel that she has a story that must be known. I don't believe Cici even knows how much she inspires so many others, including myself!

Cici's Story

I think that things happen for a reason and that things happen to certain people for a reason and for me CrossFit came at a really important time. I started working down the street from CrossFit Central and I’ve always been pretty active and athletic and I thought it was pretty cool, seeing the weight training. I went in and did the 3 classes (Elements) with Chris Hartwell in January of this year and was pretty excited. Mike was my first coach when I joined CrossFit Central. I work long hours and wanted an early morning class. There was one more availability in Mike’s 5:30 am class, so jumped at it since I heard it was a highly sought-after class.

The only thing that was holding me back was that I had gone in for a regular check up and was called back by my physician saying that I had some irregular cells. On New Year’s Day, I got a call saying that I had ovarian cancer, which was crappy on New Year’s, to start out the year. But I still felt good. Cancer’s kind of a scary word but I really didn’t think too much of it, I thought it was caught pretty soon and it wouldn’t be a big deal, and so I started working out. It was pretty intimidating. I’d never done weights, so that was kind of a hard thing to get used to, being weak in my upper body.

I started seeing results, started loving CrossFit, started getting a little over-zealous with workouts, calling Mike saying “What if I incorporated P90X everyday AND CrossFit?” He quickly told me that that would be stupid. And so I did CrossFit for about a month or two and I then started feeling the repercussions of getting sick, and I started going to the doctor more for blood tests. I guess it was progressing pretty quickly. I started feeling weaker, and I had to take a month or so off to get chemo treatments in Houston.

It was really hard. I would say it wasn’t the pain, it wasn’t being alone…it was that, when you’re an athlete, your happiness, your motivation to get up is feeling great when you workout, feeling like you’re alive when you’re finished. And when that’s pretty much stripped away from you – the progress you’ve made and you have no power and it’s hard to just get out of bed – you’re a completely different individual. So that was definitely a test for me to really re-evaluate myself.

Cici: I don’t have a pic that is a super dramatic before and after. I’ve always been athletic but now I’m a lot leaner and toned. The photo that I reflect on most was when I was sick and lost all muscle and tone. I got down to about 100 pounds. Now that I’m healthier, I can look back at this pic and see how far I’ve come. I went from losing it all and fighting to gain it back.

I could have turned into an individual that just gave up and stopped working out and just taken what I’ve been given and not really strived to get stronger again, but that’s just not who I am. I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to that kind of stuff, so once I was finished with chemo, the first thing I could think of was getting back to workout. I knew that it was going to be really, really hard, that it was going to be harder because I didn’t want people to see me from what I was before to what I had now turned into, which was starting from scratch. During my first workout, we did bear crawls and I couldn’t even hold my body weight up. I’m not one to cry in front of people, but at that point it was pretty hard to keep in tears and not feel just defeated.

But I stuck with it. I started talking with Mike about nutrition and realized that I was basically starving myself and wasn’t eating the appropriate amount of protein. I started tweaking that more and more. Nutrition is my ultimate downfall. I simply don’t fuel my body enough to give it what it needs. Before starting at CrossFit Central, I went without breakfast and subbed in some coffee. Lunch was a frozen Amy’s and dinner was, eh, whatever was in the house. Once I attended a nutrition meeting, I was intrigued by this new lifestyle of Paleo. So I went home and threw out everything that would not be “Paleo-friendly”…needless to say, it was a shock when I had nothing left in my kitchen. I followed the nutrition and immediately saw results. It was pretty hard at first to increase my protein. I am getting better and better though.

I’ve changed in many spectrums since I started training with Mike. Physically, I’ve lost a total of about 7-8% body fat since, recently losing 5% in the Lean Turkey Challenge. Being an athlete growing up, I thought I was in pretty good shape. Ha! That was a slap in the face of reality once weights came into play. Now I feel MUCH stronger! I’ve always been a runner, so improving speed was a bonus as well in the daily WODs.

Mentally, I was once the girl who thought: Ew, muscles are gross, I don’t want to look like some of the girls I’ve seen in CrossFit who could probably dead lift me with their pinky fingers. Well, once I started seeing muscles and definition in places I never had before, it became an addiction. I loved it, and my once before image of what was sexy and beautiful was now thrown out the door. I wanted to be strong!

Spiritually, I can have an addictive personality at times. If I want to go out for a run, it’s not just 3 miles, it’s 13. If the class is doing 2 reps, I’ll push for 3. So when I started seeing results in CrossFit, I wanted to push myself more and more and more. Mike then lectured me and told me to chill my roll, that doing 2 workouts a day 7 days a week was going to kill me. In the end, it was more about quality than quantity. With time I’ve learned to balance this need to overdo things, listen to my body, and continue to improve…but this is still a work in progress.

CrossFit has been an amazing experience to say the least. I have seen myself grow into a stronger person, pushing boundaries that I didn’t know I could. The changes in my life outside of the gym are too many to count – really, everything has improved. I see things differently now. When a misconception you once had is no longer true, and it changed in a good way, you re-evaluate your life. I am BLESSED and have a whole new outlook on life with the many things going on this year, be it fitness, nutrition, family, friends, career…they have all been driven to a higher standard.

I’m motivated by classmates who show up at the crack of dawn like crazy people to improve their health, great coaches to push me every day and show me that there is no end to my capabilities, my family, my new lease on life being healthy…you never know how precious your life is until it could possibly be taken away or altered.

When I found CrossFit, I was 24 years old, weighed about 135 pounds, had ok energy (I was bad with sleep and usually averaged 4 hours a night), ate what I thought was acceptable food (too many carbs, not enough lean protein). I just turned 25 this month. My latest body comp showed that during the Lean Turkey Challenge I lost 6+ inches, 5% body fat (now at about 14%) and I now weigh 125 pounds.

My new goals are to get stronger, leaner, faster in the gym. I still suck at double unders…so that’s a commitment I need to stick to more. Maybe start more challenging CrossFit competitions and see how far I can push myself. Outside of the gym, I want to go back to school and achieve my PhD in research.

I want to recognize the amazing coaches at CrossFit Central that make fitness, nutrition, and healthy living a top priority in life and do just about anything to educate and better their clients. I want to thank my coach, Mike who has been there with me from the get-go. You’re a great person and mentor, a means of motivation every morning at 5am to push myself harder and harder. Lastly, my fellow classmates, sorry everyone else, but my 5:30 am class is the best. We work hard and push the limits every week – who the hell else wakes up at 5am to workout! Crazy people like us! I look forward to growing together in achievements. I’m very excited to see what else I can achieve now!

I’ve found more of a peace with what happened to me, really realizing that I can have something taken away really quickly but, as long as I fight to get it back, I can be just as happy and even happier because I know that if this (cancer) couldn’t bring me down then nothing will.

Now I’m in a great place. I’m now cancer free and I’m stronger than I was, than I’ve ever been. CrossFit was really new for me, I didn’t know how I’d succeed in it and I really impressed myself with pretty much having everything stripped away and starting from the ground up. I’m really happy where I am now.


Suzette said...

Wow Cici! Anyone can see how strong you are in class, but on the inside you are amazing...A true fighter. What an inspiration you are. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to workout along side you and everyone else in our class.

Dale said...

You are incredible CiCi. It's a pleasure to train with those who treat adversity as a bump in the road that may be overcome. You kill pull ups as the pic from Red & Black indicates and you apparently know how to use a shot gun also.
Congratulations on all your accomplishments and successes, your efforts in the gym have been rewarded with wonderful results.

Ashley said...

Cici - what an incredible year. Way to fight through it all and come out stronger. You are an inspiration to us all! Thank you so much for sharing! Such an honor to share the gym with you at 5:30am.