Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making Her Way

Laurie's story represents one of the true essences of CrossFit's ability impact a person's lifestyle at a deep and meaningful level. Watching her get out of her comfort zone has been remarkable. I am proud to see this woman take on a program like CrossFit after spending her whole life prior to it without ever taking on physical challenges or being an athlete. She has found a new self through the experience. Seeing how her success has inspired her husband to join us a year later speaks volumes for how much Laurie is truly a positive model for her family, friends and anyone else she comes across on a daily basis!

Laurie's Story

When I started CrossFit, I was 37, a couple dozen pounds too many, and decidedly not fit. Motherhood and career were my lazy excuses for not making time for myself, much less for my health. I was beginning to learn that the levels of fitness I tucked away in my teens and 20’s were requiring greater and greater effort to maintain. I had jumped from swimming to running to gyms, not finding a sustainable match, and the extra pounds continued to appear from nowhere. I knew that as I got older, this would only become more prominent and more difficult to turn around.

I had never done anything like CrossFit before and had never considered myself an athlete. All the gymnastic movements and strength training were foreign to me. I had very little confidence that I’d be able to do any of it. But on a whim, and with the shining examples of a CrossFitting cousin and friends, I started in early 2011. I’ve been in Big Mike’s class for exactly one year now, after having worked out with a level one class for 3 months. I ended up with Big Mike as my coach by luck - choosing his 6:15 am MWF class because it allows me to get home and ready for work before getting my kids off to school (just barely!).

I have always been fortunate to have good energy, to sleep well, and to generally be a confident and happy gal, and yet CrossFit has enhanced the energy I feel throughout the day, improved my mood, and elevated my confidence. I also feel the workouts and clean eating have started to affect my thinking, which seems more efficient and creative than it was before. This is important in my life right now, as I'm studying for a doctoral degree and juggling regular work and kids. It is crucial that my limited think-time be really efficient and productive. I also feel good about the messages my kids are getting about fitness and food. More importantly, they’ve witnessed me starting something new, being nervous about it, and then keeping at it and getting better. My husband recently started CrossFit as well, so there’s the added entertainment of family-friendly WOD trash-talk.

The community atmosphere keeps me motivated to continue showing up and pushing myself. I did not grow up competing in team sports, and the coaching and group elements of CrossFit have been fun surprises. I was intimidated by the people and the workouts in the beginning, but now I look forward to seeing and working out with my class. Mike and Conner truly want to see me get stronger and healthier – it is clearly not “just a job” for them. It’s a great blend of support and fun-loving competition. Being healthy in community is so much more fun, realistic and feasible than going it alone. And I have to admit I’ve discovered a little bit of suppressed competitor in myself.

Strangely, CrossFit also keeps me feeling close to my big brother, who died 5 years ago. My brother was a natural athlete and strong in every way, and since his death the stories of his feats of super-human strength have, of course, grown. He would have been proud and encouraging of this new part of me. Even though he would have kicked my butt in every conceivable WOD, we would have had a great time CrossFitting together!

In addition to my class, I’ve done Fuel-21 twice and the I Am CrossFit challenge once. All three challenges really helped me hone the way I shop for and think about food. As a busy working mom, I find that if I am organized about shopping and cooking, I am more likely to eat clean and feel great. Participating in the challenges and food logging provided the extra incentive and accountability I needed to establish new routines. The challenges keep me on target and also keep things fun and interesting. After completing the I Am CrossFit Challenge earlier this year, I lost about 9 pounds, 5% body fat, and went down two sizes in clothes. While I don’t eat 100% paleo/primal, my eating has changed tremendously. Breakfast, for example, used to consist mainly of beans and tortillas, and now it centers on fresh vegetables and high quality protein. Across all my meals, vegetables have replaced all the pasta and bread I used to rely on.

I’d like to keep leaning out, so I definitely have more work to do in terms of weight and body fat. My goal in 2012 is to continue the progress I made during the I Am CrossFit challenge by continuing to eat clean and to add another workout into my week. Plus I’d really like to bid a fond farewell to banded pull-ups!

My work is related to social injustice, violence, and exploitation - specifically to issues around sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking (modern-day slavery). Without a doubt, these are heavy topics, full of complex stories of both overwhelming trauma and tremendous strength and resilience. There's an unfortunate myth that if people in the helping professionals are really passionate, they should be worn out, burned out, and sacrificing their health for the cause. When you add to that the myth of academic scholarship telling you to study all night, eat crap, and live at your laptop, you have a precarious combination. I believe strongly that pushing our bodies physically is one of the best ways to balance out some of the tough intellectual and emotional burdens (either personally or professionally) we carry. When people inevitably ask me, "Isn't it depressing? How do you keep doing it?" I think of three things that help me maintain that delicate and crucial balance: my role as a mama of small kids in keeping me rooted in the here-and-now; the gift of sleep; and CrossFit's support of that holistic view of mind-body health.

1 comment:

Beth Smith Feger said...

Excellent. Wonderfully well told story.