When I was eight years old I broke my back. However, I didn’t know I had broken my back until I was undergoing surgery for a slipped disc 7 years later. The surgeons tried to repair the broken vertebrae they’d discovered with a bone fusing supplement. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. My back is still broken in two places. While I was still able to play two of my three high schools sports – volleyball and track, I was told I would never be able to squat again and I was not advised to run regularly or lift heavy weights. Ever.
On top of that, both sides of my family struggle with obesity. My father especially. I never knew him to be less than 350 lbs. and at his heaviest he was almost 450 lbs.. So I have long struggled with an obsessive fear of gaining weight that got really out of control during and after college. At my thinnest I was 112 lbs. and I was consuming less than 1500 calories a day while working out out at least once a day. I was never anorexic or bulimic – I don’t really know what I was – I was obsessed with this constant need to be thin. I was at about 8% body fat and I vowed to never weight more than 120 lbs.
I joined CrossFit Central because I had a new year’s resolution to try six different workout regimens for two months each in an effort to learn what type(s) of workouts work best for my body, overall health, and lifestyle. CrossFit was the 4th workout regimen I tried. I never made it to the 5th and 6th.
For me, CrossFit was terrifying in every possible was. I was afraid I would hurt myself. I was afraid my back couldn’t handle it. I was afraid I would gain weight. I was afraid I would “look gross.”
Since joining CrossFit Central in July 2015, I have gained 25 lbs. and my back feels better than it ever has before. Back pain will likely always be a part of my life, but now if I go to CrossFit on a day that my back doesn’t feel 100% I leave feeling better than when I arrived. In November 2016 I had a checkup on my back and while it has not improved, it will never improve, CrossFit has not damaged my back in any way.
CrossFit has not necessarily “helped [me] break through any mental barriers” because that is past tense. I still struggle with body image. I still feel this overwhelming fear when I am about to do a deadlift. Those struggles and fears just don’t hinder my life as much as it once did and I am grateful to CrossFit for that. This will continue to be a process for me. I’m climbing a mountain that I will likely never summit, but the important thing is that I am determined to not turn around and go back to where I came from.
Pushing yourself in a gym, in my opinion, has no downside. The gym gives you confidence, energy, strength, and perseverance that are invaluable skills in all aspects of your life.
Earlier this year I competed in my first CrossFit Competition, a partner competition, and my mom came to watch. She cried nearly the entire time. She saw my pain at its worst, through all the sleepless nights and the 10 out of 10s on the pain scale. As she watched me compete she just kept shaking her head and saying, “Your doctors, your pain management specialists, and your surgeon all said this wasn’t possible. They said you’d never be able to do this.” Well thanks to my coach, Zach Thiel, my incredible CrossFit friends and the whole CrossFit Central Burnet team I can decide what I’m capable of.