"If I had never started CrossFit, if I never went after that first fear and did it anyway, I truly don’t believe I would have done any of the other things I’ve done in the last 5 years. While these other things may appear very unrelated, CrossFit was the catalyst that got me to change the person I was and (start to) become the person I was supposed to be."
I've written zillions of blogs about the phenomenon that is the connection between CrossFitting and life. Magically, or not so magically, when a person adapts a CrossFit regimen, changes begin to occur outside of of the walls in the gym just as quickly as they do inside. Jessica's essay submission truly showcases this perk. I am proud of Jess and the changes that she and her fiance, Jim, are making to make fitness part of their life. Enjoy!
Bettering Yourself Type of People
After four years of half-heartedly trying to get, my now fiancé, Jim, to join Crossfit with me, I took it upon myself to set up an appointment for him and Chu to talk. Subject line: ‘low key ambush’. Through my selling points to Jim, and the conversation we both had with Chu, I rediscovered something I had always known – just how much Crossfit, and Shoreline Athletics specifically, have done for me. I’m not just talking about my physical health, well-being, and weight loss – I’m talking about myself as a person and the way I live my life. And no, I don’t mean Paleo either.
My aunt, Maria, has been a member of Shoreline Crossfit/Shoreline Athletics for 7 years. In 2012, after begging me to join with her and explaining all of the ways it has helped her achieve her goals, she bought me a gift certificate for on-ramp classes. I was furious. I thought she was forcing her new weight loss plan down my throat. I thought she was forcing me to make a weekly commitment to do something I didn’t want to do. I thought she was calling me fat! …. I was also in a much less healthy mental and emotional place in my life. But that was something I couldn’t admit to myself then.
It took me an entire year to use that gift certificate. I was preparing to end of a five-year relationship, and as much as I definitely needed to lose weight and get healthy, I also just wanted a change. I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone, and I wanted to do something by myself, for myself. I can honestly say that starting crossfit was the first time I ever did something for myself that I didn’t have to do. Not school, not work, not family or friend obligations. Something I chose to do. (With just a little push from my aunt).
I was terrified to start Crossfit. I went to the gym sometimes but I had never played a sport in high school and certainly had never done something so physical and so intense. I remember telling everyone at work, a job I had acquired just a few months before after just graduating college, that I was more afraid to start CrossFit than I was my first day at my first real job.
I had been terrified a lot in my lifetime. I truly hated trying new things, meeting new people. I quit or backed out of basically I had ever started or committed myself to, and I avoided new and/or uncomfortable social situations at all costs. To me, starting CrossFit, doing something I was so uncomfortable with, in a group setting, with absolute strangers, was about as scary as it could get at that point my life. But something wouldn’t let me back out of this. Something was telling me to push through the fear, the uncertainty, the anxiety. I realize now, that’s because I was getting ready to change my life.
It only took the first on-ramp class for me to be hooked. I remember wanting to go every single day, but I couldn’t because of the programming. As soon as on ramp was over and I was in the regular classes, I’d check the WODs as soon as I’d wake up in the morning. I was disappointed on my off days that I wouldn’t be getting to the gym.
I liked how my body was changing – but I liked how my mind was changing more. I was pushing myself, in the gym and outside of it. I was doing physical movements that I didn’t even know existed a few weeks prior. I completely changed my relationship with food. I was setting goals and accomplishing them. But the biggest evolution – I was looking for new ways to challenge myself, physically and mentally. I felt that if I could accomplish this, if I could step this far outside of my comfort zone, then I could do anything. I ended my unhealthy, dependent relationship, I started spending more time with friends and making new ones, I completed two Tough-Mudders and multiple other 5ks and miscellaneous races. I started therapy, I applied for grad school, I started travelling more (and by myself!), and I started my own side business.
The person I was, was very unhealthy (mentally, physically, emotionally). That person was afraid of everything, didn’t want to do anything extra, dependent, riddled with anxiety, trapped. The person I am currently is always looking for adventure, loves to try new things, always challenging myself and always, always focusing on how to improve my overall quality of life.
I relate this to CrossFit, Shoreline in particular, because I think the majority of the people in our gym are like the person I am now, and continue to hope to become. People who just want to be better versions of themselves. People who are starting from zero and are ready to change their lives, or people who are consistently just not okay with being average. I know that the mindset we’ve all adopted in the gym, during WODs, translates to life outside of the gym and depicts who we are as human beings. People who just want more. When I’m in a challenging situation in life I always say, just think of it was a mini WOD, you do a, b and c, and you’re done! After the WOD, you feel better, or at least relieved, and I believe that’s true in (most) tough life circumstances.
When life gets busy and crazy I always say "all I want to do is lay on the couch with my puppy!", and trust me sometimes, I REALLY do. But if that were true of my entire life, then I wouldn’t be doing all of these extra things to better myself. No one is making me do CrossFit. No one is making me work a side business. No one is making me travel and explore. No one is making me go back to school. I’m doing all of that because I want more out of life. And I attribute a lot of that to the attitude, environment, and atmosphere of Shoreline Athletics.
I’ve taken many, many, many ‘breaks’ from Crossfit, and fitness in general. I can blame that on being busy, work, anxiety, … pure laziness. But there was never a time I thought I wouldn’t return to CrossFit. I always knew that I’d go back, and continue to go back, and that Shoreline Athletics would be a part of my life indefinitely.
I got engaged in December of 2016 and had no choice but to get serious about my weight loss and fitness again. In my mind, if I wasn’t going to lose weight for my wedding day, then I never would. There’s no bigger reason in a girl’s life than to look good in her wedding gown, so if this didn’t motivate me, nothing ever would. I was welcomed back to Shoreline, as like many times before, with open arms and excited greetings. I decided that I needed to be very open with everyone around me about my physical goals this time, so that I could stay on track. I have no room for error this time. Opening up to my coaches, and really connecting with them individually, made all the difference for me. I feel totally comfortable talking about my goals, progress, and set-backs. I know I’m my own worst enemy in actually getting into the gym, and certainly when it comes to eating. Chu has been a huge support system for me. He literally emails me if I skip too many days at the gym, and as much as I hated it at the time, he followed me in his car my entire final run in "Jerry", if not for that, I probably never would have finished. I’ve made getting to the gym part of my schedule. It’s non-negotiable. I have to get up and go to work, I have to go to the gym after. As Coach Kelly says, "it’s an appointment with yourself that you cannot cancel." I am so thankful for the support, knowledge, and encouragement I receive at Shoreline Athletics. Without this community, I don’t think I’d meet my goal for my wedding.
When I finally got myself to the gym consistently, I decided it was time for Jim, my fiance, to be completely on board. We had talked about it in the past and he always said he’d think about it. A lot of my ‘breaks’ came from us being in a relationship, living together, and not being on the same page with health and wellness. It was hard to run out the door in the dead of the winter to go to the gym while him and Bailey were snuggled up on the couch. After our engagement, I was able to motivate him to eat better and exercise moderately, but I was nervous I could only do so much, especially when I have such a hard time keeping myself consistent. I knew that if we were doing this together, we could keep each other motivated. I never would have pushed this so much if I didn’t genuinely believe he would fall in love with Shoreline the way I had.
Meeting with Chu, I realized how Jim starting CrossFit with me is the beginning of a new journey for us as a couple, and an extension of my original journey with CrossFit. Now Jim can experience the atmosphere that started my journey of self-development and he can form his own relationship with the sport and the culture. I know that Shoreline will change his attitude about fitness, eating and health in general, I am confident of that. But my hope is that it will open him up the way it opened me up five years ago, and continues to open me up every time I step inside the gym. I am hopeful this step will motivate him to enhance other areas of his life. I am hopeful that once he sees what he is capable of physically and mentally, that he will push himself even harder. I am hopeful that he finds things he loves about Crossfit that are specific to him and his journey that don’t have anything to do with me.
I am so excited to start this journey with him, and I am so grateful to be able to give him this gift, the same way my aunt did with me five years ago.