Meet CFCC Member Laura!
It was after running a marathon (in February 2014) that I felt the worst I had in my adult life, and I couldn’t figure out why. I’d been a reliable 6am Crossfitter at CFCC for 1.5 years, ate a primarily vegan diet that I cooked myself, ran A LOT (albeit slowly), had a challenging and meaningful career (I’m a child psychologist by day), was settling into a new city, and traveled to visit family, friends, and new places frequently; but I was at my heaviest weight I’d been since college, digestive issues (that probably existed since childhood) were becoming unbearable, TV watching was an evening staple, and I just didn’t feel good. I didn’t have the best marathon, probably for a number of reasons. But I couldn’t deny that the mental fog, muscle fatigue, and nausea I experienced for most of it was because I wasn’t properly fueled. For me, running 26 miles solely on ‘sports beans’ after weeks of hummus and tortillas just didn’t cut it. I’m pretty stubborn, but I appreciate Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I still very clearly remember the morning after a 6am WOD when Erin casually mentioned “there is a another way” after I came back from the marathon feeling sluggish, weak, and defeated.
So for the past two years, I’ve been exploring the “another way” – and luckily for me, it’s been the better way. As Erin so often says, more isn’t better, BETTER is better. The foundation for me was a change in nutrition that I learned through working with Erin – after a few dedicated weeks there was no denying that my digestive issues were improving, and for the first time in years, I felt relief. Once that was sorted out, I noticed changes in my body composition, energy levels, health (clearer skin! better sleep! less illness!), and especially my anxiety. Turns out, NOT eating healthy fats kept me at a heightened level of anxiety that I had simply taken for granted; seed oils absolutely destroy my stomach and leave me feeling bad for days; processed sugar makes me jittery and dysregulated. For the first time, I felt that I understood my body and in control of my health. This was such a liberating experience, as I was no longer restricting restricting restricing running running running just to feel bloated, anxious, and tired. But the “another way” is more than just nutrition. Once my health was under control, my perspective shifted, and I was able to explore how to take care of myself from a holistic perspective. And learn how to enjoy and appreciate the journey – of which CFCC has been an integral part. Not only does CFCC provide nutrition support, but this community provides a platform for transformational health. I began to enjoy how feeling physically good leads to performance improvements during WODs; I saw how mindful and strategic programming supported fitness improvements in all members; I appreciated how strength and foundational movement must underlie other athletic pursuits; I watched dedicated athletes push themselves and their team through pain and sacrifice to achieve new feats; I explored the restorative classes that are offered, focused on physical and mental self-care; I stepped away from logging miles because…you’re supposed to log miles…to speed work and technique in the endurance classes; and I made friendships with a community of athletes and teammates with similar goals.In the past two years, I have seen myself grow as an athlete in remarkable ways.
Type A may be an understatement in my case, so it’s no surprise that I thrive off routine and data. By bringing an open mind to this experience, I have embraced the “n of 1” mentality and have countless food logs, pictures, and training videos to objectively measure my progress (no, this is not necessary – I simply find it fun!) But it’s the immeasurable benefits that I’ve come to appreciate most.
-No longer feeling at war with my body. I have bought into the skinny mentality since…forever, and I have often felt like a failure for doing everything “right” without seeing the results I wanted. It wasn’t until I stopped forcing myself to “be” a certain way and accepted my body for what it can do that this mindset gradually faded. This wasn’t my intention when I started CrossFit, or CFCC, or running a marathon; this came through holistic health. Less anxiety, less stress, more confidence, tolerance of the journey – my obsessiveness with “being skinny” just lost its hold and its appeal. The number on the scale is not only insignificant, but laughable; I can weigh the same and look and feel so different. I never thought I’d say this, but I celebrate when the scale goes up – muscle gain is hard, yo!
-Instead, feeling like an athlete. I was a dancer growing up; not an athlete. When I started running in my early twenties, after college (read: 4 years of complete idleness), I was running an 11:30 mile; I kid you not. I had never picked up a barbell in my life before walking into CFCC’s doors in Sep 2012 after moving to Philly for my first “real person” job. Through a renewed mindset I now see my own potential – if I want to squat more, I can; if I want to stop mid-WOD, I know how to push a little harder; if I want to improve my snatch….well, that’s still a work in progress. But I am capable – and that’s the foundation for improvement. One of the most incredible moments was being able to do my first muscle up this past summer – setting a goal, putting in the work, and achieving it is exciting, validating, and terrifying all at once, and it feeds the fire for more. And it’s true – if you want to look like someone who has abs, you need to DO the things that require abs! (goodbye endless crunches…hello pull-ups!)
-Being a teammate. From the camaraderie in 6am classes, the community that cheers every member on to the end of each WOD, the grit of pushing through PRs and Open workouts; to the competitions I’ve been a part of, the crazy community that’s formed online, and CFCC’s competition team – I am appreciative every day to be reminded of what a gift it is to be able to move with a community.
Now, I’m still a 6am Crossfitter at heart. But I eat a diet full of animal proteins, starchy carbs, veggies, and chocolate; I spend more time with a barbell and restorative movement than running (though when I do run, purely for enjoyment, I’m A LOT faster than I used to be!), manage to keep up at work, and find a balance with travel. And I’m at a strong fighting weight, am no longer victim to digestive distress, often train again in the evenings with a team I love, and feel pretty great most of the time.
Basically, CFCC rocks. Especially Erin for being willing to show me another way, and sticking with me on the journey.