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Nancy-after-200x300And I thought I was in shape.

I did. I thought I was. I was pretty sure that my 170-pound, limited-muscle-tone self was where I was destined to be. I chalked it up to my age, my stressful job … blah, blah, blah … because I was working out, like crazy.

Here was my week: Sunday – cycle or yoga, sometimes both. Monday – cycle. Tuesday – body pump. Wednesday – boot camp. Thursday – cycle. Saturday – body pump. I was mixing it up, working hard, doing as much as I thought I could. But I was stuck at 170 pounds and my size 14 pants.

At some point, late in the summer of 2012, my friend, Tami, called me and said, “Hey, why don’t you come try this CrossFit thing with me?” My first thought was, “No, I’d hate to change up my routine.” But Tami is persuasive, and I agreed to meet her at Cumberland Park. I willingly signed the “if I die” disclaimer, and we were off, because I’m in shape, I work out, so I can do this thing. Ten minutes later, and several inchworms across the basketball court, I had begun to question my sanity – and regret my decision – because, as I had just been told, this is the warm up. But in the end, I didn’t die, it was actually really fun, and I did what amounted to two WOD’s and assumed I would just go back to my happy little routine.

But there was something about this CrossFit thing that interested me; mostly the people I had met. Add in my natural type A competitive personality, and everyone that I met – owners, coaches, members – all had a down to earth and welcoming way of being that is absolutely necessary for something like CrossFit. Let’s face, it can seem scary or intimidating as hell when you first walk through the door. However, once you walk through the door, and once you start the work – and with a little time and commitment – you are hooked, no turning back.

That was 2012. Let’s talk about 2013 because if this story is to tell about my journey, or my CrossFit experience, I need to be honest about the whole thing. The year 2013 will go down as possibly the worst of my life, or at least the most eventful. In a nutshell: I’m number five in a family of six girls. My mother was always the strength, the rock in my world. Imagine a world of six female children and a very tired and overworked single mother. In 2012, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Out of six kids, I’m the responsible one, the one that takes care of everything, no matter what. So, clearly, this is my job to handle as well. My mother raised me, kept me safe, loved me and made me who I am … now it was my turn. I became the health care coordinator; chemotherapy transportation provider; ever-evolving expert on cancer, its treatments, ravages and otherwise unfair bull. In addition, I was running a large portion of a major corporation in multiple counties across Indiana. Then, in one very unfortunate week at the end of July, I lost my sister, Juli, on one Friday and my mother on the next. I began to feel a bit like Lt. Dan on Forrest Gump, daring God to bring on something else, and in October I chose to leave my job that I had worked at for the last 23 years. Could life get more stressful?

OK, back to CrossFit … how does it fit?

CrossFit, the people at CFWL and the entire experience has changed me. It started gradually. I would slip into a WOD and try to get through it quietly and unnoticed – my method of operation. However, I soon came to realize that CrossFit “fit me.” I was pretty good at. As I learned the lifts, the form, the mechanics (even when I thought I was doing it correctly; thanks for your patience with my form disability, Pat Flannelly), in my head I hear “Nancy, you could lift so much more weight if you wouldn’t try to muscle it up every time, your strength is also your disability.”

My natural tendency is to stand back and watch, figure it out on my own and draw no attention to myself. However, I now realize that there are people at CFWL that are going to push me outside my comfort zone. For example, the open last year, “Hell no, I’m not participating.” But I kept getting messages from Kristie and Missi: “Nancy, the open, sign up NOW!” I’m thinking, “How do these girls know that I’m a freaking chicken at heart?” From the opening of CFWL in 2012 to now, I have really changed in so many ways, I’m not sure these words can do it justice. All of the people that I have met, all of the support, everything.

CFWL has done an infinite number of things for me. For starters, I have lost 30 pounds. Yes, 30 damn pounds. I realized that I am meant to pick up heavy stuff and put it back down. Next, let’s talk about muscles. Where did those come from? Third, I’m going to say that I’m 80 percent Paleo. Not strict, but mostly. I’m sure that it’s mostly the work. The work I love. Next thing, people have noticed the physical difference in me. Several people have started CrossFit, because of it. However, in the last year of what can be described as hell, CrossFit has been my therapy – the one hour every day where all of the crap goes away, and my brain turns off the rest of the chatter.

I have to say that my fitness journey has been a one-of-a-kind experience for me. What makes me come back virtually every day is the community – the people. I’ve met some of the best people I’ve ever known there. I’ve made some amazing friends. I’ve learned stories, and experiences of other people there that impress and astound me every day. My usual gang of cohorts keep me working and moving forward. I am physically stronger than I have ever been. My size 14 pants have been traded in for a size 8. My only regret, regarding CrossFit, is that I didn’t discover it sooner. I look forward to the next challenge, the next hurdle that I need to tackle. It has taught me that my only limits are in my head. I believe that my experience with CrossFit, becoming physically and mentally stronger because of it, made it possible for me to survive all of the things that were thrown at me in the past year, and emerge on the other side, stronger than before.

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