Growing up, I played sports – and just to be clear – when I say I “played” sports – I was on the teams; but was never a star athlete. But I always enjoyed being active and being on the teams with my friends. So, it was Softball, Basketball, Volleyball and Track year-round – whether it was in-season or summer-camps.

Then there was college… I think I found the gym on campus once and I played on an Intramural Olympics team. Let’s just say they were not years of my health & fitness prime. Junior year I took a Step Aerobics class for a health science credit (science is NOT my strong suit) and two things happened. 1st – as I was leaving class and I saw my friend across campus – I was trying to avoid him because I was red faced and drenched in sweat – to which he responded with “wow, I didn’t realize we had a pool on campus.” (We didn’t.) My high school conditioning days were clearly in the past. And 2nd, I realized I missed working out.

Also, while in college I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I knew nothing about PCOS – and looking back – I’m pretty sure my doctors didn’t know much either. I was told if I want to have a regular period, take birth control. And if I ever wanted to have a baby – then I’d probably have to take hormones. (Diet and Exercise were NEVER mentioned – ugh.) I didn’t know what to make of most of it and obviously didn’t have things explained to me very well. I figured it was what it was, and I’d cross that bridge when I got to it.

2008 I graduated college and began working 40-hours a week sitting at desk. Its enough to drive anyone crazy! Shortly after that is when I became a group fitness aerobics class junky. Step aerobics, Turbo Kick, Spin Class – I’ve always loved the group fitness aspect – however, you start to feel like a hamster on a wheel, I kept going but no real changes or progress.

2010 I moved in with Jon & Eric Gustafson (they were both CFTC Coaches at the time).  Jon asked me to come for a women’s boot camp he was running at the gym. From the first day I was hooked.

But it wasn’t the boot camp that sold me. It was while I was there for the boot camp – I was watching all these people doing awesome things; Pull-ups, push-ups, things I didn’t know what they were even called. Everyone looked like majestical unicorns. I knew NOTHING about weight lifting and had never even touched a barbell before I walked through the CFTC doors – I generally avoided weights at my current gym and I hadn’t attempted a pull-up since elementary school fitness tests. I wasn’t exactly sure WHAT they were doing – but I was intrigued, and I knew I wanted in.

I went through foundations – I was still iffy on all the words/lingo/movements – AMRAP, WOD, girl’s names as workouts – who is Cindy? What’s a Clean again? I stuck with my light weights, ring-rows, banded push-ups. It took me FOREVER to do anything RX. And that was fine. No one judged. Everyone helped. I was building my confidence in all things CrossFit and chasing endorphins.

A year after I started CrossFit, I found out I was pregnant. What?! I had PCOS and that wasn’t supposed to be a possibility. Apparently improving my diet and exercise was all I needed all along… (and have been clear of PCOS ever since).

I continued with CrossFit throughout my pregnancy – If it was good for me, then it must be good for baby. I’d scale back when needed, but at the same time felt stronger than ever before. I worked out until just a few days I delivered and could no longer put my swollen feet in my gym shoes.

At my 40-week appointment I was told that I needed to have a C-section. Recovering from child birth was one thing – recovering from surgery was another. Once I was cleared by the doctor to return to the gym things felt different and awkward. That confidence I had before and during the pregnancy was gone. It felt like I was starting from the beginning again – and became frustrated. Being a new mom, short on sleep, not much thought on what I was eating (a package of peanut butter crackers was lunch most days), and no longer unlimited time to go to the gym. I fell off the wagon and was watching it burn.

6 Months after I had my daughter there was a 30-Day Nutrition Challenge at the gym. I signed up. Focusing on my nutrition to get myself back on track. Baby weight came off and it gave me something to concentrate on. As I cleaned up my diet, I started feeling better at the gym again – and the movements and skills came back to me. Being a new mom was hard and I generally didn’t know what I was doing – but the gym was the one place I felt like I had control and knew what to do. I needed that confidence boost – I was getting my groove back and not only feeling more confident at the gym – but also in my new role as a mom.

Then there are the people. Not just the friends that you make. But the ones that always seem to be in your life at the right time. I lifted with Justine one day. She’s a bad-ass. No questions about it. And I’ll forever be thankful for her kicking me into gear. I was never a heavy lifter before (I used to finish my working sets and Andrew would jokingly ask if I was just done warming up – but no really, lift more). There is something about lifting heavy and doing something you’ve never done before – proving to yourself. Justine pushed me to lift heavier, become stronger, and to step outside of my comfort zone. And I haven’t turned back since.

The goal is to get stronger every day; whether it’s more pull-ups, heavier weights, new skills, working on technique. I occasionally still need an extra push, after all, weaknesses are all our least favorite to work on. But lifting weights, moving under a barbell, and getting my heart rate up in a metcon is something I still love and chase every day. By taking care of myself, I am a better mom, wife, employee. I am also setting an example for my daughter.

In the past 9 years I went from a young, naive, newbie. I changed jobs, companies, moved a few dozen times, became a mom, ended relationships, made amazing friendships, meet my husband at Murph. I’ve seen family members decline with less than perfect health. I’ve seen people I grew up with who have gained weight or let their health go by the wayside. And all that makes me think of is that I will never let that be me.  I’ve learned so much– physically and mentally. I’ve grown up here. CrossFit Tri-Cities was my one constant through a period of many big life changes – it was my safe-haven – and is a second home with friends like family.

The MOST important thing I have learned from CrossFit is that Strength is EVERYTHING. Stronger is better than weak. Not just in the gym – but in everything in life. I am a more resilient person because of the work I put in at the gym. Afterall, Strong People are Harder to Kill. The members and coaches at CrossFit Tri-Cities have brought me this far, and I can’t wait to continue my journey and see how much further I can go.