I joined Balcones CrossFit in April of 2015 because I had heard a lot of great things about the workouts, how challenging they can be, and what amazing transformations can come from them. I even had some co-workers that were/are CrossFit members and they absolutely love it. However, for me, it was a little more than just being about the workouts. You see, while I’ve had an amazing transformation, you wouldn’t know that about 15 years ago, I was borderline obese, if not full on obese.
I still remember that day at the doctor’s office when the scale read 299 pounds. I was extremely mortified and vowed that I would change my lifestyle from that moment on. I slowly started losing weight. And, while I ate salads, (sometimes), and started increasing my physical activity, I totally rewarded myself with anything and everything I wanted. Yet, I still thought that I was being healthy.
Well, fast forward 15 years of stupidity, naivety, and ignorance, I finally decided to become part of a CrossFit gym. I knew that some of the gyms could be more competitive, and I knew that wasn’t for me. I already had a lot of interests; I didn’t need something else occupying my life. Also, and not to get off subject, but if I didn’t have to exercise, there are some many other things I’d rather be doing.
So, I started researching CrossFit gyms in the Pflugerville area and stumbled upon a couple of them. I was pleasantly surprised to find Balcones close to where I live. I still remember being apprehensive and excited about booking my appointment to meet the coaches at the gym. Yes, I’m one of those people that have anxiety over meeting new people because I start getting a running dialog in my head that they are going to laugh or make fun of me in some way. For those of you thinking the same thing and having trepidations about joining this gym, or any other, put those thoughts out of your mind. What I learned, especially from my time at Balcones, is that these people are here for you because you have made the biggest step in your life… the step to becoming healthy.
So, after I finally made the appointment, I ended up getting sick. Apparently I had some spider bite the night before causing me to run a fever and I had to look for a doctor as my finger swelled to the size of a kielbasa. I frantically emailed the coaches apologizing profusely for getting sick and having to reschedule the appointment. Again, in my head, I already felt like a failure and the judgements were going to begin… Welcome stupidity.
When I finally got better, I showed up to the gym and met Coach Darla King for the first time. She gave me the grand tour of the gym and then started putting me at ease by explaining that the gym really focuses on the health and safety of all its members. Then she really put me at ease when she noted that the gym was not solely focused on competition, and while the members could certainly choose to compete, the coaches would be there to support whatever decision each athlete made. As soon as I heard that, I signed up for a six-month membership. I did that because I was going to
commit to the process and I felt that if I did month-to-month, I could easily talk myself into stopping it any time. And that was not going to happen!
My initial goals for starting CrossFit were to lose weight and start getting stronger. I always felt like I never had any upper body strength and that was something I really wanted to develop. I also wanted to be able to do pull-ups and rope climbs because that’s just not something I have never done. I still have not accomplished these two feats but I know I will be able to one day. I just have to keep reminding myself to keep at it and to not compare myself to others, and I have accomplished a ton of other great feats!
Honestly, that is some of the best advice I can give to others. When I was attending other gyms, I was constantly comparing myself to how others looked or how heavy they lifted or how fast they were. I wanted to be like them and be able to do what they could. I also remember a co—worker of my mine telling me how he loved CrossFit when he did it and how everything is scaled, which means that the exercises are done to your skill level and that everyone is going to be different. For example, I can only do an overhead squat with a 35-pound barbell and that is OK. One of my coaches actually got after me when I tried to add more weight because my form was all over the place. And, in retrospect, I actually appreciated that. It just means that these guys are looking out for me and that they have my safety in mind.
Moreover, I can still remember the elements classes, which served as my best and worst memories at the gym. “Why” might you ask? I was so arrogant that I thought that just because I already had some physical fitness, doing the elements classes would be a breeze… enter my best friend, stupidity, again. Going through those classes was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I remember being so sore after the first class that I started cursing myself for even starting this in the first place. But, I was also grateful. The elements classes really humbled me and forced me to face the reality that I was not in the peak physical condition I thought I was. Also, let’s not forget, I was already committed to six months, so there really was no going back.
Since being at Balcones I have lost around 65 pounds and that really came from changing my love affair with food.
Oh, food. How I love you.
Remember those 299 pounds? Well, it was food embracing its warmth around me. Hands down, my favorite meal was the Super Sonic cheeseburger combo. For those of you unfamiliar with the meal, it’s pretty much a double cheeseburger from Sonic restaurants with either fries or tater tots and a beverage of your choice, mine being the one and only Coca Cola.
I could eat that combo for lunch and dinner. And, as sad as it is to say, there were some days that I did. When I moved over to San Marcos to attend the University there, I was completely uninhibited when it came to food. My favorite diet was the see-food diet because when I saw food I ate it.
Then it all came to an end when I was diagnosed with leukemia. Unfortunately, the treatment or “therapy” I went under was pretty restrictive when it came to food. I wasn’t allowed to have any raw vegetables due to my compromised immune system as a result of high intensity chemo and radiation. I could still eat cooked or steamed veggies, but I figured why risk it… oh, hello stupidity.
When I finally went into remission (15 years now), I still kept to my horrible eating habits and was in complete denial that I was overweight and borderline/completely obese. But, that was partly due to the weight loss I had experienced after the bone marrow transplant. Well, as you know from above, as soon as I saw that number on the scale, I knew it was time for a change.
And, in case you’re wondering, I haven’t had a Super Sonic cheeseburger combo in around 10 or 12 years. And, I will allow myself to have a Coke one day a week. Since I’m now better educated about food, I know what the consequences are when I over-indulge.
Now that I’m where I want to be with my weight, my goals at Balcones haven’t really changed all that much. I still want to get stronger. I have noticed that I am getting more upper body strength, but I’m now more determined than ever to do a pull-up and a rope climb. Honestly, it will be when I do my first rope climb that I know I will have arrived as, currently, the rope climb is my Everest.
To my future fellow BCFers, if you ever want to find out more about how CrossFit can fit in your life or any questions you have about the program, stop by the gym and talk to me, the coaches or the other gym members. And, I hope that this glimpse into my life will give you the encouragement to pursue your own health and fitness goals.
A word of advice though, prepare for the greatest love/hate relationship you will ever have with yourself. There will be days when the thought of having to crawl your broken butt to the gym is awful and you’ll hate every step towards it. But, after it’s all done you will be beaming with happiness since you proved to yourself that you had the strength and endurance to finish the workout.
And, one last thing…
To my amazing, wonderful and sadistic coaches,
Please don’t ever change! The workouts may challenge us, but it is your motivation and passion that keeps us going and keeps us coming back to the gym.