I had a mini-stroke in early 2014, shortly after losing my father to a massive stroke. In the hospital, neurologists found that my vertebral arteries--the vessels that supply blood to the posterior part of the brain--were dissected and non-functional on both sides. The days around my diagnosis were a blur, but I remember, very clearly, three things: being told that I should be dead, being told that I was at high risk of a second, bigger stroke, and not knowing whether or when my baby and toddler would go through the same loss that I had.
In the months and years after, I tried to check off every box in the "risk factors" column; I lost weight, I did hours of cardio, I perfected my diet. My blood pressure and heart rate remained stubbornly high, and neurological symptoms persisted. I felt like a ticking time bomb.
My husband has asked me why, after years of no interest on my part while he did CrossFit, I finally walked through the gym door a little more than a year ago. I could say it was because I wanted to stay healthy as I got older, or get stronger to take care of our small farm, but in reality I just finally got fed up with being afraid. Afraid to lift more than a tiny 5-pound dumbbell over my head, afraid to put any pressure on my spine, afraid that my brain would stop working again.
The atmosphere at CrossFit Mountain Island helped me climb out of that fear. The encouragement and patience of the coaches and the support of other members were what kept me coming back through the door. Even when I needed a full-scale pep talk to load a barbell across the vertebral artery site, even when I freaked all the way out attempting a headstand, even when my first "box" jumps were on a 10-inch-tall step stool, I never felt embarrassed and I never felt like I didn't belong. Within four months of training four days a week my heart rate and blood pressure dropped down into a healthy range, something four years of steady cardio hadn't been able to do. Within six months that 5-pound dumbbell turned into a 75-pound barbell (with my doctor's blessing). I am no longer considered at risk for stroke, and I no longer have to see a neurologist regularly.
I'm not the strongest or the fastest, and I'm not going to be making a CrossFit Games bid (unless AMRAP Check on Kids in Playroom is added as an event). But even on days when I'm scaling weight back or coming in dead last, I get to remind myself that I'm not as fragile as I thought I was. I get to be fully present for my family and take on new adventures--whether it's climbing a mountain thousands of miles away or just stacking hay bales in our barn--without the specter of fear. For that reason, I'm grateful for every workout. Even the ones with burpees.
Why did I join CrossFit Mountain Island? I had always wanted to do CrossFit and fortunately a friend highly recommended your gym. He was able to share his story and how great he feels since he joined you class (Thanks again Jeff) He gave me the push and support to try it since it was part of my life list of things I wanted to accomplish but kept putting off.
My biggest accomplishment ? Well there are a few, but the biggest one is motivation. I would start a new program, get bored after a few weeks and always quit. Not with CrossFit! There is not time to get bored and it's too fun to hate the routine, everyday is something different and challenging and I’m loving my 9 months and the results I'm seeing!
What am I working on now? Staying mentally strong and continuing to make it part of my daily routine. And I'm working on my abs yes I know everyone wants abs but I’ll be happy with a flat stomach! I also know nutrition is a big part of that, thanks to the help from my coaches.
My favorite Mountain Island Memory? Definitely the Christmas celebration at the gym! I got to meet and spend time with
wonderful people who strive to fulfill and maximize their potential!. No matter how hard life is we all have a story and it’s great to know that every member of this gym support each other for better and wants to be there for their friends at the gym.
What motivates me to continue training at Mountain Island CrossFit? The great supportive Coaches I have, plus I have a 12 year old cheering me up and bragging about his Mom and how fit she’s getting. Even when I haven't reached my goals yet, I want to see how far I can get not only physically stronger but mentally too! Waking up every morning with some muscle soreness it’s definitely more satisfying than having back pain! I can feel my body getting stronger! I'm so thankful that CrossFit Mountain Island and the lifestyle I'm learning to live here is making me the best version of myself, and finally helping me lose weight and get stronger!
Why did I join CrossFit Mountain Island? I joined because I wanted to get serious about my health. I was in the worst shape of my life and had no idea how to begin to bounce back. I’ve always looked at the people that did CrossFit and said “man they are in serious shape”. I kept wishing I could look better and feel better. I would carry my daughter upstairs for bed and have to ask her to wait while I caught my breath before I sung her songs to sleep. It made me feel awful.
My biggest accomplishment ? I think my biggest accomplishment has been my nutrition. I used to eat terribly. I didn’t care what I ate as long as it was convenient. I ate out of boredom and stress. I had no clue what I was putting into my body. After my first appointment i was told to track what I ate for a few days and when I looked at what I was actually eating day to day I was shocked. I was given a set of goals to reach and at first it was hard. I had no clue how to eat, but I was constantly getting feedback and new ideas about how to reach my goals. I started to notice the difference in how I looked and felt immediately and was surprised by how quickly weight started dropping. I could not have done any of it without the help of my nutrition coach.
What am I working on now? One of my biggest hang ups during my workouts has been mobility. I’ve started to set aside a few minutes a day to just stretch and work on my core. I'm still focused on working with my nutrition coach too, and the weight is still falling off.
My favorite Mountain Island Memory? I have many favorite memories. Each day gives me a new one, but I’ll have to say one of my moments that sticks out in my mind is when I asked Coty to make a good Core workout for our Personal Training session and he decided to add a 20 pound vest to the workout. At the time I had just lost 20 pounds and it was a shocking reminder of just how far I had come from when I started.
What motivates me to continue training at Mountain Island CrossFit? I have a lot of motivation to keep me going. My family being the major source. I can carry my daughter around and play with her like I want to instead of wishing I could. I also get motivation from everyone at CrossFit Mountain Island. I enjoy working out with everyone. There’s never a class where I don’t have a positive attitude because everyone in the room is a source of positivity. If you enjoy the people you interact with it makes the day so much better.
Finally, I had had enough of the wishing and did a search for CrossFit near me. CrossFit Mountain Island started my interest based on proximity and name but after meeting the coaches and the people I’d be working out with I felt like this was the place I needed to get me back on track. Everyone had such a positive energy it was hard not to get hooked on coming in every day I could.
1. What brought you to CrossFit Mountain Island in the first place? When my husband and I moved into our new house, we had some projects around the house we were working on. I noticed one day after painting that my legs were SUPER sore from climbing up and down the ladder. I realized I needed to get back in the gym, but my normal routine of going to the gym and doing my own thing never worked so I decided to try something new!
2. What was your first impression? How has that changed? When I got started, I didn't think I was capable of any of the stuff I saw them doing. That's why I started with personal training, 1-on-1 so that I could learn to do all of the movements safely. After a few months I was ready for class and I was able to move through the process at my own pace, which was great.
3. What was your first “brightspot”? My first brightspot was after a week of attending classes, I realized I was meeting people my age and making friends, which was surprisingly fun! And burpees were getting easier. That's always a treat.
4. What are you working on now? Now, I'm learning more about nutrition and getting stronger! I see how being strong helps me in the day to day, so I really enjoy that. My husband also joined the gym, so now we have another thing in common which we love!
5. What’s your favorite CFMI memory? The first time I learned to climb the ropes! That felt so COOL!