Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Inspired! And the Testimonial.

Sorry blog, its been awhile. Like planned, the whole lifestyle I adopted ended up being second nature. Yeah, I had a few shots of whiskey and tequila and several slices of pizza.. and there was that one burger. It wasnt common, but it added up slowly. And I just felt 'off'. I decided to go another 90 days strict, just for the hell of it. I started it so long ago.. November 5th (had to look that bad boy up)

Truth is, I dont really have a good answer prepared when people ask me why I quit drinking too. I fall over my words. Ummm... discipline test, clarity, weight loss. The truth is, it just seems like good things happen when I go 100% clean. Dont know why, but it seems to be my horseshoe. Last time I got promoted and went to Spain. This time, I just feel damn good.

There is a control over my life in the form of discipline, even when everything else feels way way out of control. Discipline. Its the word I dedicate to my practice in yoga. Every single time for over a year now. It serves as a reminder that I quickly can get off course with distractions. Work needs constant re-focusing, and so do my goals. All those crazy goals I want to achieve.

Coach Shanna encouraged me, right when I needed a reminder of how far ive come, to share my whole story and I finally wrote it all out. writing about 29 years in a few paragraphs seemed daunting, and there is that whole feeling exposed to the world thing. Finally, here it is. (The before/after picture shows you how long Ive been dragging this out- Ill update on my one year with newer pictures)

For most of my life I have been a prisoner in my own body, jailed by my own limitations which I depressingly tried to hide. Although I had a happy childhood, I was a sickly kid who often sat on the sidelines. My chronic ear infections led to multiple surgeries then permanent damage, and my poor eating habits and inactivity led to early obesity. By the time I was in middle school, I was watching my diet and struggling with the roller coaster of weigh loss that would haunt me till this last year.
I remember so many occasions where my poor health and fitness kept me from feeling part of a group. I couldn’t climb a tree like my playmates, the yearly Presidential Fitness Test was a source of shame, and the dresses I wanted to wear to the dance didn’t fit me. I labeled myself anything and everything but athletic. I was a musician, a writer, the academic, and everyone’s helper.
My family suffered as I did and we did what we could to not be victims of our own health. Whether it was group focused weigh loss programs, shakes, books, and everything conventional or not, we tried it. We would temporarily succeed and the scale would move back and forth till I left home. The one thing I never tried was to give myself the label of being ‘fit’. I went off the college and got married. Went through some life struggles and did what I could to make the most of what I thought I could do.
Then a little over a year ago, everything changed. My beloved father, who I am almost exactly like in work ethic and humor, got mysteriously ill. We knew and dealt with his heart problems since I was little, but this was different. And then the story gets hard to talk about. After being referred to the Mayo Clinic and having this incredible fear of the unknown, I made the decision to take advantage of my potential. I no longer wanted to waste my life. If I was lucky enough to be able walk, why not run? If I could lift my arms, why not get strong?
My dad’s kidney’s failed after he came back from the clinic in Jacksonville. And he stopped responding to my voice in ICU several days later. The family was called from out of town and his best friend was planning for his services. However, we are fighters in my family. And he did. And after several close calls and over three months in the hospital he finally came home. During this time, I started running and counting calories like I done before, desperate to be tough enough to handle the stress his diagnosis, a rare auto-immune disorder. Luckily, I had the support of my office and husband who wanted the same for me.
Right before that summer, I got on a scale for the first time in years. 209lb. I was a size 18. At my heaviest I was a size 22W and I had never been below a size 12. I was always tired, had a hard time waking up and going to sleep. Health wise, I was a mess. I was always sick, colds would turn into monsters that would take me out for weeks. My family doctor confirmed my high risk for heart disease and diabetes. My hormones were off, and I feared never being able to have children. It was my prison, my body.
After I made the decision to take control of my health, all I needed were the tools. I was struggling with running, the shin splits and hip aches didn’t stop me, but I was clearly doing something wrong. Luckily, I had a dear friend, Eva, who I worked with and had recently had her own transformation. She said ‘Heather, Crossfit is made for you, just sign up’. And for months I dragged my feet, a bit intimated and thinking I had to get fit for the program. She was persistent, and I am thankful for that! I finally emailed Shanna at Crossfit Asheville and signed up for Feburary 2010 OnRamp. It was the best decision I ever made.
So excited, and unnecessarily nervous, I started to do what I do best, research. Eva was eating Paleo diet which was explained on the Crossfit Asheville’s website. I followed their links to Cordain’s website, where the testimonials mirrored my own gut, allergy and weight problems. I read books like ‘The Primal Blueprint’ by Mark Sisson and ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ by Gary Taubes, and I knew I found the answer. I cut out grains and sugar. I immediately felt better. My energy skyrocketed and my constant stomach problems subsided. By the time I came in for my evaluation with Coach Corey, I had lost 15 pounds.
During that first visit to the gym I was inspired by the other members working out. Every age group and fitness level was represented and what they were doing was flat out impressive. Each doing the same workout, but scaled to their individual fitness levels. They were cheering each other on and there was a sense of community, representing Asheville as it should.
I should tell you, my first day of OnRamp was a real eye-opener to how unfit I was, even with all my ‘training’ for crossfit. I was trying hard and at my lowest moment, right when I needed the support, Shanna got down on the floor while I was trying to do pushups and said ‘remember this moment, there is no better starting point’. And she was right, and my mantra was born: Nowhere to go but up. I vowed to myself to keep coming back.
Inspired and excited that I could only get better, I decided to go strict with my clean eating (Meat, Veggies, Nuts, Seeds, some Fruit), including no drinking for 90 days to really test the lifestyle. I cannot stress enough how easy it was and how much the benefits made the switch worth it. I went from a size 16 to a 10 by the summer. My skin cleared up, my eyes brighten, and for the first time in my life I had no allergies. The strength I gained was not just physical. I was far from confident before I started working out at CFA. I gained poise that I didn’t know I had. With that, I was able to overcome obstacles at work, and I earned a major promotion putting me at the top of my field at a young age. That self-assurance led me to travel oversees by myself for the first time. That adventure showed me that being fit meant living a better quality of life. I could lug around my bags across Spain, climb fortresses, hike for miles and miles and enjoy every moment without being winded or exhausted.
A year ago this month, I contacted Crossfit Asheville and my life has changed completely because of it. I am now in the 130s for the first time in my adult life and I fit into a size 4/6. While most people comment on how different I look, what I am most grateful for is how I feel. I am not a prisoner anymore. I am strong enough emotionally to be there for my family, I am capable of tackling and succeeding at a high stress job, and I am fit enough to experience the world the way I always dreamt I would.
The coaches at Crossfit Asheville are truly salt of the earth. , and my fellow crossfitters are my family. They have cheered me on, held me accountable for my actions and been the foundation for all my successes this last year. I am forever grateful.

Forever grateful CFA!



  1. Heather, you are amazing! What a beautiful, moving, inspirational post. Thank you for sharing this story with the world. I feel so honored to know you and to work out with you!!!

  2. Heather, you are more and more amazing the more I know you. You inspire me in every level. I love you and I really hope I can the willpower to get off my butt and do a little of what you have done.
    You are amazing!

  3. That's awesome. I am also hooked on Crossfit. This is my fourth month at another CF gym and the results are amazing. Nothing else in the world compares to it. Great article, keep it up.

  4. Heather, you were already such a wonderful, dear person and I'm glad you have found your true self and potential. No one deserves this more. You earned it.

  5. I glow a bit every time you refer to me as "Coach Shanna". I certainly remember your first day of On Ramp. I was definitely concerned that you wouldn't stick with it. Thrilled to still have you making crazy gains in the gym and as a new found friend!
    Remember that this is still only the first chapter of your story as an athlete. I look forward to what the second year recap will be!
    Much love, S