From Dec. 2007 to Dec. 2011, I experienced life events that chipped away at my health – physically, mentally and emotionally. I did not have a strong enough foundation to weather the storm. It was a slow grind (like a long WOD). Any one event not necessarily one to put me off track so intensely but all put together they took their toll. The next thing I knew I was depressed, out of shape and heavier than I had ever been in my life. In March 2012, on the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing, I decided that I needed to get my life back, to start living again. That was how I was going to honor him.

I always told my two daughters that in order to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself. Think of the safety spiel on an airplane. When the oxygen mask is released, you are told to put it on yourself first, then assist others around you. I wanted to raise strong, happy young women so I needed to be that example for them. My oldest was heading off to college and my youngest would follow soon after. When they were gone, what was I going to do next? What did I want to do with my life?

If I met someone new and they said, “What do you do for fun?”, what would I say? I looked for ways to be happy, simple things, what was interesting to me, reconnected with friends and family, how can I do something better/new today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? I put myself first and that was okay.

In March 2013 (year 2 since Dad’s passing), I was feeling more adventurous about what I wanted to do to celebrate being alive. People in my family generally live a long, healthy life. Would I admire them from the sidelines or get up and get moving myself? When I looked in the mirror, I thought I looked okay. I stayed away from the camera though. When I did see pictures of myself, I was in denial about my appearance. In May, I saw a picture of myself and it hit me – I was a “Biggest Loser” contestant! That same month, a good friend suffered a “cardiac event”. He is only 2 months older than me. What would happen to my girls if that happened to me? My friend had actually already started CrossFit about 6 months prior and another coworker was doing Kaia fit. They would talk about their workouts each day, comparing “war stories”. I admired their excitement. I asked my friend where he worked out. Since I live 30 minutes from him, he told me about a box closer to my home, a recommendation from his box owner. It was Crossfit Anywhere.

I drove by after hours to take a look. My daughters said, “Is that the place, Mom? The one with the guy bending over in pain as their logo?” Yep, that was it. On Monday after work, I drove from my office to CFA to see if I could make it to class in time. I was greeted by Denny Wilson. He suggested I go home, change and come back for the 6:30 Anywhere X class.

I had no idea what I was in for, blissfully unaware I like to say. Dominic Brissey was my coach for class. That first workout was 100 burpees, 1000m row and 1 mile run. My head said, “Sure, you’ve got this” but my body said, “Um, no way!” Dom scaled the workout so that I didn’t die on the spot based on the time it was taking me to perform this fabulous combination of movements. I was last to finish the WOD but I wasn’t made to feel bad about that. My level of fitness was obvious but I instantly felt safe with the coaches and supported by the other athletes in class. I had so much fun I came back the next day. It wasn’t until the second day after that first workout that it finally hit me. Pain. I couldn’t move or bend my arms to even touch my face. But crossfit was all I could talk about with my daughters and coworkers. Can you believe what I did?! I took a few days off, rolled out my arms with a tennis ball and made plans for the next week’s workout schedule. I had to go on a business trip and I didn’t want to lose any momentum while I was traveling. Better yet, I looked for a box near my hotel and meetings, contacted them and made arrangements to visit. Who the heck was I? I had never done anything like this before.

It was August 2013. I was ready to make a change and have not looked back since.

My goal was to lose 60 pounds in one year. I figured 5 pounds a month was attainable. I started working out 2-3 days per week and slightly changing my diet (removing pasta, sweets, snacks, fast food, alcohol most of the time). I was so excited about how I felt after a WOD I talked about it to anyone who would listen (or pretend to). I thought that as I worked out I would be able to work away a bad day by thinking about it – like a “take that” attitude. But instead I thought of nothing else but the WOD. How was I going to get through this one today? How far would my coaches push me, how far would I push myself? I didn’t know any different when certain WODs that I had never done were posted so I just showed up and did what I was told. I left feeling strong, empowered and in control of what kind of day I wanted it to be. I learned to not look at others and compare myself to their capabilities but to look at myself and compete with what I could do today vs yesterday. When I felt like I couldn’t do more, I listened to everyone around tell me I could and eventually believed that I could do anything that I set my mind to. I agreed with Crossfit Anywhere’s philosophy that fitness can be attained anywhere and was applicable to real life. It was not just inside the box. I found myself comparing day-to-day activities (carrying a heavy awkward box up stairs) to movements or WODs I was doing (1 mile uphill object carry). I looked for ways to be active when I wasn’t doing a WOD or if I missed class for some reason.

By mid-July 2014, I had passed my weight loss goal (66 lbs.), worked out 4-5 days per week plus yoga, revamped my eating habits to be cleaner, cooking more at home, educating myself on what to eat to meet nutritional goals. My body shape completely changed and now I had to buy a whole new wardrobe! I was going on vacation with family that hadn’t seen me in a while. I made sure that I made time to be active and was even able to get a cousin to join me at a local box. Turns out, the owner is a friend of Blair’s and had gone on an anywherefit trip to Iceland. We took a picture together which I shared with my oldest daughter at school now living 6 hours away from me. She was so shocked at my transformation she posted a before and after picture. Seeing myself side by side in those pictures was amazing. The outpouring of support from my crossfit family for my accomplishment was incredible. I never thought about stopping this way of living, it was now my lifestyle, but it made me think that I could keep going and it wasn’t beyond possible. I just had to figure out what I wanted to do with the energy.

In Dec. 2014 I participated in a 1,000 burpee challenge to be performed over the month. I considered it a mental challenge and performed 575 in 60 minutes, stopping only because my coach asked me to. I was also voted by my coaches as the most physically transformed over the year. I feel blessed to have these people in my life. Crossfit is a community, my family. No matter where you go, most other crossfitters feel the same way. It takes a village to raise a crossfitter. I don’t think I would be where I am today without this experience. I’ve lost a total of 75 pounds and am in the best shape of my life thus far. The physical me is a reflection of how strong I feel on the inside and vice versa. They are all related, work hand in hand, balance each other.

In 3 months I will have been crossfitting for 2 years. I have completed 2 Opens, jumping in rank from 1942 in 2014 to 426 in 2015 in my age division worldwide. My goal is to qualify for Masters Regionals in 2016. I have competed in 2 other local competitions and will be traveling to Cyprus in June 2015 to compete internationally in the Maters division. In August 2015, I will join 30 others and crossfit through Greece for fun! I plan on getting my Level 1 coaching certification and start sharing my passion with others that are ready to make a change in their life. Family, friends and strangers tell me how I have inspired them to be more active, to live healthier, to be the best version of themselves they can be. That is the ultimate compliment. I was just trying to do that for myself. And it all started with a few burpees…