My physique. I take a great amount of pride in my musculature despite my disability. I got to the gym about 4-6 times a week, and play flag football on the off days.
Believe it or not, I was 255 pounds (or higher) at my heaviest weight. I had little muscle, I was diabetic, obese, sedentary and beginning to deal with high blood pressure.
Today, I weigh in at 120-130 pounds. My resting heart rate is 48 beats per minute, my heart rate variability is 135 ms on average, and my blood pressure hangs around 110/82 mm/hg. Comparatively, I am healthier than I have ever been before.
It wasn’t easy. I chose to become healthier in 2016 following my invitation to join the United States Women’s National team for sled hockey.
“I can’t be on team USA and push this lard around. I need to be at peak condition.”
Thus beginning my fitness journey. Now, I have always been athletic. Prior to 2011, I was a softball, track, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, martial arts, and equestrian. I have been active since the age of 4, but following my illness and subsequent relegation to a wheelchair. I lost my drive, and my motivation. I gave up. I became a ball of unmotivated depression.
Yet, it was the National team that gave me the push I needed to exercise. Yet, it was still an indoors, at-home activity for anxious me. I could not leave my home to go to the local gym, because during the time of my weight gain, I had also developed Agoraphobia.
However, one day in 2016, I had enough. I told myself that I was going to the gym – no excuses. I forced myself out of the front door, and the quarter mile to the complex gym.
I never looked back. After that day, the gym became my anti-depressant, my anti-anxiety, and ultimately – my anti-suicidal.
By 2017, I had gotten my weight from 255 to 175 pounds with sheer hard work. However, unfortunately, I developed a severe digestive disorder called gastroparesis that was a result of my Charcot-Marie Tooth disease.
As a result of the gastric failure, my weight began to plummet. It dropped to 70 pounds by late 2017 and early 2018. Following my admission to the Mayo Clinic, I was deemed very unwell and they placed a PICC line, and a feeding tube in order to provide me with the nutrients that I needed to survive.
I knew that if I wanted to survive this disease long term, that I needed to stay as strong as possible. I had continued to workout through the duration of my illness, and it continues into today. While it may not have been healthy – it was the only way I knew how to cope with my failing body. It was the only place that I felt confident in given my physicality during that time. It gave me the confidence that I needed to continue to live.
I worked incredibly hard to stay muscular and strong. I put in the miles on the hand cycle to increase my cardiovascular health, and did bodyweight exercises when I was too thin to use weights. It wasn’t pretty, but it was meant to be.
My hard work and dedication to my fitness assisted me in not only surviving the many low points in my health, but it also became the cure to my low self-esteem, agoraphobia, and social anxiety. CrossFit being the most life-changing sport I have ever taken on – it has also been the sport that I love the most. I even compete in the sport.
In short, my favorite part of me is my physique – I have worked for literal years to get where I am at now.