From the time that I would notice a tiny bump and pray it was nothing, to finishing my cycle of antibiotics, 3 weeks had passed. Recovering from antibiotics would take another 1-2 weeks. Once the infections would clear, there was usually a side effect like getting the flu or having a migraine for 3 weeks. Working out quickly became a luxury.
In 2016 I was introduced to some “new to me” medical issues. I was getting skin infections one after the other. We weren’t able to conclude the cause, but I did get around a 12 month break. In 2017, I started getting them again and had 3 separate infections.
My goal in this blog is to briefly talk about the behind the scenes aspects of the infections, to then talk about what I learned from them, to then talk about my journey continuing on with Crossfit.
Out of all the infections that I’ve had, this one on my back did the most damage to my mental state, not because of the pain itself but because of how long I was in pain for. In the first picture you can see a line going from my back down to my groin. That was the infection spreading to my lymph nodes, so we were on standby to rush me to the hospital.
I can remember having a lot of fight in me on this one. Like my adrenal glands were on beast mode. However, on the back half of the infection I felt like my adrenal glands were completely depleted and for the first time ever, I felt myself giving up. I just wanted to be out of pain and I had nothing left in me. This made me even more amazed by the human body, that there are mechanisms like our adrenal glands that are there to help us fight, and it’s hard to even realize how much they keep us mentally in tact, until they are depleted.
2 hours before we had to go teach class for our business we found out that this “under the skin pimple” wasn’t at all what we thought it was and that if it got worse we needed to rush to the hospital because there was the possibility of vision loss or brain damage. This infection happened only 3 weeks after my previous infection, so by this point I felt completely defeated, was drained of energy, and genuinely scared for the current state of my life.
I remember helping Derek set up for class and then rushing to Walmart to pick up antibiotics. On the drive to Walmart I was uncontrollably balling my eyes out (which took my pain level to a 10+) and was crying out to the Lord for His protection over my life. I contemplated whether or not I could live with vision loss, which I believed I could, but when I thought about brain damage, it covered me with sadness. I just wanted to live and be able to have my brain in tact, because my brain is full of ideas, and I just want time to live out those ideas with Derek.
Thank the Lord I never had to go to the hospital but holy cow it’s been a rough time.
BUT…I was super open to the deep learning curves that are available to all of us during shitty times, if we’re looking for them.
- Love: I love the living crap out of my husband. I kid you not, the second I felt any kind of fear, my brain would instantly think, “Omg I need to write down all of our passwords and make sure that Derek has everything he needs if anything were to happen.” I love that I get to love someone that much. I also know for a fact that these kinds of circumstances are a big driving factor for why D and I are working so hard to build up our financial portfolio and create options for ourselves, because if anything ever did happen, I want to minimize the amount of pain that the people I love are left with. I want them to have options. I don’t want to leave them with a mess to clean up.
- Mindset: A major goal of mine for years was to become the same person in public that I was in private, and to have the same character and integrity when things go to complete s**t that I have when everything is awesome. These infections were great “check yo self” experiences and the biggest area where I was proud was how Derek and I treated and interacted with each other at the height of my pain.
- Contentment: THIS is by far the best thing that has come from these infections and I want to cry just thinking about it because this could have easily been an empty hole that I would spend my life trying to fill had I not been exposed to the right people years ago.
“I don’t really care if I actually hit all of my goals or succeed to the levels I can imagine. I care about one thing. That when I go out, I go out climbing the mountain”
Infection #3 did me in and gave me a level of contentment that I’ve never felt before. I’ve been fighting for years towards who I want to be and what I want to accomplish, but there was in fact a long period of time, even though I was fighting forward, that I was most definitely not proud of who I was, where I was, or what I was stuck doing on a daily basis.
When I was driving back to class that day, balling my eyes out, thinking about life with vision loss, or the possibility of getting brain damage, I looked back on every freaking aspect of my life, and I thought to myself, “If today was my last day, I would be really sad, but I would so damn content, because no questions asked, I am climbing the mountain.”
For the most part, I am doing exactly what I want on a daily basis. That day when I was driving back to class, terrified for what was going to happen in the next 24 hours, I was driving back to a husband that I am impressed by on a daily basis, to a business that we created from scratch, to people who trust us. So that day my pain and suffering was at an all time high, but so was my contentment.
So how does all of this tie into Crossfit and my 5 year plan?
When I started Crossfit, I knew that I was going to be committed to it for atleast 5 years. That was the number I had in mind. That’s the number I’m sticking to.
Right now, I dread Crossfit. For the first time in 4 years, I dread getting into my car and driving to the gym, I dread Crossfit in the middle of the workout, and I can’t wait for it to be over so I can leave.
Self discipline is the only reason I show up. I just know these two things: 1. Being in motion to some extent is much better than starting over again from a complete hault when I am ready and able to kick it into high gear. 2. Thinking with the end in mind and working myself backwards to today has saved me from quitting.
Medically speaking, we’re doing what we can to find answers, getting blood work done, ruling things out, making dietary changes, reducing my exercise and only letting me exert 70% of my energy when I do workout etc. Thankfully I’m very distracted by building our business (which for me is all of my dreams coming true since I was 6) so we’re just rolling with the punches, praying for healing along with taking whatever action we can. So onto year 5 we go. Dragging my ass to the gym and doing what I said I would do long after the feelings of wanting to do them have faded.
I watched things shift this year from messy/scattered to focused/calm as I found my place for what I wanted/had time for. I’ve been tracking all of my efforts since I began Crossfit, so after gathering and assessing all of my data to find where my biggest gaps were, I picked one overall goal to focus on this year. That one goal was to do movements that forced me to activate my posterior chain. If that meant changing the WOD to accomodate to my plan, that’s exactly what I did.
I also dialed in on a nutrition program that really worked for me in terms of spiking my energy levels and allowing me to stretch myself farther.
In my 1st and 2nd year I made a ton of strides with developing my strength and PR’ing lifts, etc. but in that process due to an incorrect nutrition plan I also gained 10lbs overall. This year I not only lost those 10lbs but lost an additional 5lbs (this was all on accident by making minor nutrition changes) and I lost my ability to hit any of my 1RM lifts. However, I ended up improving on almost every movement across the board (think going from 1 T2B at a time to sets of 5’s during WOD’s) but my time spent exercising decreased significantly.
This is the first year where I felt like the compounded efforts from the last 1095 days were starting to build a sturdy foundation that wasn’t breaking quite as easily. My best example is when we went on vacation to Canada. Prior to starting Crossfit I used to workout but I never lifted heavy weights or touched a barbell. If I took two days off of the gym, I physically felt like I was deteriorating. It was like when I was stagnant, I was going backwards. We went to Canada for one week and I didn’t work out a single time, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I had been accepted onto the next level of what the body is capable of. That entire week I felt like there was a foundational wall built around me and there was no breakdown. Everything stayed in tact. Nothing changed. This was new for me but this moment was the exact reason why I started Crossfit in the first place. I needed to know what it was like on the other side. I knew there was something I was missing and I knew that if I just started my journey and did Crossfit consistently for 5 years, I’d make it to that other side.
This was the year that no progress was made. Because the drastic changes were replaced with microscopic ones. So naturally if I couldn’t see them, they must not exist.
“The truth is, what you do matters. What you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.”-The Slight Edge
It’s been drilled into my head that success isn’t an event, but a process. And while I’ve shaken my head up and down saying I understand, I really haven’t. I’ve met other people who have become successful overnight right infront of my eyes, and it sure did resemble what I would refer to as an “event”.
Year one of Crossfit was the year of walking in, not knowing what the heck was going on, making huge strides, shaving off body fat, and watching the entire dynamics of my body change.
Year two of Crossfit was the year of showing up, maybe PR’ing every 6 months if I was lucky, hitting some bumps in the road that shook up my consistent routine and setting me back two steps, not noticing any physical changes in my physique, and struggling to keep my nutrition on track.
What was looking like an uphill climb the first year, started to look like a downwards spiral in two.
But was it?
Thankfully I know without a shadow of a doubt that the weakest ink will always be stronger than the strongest memory. And that’s why for the past 365 days I recorded EVERYTHING. Every single WOD. My scores. Top 3 female scores at the gym. Notes to self on how I was feeling that day. PR’s. Setbacks. Body measurements. Retesting of body fat. Emotional status. etc.
So turns out, success is in fact found in the nitty-gritty, insignificant details. Which means success is in fact a process, and not an event.
“Any time you see what looks like a breakthrough, it is always the end result of a long series of little things, done consistently over time.”-The Slight Edge
So two years deep and going into my third year, I have this one curiosity. A curiosity that will take me through year three and into year four. If we’ve only succeeded to a certain level in anything in life, how can we possibly know what the next level looks like? We can’t. Is it the point at which drastic changes stop and microscopic changes start that make the 98% of the population throw in the towel? If so, I have to keep going. I have to find out.
“Throw your heart over the bar and let the rest of your body follow”
At my first day of fundamentals we went around the room and the coaches asked why we were there. When it was my turn I said, “I just want to be a badass.” I truly did, and I wasn’t talking about some short term goal. In my mind I imagined myself years later being fit, ripped, and physically capable of so much more than I currently was.
During this first year, I asked all of the questions, came in early, stayed late, did the nutrition challenges, practiced my olympic lifts to the side after class, watched YouTube videos on how to do the movements, practiced my jump rope at my house in the driveway, etc.
It was a messy year. I knew very little, I would watch YouTube videos before class of what the movement was so that I wouldn’t forget and would instantly forget the second class started (I did this for 8 months). I refused to put the bar overhead for the first 6 months because I was terrified, and my hands ripped 4 out of 6 days a week. So….it was messy but the work was getting done at a rate it may never get to again.
Within 8 months I could do all of the movements RX, and all of my lifts made quantum leaps. It was a year of drastic change for me physically.