Three years ago I started going to CrosSport, never knowing a gym could change my life and possibly save it. It sounded like a fun place (and they gave the youth I worked with an opportunity to participate). I made the resolution to start, took my before pictures, but waited to go until February 2013. (I didn’t want to be one of those New Year’s people). I felt like I was already fit. I ran half-marathons and 5-10 mile runs every weekend for fun, I practiced yoga2-4 times a week, but it’s funny how one change, for the good or bad, can catalyze more changes in the direction you’re facing. Running and yoga were good, but I wanted more.
I started at CrosSport alone, just me and a goal to see what my body could do. I went two or three days a week. I heard Des sing and Mike tell me how to do the exercises. I saw men and women in all phases of their fitness journey doing hard things to train their bodies to obey their will. I was intimidated. I was inspired! I was hooked!
Oh that first leg day!! I shook and trembled to my car and almost fell out the door when I got home. I climbed one painful step after another to the front door but I couldn’t get the cheesy grin off my face. I liked the pain!!! It told me I was alive, I existed and I was atrophied. There was within me a body capable of more than what I had been doing. I wanted to push my limits!
Ten months ago, the man I fully intended spending the rest of my life with, growing old with, sharing history and time with, left. That story is his to tell. I was, as were our children, collateral damage in the choice.
My world stopped turning, nothing made sense. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t parent my children. All I could do was cry out to God and spew my transient emotions to anyone who would listen. And move. I was not created to be still. In the past I resorted to less than healthy choices to deal with hard feelings and restless energy. Destruction was an option. Drugs were an option. Meaningless affection was an option. Suicide was an option. These were my options and, yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, they were the options at the top of my mind.
Luckily I’d just finished publishing Catching Tatum and had a slew of suicide prevention and STD facts fresh in my head AND had written about the devastating effects of what both do. So with MUCH support, prayer and counseling I came up with healthier options.
My options were my two steadies… Jesus and the gym. CrosSport became my safe place, my home away from home. I could go and not have to think or explain or do anything but what they told me to do. And so I did. Two, sometimes three WODs a day. I survived. I got stronger. I stayed safe. I fit into the gym community in my own little way. Day by day, by the grace of God, breathing got easier, thinking got clearer, life started to take on a new flow and rhythm. Not as it was before, as it is in the middle.
Then this month came and I looked at my “Before” pictures!!! I didn’t expect to see such a change. Three years of faithful, consistent, time put into showing up at CrosSport to do the WODs, has paid off. This is pushing myself, not slowing down to fit in or competing too hard and hurting myself, just me being the best version of myself. For me… because I AM WORTH the work!
Some have implied I spend too much time at CrosSport… maybe. But I say it’s a good choice, a safe place, a better way to live and hands down a preferred alternative to my old destructive ways. So, yeah, happy three years to me!!! And thank you CrosSport for open doors and fit living options!!!
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In the last three weeks I've had as many people ask me what has brought about the change in my shape/dedication to fitness/motivation and the quick “funny” answer is always, “Well … I don't want to be single forever, so I want to look good.” It's a joke, mostly. I mean there's truth in the statement but it's not my motivation.
My real motivation has been simmering inside me for my whole life. But I'll save that one for last because there are actually several reasons behind my recent hyper-focus on fitness.
Reason #1: Survival
It was apparent when I got left like useless trash on the curb that this rejection, if I let it, would wreck me. I was devastated and knew I could quite possibly fall apart and lose all of the years clean I have and all the hard work the Good LORD and I have put into redeeming my life from the pit I once called home. I was ready to throw things, break things, use things to get relief from the feeling of once again being that person no one wanted. I was ready to lose my reputation, my dream that was starting to take shape, my kids, my self respect, everything.
See for me I can't curl up and die ('cept for that one Thursday, that day I was ready… but I'm still here aren't I?). I'm not made to be still. I've got more energy than I know what to do with and though I tend toward depression my depression isn't “stop functioning depression,” it's a “mindless-doing” kind of depression. I'm like one of those little wind-up cars that gets squirrely all around the room bumping into things but never quite gets anywhere. I lack the ability to make decisions and am aimless and that combination usually leads to… well, not good choices.
I couldn't write much, I couldn't focus on my volunteer obligations or really even do much with my kids but I was all wired up. I knew I had to do something with my energy, or it was going to make me self-destruct. So... I sent it to CrosSport and the loop! If I didn't know what to do at lunch, I knew there was a WOD waiting for me. If I couldn't stomach being home alone all those hours after I got off work, I knew I could go to the gym and take some time and see friendly faces while I worked off the energy. I knew it was a better alternative than other choices I could make. I made it my energy outlet. Not to look good enough to get him back, I knew he was gone after May 22nd, not to look good enough to get someone else… simply to keep my energy focused in a positive direction.
Reason #2: The Leaving didn't matter there
This one is a little more selfish and maybe mean and that's why I actually haven't shared it until now, except with one person. CrosSport and the loop were and still are all mine. He never had a part of my life in either place which meant the rejection couldn't hurt me there. I am no less a person at the gym than I ever was. I'm not missing a piece of me there, my history on the loop and at CrosSport is only mine. It didn't have to change because he left. I didn't have to figure out how to walk in and show my face there the way I did at other places “we” went together. The gym was all mine. It was like a blankie… that smelled like sweat and sounded like rock 'n roll. The gym is safe, the loop is steady. I like security and I liked knowing they didn't change like everything else had to.
Reason #3: I'm doing it to see what my body is capable of
This one is even MORE selfish. I'm doing it for me! I grew up in a herd of fit, active boys, and with a dad who coached wrestlers. Our Gramma liked to keep us busy. “Many hands make light work” you know! As the ONLY girl I was always weaker, slower and never the one that got asked to do laborious stuff. I was … what's the word oh yeah… the reject of the group! Yep, that was me. So, I never pushed myself, because I knew I couldn't hold a candle to them no matter how hard I tried. I never knew what strength was inside me. And then I made myself go to the gym instead of go off on a downward spiral and the by-product was strength and ability like I'd never known. I have always liked to move but I realized I was good at it. More than that I have embraced what a gift my body is and how precious and this time in my life is. There are many with health and physical limitations who cannot ever do what I do at the gym. I have a co-worker, and friend who is wheelchair bound, she doesn't let it get her down but it is a limitation. I don't have that restriction to my movements, why not celebrate it? And for that matter, I might as well celebrate now because I know I can't flip a #4 tire when I'm 100... if the LORD allows me to even be here that long. Right now, in this moment in my brief, fleeting life, I am fit, I am strong and I am better every day than I was the day before. I don't compete with the other ladies at the gym who are far out of my league. I don't compare myself to those I might be stronger or faster than. It's me, it's my demons, it's myself I challenge and I am better than. I want to know what I'm made of, capable of. I know I'm in the best shape of my life.
I wish I could have realized I'm made to move before this time in my life, but I'm here now, and I know, despite the resiliency, that I'm still healing. I know I'm a little in survival mode yet and I know I need the safety of the gym and predictability of the loop but it's turning more into a lifestyle choice than a survival tactic, and I love the health and wellness lifestyle. It suits me.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I've turned into a gym rat.
Desiree Schmidt was one of the first gym friends I made at CrosSport. Her bright smile and shameless singing to the music streaming in her ears endeared her to me instantly. She made the gym feel safe and over time she would become a friend to share life and prayers and stories with outside of the gym as well. What I didn't know when I started was how far she had come on her lifestyle transformation journey.
A few months ago I saw a picture of Des standing by CrosSport co-owner, Mike, and probably a #3 tire, and I was stunned at how much bigger she was. I don't mean she wasn't beautiful, she had a big ole smile on her face that brightened the picture, but she wasn't the shape I knew her to be. The storyteller in me had to know her story. So, last Friday, we were able to sit down after a WOD and chat. It may have looked like we were planning to take over the world but I assure you it was just an interview about taking charge of one's own life.
Des' journey to wellness began in the late spring of 2012. She was tired of changing in the closet, of making love in the dark, of jumping into pjs by six, of feeling fat and gross. She planned to have a weight loss surgery while her husband, Bill, was deployed and be physically transformed by the time he returned, but it wasn't to be. At just under two hundred pounds she wasn't big enough for surgery. That's when she joined the gym.
That's where the story should end, right? Someone goes to the gym, does the work and the pounds melt away and viola, you have the body you always dreamed of. But like a lot of others, that wasn't Des' story. She didn't magically drop weight or get the super thin body she wanted. In fact, in seven months she only lost seven pounds, her clothes fit the same and she felt completely defeated.
Then… everything changed. A friend of hers made some dramatic lifestyle changes that caught her attention. AdvoCare was the answer when she asked what was up. Her friend joined AdvoCare after his wife did and his whole life changed. Inspired by their story, Des started a 24 day challenge which included a 10 day herbal cleanse, eating mostly protein, fruit, veggies, nuts and berries with fiber and pro biotic supplements. The cleanse was followed by a 14 day max phase with meal replacement shakes and vitamins added in. By the end Des saw enough of a difference to never look back.
After four months she was down 50 pounds, fitting into a size 6-8 and had inspired her husband and children to embrace a new way of living and eating. She and Bill became AdvoCare distributors and have joined in on the lifestyle and weight-loss journeys of others. As a fitness instructor in the late 90s Des helped others get fit and lose weight but it paled in comparison to the changes she helps others make now. The smile on her face when she shared about the 1,000+ pounds she has helped others lose was evidence of how much she truly loves leading others to a healthier way of life. As a fellow Christian, Desiree shared that helping others is not only a privilege but part of her ministry in service of the LORD. She is grateful for the way her choices to live better have helped her family, friends, and clients live more fulfilled lives.
1,000 combined pounds lost is a huge feat but that's not what she's most proud of. Her greatest accomplishment is the change she has seen in her family. Her husband, Bill, initially joined AdvoCare to be able to stay in the Navy. He was just shy of his retirement and was in danger of not meeting the weight and fitness requirements. Her step-son, Andy, was so inspired by the changes he saw in his parents that he too changed his life and went from a reclusive chubby kid to a much more social and involved young man. As a family, they're more active and have even run a Family Warrior dash together.
Des admits that she still struggles with her body image and feeling good in her skin but she is more confident than ever. When she said one of the biggest things she's noticed is that she has fewer chins, I laughed the way only another woman who knows what she means could. But despite the improvements, for her it's more about how she feels. She no longer dresses in hiding or asks for the lights to be turned off. She is content at 150 pounds and has let go of the idea that beauty and skinny are synonymous. Instead of tying her fitness goals to a number on the scale or size of pants, she sets activity goals like the #sweataday challenges she posts on Instagram and Facebook, running races faster, attempting physical obstacles or helping others extend their lives through her AdvoCare business.
As the weights were hefted into place for the night and our time came to an end I asked her advice for anyone just beginning their weight loss journey. It's no surprise she remembered and shared the comments of one of the AdvoCare doctors; find balance with your nutrition, your supplements, your fitness regime, (and, most recently, your sleep schedule) and stick to it and you'll find success. Des says to seek a healthy lifestyle more than a “fix-it-quick” diet, and, my personal favorite tidbits were to get an accountability partner and be willing to admit that others might possibly know more than you.
Way to go Des and thanks so much for your time and words of wisdom!
Anyone who knows me knows I hate my stomach. After gaining and losing large amounts of weight and having a C-Section delivery for my last pregnancy I am left with a flab. I call it my best friend, because everywhere I go, it goes. I'm not an athlete but I'm pretty fit. I work out regularly and don't go overboard eating (but I do LOVE food and could never be devoted to a low cal/restrictive diet) and yet, it's always there, glaring at me when I look in the mirror.
Truthfully, I've never done a hundred situps a day for more than a week at a time but I don't know if it would change it. It's definitely skin not fat. I fantasize in my mirror about how I would look without my flab, but I wonder, would I, could I ever get a tummy tuck???
The idea of it is appealing but the actual surgery and recovery scare me. The primary reason is my chronic pain. It comes from somewhere in my abdominal wall... I think. The doctors have never pinpointed the pain and I've learned to live with it and stop paying medical professionals to tell me there's not reason for my excruciating pain, but it's there, this nagging intrusion into my normal life. Sometimes it flares up and sometimes I can go a week maybe with no pain. Always, though, I fear when the pain will come again and I avoid certain movements to protect myself from feeling it. I worry if I had a tummy tuck what would happen to the pain? Would it disappear? If I had a guarantee for that, I'd do a tummy tuck as soon as I could save the money for it! I don't have that promise though or a good explanation for the pain, so I worry that the procedure could make it worse. I like the life I have now. I don't want to risk a surgery that is largely for my own vanity that could make the pain worse. And it's not like I'd go around flashing my belly if it looked better anyway. That's not me, I believe in modesty so it would totally be a just for me kind of thing. And yet, I can't get the idea of a flat stomach out of my mind. I would LOVE it. I just don't know.
What if there was such a thing as a grown-up playground... a place you could run free, do the exercises you liked, climb the walls, jump real high, and play with friends however you wanted? What if your work-out was more like recess? What if you were excited to exercise everyday and ran to the gym instead of trudging to it? Those were the questions Mike Toigo asked years ago that started the vision that would eventually lead he and co-owner, Chance Harris, to open CrosSport Performance in Wenatchee. Nearly six years later, what started as a new venture for two friends is now a multi-faceted gym that boasts close to six hundred members, and several weekday group classes that start as early as 5AM.
Chance and Mike took some time to sit down with me earlier this month and school me on the gym I love so much. Unique in the fitness industry because of it's emphasis on functional movement instead of sit-down apparatuses, CrosSport likes to engage members in movements people were doing on the farm before most of our work moved in doors and into chairs. The gym slowly evolved from an unstructured play place to what it is today, a place where anyone and everyone fits in. Members range from elite firefighters and athletes to Mike's own parents who are well into their seventies. Everyone is encouraged to join and start where they're at. The important thing is getting there and sticking with it.
Both Chance and Mike have been involved in the health and fitness arena for years and were well-known in the valley for their training and expertise. It was only natural that the two would join forces and open a gym. With $4,000 and a small space at the Sportsplex the two welcomed the first members five and a half years ago.
Popularity and membership has grown over the years and there is seldom a class from 5 AM to the newest 5:45 PM class that isn't filled with members. A typical class consists of a timed Work out of the Day (WOD). True to the fun and playful vision, WODs are never the same and designed to be as much for variety as strength and fitness. On any given week a member can expect to flip tires, swing sledge hammers, run up the mammoth stairs or pull themselves up on the metal jungle-gym thing. There's also a cargo net, warped wall, fully equipped weight area as well as the more common treadmills, row machines and stair climbers. Each WOD consists of 4-6 different exercises that members perform in 30-50 second intervals. Most classes run a half an hour but hardcore members can stick around and stretch a WOD to an hour or more.
Nothing gives Chance or Mike more pride than having their hard work recognized by the other health and wellness professionals in the valley. It's common now to have referrals come in from all different areas, whether it's to train, rehabilitate or just start where they're at. Their hope is to get people in the gym, keep them coming and with time and consistency make fitness a fun habit. Community members are always welcome to come in and try out the gym for a week, free of charge. I did and I was hooked the first time. I've never found a more fun and invigorating exercise routine, nor a gym group that feels more like a bunch of friends playing at recess together.
Come on down and check them out! http://www.crossportperformance.com/