Shirley has been a member of CrossFit Westerville since we opened in December 2014. During that time, I have watched in amazement at her relentless pursuit of health and fitness inside our gym and in her daily life. Over a year ago, Shirley started getting serious about her weight loss, starting with her eating habits. By the time she joined our gym she had lost 44 pounds! Since starting at CrossFit Westerville, Shirley has lost another 57 pounds, bringing her total weight loss to over 100 pounds!
I sat down to interview Shirley to learn about her journey in her own words. Below are her thoughts on motivation, weight loss, fitness, nutrition and giving CrossFit a second chance at CrossFit Westerville.
1) Many people have weight loss goals but see limited results, what made you decide to lose weight and what kept you going to lose 100#?
In the fall of 2013, I was the biggest version of me I had ever been in my 52 years of life! Like I’m sure most people, I kept waiting on the “easy” way to lose weight, the “magic” moment when the light would miraculously kick on. But I knew deep down it wasn’t going to happen that way. I was on over 5 prescriptions for various ailments and my symptoms were not improving (anxiety/depression, high cholesterol, acid reflux, pre-diabetes, joint pain to name a few). I had reached my bottom. I kept thinking there is better out there for me than to be as miserable as I was. If this is what my fifties were going to be like, how bad was it going to get once I got into my sixties?!?!
In September 2013, with my doctor’s help, I began to titrate off of all my medications. I also received a diagnosis of hypothyroidism June 2014.
What kept me going was I started feeling better and better as the weight started to come off and the “brain fog” began to lift. The more weight loss I experienced, the more driven I became. I had a lot of support and encouragement from many friends and family members. My other half, Renee, and I started making changes to our diet which made a huge difference in how we felt!
2) What surprised you the most about losing 100#?
It’s taking my brain a while to catch up with the vision I see of myself in the mirror. Funny story: I went shopping for new clothes. I’m used to a larger me. I grab size 18 off the rack, go in the dressing room, put them on, and they are too big! I went back to the clothes rack, grabbed a size 16, tried them on and they were too big! I went back out to grab size 14 thinking there is no way I can wear a 14. I tried them on and they fit!
3) I hear people say “I need to get in shape to do CrossFit” or “That is way too intense for me”. What would you say to these folks?
Don’t knock it until you try it! When I started at CrossFit Westerville (CFW) in December 2014, I could barely do 1 burpee because I could hardly breathe or get myself up off the floor. Four months later in April, we had a workout where not only did I do 85 burpees, but I did 85 deadlifts too! I had a bad experience with a different CrossFit gym. If it had not been for friends being a part of ownership at CFW, I would not have tried it again. Just like anything else, it’s about the people you surround yourself with and the environment in which you choose to do CrossFit. The coaches at CFW are fantastic at making sure you are safe, balanced with the right amount of encouragement to push you a little. My fellow members of CFW are very supportive – it’s like an extension of my network. All levels of experience are as supportive to the new person as they are to the competitor. It’s awesome!
When I tell people what we do in CrossFit, I sometimes hear “there is no way I can do that.” When I first started, I scaled everything! I even had to scale the scaled version of exercises and movements. EVERYTHING can be scaled. Scaling is not a cop out or any form of failure. That’s the great thing about CrossFit – if you keep doing the modified versions, you will eventually be able to do them as prescribed. That journey is yours!! You can take it to whatever level you want from novice to competitor.
My favorite quote: “Scaling is not an apology or an excuse. And it’s not some bullshit way to talk down to yourself or anyone else.” – Lisbeth
4) How has CrossFit Westerville helped you in your weight loss journey?
How do I even begin to answer this one??? The support of coaches, owners, fellow CFW members has been overwhelming. Whether it’s support while I’m in the gym, during a workout, in passing conversations, through friendships with fellow members forged in the gym and on Facebook, it has all made a difference. Of course burning calories, along with the mental and physical challenges CrossFit has presented. When I first started at CFW right after Christmas 2014, I thought everyone would be watching what I was doing and judging me. It didn’t take me long to figure out, regardless of fitness level, they were all trying to get through the same workout I was. Who had time to think about what I was doing. LOL.
Not only has it helped me lose weight, but I’ve gained a lot of physical and mental strength. Getting stronger has helped my running (which I also started back up in December 2014). I’ve shaved over 4 minutes off my per mile pace!
5) I know you made many lifestyle changes, especially in the area of nutrition. What was your eating like before and what is your eating like now?
Renee and I sat down one day to figure out how many calories and fat a typical weekend day would include. We were mortified!!! The calorie count was nearly 5,000 calories and over 200 fat grams each per day! Typical weekend day would include Jersey Mike’s, Jets Pizza, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and popcorn.
Now we eat a good protein, veggies, and some fruit. We follow a Paleo type of dieting. We stay away from the high glycemic fruits like watermelon and pineapple. It doesn’t mean we won’t eat them if we are somewhere they are being served. We just don’t eat them in high quantities.
6) What are the top 3 tips you would give to someone starting their weight loss journey?
It’s a process.
This was something I shared recently with Facebook friends and family:
Food, hydration, movement, support from many sources, and perseverance have been some of the key elements contributing to my success. Don’t give up! Find those people who will listen. Find those who know how to help you with physical ailments. You may have to think out of the box sometimes – be willing to go there! Surround yourself with good, supportive people. Don’t dwell in the negative. Take small steps toward your goals. Be flexible in your goals. Be kind to yourself in your own process. It will not go perfectly. Don’t compare yourself to others. Remember you are worth it!
Interested in learning more about how CrossFit Westerville can help you accomplish your weight loss and fitness goals? Your first workout is always free and we offer weekly beginner Elements classes every Sunday at 9am!