Background, in general:
- BFA in Photography, from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
- Currently working towards a BS in Bioengineering from George Mason University.
- I have traveled 9 countries, but only 17 of the states in the US.
- I have a 7ish-year old rescued Chihuahua who is anxiety- and allergy-ridden, and a 9ish-year old rescued Dutch Dwarf rabbit who loves love but hates being picked up.
- My family is the most supportive, caring, loving, and accepting group of people, and I am so lucky to call them mine.
- Born and raised in Northern Virginia, moved around from 18-23, and have settled back down 21 miles from where I grew up.
- I love being outside. I don’t care what I’m doing, as long as it’s outside, I can find it enjoyable.
- I am gluten-intolerant.
- My body does not release enough thyroid-stimulating hormone, which in turn keeps the proper amounts of T4 and T3 from being produced. This causes me to feel all of the effects of Hypothyroidism.
- I have Lyme disease.
- The only bone I’ve ever broken was my pinky toe on my right foot, and I’ve never had a cavity. Lol oops until March 2013: dislocated and broken elbow.
- I have weak, clicky wrist and ankle joints from growing up doing gymnastics.
- I was some form of ill throughout my entire childhood and teen years, as a consequence of my unknown-at-the-time food allergies.
- I lived an extremely active adolescence, between illnesses. Gymnastics, soccer, basketball, tennis, horseback riding, dance, yoga, cycling, and probably more that currently elude me.
- I was always extremely skinny, on the verge of looking unhealthy, but could eat more than most teenage boys…and then puberty hit. To quote my late, wonderful grandfather, “damn girl, you’re getting fat!” He meant it in the most loving way possible, that I actually looked healthy for once. …And then the
freshman 15“freshman 40” hit. There is no quote for this except a big giant *facepalm.* Alcohol, homesickness, a less-than-desirable relationship, dorm cafeteria food, and a general unhappiness all helped this one along.
- Once I got my diet figured out and realized that I had food allergies, I began trying to lose weight. Nothing happened, and when I did not see any differences I would give up for a few months. I yo-yoed between 140-160ish and never saw any physical improvements. Then, everything started making sense, with the diagnoses of Lyme and my special form of Hyopthyroidism. Weight gain and lethargy/exhaustion are two of the most prominent symptoms of both, and it seemed no matter how hard I tried I could not break into actually feeling “fit.” I tried to work out on my own at gyms, but, like most people, I had no idea what I was doing. Looking back I can see that I was not doing enough variety, reps, or sets, was trying to spot-target muscle groups in areas I didn’t like (waistline), and my appearances at the gyms were inconsistent, at best.
- I have had three “ah-hah” moments along this journey. The first was discovering pole dancing. It is fun, empowering, physically demanding, and all-around just an awesome work-out. I realized that I was able to gain upper-body strength, which was my equivalent to discovering a magical white unicorn. I started feeling stronger as an independent woman, and like I could take charge of my life again. At the same time I was getting my allergies sorted out and cutting harmful-to-me foods out. This was my “grabbing life by the pole” ah-hah. The second was meeting a partner who was the first man I had ever dated who didn’t discourage me from trying to obtain a six-pack (another magical white unicorn, but one I haven’t found…YET). He reenforced my belief that strong is sexy, and continuously helped push me towards greatness in all aspects of my life, including fitness. The final (so far!) ah-hah moment was taking the leap into crossfit. I committed, and started my foundations course in September of 2011. On the same day, a casual friend of mine also began his crossfit journey at a different gym. It was so great to have a support system in the beginning, and still is. This casual friend has turned into one of my closest friends, we went to crossfit together regularly (until he moved to Texas, ugh), and our scores were always within just a few seconds or reps of each other.
- I currently crossfit 3 times a week, get some time in on the pole a few times a week, and try to get into my school’s gym just to work on strength training at least twice a week. Fun fact: pole dancing class is the ONLY activity of those that lasts for more than an hour at a time.
- I strive to lead a super active life, going hiking, camping, rock climbing, biking, walking, and being generally adventurous. I could not imagine a better way to be living my life right now.
- Yes, it is difficult. I feel that it is the most physically and mentally difficult thing I have ever done, at the end of every workout. It sucks, it’s awful, sometimes you’re really sore, but there is nothing like the feeling you get when you finish a workout and get to collapse onto the ground and catch your breath, so proud of what you just accomplished.
- No, it never gets easier. The beauty of crossfit is that it is scaleable so anyone can do it. As you get stronger, more flexible, more balanced, and more conditioned for the work, you increase weight, move faster, add more reps, and eventually end up doing all of the above. I have worked out side-by-side with Marines, 70+ year olds, cancer fighters, amputees, children, soccer moms, and those with chiseled, Adonis-like abdominal muscles. You will know when it’s time to push yourself harder, and if you aren’t sure, there is always a coach to help advise you.
- Yes, it is extremely intimidating as a beginner, but way less so than walking into a globo-gym and not having a clue how to use any of the machines, being stared at, and/or not knowing what you should be working out in what ways. All crossfit affiliates require a crash-course before being able to attend real workouts. For some, this is a 3-hour, one time only class, others have a series of classes where you learn everything with a small group of people who are also new to crossfit. These classes are essential for you to be able to safely and effectively workout in this new gym environment, which is probably like nothing else you’ve ever experienced in you fitness career.
- No, it is not for everyone. That being said, I highly encourage everyone to at least give it a try. Any crossfit gym that is worth a damn will offer a free class [or offer you a free drop-in trial] in order to let people see what it is all about. It’s free, the classes are usually exactly an hour long, and there is probably one within 5 miles of where you live or work. No excuses not to give it a try!!!
I figure I might as well write this somewhere accessible, because I am moderately tattooed and my progress photos are going to show them. I’ll save you the effort of asking questions and answer/deflect some of them here. Tattoos:
- “How much did all of that cost?” Never ask this to anyone with tattoos. Ever. Here is an excellent excerpt from an article, titled Teach Children Their Money Manners Early: “Never ask how much something cost. This goes without saying and is the number one money rule to teach children. Children are inquisitive by nature and adults are just plain nosey; however, it is never polite to ask someone how much an item cost. Whether it is a gift they are giving you or it is the new painting they are showing off, never inquire about price tags.” Notice how I bolded “children.” Apparently, people don’t understand basic manners anymore.
- Speaking of, “where else are you tattooed?”; “can I touch them?”; “why do you have so many?”; and “what about when you get old and wrinkly?” are all unacceptable questions as well. Some people are nicer than others when confronted by this kind of ignorance; don’t be surprised if you get a very irritated, curt answer in response.
- “How do you find a good tattoo artist?” My artists have to pass two rigorous screening processes before I venture to get tattooed by them. If I can’t check “yes” next to each one of these on my mental checklist, it’s not going to happen. First, I must like their style, use of colors, line quality, artwork, and how the pieces are drawn to fit the area of the body they are placed in. And secondly, they must be an artist first and foremost, and a tattoo artist secondly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and those people are the shit nightmares are made of .
- “Who does your work?” I have had the pleasure to work with many different artists. Zack Spurlock of Anonymous Tattoo, Michael Sikes of Eyespeak Tattoo, Horitaka of State of Grace, Horiren the 1st, Marc of Swastika Freakshop, and Rianne Philips of Comes a Time Tattoo are the notables.
- “Doesn’t that hurt?” Right now? No. Not at all. When it is happening? Yes. It’s different than getting a shot or getting your ears pierced, and seeing the machine will not make you pass out if you are afraid of the classic medical needle.