Updated: May 17, 2022
I was introduced to CrossFit in 2012 while in Afghanistan. I hated it at first, because movement with just the PVC pipe was hard. I quit for awhile and then gave it another shot. It soon became mentally therapeutic. It changed the way I viewed my body - from worried about aesthetics to focusing on ability. I celebrated the strength my body was developing. It changed my views on nutrition. Instead of following the old bullshit of "in order to lose weight you have to be in a calorie deficit" or "carbs are the devil" or "calories in, calories out" I looked at food as fuel. Food can be one of two things - fuel or poison. You have the choice. I learned about the importance of recovery - sleep, stress management. And most of all, I found a community that rooted me on through the journey. We suffer together, we feel each other's pain, we carry each others burdens. We talk about it, we complain about it and then we do it again tomorrow. We seek adversity.
In hindsight, probably about 4 years into my CrossFit journey, breast cancer cells decided to be assholes and started to grow as well. Little did I know there two sets of cells in my body preparing for war. The cancer cells were rogue, staying undetected and growing - meanwhile, my healthy cells and muscles were growing...both preparing for an inevitable battle - unbeknownst to me.
2022 was when it came to a head. Lucky for me, my belief in the methodologies of CrossFit - moving and fueling my body - gave me the edge I needed.
Hours after my DIEP surgery, I was able to stand and pivot to switch beds. I was able to (slowly) walk to the bathroom myself. I never had to have anyone else wipe my butt! I was able to get on the toilet and back off without assistance. The nurses in the hospital told me I was doing the best they had ever seen. Although I did NOT feel strong in the moment (strong to me feels like a 200# front squat, not doing an air squat off a toilet!), I knew what they meant.
Yesterday, I went to the surgeons to get a few drains removed (thank God). They shared that me that when they opened me up the surgeon said "oh, look at her obliques! look at her muscles!" They told me that because of this, my recovery has been a "poster child" for this procedure.
To me - this is a true testimony of WHY we must move our bodies. It doesn't have to be CrossFit. But we must rethink about why we eat what we eat and do what we do with our bodies. Gone are the days that I workout to look good in a swimsuit (although, that's a nice second effect). Gone are the days that I think I can work off a bad diet. I workout to build a strong mind and body and to have confidence that I can handle any adversity that comes my way. I work out now because stronger people are harder to kill.
Do I have bad days? Of course I do. My body hurts. It can't do what I want it to do. I am not completely independent. I have weak minded days. But if you didn't know I was explaining post-surgery - my fellow CrossFitters would think I was explaining a normal day in the gym :) Sometimes your body hurts. Sometimes you aren't motivated. Sometimes you don't feel like it. But you have to show up anyway. You have to walk through the door and your family will help get you through that day!
You have one body. Is it ready to fight whatever is thrown at it? Is your mind strong enough to endure how long and painful that fight might be? Are you putting in the work now to be independent as long as you can (being able to get off the floor or toilet as you age?) If you cannot answer these questions with certainty - it's time to think about what training changes you should be making.
I would not be recovering the way that I am without having prepared my body for this. I please please please urge people to keep preparing your bodies for the unknown. I promise you, there is a battle coming your way eventually. We cannot avoid it. Use food as fuel. Build muscle. Challenge yourself mentally. Seek adversity. And always remember - Stronger people are harder to kill!