I think I was brought into this world expected to work in the wellness industry. My journey began when I was 4 and my parents enrolled me into a dance program at the local company. Quickly, I realized that gymnastics was the way I wanted to go and transitioned to the gym. This lasted until my sophomore year of high school when I decided to pursue my “hobby” of throwing the shot put and discus. During that time I began learning about lifting – squats, lat pull downs, deadlifts…oh and I did a lot of Roman chair sit ups, too. Looking back, there’s a lot I’d change, but one thing I wouldn’t is that this experience began my love affair with lifting heavy sh*t.
Right around that time I also started becoming interested in running. Once I got to college running became my passion and I took that all the way to San Diego for my first (and only) marathon in 2006. During the following spring I was at an activities fair and met the head coach for the Women’s Track & Field team, she encouraged me to talk to the throws coach about the HAMMER. So I did, and as a junior I walked onto the George Mason throws squad focusing on learning how to throw a heavy ball on a long wire. During my time on the team we were required to learn not only our event, but also how to lift. It was during this time that I was introduced to the Olympic Lifts. If I had more self awareness at that time I wouldn’t have complained about getting up early to attend sessions, but would have realized that I began to thrive off of being able to perform in the weight room.
Two years later I graduated, moved to Philadelphia, started to work a 9-5 and began running again. This lasted another year and a half and I completed a few more races. During this time I started to hear about this CrossFit thing…from my cousin, a friend and even my chiropractor. It seemed like everyone was doing it and I eventually took the plunge. My first day at CrossFit was May 9, 2011 – I remember it well because I almost threw up. At the end of the class I was laying on the floor, my legs were shaky and I felt the sudden “uh-oh” feeling of an impending vom sesh. Luckily things didn’t get that far and I was hooked. Over the next few months I started to build strength and love for this type of exercise.
Then, in November 2011 I hurt my shoulder, started PT in February and have been in and out of rehab and doing CrossFit since. There were times when I was better and started again but just fell right back into pain. One common rehab tool was massage – by my physical therapist and massage therapists. During a massage session in spring of 2012 my massage therapist talked about how going to school and becoming a Licensed Massage Therapist was one of the best things she’s ever done. I’m pretty sure it was at that moment I decided to go to school and change careers. I went home to my now husband, Adam, and told him about my idea. I think using the word “shocked” as his response is an understatement. We had just moved in together and now I’m telling him that I want to enroll in school – school that would be 4 nights/week for the next year. Since, I’m impulsive this seemingly came out of nowhere, and me telling him that “Well, I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now…” didn’t hold much merit because I hadn’t told him about my massage therapist aspirations, well, ever. I really hadn’t thought they were serious goals until just this moment. We can leave those first few months of co-habitating as a wonderful learning experience. 🙂
So, in June 2012, I enrolled in massage therapy school. On the first day, my teacher told us that the coming year would change our lives. She was completely right. By June 2013, not only had I completed a year of massage school, but Adam and I got engaged, were deep in wedding planning and I quit my full time job. Throughout this time, my shoulder was feeling pretty good and I thought it would be a good idea to continue CrossFit while working full time and completing school. I was up at 5:30 most days to get to the gym and didn’t get home until after 9. Talk about burning the candle at both ends.
Needless to say, after quitting my job and finishing school I needed a break! Oh, but wait…we were planning a wedding. Adam and I got married on September 20, 2013, honeymooned in Aruba and returned to start our first year of wedded bliss.
With no full time job to keep me away from the gym, I started to coach CrossFit in October 2013. I went for my certification in August, shadowed a bit and was excited to start this next part of my wellness career. Along with coaching, I began working for myself as a massage therapist and founded The Working Body. For the next 8-ish months I coached CrossFit and was working on building my massage practice. It was somewhere in there that I re-injured my shoulder and was really out of commission from using my upper half for lifting. I entered acupuncture sessions and PT sessions. While my shoulder was getting better, my body, in general wasn’t. I was gaining weight, my moods were out of control, I was sleeping, but was tired all of the time. These symptoms started while I was in massage school, but I didn’t really address them until the spring of 2013 because I thought how I was feeling was a direct result of being pulled in so many directions.
What I was dealing with was a result of having Adrenal Fatigue and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. After much discussion with Adam, I started to see a functional medicine doctor for diagnosis and treatment options and it was then that I found out about these conditions. Currently, I’m working through a protocol for optimum health which includes modifying my workouts, eating habits, nutrition and stress relief. One major change in my life is that I’m working on being 100% gluten free. I say “working on” because I don’t ever think it’s easy to be gluten free in a social life and it sometimes really feels like work. Since I’ve eaten an 80% paleo diet for about 3 years, my home meals haven’t changed much, but when dining out I’ve become very strict. In addition to eliminating gluten, I’m also working on eliminating many of the autoimmune triggering foods.
Since finding these diagnosis out, I’ve changed a lot about my life. I no longer coach CrossFit, I am now a Certified Personal Trainer with NASM, I’m a Strength & Conditioning coach with a dragonboat team, and I moved my massage practice to two new locations. I’ve simplified: I work, I workout, I recover, I eat well, and I have fun. Daily life isn’t always easy, but things are definitely better – most of those symptoms I mentioned above are clearing up. I’m still working on my shoulder and crossing my fingers that I’m near recovery.
So, what does this all mean to you? I don’t know, you tell me! It might seem like this went from me talking about what I love to do to a sob story about injury and disease. But, what I really want you to take away from this is that I know what it’s like to be in that un-well position yet continuing to have that deep desire to overcome it. I want to get back to the time when my body wasn’t a limiting factor — better yet, to get to a time when my experience shapes the way my body performs in the future, in a positive way. Hopefully I’ll be able to transfer all of this knowledge and experience to you and work together to shape your future.