Fitness Friday: Falling Off the Wagon

Megan's post from Wednesday gave me the kick in the pants I needed to finally write this post.

After being in sports/in shape my whole life, and after doing CrossFit for six years straight, I stopped altogether in October of 2016.  I had been losing my passion for it for a while, and then Nicole went through some personal things, moved a couple hours away and closed the gym.

After qualifying for the Games the second time.

I didn't realize until she was gone how much she meant to me, and that she was a big part of the reason I did CrossFit.  It hit me especially hard because I've always struggled to make deep connections with my female peers, but she is a rare exception.  She jokes that I can read her mind.

Media day the first year at the Games

After Nicole left, my gymmates got together and reopened the gym with all the same people in the same place 6 blocks from my house, but with brand new Rogue equipment (most of our old stuff was from garage sales, Craigslist and high schools upgrading their weight rooms).  For almost a year, every time I thought about going back without Nicole, I teared up.  None of it felt right.

CrossFit Open, 2013

So I didn't go and I didn't guilt trip myself over it.  I rode more than I ever have and made more progress with Connor than I ever have.  I spent a lot of time with Nick.  I relaxed a lot and felt less overscheduled.  I worked on the house.  I slept in on Saturdays.  I flung myself head first into my job.  I kept my weight in check with diet, cutting carbs if I felt the pounds creep on.

By the fall of 2017, it had been a year since I had last worked out, and I was starting to get tired enough of being weak and fluffy that getting back under a barbell seemed appealing.  Then during a visit to Nicole's new town in September, we promised each other that she would work on relaxing (something she's terrible at) if I would go back to the gym, and I finally went back in October of 2017.

For my first class, I asked one of my closest CrossFit friends to pick me up and drive me the 6 blocks to the gym so I couldn't back out.  It was pretty emotional, but once the class got rolling, I felt like I had come home.  It'll never be the same as it was before, but it doesn't have to be.

March of 2012: Vibrams, a garage sale'd men's bar, and our homemade rig and boxes

Now that I'm back, I'm starting over fitness-wise, and I didn't really expect this, but I'm having more fun with it than I was when I was in shape.  There's no pressure to be top in the class when you're focusing on good form with light weights, building a good foundation and avoiding rhabdo.  It's just fun.

[Rhabdomyolysis is nowhere near as big of a deal in CrossFit as some people make it out to be, but "former athlete" is one of the strongest risk factors for it, because your brain remembers how to embrace pain and intensity, but your body isn't ready for that.  So I'm being extra careful right now and unapologetically scaling the heck out of everything.]

August of 2012

The biggest lesson I got out of this whole thing is that CrossFit is what works for me and I just need to embrace that.  I have a whole gym in my garage and two decades of sports training information in my head, and I still won't work out by myself.

Classes, coaches, teammates and a prescribed workout work for me.  All I have to do is sign up and show up - which as I found out over the last year, showing up is sometimes harder than any workout could be.


  1. I am suuuuuuper off the wagon and need to get on again. Ugh. I'm hoping now that I've removed the boarding barn from the equation (and the inevitably socializing), maybe I can eke out some gym time.

    Sounds like you've figured out a system that works well for you! ☺️

    1. It's HARD. The hardest part after I went back was figuring out a schedule that included both riding and fitness, didn't force me to get up at 4am for it, and still left me with enough husband and house chores time. Having grown up on a farm, I know it's gotta be even harder for you!

  2. I am so glad you wrote this post. I need coaching and a friend to motivate me to "show up" even with all those years of sports training behind me. I am coming off a long layoff (knee injury + surgery) and am trying to figure out how and when to get back in shape. But I also need to remember that showing up might be the greatest challenge and the most important one. I want to get back in the saddle again, but I know I am not in shape to do that. Not fair to the horse with me flailing around up there!

    1. I'm glad it helped! Anecdotally, I think it's pretty common for former athletes to respond well to the coaching/teammates/prescribed workout environment. It's all we've ever known exercise to be, and it's a pretty big shock to the system to be responsible for yourself and not have people around you to do the workout with. Good luck! Start small and don't let the knee thing get you down mentally - you gotta start somewhere.

  3. I fell off the running wagon over the summer. ugh. I just now started all over, too. But fitness comes back actually surprisingly quick! Not that I'm ready to run a 5K yet or anything but at least I don't feel like dying still. haha

    1. It does! Especially cardio. My XC teammates and I always noticed that when we were "legging ourselves back up" after the offseason. We theorized it had more to do with discomfort tolerance than anything else, lol.

  4. For me, working out has to have some sort of social element as well. When I moved to Denver I left my gym family. It’s hard to get back in the rythym and stay there. I’m glad you may have found your new working out norm! And on CrossFit - you’re a badass - I tried it and have never been so close to passing out in my life.

    1. That's good to realize that, you just gotta find what works for you. It's not for everyone for sure, but I'd encourage you to give CrossFit another shot at a gym more welcoming to beginners. Sounds like the gym you went to pushed you way too hard for a first workout. It's not about going as hard and fast as you can, it's about going hard and fast after you've established good form and a baseline level of fitness. Like Dressage, biomechanics and baseline fitness has to come first.

  5. Get it - working your way back can be hard but its all baby steps just like when we started.


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