FirePower member Sarah McNichol has come through an exciting year of change. I asked her to open up and share her experience with the world. Please enjoy Sarah’s Journey…
“On November 3, 2013 at approximately 11:51 am I ran across the finish line completing my very first 42.2 km Marathon! I ran every step of the way, fighting through stomach pain, cramps in my sides, aches in my legs and feet, and general whole body fatigue, to finish with a time of 3 hours, 51 minutes and 3 seconds. It
was truly a magnificent and incredibly emotional experience. Exhilarated as I crossed the finish line, I wasn’t sure whether to hold back or to let flow the tears of mixed emotion; joy, happiness, an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment and the even more significant tears for the girl I had finally let go of. The girl I had let keep me down for so many years- who I allowed to hold me like a prisoner both in mind and body. That girl- was and is – the old me.
Only a few short years ago- it would have NEVER crossed my mind to run to catch a bus – let alone- run a marathon. I definitely would not have referred to myself as a runner- or an athlete of any kind. Although I had led an active life in my younger years, when I reached my 20’s I had given up on any kind of active lifestyle. The “before” picture attached was taken a few years ago and very accurately reflects what I looked like for many years. I was weighing around 200 pounds, I was an unhealthy, overweight, inactive smoker, who frequented fast food restaurants and could provide anyone with a fairly accurate list of the television show lineup for each day of the week. I had hit a very low point in my life feeling ridiculously uncomfortable and unhappy with my body and health. Consequently, I had developed low self-esteem, self-confidence and very little (if any) focus or direction with regard to my health or fitness lifestyle.
Sarah – Before
As I search my mind to find that exact moment when it finally “clicked,” when I finally made the choice to change all of this I realize that it was just that- a kind of epiphany. Granted, that sounds a bit strange, however, in my mind that IS literally how it occurred! For years I had complained about the way I felt physically and continued to struggle mentally (with anxiety and depression) until that one day when I decided, wholeheartedly, that THAT was enough. The drastic changes I have made to my body (and mind) absolutely DID NOT occur overnight- but my journey began quite slowly.
I made the commitment to eat properly (I did not “go on a diet” I simply started making healthy choices) I also made the commitment to learn to run. I choose to do this on my own. My first run was literally down the street to the stop sign at the end of the road (this was not very far) followed by a decent length walk. Each day I built on this running a bit further each time I went “out to run.” Changing my food consumption was difficult at first, but once I eliminated the junky foods from my house and learned to love eating copious amounts of vegetables, it became much easier. At this point I learned very quickly to set realistic and reasonable goals- and to put too much pressure on myself to do more than I was physically capable of at each stage of the journey. Unfortunately, some rather large and very emotional changes occurred in my life around this time, which fortunately, only inspired me to push myself harder. I became a pretty decent runner over the course of about a year and as a result of better eating and running I had lost a considerable amount of weight. These “big” emotional changes in my life presented many challenges, I had found that running had become more than just exercise and activity but also a form of “therapy.” Running was a way to get out and clear my mind; it helped me refocus, and allowed me to push through onto the next day.
Sarah – After
Despite all of the running I was doing, there was a lot of additional physical and emotional energy I had built up and was quickly becoming just kind of skinny with very little strength and muscle development. Then, I hit an all-time low point emotionally, and was barely functioning in my daily life. I was starting to become mentally and physically weak. Thankfully, a couple of really good friends decided that I needed to “hit something” – so they organized private boxing lessons with a trainer. It was with this opportunity that I truly learned how to train and train hard. I learned to push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of- I learned how to stay focused. I became strong physically and mentally. I stayed committed to my new found boxing training regime (including learning to spar) along with continued running. I challenged myself to compete in various road races over the following year including 5k’s, 10k’s and a half marathon. So naturally, the next step became to run a full marathon. I set the goal, registered for the race, created my own plan and started my training.
Fortunately, around this time I also came to find CrossFit at FirePower and thanks to an amazing team of owners, trainers and members I received a lot of much needed help to reach my goal. People often say that running a marathon changes you somehow- and I know it changed me in many ways. Although I was alread
y well on my way with regard to being fit and healthy– finishing that marathon – and successfully – opened up a whole new world of fitness and a true understanding of the power of the mind. Although, even still I have difficulty being confident in my abilities from time to time I ultimately know that so much of what we need as humans on a fitness journey is to believe in our abilities, our strengths, the power of our bodies and the power of our minds. The key- as I discovered, is to trust yourself entirely, listen to your body and allow your mind to become powerful- convince yourself entirely that you are capable of doing whatever it is that you put your mind to.
Now as the year 2014 begins, I welcome a whole new year of goal setting and fitness challenges. I enter this year as a healthy, confident, and fit person- with a rapidly developing self-esteem and –of course- a new found love (maybe even obsession) of CrossFit!!! Many of you reading this will also be setting OR thinking about setting your own goals for this year. Sooooo- I certainly hope that while you are reading this you are dressed and ready to walk out the door to start or continue your fitness journey. Believe in yourself- make that commitment to YOU – and get out there. For me, fitness has become a way of life- and it can for you to no matter where you are starting from. The possibilities- are – endless.”