I noticed it in March.

I was outside playing soccer with Mady and Maura, getting them ready for their spring season.

We weren’t playing long, and frankly not that hard with a 7 and a 4-year-old, when I had to stop.

I couldn’t catch my breath and my legs were weak.

Panicked, I went to the doctor a few days later, thinking something was wrong.

I’m perfectly fine, he told me, just terribly out of shape.

That was not a shocking find. For the past two years, I’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle – sitting behind a desk designing a newspaper. Not to mention I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis a few years ago and that set my fitness goals back a bit.

But now my symptoms are gone and after a hard look at myself in the mirror, it was time to get back in shape.

I’ll be 40 next year so I set a goal for myself to be fit by 40. Going into this, I initially weighed 200 pounds and I didn’t even check my BMI because I was afraid I’d break the instruments.

Let’s put it this way – I’m more belly than anything else.

It never used to be that way. When I was in high school I was 100 pounds soaking wet with a brick in my back pocket. I wasn’t very strong, but at least I had a high metabolism and I could eat whatever I wanted.

By college, that ability started to waste away. At one point I was up to 250 pounds. Thankfully, I used to be able to shed weight quickly and got back down to a more manageable weight – until recently.

My back has caused me problems and my knees have always been an issue, having extra weight on my 5-foot-11-inch frame doesn’t help with those issues.

So, after a lot of research and soul searching I finally bit the bullet and joined Crossfit Culpeper.

Coach Mike Duff had a friends and family event in April that I participated in, and I got hooked. I did it for a week and then life got in the way again. I didn’t sign up right away but Mike never let me forget our conversations. Sometimes, you have to do something for yourself.

I have a third child on the way, I want to be able to play with her and keep up with her like I did Mady when I was in my early and mid 30s. Maura will always be active, I have to be able to chase after her.

So, my decision was made. I just wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.

Thankfully, it’s been a smooth – but sore – transition.

I just completed my first week and come Monday, I could barely move. Despite using muscles I hadn’t used in probably 20 years, I willed myself to the gym.

That’s the first step, Mike said. As a coach, he can’t force people to come. He can only work with you once you arrive. Getting there is the first step. Frankly, it hasn’t been hard to motivate myself to go. It’s once we start training that my mind and body are saying “ohhhh, no, we can’t do that.”

I watch men and women deadlift weights triple of what I’m attempting and I feel embarrassed. I know I shouldn’t be, because they’ve been training for months or years and I’m just getting started. But I’m such a competitive person that I want to keep up, but my body barks at me that I can’t.

The first step, according to Coach Mike, is getting the technique down and lifting properly. I’ve struggled at that mostly due to the fact I’m stiff after years of not taking care of my body. My upper body is tight, my lower body is tighter and despite doing agility exercises, I still feel like C-3P0.

I realize I get there, but like my daughters, I’m impatient. That’s been one of the toughest parts, teaching myself to be patient and to listen to what my coaches are telling me.

Crossfit is different from normal gyms I’ve joined, there’s  a camaraderie and level of one-on-one workouts that I haven’t experienced before. I constantly have a coach near me, telling me how to correct a position or giving me positive encouragement. It’s refreshing and not something I’ve experienced in other gym settings.

So hopefully, I won’t bore you with my fitness journey, but I plan on reporting back once a month, soon in our weekly health section once we launch that here at the Times. Until then, if you see me and I can barely wave hello, you’ll know why.

Just know, it’s making me better.

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