south landing Fitness


My Fitness Journey

by Fitness, Health

I first found CrossFit in the summer of 2011. My youngest (now 9) was less than a year old. 

That first year I loved the intensity of CrossFit workouts. I loved feeling strong. I was #6am4lyfe. I ran half-marathons, completed multiple Olympic-distance triathlons, and even competed in a few CrossFit competitions. I imagined I might get my coaching certification or train to make the CrossFit Games. 

But, my life was also a wreck. I was exhausted. I barely slept through the night. In late 2012, I was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Three years later, I almost took my own life. By the time South Landing opened its doors in 2016, I hadn’t been able to do any form of exercise consistently—without getting sick or injured—for years.


I knew Crissy and Shane from my days at CrossFit Ktown. South Landing was near my home downtown, and I knew that if I were to entertain the idea of getting back into fitness I’d need a safe place to go. 

At first, it was hard not to focus on all of my old PRs—the things my body was once able to do. I was more than 50 pounds heavier than my 2012 weight. Movements that had once felt like second nature to me now felt awkward and out of control. Moving at all was hard. 

Between first being introduced to CrossFit and joining South Landing, I spent years not wanting to get on the floor with my children because I knew how much it was going to hurt to get up. And I hated every picture I saw of myself. I didn’t even recognize that person on the other side of the camera. 

So, naturally, one of the things I appreciated immediately about the coaches at South Landing was how they intentionally pointed out what each athlete was doing well. They focused on where each person was on their own fitness journey, and not a standard attainable to only a few athletes. Having someone point out even the tiniest “win” made a huge difference. 

In one of my first goal-setting sessions with Crissy, we talked about food. For years, my anxiety had made me feel nauseous, which made me not want to eat. Sometimes I would cook, only to take one bite and then practically gag at the thought of taking another. Other times, I could only tolerate liquids. 

So, my first goal was to eat. Not to eat perfectly. Not to dial in my nutrition. Not to worry about fruits and vegetables and protein. Just eat. Get calories into my body and try to stimulate my appetite.

finding strength

Over time, I gained momentum. Then, another obstacle appeared in the middle of the road. In 2017, my ex-husband became critically ill, which meant I was taking care of three of my kids nearly full-time for the next six months.

I needed something to recover from all of these roadblocks—something like heaven. And, it came in the most unexpected form: Billy’s strength training program.

Over 12 weeks in early January 2018, I left my old deadlift and back squat PRs in the dirt. I could see my quads again. For most of the year prior, I had trouble with my SI joint—it liked to “slip out” on a regular basis—so I lived with chronic hip and low back pain. Billy and I worked on drills to stabilize and strengthen my lifting positions.

There are times in our lives when despite our persistence and effort, it is hard to see results. We get up each day, put one foot in front of the other, and there are no guarantees. But with lifting in particular, I could see the results of my effort and my progress over time. Showing up is everything.

For more than a year, I did Billy’s programming during Open Gym. As an introvert with severe social anxiety caused by my mental illness, I didn’t mind being alone. I wanted to put in the work. When you lift as much and as often as I was lifting then, you get hungry! I started eating to fuel my body. I felt less pain.

By spring 2019, my mental illness was declared in remission. I still have a mental health condition. I may have it for the rest of my life. But now, my mental illness doesn’t interfere with my ability to engage in normal daily activities. When I left my therapist’s office after hearing the declaration of remission—something that I had never imagined would happen—I drove straight to South Landing to tell the coaches.

I am absolutely certain that South Landing has been an integral part of my healing journey and the path to believing in myself again.

I would like to say the rest is history—but it’s not.  

Last summer, my right knee blew out within weeks of hitting my heaviest ever back squat. I was too young for knee replacement surgery. Medical professionals told me my lifting days were over. I was heartbroken and afraid that I would never again be able to do things that I love (at least the ones involving a barbell). I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to walk without pain again. I was surprised by how much grief and fear I felt. I was terrified to lose the sense of self-efficacy I had gained by putting in the work and seeing results in the gym.

Crissy was so gracious during my absolute and total meltdown. We came up with a plan for me to keep moving, set some new goals, create some “wins,” and become even stronger. Two platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, eight months of one-on-one training with Dylan, and one self-referral to a physical therapist later, and I am back squatting again! I get a silly grin on my face every time I get to practice olympic lifts.

When I started lifting in 2018, I bought myself a lifting belt. Bright purple with lightning bolts. I bought it because there was only one belt in the gym that fit me and I was tired of sharing it with Jonathon Reynolds even though he was extraordinarily gracious about it! I told Shane when it got too big for me, I would donate it to South Landing.  You may have seen it hanging up with the other belts recently.

Since joining South Landing, I have lost about 25 pounds and am down 2-3 clothing sizes.

Every time I put my hands on the floor and trust my wrists, arms and shoulders to support me without falling on my head, I am grateful. Every time my children say I am strong, I am grateful. Every time I walk and lift without pain, I am grateful. Every time I can trust my body to do what I need it to do, I am grateful. Every time I have a chance to spend time with my South Landing friends, I am grateful. Every time I walk through South Landing’s doors, I am grateful. 

It has been very clear to me from the beginning that Crissy and Shane have been incredibly intentional about the culture at South Landing. It is a safe place—for everyone. Each person at South Landing has the ability to grow and develop and shine, no matter where they begin and no matter their journey. 

At 45, I told Crissy that it had taken me five years for me to fall into the physical disrepair I was in when I joined South Landing. My goal, at 50, was to be the healthiest and happiest I had ever been. I have about 2.5 years to go, and I am well on my way!


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