Fibromyalgia & CrossFit
I have always been physically active. I didn’t have any brothers, so my dad tried to pass along his love of sports to his girls. I played basketball, softball, soccer, ran track and danced (yes dancing IS considered a sport in the Utah high school handbook). I wasn’t especially great at any particular sport, but I enjoyed participating in them.
As I got older, I realized I had a love for running. I’m not fast by any means, but I love what is does for my mind and obviously for my body. Some of my deepest thinking occurs on a run. Most times, I don’t even pay attention to the songs on my IPod because I’m so consumed with my thoughts. I love how it’s a sport where runners at every level are trying to see how good they can be, always competing with themselves. I ran in recreation track programs growing up and then as I got older I started running in organized races. I love the adrenaline and excitement of running alongside thousands of other crazy people. By 2009 I’d ran a few ½ marathons and had checked a full marathon off my bucket list. At the end of 2009 I started not feeling well. It was not bad enough to be alarmed, but I just knew that I didn’t feel right. I was extremely tired all the time, yet couldn’t sleep at night, I had constant headaches, my joints were painful and stiff and I was constantly achy all over and because of the fatigue and constant pain I was downright moody and emotional. I tried to explain it to my husband, but it was hard to explain since the symptoms were so minor. As the months went on the symptoms got worse, especially during the winter. I told my husband it felt like I had the flu every day. As I went throughout my day, the stiffness and soreness would wear off a little, so I was able to function somewhat normally. But I knew deep down that something wasn’t right. I ran a half marathon in August and by November of that same year I could barely run 2 miles without feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. I finally decided to go see a doctor about these symptoms. I wasn’t really expecting much, I thought I get the “it’s the stress of being a Mom,” or the “you’re not getting any younger” speech, but instead I got a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I was kind of shocked and in denial at first. I have worked in healthcare for years and know the controversy behind that diagnosis. It has a reputation for being a “copout” diagnosis when either the doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with you or the patient diagnoses themselves for one reason or another. There was no way in heck I was going to tell people about this diagnosis, my pride wouldn’t allow it! Even as I type this, I still have reservations about people knowing. There are many people close to me that still don’t know (or didn’t until now I guess). But I can’t ignore the symptoms; every one of them is dead on. There really isn’t any other explanation for it. My doctor told me that one of the worst things for me was high impact exercise. He said I still needed to exercise, but that running was the worst thing for me. I was crushed! I tried it a few times to prove him wrong, but each time I ran I paid a steep price when I couldn’t move for days. It literally wiped me out. That’s when I took up biking and thought my days of running and other high impact exercise were over. I figured I’d be in the pool with the cute little elderly ladies doing water aerobics since my body couldn’t handle anything else.
I really struggled the first few years. I was constantly worrying about what people thought. I worried people would think it was all in my head or that I was milking the diagnosis. I also struggled because nobody can really relate to how I feel since there are no visible outward symptoms, (it’s been called the invisible illness). I really wanted to be doing things I knew I really shouldn’t. I really had to learn to listen to my body. Looking back now, I’m glad I struggled with wanting to stay active. I’m proud that I didn’t just give up and use my diagnosis as an excuse.
Enter Crossfit into my life. My in-laws have been going to Crossfit the Club from the beginning. They got my husband to start going and over the years have tried to get me to go as well. I would just give them the excuse that it wasn’t for me, when deep down I was worried it wouldn’t be good for my body. I was just plain scared. I’d seen how exhausted my husband had come home after WOD’s. There were some days when he first started that he came home pale and looked like he was going to be sick. How could this be good for me in my condition? I’m proud to say I had a major breakthrough with my health in the last 8 months. Basically two things happened, I got on what I personally consider a miracle vitamin and I started Crossfit. Call it luck or divine intervention, but about the time I was getting sick of just biking and looking for something else my body could handle, Crossfit Light was born. This was just what I needed, lighter weight and lighter reps! I went to my first class in November of 2011 right as it was starting and loved it, I’ve never felt better! Even though I still have to listen to my body and take more days off than a normal person, I have less and less “bad” days now. I don’t feel achy all the time, I sleep better and I feel much stronger all around and you can imagine what that has done for me mentally. I was honestly shocked at how well I have felt.
I eventually decided to try running again and feel pretty good doing it. I was even able to do another half marathon recently. The morning I woke up to run I realized how lucky I was to being doing it, I truly didn’t think I’d ever run again. My pace is even faster than before I was diagnosed and I can say without a doubt that it’s Crossfit that’s made me stronger! So I think I’ve officially joined that club of Crossfit addicts…..I get it now.