My Story By Sarah K. Dallos If you are reading this, chances are you have done or are regularly participating in Crossfit. I remember when I joined in September of 2015, I thought to myself “Why the heck didn’t I do this sooner?!” Instantly I was welcomed into the Nika family and knew I made the right choice when I received this postcard in the mail which still hangs on my refrigerator as my daily reminder.
Crossfit is a different way of training. It taps into parts of physical movements like no other form of exercise. It has you doing things you never thought would be possible. It has you pushing yourself way past your comfort zone on a regular basis even if you aren’t confident or you are scared to do so. IF you are consistent. IF you show up to do the work. At the time I joined I was looking for a way to train for two races; Savage Race and Tough Mudder. I had no grip strength, I had never back squatted, done a clean and jerk, and I had never touched a rig but I knew I needed something to get me more fit to at least run these races.
In 2003 I changed my diet to a low-carb diet and cut sugar out of my life which allowed me to drop a substantial amount of weight (I was a size 22/24 then and dropped to a size 10/12) However, I needed to change my diet back to a more balanced diet to fuel my activity level/training program which was Tae Bo at the time. You know, that infomercial you probably stayed up to watch through a bought of insomnia? Yeah, I was in one of them! Living in Southern California allowed me to see health from a whole new light because those people took in seriously, unlike many people of the South do. The west coast introduced me to hiking, being outdoors, eating better and Tae Bo. But once I met all those people and experienced their true selves, I took a step back because they were a little “too” into it all. It’s like they worshipped the Tae Bo way and didn’t acknowledge other ideas about health and fitness.
As time passed, I began weight lifting in a “globo gym” more often, because I liked the challenge. My diet remained more of a balanced diet and I would track what I ate and had a general idea as to how much to eat but didn’t know much about macros and the importance of properly fueling myself for workouts. So I maintained my weight for a while, but had no shape, and was fairly “soft” and my physical thresholds never changed. It wasn’t until I began my Crossfit journey, and, I will say that I did revert back to old ways at times and found myself having to buy bigger clothes from my previously smaller frame. I truly believe it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t challenging myself physically while also properly fueling it. Losing weight is the easy part. Keeping it off while also making strength and physical gains is where the real work is. I am a true “fat girl” at heart. I mean that with the upmost respect because I know me. I know who I am and that I love food. I was forced as a small child to eat adult sized portions and wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I was done eating. Food was the ONLY thing that brought my family together, when it actually happened. Food was a way to show someone you can cook and therefor you love them. I remember eating ice cream, with peanut butter and chocolate syrup after school, probably 3 times the amount I should have been eating because I had no supervision or anyone telling me it was not ok to do that before dinner. I didn’t have anyone making me healthy homemade dinners, I had McDonalds down the street, or $10 was left for me to order a pizza. Then I began working in a Hospital kitchen and food was everywhere! And I ate. Whatever I was allowed to eat. Just because I could. Not because I needed it or had to recover from a tough workout. Food was my best friend, my parent, and worst enemy. I have never been a “normal” weight. I don’t know what it feels like to fall into the “healthy” category on the BMI chart. Ever since I was 6 years old, I have struggled with my weight.
So when I became an adult I thought enough was enough. I changed many things about health and did very well for a long time. I learned a lot about food and healthier ways to make it. But in 2015, my life really changed when I walked into NIKA. There was a way to workout to avoid those dreaded tolerances and plateaus which I had hit many times in the 12 years I had been working on a healthier lifestyle. But when things really changed was when I learned about Macros and properly fueling yourself before and after those workouts. You can physically exhaust yourself but knowing how to recover is the true key. You don’t want to be hurting for days after a workout. You want to go right back to the gym the next day and push. And the day after that, and the day after that. You still need to go to work, cook for your family, do housework, and have fun. Food is the only way to recover, internally. I always use the analogy of the car. You can’t put water in your gas tank because your car won’t run. So, if you aren’t putting enough nutrients in your body, how will YOU be able to run? To clarify, I’m not perfect. I still love food and drink. I truly do and I don’t pretend that I don’t. I’m a real person, and I am real with myself. If I say I can never have something again, I will just go have that thing every day and never stop. It’s just who I am. I’m an all or nothing kind of girl but I usually never choose nothing because no one likes quitters!
But I do track those times I am not perfect because there’s something about the truth staring back at you that gets you to acknowledge it and make the decision to end it and change your behavior. Making the choice to fuel your workouts with enough carbohydrates, protein and fats is essential to getting better. Now that I have shifted to more of a macro-based plan, I can lift heavier, I can put myself through more physically, I can recover better and wake up and do it all again tomorrow. That’s where the magic happens. That is where you start to see the changes; the clothes fitting better, the InBody scans trending in the right direction, the PR’s, the mental toughness, increased energy at work. You’ll note that I am keeping the number on the scale out of the equation. As a Registered Nurse and fitness enthusiast I can attest to the fact that while the number on the scale can be an indicator of possible increased risk of developing certain diseases, it should not be the only determining factor of health. Being “thin” does not make a person healthy nor does it make them exempt from suffering from a terrible disease. It should not be the only goal. That number does not take into account how much muscle mass and fat you have on your body. It does not tell you how to eat to fuel what muscle you do have on your body so that you do not lose it. Muscle is metabolically superior than fat; it requires much more energy to sustain life. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body requires to keep that muscle, instead of using it for energy. Let your carbohydrates do that work, not your muscles! However excessive stores of fat does not allow your body to operate at optimal levels, and hinders strength gains and recovery. The more weight on the frame, the harder it is for performance. Every day we make so many choices and many of them are autonomous and unconscious. We just don’t have the means to stop a think about everything we do because there is just TOO much to do. So why not make your health a part of this unconscious decision-making process? Why not take the guesswork out of life, and everyday go to the box, work hard and fuel your body? It’s just as important as taking a shower before you go to work. Or putting pants on so you don’t get arrested for indecent exposure. You know what I’m saying. Is it hard? Sometimes. Will you always make the perfect right choice? Probably not. But consistency pays off. It is really the key. I try to live by the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time making the right choice 20% not making the right choice. Everyone makes mistakes, but what separates the best people from the rest of them, is that when they fail, they get right back to it. They persevere and keep going. They don’t give up. Be THAT person. You are capable of anything as long as you don’t see failure as a way out, but as an opportunity to get better.