Using a Fitness Challenge to Save Your Life

Okay, so the title of my blog post may seem a little dramatic, but if you know me or follow me on social media (@scrubs2sweats), you would know :

  1. I am a huge advocate for living a healthy life. Prevention is key!
  2. I got really sick with Chronic Lyme disease that literally debilitated me for a large part of last year.

 

I do intend to write a more detailed blog soon about my Lyme ordeal but for this particular post, I want to share with you my thoughts on a recent challenge I participated in and why I believe the principles utilized are key for anyone wanting to reset their system; for lack of better word a healthier approach to a body detox.

 

To give you a better understanding of what I mean, I will put my situation into context.

I was off work and then subsequently on modified duties for months last year. My symptoms were pretty intense, ranging from chronic fatigue not alleviated by sleep, sore throat every day (10 months!), weakness, difficulty walking, right sided numbness, migraines, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, difficulty carrying my body around, swelling, and ultimately leading to temporary paralysis and difficulty speaking (yikes I know!).

 

Without giving too much of an elaborate account of all I did, I essentially tried any and everything to get the inflammation down and get my body back to feeling “normal”.  It was difficult for someone like myself to figure out what to do because for over a decade I ate clean for the most part, I exercised 4-6 days a week, I practiced yoga and meditation etc. So making lifestyle changes to improve my lyme disease wasn’t as clear cut for me. But I still tried EVERYTHING possible that I thought could help.

 

From November 2017, I gradually started feeling better but it was at best 80%. I had to limit what I did. So if I worked late, there was no socializing or heading to the gym. Weekends were mainly for resting and allowing my body the chance to recover. For the most part I felt like I was dragging my feet. Some days adrenaline kicked in and I could work a full shift and go workout for a couple days, then after it would hit me hard and I would relapse for a few weeks. I became more susceptible to allergies, the flu etc so it would take me 10x longer than previous years to recover. It seemed that my new normal was not feeling good, and constantly adjusting to suit.

 

One of my favourite hobbies is Crossfit. But ever since I got sick, I struggled to progress and keep up with workouts. I  started feeling better in April and distinctly remember walking into Reebok Crossfit Liberty Village (RCFLV) for the WOD (work out of the day). But lifting the 35 pound bar felt like 1000 pounds. The workout included components of running and lifting, as per usual. But this particular afternoon I was reminded that I  just couldn’t do it. I heard my coach Amy say “Good job Jessy” as I struggled to push through. I watched a room full of eager determined individuals push to their max and all I could think is I can’t do this; my body is failing me again. And as if my body was absorbing all the negative thoughts, I noted that I was beginning to lose sensation in my right arm again. As I fought back tears, I gathered my things and literally ran out. I sobbed the entire way home telling myself that I just have to accept this may be my new life.

 

I knew the stress of work was a large factor in contributing to my declining health, and it was becoming increasingly harder to keep pushing through. I discussed with my many doctors various options but they all required me giving up on the life I once had. I just wanted to wake up without throwing up, or feeling like someone beat me up and that I was dragging my feet.

 

Fast forward a couple weeks and in my email lies an announcement from RCFLV about the BODZii challenge – a nutrition coaching challenge designed to help members of various gyms achieve the best outcomes for their performance based on nutrition. For some reason this resonated with me. I no longer compete in body building or crossfit competitions, but something in the description about performance spoke to me. So I signed up for the 30 day challenge in June of this year, along with other members of my gym, and with the encouragement of the fabulous coaches at RCFLV.

 

“When Life gets hard, challenge yourself to be stronger”

 

With this challenge, I knew the one thing it could give me was accountability. I can be a competitive person. And I knew that this would be a great way to stay committed for 28 days without the excuses of I’m too tired to train today or I feel too nauseous to eat so I’m just going to go to bed.

 

For 30 days, the Bodzii challenge required the following in order to get a maximum of 9 points daily:

  • doing 15 minutes of mobility
  • eating within an hour of working out
  • doing 1 hour of physical activity
  • took omega 3 and vitamin D supplements
  • tracked all my food in accordance with my pre calculated macros, and followed the guidelines to include clean eating, sleeping 7 hours etc.

 

Thus, for every day in the challenge, we would log our scores and can compare to how you are doing with other members that are participating in the challenge.It was also a great way to compare to how you did each day. It would be impossible to get a perfect score everyday because you need to rest. And I understood that but I wasn’t going to allow myself more than 1 day a week to rest.
While the challenge included other components such as a benchmark workout that you do day 1 and the last day to compare progression, a body scan for % body fat, and photos to track composition, it was the scoring system that was of interest to me. Specifically I felt compelled everyday to get in the maximum number of points. There was no way for anyone to validate if what I scored was accurate. But for me I knew I needed to give this an honest go. I knew that my competitive nature (specifically with myself), the accountability factor and my determination may be the perfect combination to getting  my energy levels up, along with my eating and sleeping on track  if I actually committed. And I did.

After 19 months of feeling like crap, I was gradually noticing improvements and by the third week of the challenge, I was back! I didn’t care at all if I got more defined muscles (I did), or that my lifts and cardio improved (they did), but that I was feeling energized!! I was back to training 5 days a week, sleeping 7 hours and waking up well rested, and no longer nauseated over food. The support and encouragement I received from other members and the coaches of RCFLV was remarkable. I returned to crossfit 1-2x a week, and noticed significant improvements and even broke a couple personal records.

 

The object of this blog isn’t to endorse the Bodzii challenge or to promote RCFLV, but to share the components of what worked for me.

 

I truly believe if your system is feeling run down, do a reset, which is how I saw the challenge. Track what you are doing and give yourself that little challenge everyday to commit to. Taking my vitamins, sleeping 7 hours, stretching or doing yoga, drinking 3L water, working out 4-6 days a week, eating clean and in accordance with my macros all made the perfect recipe for recovery. This isn’t something to be done all the time (one would go crazy!), but as I mentioned, it made for the perfect recipe to getting myself back on track.

 

Please note I am not recommending this as a solution to any medical or health concerns you may have. I am merely sharing what worked for me, and my belief that a challenge like this one may help reset your system. Before participating, you should consult with your physician or health care professional.

 

 

IMG_1542

Jessy with RCFLV Owner and Head Coach, Amy Aldrich-Witt

 

Before concluding, I would like to thank the ladies of BODZii.

I would also like to thank both the members as well as the coaches of RCFLV, especially Amy, Nic and Stephen. You guys have given me so much support and encouragement over the years. This community has been my saving grace at times.

And for my readers/followers, some of you may have a stigma against crossfit, but I say try it before you knock it. And as a side note, RCFLV also offers non-crossfit classes called “Burn” so you can still experience all the benefits of training under fantastic coaches and integrating in such a community.

 

For more information about RCFLV, please check out the link below.

https://www.reebokcrossfitlibertyvillage.com

 

For more information on BODZii, please check out the link below.

https://www.bodzii.com/about/

 

 

xo,

Jessy

 

2 thoughts on “Using a Fitness Challenge to Save Your Life

  1. Though I’m dealing with a different diagnosis myself, your symptoms and the thoughts 100% resonate with my experience. It’s so hard being a young, active, clean-eater who works out 5-6 days a week and then gets hit with the a massive physical regression. I participated in a similar challenge last fall–sticking to the meal plan, progress pics, BF% tracking, group workouts, and customized solo lifting/cardio sequences gave me so much confidence; this, even though I wasn’t “progressing” in the traditional sense. This article is so timely for me because I think I’ve pushed myself too far, making even tiny workouts neat-impossible. I love the idea of incorporating small but consistent healthy habits to give the feeling of self-competition and accomplishment, so I think I may follow your lead and start approaching my recovery in the same way…slow but consistent steps towards improvement, where that improvement is based on what I am capable of rather than what I *think* that I *should* be capable of. Thank you for this. ❤

    Like

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