By: Julia kruetzmann

I do not want to die; I want to live an extremely long time. This is a common sentiment for most sentient life on this planet. I was, however, travelling down a path toward a stunted and chronically diseased, untimely death. At 35 years old, I was super morbidly obese, pre-diabetic, and pre-hypertensive accompanied by major depression. I had a husband that adored me and four amazing children, but I still found myself withdrawn from life, self-conscious and anxious about everything. If I truly wanted a long happy life, I had to make a drastic change. After thorough research, I underwent gastric-bypass surgery in order to lose the weight quickly. Given my personality, I knew I had to see rapid results in order to stay the course. I am thankful for this surgery, as it facilitated the weight loss, but also helped me to re-establish my relationship with food. I have forever changed the way I choose to nourish my body, which will hopefully prove to be beneficial in my quest for longevity. However, diet alone will only protect the body to a certain extent from disease, with exercise and good mental health also major contributing factors. I have come to realize that all of these components must be in check in order to reach my ultimate goal of longevity; living to 120 years and devoid of chronic disease. With my diet now in line, it was time to move on to the next task, exercise.

At around six-months post-surgery, I had lost nearly 80 pounds and was on the verge of thinking about possibly considering implementing an exercise regimen. A friend of mine was visiting from New Jersey at that time and we found ourselves engaged in conversation around this topic. My friend was quite excited to tell me all about this thing called “CrossFit” that she had been doing for exercise back in New Jersey. She was quite adamant that this was the type of training for me. She explained that since I was a competitive dancer and weight trained throughout high school, CrossFit should appeal to my natural tendency toward challenge and competition. With ever so much passion, she continued to rave about CrossFit. She spoke of the exercise components themselves, but went on to describe the supportive nature of the people who train this way. CrossFit was more of a lifestyle; a community of like-minded individuals supporting each other through their journeys toward whatever their goals might be. My immediate thought was, oh my, she drank the Kool-Aid and what exactly is in my coffee right now? Being a natural skeptic, I embarked on a new research project, topic: CrossFit. Many academic papers, documentaries, and blog posts later, I decided to give it a try. By this time, it had been a few months since my Jersey friend visited and my weight loss was at 110 pounds. My goal before implementing exercise was to lose 100 pounds, so it was time to stop thinking about possibly considering it and to just do it. Again, I conducted exhaustive research of all the gyms in Oshawa before I opted for CrossFit Oshawa.

On a hot sunny day in July, I walked through the doors of CrossFit Oshawa, hoping to be granted an on the spot consultation (for free perhaps?). I was welcomed by a seemingly, almost overly, joyful coach who was more than happy to explain to me all that is CrossFit and what his gym could do for me. It was quite refreshing to meet someone so exuberant and knowledgeable about their craft. Not only did he have an answer for all of my questions, he put forth the effort into exploring my motives for enquiring about CrossFit, and to determine if this really was appropriate for my goals. He showed a genuine interest in my life overall, my surgery, and my weight loss up to that point. He reinforced my friend’s assessment that those who gravitate toward challenge and competition tend to experience success with CrossFit. I appreciated his candour (and free consultation) and signed up on the spot.

Fast forward a year and a half; minus 170 pounds, sitting steady at my goal weight. I’m feeling happier now than I could ever remember in my adult life. What I have found in CrossFit has far exceeded my expectations. I have gained, physically, what I set out to; I am leaner, stronger, and fitter. I am metabolically more efficient, in so that I have an abundance of energy to make it through a long day of work standing at my desk, then enduring a workout at CrossFit, after which spending quality time with my family. I can do this now, without feeling physically drained, nor do I dread the energy I’m about to expend. Quite the contrary, I look forward to it. I can check off the exercise component to longevity with CrossFit, as it conditions the body for this exact purpose. It’s foundations are embedded in dynamic functional movements; whereby the all of the body’s muscle groups are stimulated throughout the workout and mimic ordinary daily movements. (For instance, picking something up, carrying it across a distance, and then putting it down.) What far surpassed my expectations though, was the vast improvement of my mental health. This is a much welcome side effect. To a degree, the weight loss certainly helped to increase my self-esteem. But, what I experienced from CrossFit was much more transformational. I finally feel confident. I feel accomplished. I feel I have worth. When I step through the doors of CrossFit Oshawa, I know that for the next hour I will accomplish something great; improvement of myself. I can do this with the support of my coaches, who treat me like a real human being. They show kindness and respect to all of their athletes. Their encouragement has helped me to realize my full potential in all my roles in life, far beyond that of an athlete. I take the life lessons I learn at CrossFit and apply them daily. This is far greater than any physical training; being respectful to yourself and others. Encouraging myself to do better and be better because it truly is possible to improve all the time and I am worth that. I am grateful to CrossFit for helping me to realize this.

For me, CrossFit checks both the physical and mental wellness components to longevity. So now that I have diet, exercise, and good mental health all lined up, it is conceivable that I will live to 120 years, disease free.

Author: Julia kruetzmann