At the end of each year, we reach out to the Athletes of the Month from that year. We ask them to nominate who they think should be the Athlete of the Year. The Athletes of the Month are asked to pick someone who, “you believe exemplifies what it means to be a member at IA. This should be someone you enjoy seeing in class, someone who attends our social events, and someone you see as a model of a great person.” From our perspective, this member is someone who must demonstrate our core values: lives a healthy lifestyle, acts with humility and an open mind, does all things with integrity, and works to overcome adversity.
This year’s Athlete of the Year is the first ever to go back-to-back with monthly recognition. The Athlete of the Year for 2019 is:
1. What does it mean to you to be selected as Athlete of the Year?
It’s hard to put it into words. I never thought my name and “athlete” would be used in the same sentence, let alone “athlete of the year”. I got pretty emotional about it when I found out. It feels really good, and I’m so thankful for it.
2. What is one goal you have achieved in 2019?
There are so many! For a specific skill though, I was really happy to get toes to bar. I knew I was fairly close to having the core strength for it, but I’m also aware that I tend to take a long time to pick up new things (inside and out of the gym), and I just couldn’t figure out how to make it ‘click’. I put in a lot of work, my hands tore a LOT, but it was worth it when I got my first one. I was beaming!
3. What is the #1 thing that contributed to you accomplishing that goal?
Starting Coaches Corner was huge (I swear I’m not being paid for this). Setting “SMART” goals, breaking them down into manageable action steps, modifying the approach where needed, and tracking consistency leads to progress. Something would start to click, but we’d identify that something else was holding me back, and we’d attack that. For example, I’d feel like my core was getting stronger, but I just couldn’t hold onto the bar long enough to practice the techniques. So, Matt programmed me lots of heavy farmers carries, and my grip strength quickly improved (which also helped with other goals like deadlifts/pull ups). We repeated that with a variety of tweaks, and I made my goal well within the timeframe we’d set. It was a great feeling!
4. What is the main aspect of CrossFit that keeps you coming back for more?
That there’s always something new to learn and master. I know that even in ten years’ time, I’ll have developed my skills and strength a lot more than where I am today, but there will still be so much more to work on. It’s humbling, but not demoralizing because I’m more interested how far I’ve come personally, which I’m able to see by tracking my own individual progress. I despised sports at school, but I think a big part of that is because I was always one of the ‘worst’ at it, and we compared ourselves to others instead of tracking our own progress and being able to see developments. I know I’ll never be the best athlete, and I’m generally at the bottom of the leaderboard for most things, but when I think about how much progress I’ve made since I started, I think that’s really something to be proud of and focus on. It’s pretty addictive!
5. What is 1 thing you have changed in your life recently that has led to more success in the gym?
Probably my diet. I generally ate relatively well, but the bulk of my meals were still centred around refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, etc.). I found that when I started looking at my macros, focusing on plants, and increasing my protein and healthy fat intake (going from roughly 60%/20%/20% to 40%/30%/30% – yes, this is possible as a vegan!), I had more consistent energy levels throughout the day, with less spikes/crashes, and less cravings. This meant I was able to perform better, with increased endurance. It really piqued my interest in nutrition, and I’m now studying for the Precision Nutrition certification.
6. What is the best piece of advice you can give to a current CrossFitter that you think will help with longevity in CrossFit?
Track everything, and focus on you. When you have a bad day and think you’re not making progress, look back at how far you’ve come. Also, if you’re not getting the results you want, don’t get disheartened, just seek out guidance from experts and high fives from your gym buddies.
7. What is the best piece of advice you can give someone new looking to try CrossFit?
Work hard, but don’t take yourself too seriously. If you have a “bad” workout, try to look at it constructively – chances are you’ve identified a weakness that you can now start to chip away at, and that’s a good thing!
8. What is the #1 way CrossFit has changed your life?
It’s really helped with my mindset, which I’ve been able to work on applying outside of the gym as well. Although it can be a hard pill to swallow at first, it can feel pretty liberating to take ownership of the effort we put in and what we spend our energy on. If we choose to only repeat the things we enjoy and are good at, and blame outside factors when things don’t go our way, things remain stagnant. I’d like to keep moving forward 🙂