The reason I started CrossFit was two-fold.

At the time, I really needed something to keep me moving through the winter, and I was training for the Broad Street 10-miler.

I was having a hard time training in the cold, and I honestly needed a push. I’d been contemplating going to the gym, but never followed through with the commitment. I was always interested in trying CrossFit though, so finally I made the leap.

Very quickly after starting, I learned that what I once perceived as being “in shape” was a far cry from reality. CrossFit has forced me to train smarter, eat better, and be more aware of what my body is telling me.

I’m always being challenged to better myself. Whether it’s through form, losing the extra weight or just having that reminder to never quit—to keep pushing forward.

The changes I’ve noticed are huge—increased stamina and no more hitting that 2 p.m. wall at work. I’m more flexible now than I have ever been. I can say that I’m in the best shape of my life and it’s all due to consistency.

What really keeps me coming back to Solstice though is the people. From the moment I stepped foot into the gym, I knew it was different. Everyone from the coaches to the members are so welcoming and supportive. No one thinks of themselves as better than the next person. Everyone is always willing to share some advice or cheer you on when you feel like you’re struggling. It’s a true family atmosphere that I’m grateful to be a part of, especially our 5:30 a.m. “goon squad.” I honestly don’t know if I would be where I am without their support and encouragement.

Before I found CrossFit, I used to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. At my heaviest, I was pushing 340 pounds. I tried all the fad diets and would lose some weight, then a few months later it all came back. Now that I see the results of what having a good nutritional plan can do, I’m not looking back. I am proud to say I’m down to 260 pounds and feeling great. I will never be the old me again.

Nutrition really is key. After putting so much work in during the last 21-day challenge, I’ve learned a lot about what I was doing to my body and why it wasn’t happy with me. Now that I have the commitment and the knowledge from my coaches, I can continue to press forward and set new goals for myself.

Between the physical and nutritional changes, I’ve also grown from a psychological perspective. One obstacle I’ve been able to overcome was that initial realization of not being in shape. CrossFit is a very humbling experience, but one that I have grown to love. It keeps me accountable. I’d gotten to the point where I had settled for my appearance, thinking I couldn’t do much better, but now I’m totally committed to always striving to be better.

Last year, I did the “Ghost” workout and managed a total of 342 reps. Fast forward a year later and I crushed it with a whopping 790 reps. My last two 10 mile races (one in November of last year and the Broad St. run this year), I ran without any running training. The only constant was coming to Solstice at 5:30 a.m. 3 to 4 times a week. At the end of each race, I was able to shave 2 minutes off both of my finishing times.

Since participating in the last nutrition challenge, I’ve lost a total of 25 pounds and a few inches off my waist.

My bench press went from 95 to 205. My deadlift went from 95 to 325. My front squat went from 85 to 175 (with good form, I may add)! I was also able to row a 5k under 20 minutes.

CrossFit has really helped me overcome the fear of fitting in or that I didn’t belong. I can’t say enough about each and every person I’ve met through Solstice. I’d like to thank all of the coaches for their tireless efforts to keep us engaged and wanting more even when we have nothing left in the tank!

I’m part of a family/community that prides itself on helping you achieve your goals, and I am extremely grateful that I get to spend my mornings with such a fantastic group of individuals!