For the month of August, we will be profiling Wolfe Den CrossFit athletes with unique and inspiring stories. There are so many unsung heroes in our incredible community who have overcome or are still overcoming some personal challenges with CrossFit having played somewhat of a role in their journey. To begin, Lisa Horowitz was so kind enough to share her story:
For many years I have suffered from depression and anxiety, one of the happiest days of my life also plunged my life into a dark hole that I could not seem to climb out of. It began as anger and self-sabotage, later diagnosed as post-natal depression (PND) and anxiety. I was placed on medication and felt like I found my baseline.
With the pregnancy of my second child I was then diagnosed with antenatal depression which progressed to sever PND after the birth of my darling second child. Again, I went through the process of medications and counselling, this time that “baseline” was elusive, much less the feeling of “normality”. Not sure at what point the line is crossed (I think technically it’s around 3years) when PND just merged into a generalised depressive disorder, however I found myself struggling daily.
Around the same time, I was introduced to this crazy thing called CrossFit…. Immediately it filled a void, it had enough structure so that on my dark days I could blindly follow along and still get a workout and enough variety that I wouldn’t get bored after a few weeks and give up, and most importantly it had a community, a community initially that just kept me turning up out of guilt of if I had “booked in,” I had better show (however when you are in the grips of depression that’s sometimes what you need). It turned to be the community that I wanted to turn up to see every day, a community that would become “family.”
Now my road to health through CrossFit hasn’t been smooth sailing… that demon of depression still always lurks in the background, and sometimes not so much in the background but rather right in front of your face… in 2019 I had a workplace injury, nothing too severe, but enough to need a week out of the gym, this was enough for that black dog to creep close enough to take hold, weeks out of the gym turned into months, tuned into 18months… a number of times I got dressed and drove past the gym only to return home and curl up with my demons on the couch. Then 2020… well we all know what happened there!
As we plunged into lockdown, I found myself spiraling worse than I ever had previously… toward the end of that first lockdown I found myself at my heaviest weight, and at my unhappiest. Sometimes you need that moment to spur you into action, I couldn’t bear to live life like this anymore… I knew the one place I had felt truly happy in the last few years had been the CrossFit gym. So, I made a pact, I reached out to the amazing coaches and asked for help, I asked for accountability and for nurturing. And the plan began, I knew that the goal of “weight loss” was not going to cut it, so I changed my goal, I decided that I wanted to become the healthiest fittest “old person” that I could. I found a quote that resonated “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly” - sounds odd I know. If you are struggling to just get out of bed then getting dressed is worth doing, if it’s worth cleaning the house but you can only find the energy to pick up 10 items then it’s worth doing, if it’s worth training for 1hr but you can only manage 10mins then it’s worth doing that.
So, with that I began. I wasn’t going to be able to do it perfectly, so I was going to just do what was worth doing, even if it was done poorly to begin with. Briefly we came out of lockdown and I started turning up to the PT sessions outdoors, I found momentum and motivation. Along with this I started to focus on my food as fuel, not as a diet but rather fueling my body with foods that made me feel good, not in the short term like the chocolate blocks and chips that I’d lived on in the past, but foods that would make me feel good hours and days later. I cut sugar and focused on whole foods.
In November last year (2020) I had surgery to remove the loose skin left over from my weight loss. This scared me. I flashed back to my past injuries, if just a week out of the gym could have me spiraling and lost then 8weeks of post-operative recovery was truly frightening. So three days after my operation (the day after my hospital discharge) I was back at the gym… sure, I was watching my mum take on the over55’s class and dosed up on pain killers, but I was there. Day 4 I was back again, this time shuffling 2-3 times up and back the box floor before sitting on a stool again to watch… a week later I shuffled up and back along the floor and then decided to sit, I sat in sets of 5 (definitely not squats to a stool ) gradually I found little movements that I could do around the gym, it kept me there and in touch. Off course I was cautious and respect my recovery, I also needed to look after my mental health.
By January I was able to start training again, heavily scaled to begin with and eventually increasing intensity. Now WDCF is truly my happy place! You can find me training most often at 9:30am and with the 4pm open box crew when my schedule allows. CrossFit has allowed me to fight against depression, it’s helped me find a passion for fitness and find my health. And most importantly it’s helped me find an incredible community of people at WDCF.
Thanks for reading,