Athlete of the Month: Jessie Sickler

December’s Athlete of the Month has been with us since October 2013. Her hard work ethic and positive attitude has carried her through almost 100 enjoyable WODs (read below, she really enjoys them!). Jessie Sickler is determined…and she is one strong mamma of three (who, by the way, also enjoy CrossFit Kids). The amazing influence she is for her family and the amazing inspiration she is at the box are just a few awesome reasons why we choose Jessie to be our December athlete of the month. Give her a chalky high five when you see her and read her story below:

When and why did you start CrossFit?

My Journey started on Sept 13, 2013 when I reached out to an old friend, Pat, with a Facebook message that started out like this “Hey PC, your out of shape and overweight friend has a few questions for you……” Growing up I was athletic, I played a sport in every season, went to college on an athletic scholarship, I was always doing something. Then I hit the corporate world, sat at a desk for 8+ hours a day, still ate and partied like I was in college, only difference was there was no more sports. Slowly the weight started piling on. Add to that a medical issue which didn’t help matters and I started to make excuses for myself. I have tried every diet out there, paid for personal trainers multiple times. All very short term fixes. I heard about CrossFit, read about it and started seeing Pat’s postings on Facebook. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about being the “fat girl” of the box.

Looking back I now laugh at how much unnecessary anxiety I had about that.

Pat had nothing but great things to say and assured me that it would be something I could do. So I did a Friends on Friday WOD with him and even though I was sucking wind I knew this was a journey I wanted to take.

How has your performance changed since you started CrossFit?

It has been a slow and steady race for me. My endurance has definitely improved, still a long way to go but I can definitely go harder and longer than I could before. I have made gains in my weightlifting.

I am amazed when I look back at where I started and what I can lift now.

Every now and then I even get a chance to click that RX button and it’s all thanks to the great coaches at CrossFit Salus !

Are there exercises you can do now that you couldn’t do before?

I am able to do more push up’s without my knees :o) I never did a box jump before I started CrossFit so you can add that one to the list. We did weight training in college but mostly with machines so most of the Olympic lifts were new to me.

How has your body physically changed since you started CrossFit?

I am much stronger. At the risk of sound silly, when I first started, running was terrible for me. Yes, I couldn’t breathe but it was mostly because I couldn’t stand the feeling of fat moving. In some places, I don’t feel that jiggle anymore which is nice because it was in places where I shouldn’t have felt it to being with. I can see definition in my quads and my arms are starting to thin out and I am working on bringing my booty back lol. I have a long way to go but instead of focusing on the scale I focus on how my clothes fit and how I feel.

How has CrossFit changed you in other ways?

Mentally I have grown.

“Check your ego at the door” is no joke. Once I learned to just focus on me and how I can improve rather than being frustrated at the things I can’t do or should be able to do, that is when I started to see progress.

It’s tough, I am a mother of 3, I work full time and I am very active in my children’s school but CrossFit is something that I want to do and that I enjoy doing which is a change for me. I used to dread going to the gym. It was a chore and who like chores? CrossFit is the complete opposite and I actually get upset when I have other obligations or schedule conflicts that prevent me from going.

How do you describe CrossFit to your friends?

It’s always something different and it’s always something challenging.

Even if you are doing a WOD where you can’t do all of the exercises as prescribed you are still challenged to improve yourself.

It’s an extremely motivating and positive environment. You don’t have to be in tip top shape to start, everything can be scaled. Even scaled it’s the hardest version for you so you are putting in 100%.

What keeps you motivated to continue?

Great coaches and an awesome group of motivating people. Those are my top two. When you have a strong support system it helps you to keep your mind focused on what you need to do. Of course seeing progress motivates me but I wouldn’t see that progress without great coaches and there have been many times where I felt there was no way I could finish a WOD and my coaches and fellow CrossFitters were right there cheering me on.

Everyone wants to see everyone succeed.

Seeing people succeed is motivating!!

Favorite WOD or lift?

Any WOD heavy on lifting. I like to lift, probably because it comes a bit easier than burpees and box jumps. My favorite lifts so far are back squats and overhead squats. I like back squats simply because it’s a comfortable position for me. I like overheads because of the challenge. They really force me to focus on a tight core and shoulder stability.

I look back and my first 1 rep max was 55 pounds, and most recently I did 2 reps at 105.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Salus?

Don’t be afraid ! If you come with a positive open mind and eager to learn you will do well.

Don’t get caught up in your own metal defeat, it can be your worst enemy.

What is your next goal to accomplish…or goat to kill?

Double Unders. I have to get these. I also need to work on my dips and put more time in on improving those. I think getting that shoulder mobility in my dips will help translate into improvements in other exercises.

Tell me your experience with the Paleo challenge.

It was definitely a challenge. The hardest part is finding the time to prep. I was not 100% compliant during the challenge. Most of the time when I wasn’t it was because I wasn’t prepared.

When I was compliant, I felt so much better, less lethargic.

When you do have a cheat you feel it. Sometimes, depending on how much of a cheat, that “blah” feeling may have lasted a day or so. I need to make some more changes in my house to help continue down on this path. As we approach the holidays I need to really focus on not giving into the temptations all of the time. For me it’s not just about the food and I still have to work on “food for fuel” vs “food when stressed”. One thing I did realize during the challenge is that when I am knee deep in a project or working to meet a stressful deadline I crave things that crunch. Instead of grabbing something from the vending machine I grabbed cups of ice. People may think I am a little crazy at work but at least I was helping increase my water intake while satisfying that urge to crunch. Although the challenge is over I do want to continue to move myself and my family further away from the SAD (Standard American Diet) and into better clean eating habits.