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My Fitness Journey

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Chrystal Hedges

If anyone told me two years ago that I would compete in my second master's category of the 2018 CrossFit Open, I'd probably laugh in their face.

Yet, it is true. Today, I'm 58 years old and I am proud of my age.  A year ago, I felt old and unhappy. In October 2016, after a year of some serious physical challenges, I took a good look at myself and wasn't happy with what I saw in the mirror. I was heavier than I've ever been, I was in constant pain from joint aches, and my poor balance made it difficult for me to do most things I loved, like going to the zoo and walking through the park.  Struggling to walk my dogs, something I really loved, had become just another reminder of my limitations.

These limitations were hard to accept because I had always been fit. I'm retired military, and prided myself in taking care of my health. I took health for granted, and allowed myself to become less active as I aged. As I struggled with weight and limitations, I became discouraged and depressed.

My "go to" comfort was food and alcohol. I didn't want to exercise, I wanted to sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself. The more I felt sorry for myself, the worse I felt, the more comfortable that couch became. Life became a vicious circle. If felt like I was waiting to die....instead of really living.

Then, by coincidence, I got a Facebook nudge about a "Silver" six week CrossFit boot camp. The pictures of the people in the ad looked like me.  It was relatively inexpensive, and, after really thinking about it, I decided this would be my Christmas present to myself. Although the Boot camp was during Thanksgiving and Christmas, I felt that it would keep me from gaining more weight through the holidays. 

I never intended to last longer than six weeks. I had a YMCA membership for years and stopped going because I had nothing to motivate me to do more than walk on the treadmill. I had my doubts about CrossFit too. It's group timed workouts. It's dirty, sweaty and lots of loud music. Quite frankly, I was scared. I just assumed that everyone in this gym would be really fit and would laugh at me. I figured that I could do the six weeks, get a kick start on my health, and then quit. Turns out I'm highly competitive. I placed first in the boot camp and became hooked.

It's 2018, and I've had some medical setbacks, but I'm still going strong. I've lost over 30 inches, 30lbs, and 11% body fat. I'm down on medication and no longer need pain relievers.  I never thought I'd write the words that I'm also a CrossFit competitor.  I go 4-5 days a week for an hour, where I get to test myself in ways I never thought possible. 

While the physical side is great, there is also the psychological improvements that are even more important. The 'Box' has become a huge part of my life. After each "wod", I feel stronger, more confident, and hopeful. I have my balance back and no longer have any serious aches and pains. The support from  working out with others is phenomenal. These people inspire and cheer everyone one, no matter what their skill level, everyone feels special.  The workout does not end until everyone is finished. 

I'm a competitor. I compete, not against others, against myself and my insecurities. So if you have ever felt that you are too old to try something new; believe me, you are not – even for something as daunting as CrossFit.  Crossfit might not be for you.  As one of my coaches said, moving is better than not moving.  What do you have to lose?


Linda Hyams

Training Specialist

Professional and Technical Education

Human Capital Management-OMES

Chrystal Hedges's picture

Chrystal Hedges

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Chrystal Hedges received her Bachelor's of Science degree from St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Oklahoma and received her Master's of Public Health in Health Promotion Sciences from OU Health Sciences Center. She has ten and a half years of experience working in the public health arena promoting and advocating for health and well-being in various capacities. Her current role as a well-being program coordinator is to provide state employees and their families with information and opportunities to learn, grow and enrich their lives for the better. Her passion and advocacy for health and well-being has led her to one of the most important roles in her life, serving as a foster and adoptive parent. Ms. Hedges has been a foster parent for 5 years and currently has two foster children and two adoptive children.