A Different Kind of BEFORE Photo: Lessons Learned From a Fitness Buff Who Lost Fitness

Ok, here are my "BEFORE" photos!

Let me explain... 

This is a new kind of before photo for me.
It may seem like nothing special to you. You may think I look pretty fit or kinda out of shape, depending on your view. But what it represents to me, in the contrast of my mindset and lessons learned, is HUGE. 

It's not a photo about my body actually. Previous 'before' photos show sad faced Kaela, dead on, in the most unflattering posture so that I could perfectly measure my progress and judge myself accordingly. And this aptly represented my mind-frame. Problem was, however much fat I lost or muscle I gained, the 'after' picture that I would look at would leave me feeling the same as 'before.' Never pleased. Always hating my body and disappointed in myself. 

I LOVE fitness and hit a bump in the road about a year ago when my body had too much pain some days to even do daily tasks, let alone lift a barbell, squat, or run. Strained hamstring and what felt like a pinched nerve in my shoulder left all sorts of body parts hurting. I tried to push through it for awhile but when I could barely function without pain in basic movements, my body decided rest was what I needed, and I traded CrossFit for more sleep. Sounds good in theory but it affected me, BADLY.

CrossFit was my reason to jump (or roll) out of bed in the morning even on days I didn't feel like it. Pushing myself physically helped me push myself mentally. Endorphins released through exercise helped my mood and depression. I loved working out, setting goals, and getting stronger. I loved my community and looked forward to seeing my crew. I made healthy eating choices because I wanted to and didn't feel "guilty" and when I enjoyed foods that most classify as "cheats" or "bad" a few times a week. I kicked refined sugar and actually felt sick when I ate it. I drank less [alcohol] because my performance wasn't as strong when I had it the night before. 

But there were also some negatives that only being forced to step away helped me see.

I had a lot going on in life and was dealing with a lot of stress, and CrossFit was great for that. Except that I prioritized CrossFit over sleep. If I had to work late then I'd take some pre-workout the next morning and push my body to the limit on 4-5 hours of sleep. I'd then take a cat nap (20 min), drink coffee, and get through midmorning with a RedBull with another latte around 3. When I got home from one job I'd do more work on my creative stuff and go to bed late, only to start the process all over again. 

Besides sleep, another fundamental to a healthy body, diet! And not diet like I'm going on a diet and calorie restricting, but diet as in what I eat. When I was working out I was always hungry. So it took me awhile to realize that without those rough workouts and my metabolism way up, my body didn't need all that food. So I slowly cut back and only ate when actually hungry. Problem was I also didn't feel like eating healthy. Without the workout empowering my mind-frame -- how I thought about myself and food -- even what I craved changed. Suddenly I didn't care! I WANT SUGAR. AND COCKTAILS. AND COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM. AND GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE PIZZA. LIKE EVERY DAY. My body wasn't a temple. 

CrossFit made me feel STRONG. I looked in the mirror and loved what I saw even though I didn't always think it was "perfect." I felt beautiful and accepted and loved my body. But my beauty was in my strength. So what happens when you lose that? A month after stopping CrossFit my pants were falling off due to muscle loss. I was PISSED. I hated being "skinny" and was embarrassed of my body. I joked that I hated now being "skinny fat." I looked skinny compared to before but fat was replacing muscle, my clothes still didn't fit, and I had lost a lot of my strength and fitness. My bones ached from pains and lack of use/mobility and I felt like a slug.

So I was forced to reevaluate... Who am I without fitness? 
Don't get me wrong, fitness is AMAZING and I think is so important in so many ways to our overall health. But I realized that in making fitness "god," it was at the expense of losing out on other health, mentally and physically. 

SO, today I started Physical Therapy! The doc says that if I follow the program and do the work, I should be back to CrossFit in a month! But I'm not a rush... Of course I miss it like crazy and would go back today if I could, but I only have this one body. And I'm so blessed that I have a body that moves, works, heals and can be rehabbed back to full health. So as I start the physical journey, I will also take better care in my nutrition. I'm not on a "diet." I'm not cutting anything out completely. But I want to get back to a mental state where I crave the good stuff and want to put good food in my body, and for now that'll take a little adjustment. 

So here's me on my journey. Learning to love the body I'm in. Even though it doesn't look and function quite like the body I knew and loved. And here are photos to document my journey and be proud of where I'm at mentally.

Let me know if any of this is relatable :) xo! <3