I work in the mental health field as a clinical social worker/therapist. One of my most favorite things to do is sit down with someone in a therapy session, help them feel comfortable being vulnerable with me, and then attempt to untangle their history of anxiety, depression, and trauma. While I may love helping others battle their own struggles, I often don’t share that I struggle with severe anxiety myself.
Around 2009, my life was in a very unhealthy state of affairs. My diet and exercise regimen was seriously out of control, my anxiety was completely debilitating, and my confidence was only available after a few cocktails. After a little health scare, I realized that something needed to change. I started running races that year, starting with 5ks, and worked myself up to running half marathons. In 2013, I ran my first full marathon. 26.2 miles! What?! I get tired even driving that distance! Through running, my sleep improved and my health was back under control. Yet my anxiety and lack of confidence continued to be consuming me.
In April of 2015, my friend Lauren asked me to check out Solcana. I had pretty strong negative connotations about CrossFit. We all know those connotations; it’s a “cult”, the workouts lead to injuries, those people are all stereotypical “meatheads”, etc. etc. If I’m being honest, I really was just afraid. Doing those intense workouts in front of people? My anxiety simply said, “Nope.” I also was feeling passionate about running, and I didn’t think that CrossFit had anything to do with running!
Somehow Lauren got me in that gym. I met the owner, Hannah, and we talked about my running goals. My goal at the time was simple; I was signed up to run the Detroit Marathon that October, and I was hoping to get my marathon time under 4 hours. Hannah was positive she could help me with that goal. Within 6 months, my race times were improving significantly. Hannah and the other coaches helped me tailor workouts so I would improve my foot turnover speed and strengthen muscles that are crucial for running. At 7 months in, I ran the Detroit Marathon in 3 hours and 45 minutes; 15 minutes below my goal time, and a PR of 19 minutes! To say my confidence grew is an understatement. My Solcana homies were so encouraging about my running, always remembering to wish me luck on races or ask how the races had gone, showing genuine emotions around my performance.
I also started to utilize the amazing nutritionist we have at Solcana. I went to her with complaints around my digestive system, as well as inquiring about things that I should eat before my long runs so I could maintain energy. What developed in my time with her was that my anxiety could also be somewhat managed by the foods I was putting into my body. Since I have an understanding of mental health, I was already doing things such as meditating and practicing mindfulness. But I wasn’t practicing very much self-care, nor was I eating food that would help calm my system. We made an easy-to-tackle plan, including foods, supplements, and self-care, changing things up about every 3-4 weeks or so depending on how my body was responding.
And guess what? My anxiety is in the best state it has ever been in. Working out in such a welcoming, friendly environment simply lends itself to lessening anxiety and building confidence. I thought lifting difficult weights and doing challenging workouts in front of others would make me self-conscious. At Solcana, I have never felt any judgement. I have developed relationships at Solcana that center around encouragement, understanding, and positivity. The coaches know when to challenge me, always understanding that sometimes my confidence is so low that they literally have to tell me that I can do more. And they do that in the most supportive way.
A couple of months ago, I noticed that people were commenting on how “calm” I appeared. I even had a friend mention to me that she wished she had my confidence and my ability to deal with stress. Solcana has helped improve my life in so many ways. I am so thankful that I was able to gain this control over my anxiety.