There are some things that you can safely assume will never happen in your life, like; successfully helping a Nigerian prince find his fortune, getting a royal flush and watching the Toronto Maple Leafs win a Stanley cup. Add to that list, for me, deadlifting with my mother.
Anyone that has known me for any appreciable amount of time knows that I really enjoy smashing a WOD at my Crossfit box.
Q: How do you know someone does Crossfit?
A: They won’t shut the f@ck up about it!
With that being said, I’ve been drinking the Crossfit CoolAid for over a decade now. I remember my first WOD was in 2008 at Carleton University. I was the platoon second in command for a drill team in Ottawa that summer. On our barrack’s floor we had a whiteboard for timings etc. One day, I go up and on the board is written, “Boys, we’re doing Fran today”.
“Ah shit.” I thought. “Gotta stomp this out, toute suite. Not happening on my watch.”
So a quick chat with one of my section leaders clarified that there was nothing to worry about and that it was just one of the “Nasty Girls” WODs from this mystical organization called Crossfit.
“C’mon Sarge, you should try it. It’ll be fun.” He said.
21-15-9 later of pull ups and thrusters, I’m a heap of sweat and agony but I’ve unlocked a part of my brain that hadn’t been activated for a long while, the part that loves pain and misery, the part that kept me in the infantry in the first place; I was hooked.
So, I couldn’t swing my arms properly on parade for the next week and I was chewing Advils like smarties but I had to learn more. That’s where my journey began and where I really dove into the Crossfit main site and literally started picking up barbells for the first time and trying all the “dangerous” exercises that my high school coaches advised me not to do.
I returned to my unit that fall with this crazy new idea that we need to adopt this way of training to be ‘fit to fight’. We incorporated it into our recce teams and then went ahead and built our own, literal, Crossfit box filled with anything we could get our hands on that wasn’t mechanical. I’m proud to say it’s still there and I was just using the gear that is in it, last week.
Crossfit is what got my head right and my body forged before I deployed in 2010. With the amount of gear we carried and the crushing demands on the body carrying all of it in 40+ degree heat, not being fit wasn’t an option. I acquired proof that their methodology worked. I was double hooked.
Ok, so how does a training system that is proven to get warriors into fighting shape relate to lifting with my mother? Well, I realized that this just isn’t for warriors, it’s for anyone who wants to stay in the fight. Life is just a real long round in the octagon. You’re gonna take some hard body shots at some point and might even get pinned a few times but you gotta break free, get up and get on the offensive. That’s what my mother did.
My mother is the reason why I’m a hard charger.
She was a teacher her whole career and still imposes fear into grown ass men that were taught by her. She even had my first ever section commander standing at attention over the phone when he called for me during dinner time. She takes the bull by the horns and gets shit done. Although she may have ruled her class with strict obedience to the rules, I always remember as a kid, having adults come up to her and say thank you for teaching them so many important skills and lessons and that part of their success was due to her class.
Although my mother is a proven leader and action taker, she always had an issue maintaining her weight. It’s like the discipline she had to diligently plan a years worth of lessons, complete a Bachelor’s degree and run a home just couldn’t be applied to her nutritional habits and she fell into metabolic disorder.
My mother was diagnosed with diabetes about twenty years ago and has, only up until recently, been managing it with medication and regular visits to the doctor. Numerous failed “diet” attempts and exercise plans always resulted in some yo-yoing but ultimately produced a feeling of futility. This all changed about two years ago after my son was born.
At this point in time, my mother was really starting to struggle to get up from her chair and climb the stairs. Her knees were starting to ache and having to bend over to stand from sitting was starting to strain her back. Something had to change. Doctors were very concerned about the amount of atrophy in her legs and wanted to test for a whole barrage of neurological disorders. Her morale was rock bottom, she was worrying about where she would have to move to accommodate a wheelchair and getting her house cleared out in order to sell it.
I mentioned coach LP in my post, How HSPU Changed My Life and I’m going to mention him again because he’s a life-changer and I’m eternally grateful to him. Since I was already training with him, I suggested to my mother that she do the same. It was a long shot but I knew she wanted to be able to chase after her grandson and be the present grandma she had wanted to be for so long.
I proposed a meet up at Crossfit de l’Ouest and my mother obliged me. I still get emotional thinking about how impactful that meeting was with LP and my mother. It was like a massive, cognitive shift happened right before my eyes. Like seeing something you never would’ve thought could happen, happening right in front of me. She agreed to start training that day. That’s a picture of her right after signing up!
A massive cognitive shift happened right before my eyes.
I’ve seen a lot of Crossfit transformation videos and I’m always impressed but when it actually happens right in front of your eyes, it’s incredible. My mother pushed hard, starting with three times a week out of the gate, basically from zero to 60 mph, overnight. What was even more amazing what that she really liked it. Sure, she complained it was hard and that she doesn’t like to sweat but man did she give ‘er. I’ve got video proof too. Check out the video below! She’s 70!
After two months her blood sugar had stabilized, she lost ten pounds, reduced her medication intake, got a grip of her IBS. After about four months she was literally chasing after my son and practically leaping out of her chair. Four months of weight training, after never having lifted anything other than a sack of potatoes, my mother was a totally new person.
And then, we had a training day together earlier this year and it was surreal. My mother and I are pretty close but having her step into my world and own it made a whole new connection between us that I thought we’d never have.
Some of her doctors have suggested to stop training altogether, “WTF?” I said to her. “In less than a year, you’ve basically reversed course on your metabolic disorder and given yourself new life and a doctor has the audacity to say stop, you might get hurt!?”
The other day, I had a heart to heart with my father about this. He told me about the day when my mother purchased a second-hand walker because she felt like she might need it soon. He said, “I was so pissed off, I threw it in the storage room in the basement because she was accepting defeat.” He went on, “She’s got undeniable proof that lifting works and she’s going to stop because some doctor says stop?”
I’m happy to say that she hasn’t and really enjoys her new fitness habit and new lease on life.
I’m so proud of you, Ma; the whole family is and X is so happy that he can run around with his grandma.
Header Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
#lifting #crossfit #mindset #metabolicdisorder #diabetes