Sweat Diaries

I Do Hours of CrossFit a Day. And, Oh Yeah, I’m Also Fighting Cancer.

Emily Molnar takes us through her week of CrossFit workouts and chemo treatments.


Photograph courtesy Emily Molnar.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to spend five days tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com with details. 

Who I am: Emily Molnar (@crossfit_emily), 30

What I do: I’m a CrossFit athlete currently fighting cancer and studying to become an L1 CrossFit trainer. I was a certified personal trainer before getting sick. I got sick in November 2017 and was diagnosed with CNS Lymphoma in February 2018. I am now a live-in caretaker for my grandma. My daily focus is becoming the best CrossFit athlete I can, crushing cancer, and studying for my L1.

What role health and fitness plays in my life: Health and fitness have always been a huge part of my life for the past ten-plus years. I’ve always been active and super competitive, but I didn’t care how I was fueling my body and was not taking care of myself. It wasn’t until I found CrossFit a little less than a year and a half ago that I turned my life around and found my passion. CrossFit helped me to get sober, helped tremendously with my anxiety and depression, as well as get my disordered eating under control. Now it’s helping me combat the side effects of chemo and kick cancer’s butt. My doctors are extremely supportive of me doing CrossFit. At first they had some concerns and wanted to me take it easier. However, since I am doing so well with my treatments because of CrossFit, they have given me the full go-ahead to work out.

Health memberships: I pay $200 a month for my unlimited CrossFit membership at Subversus Fitness. Plus I pay $175 for personalized programming and nutrition coaching.

Monday

Photograph courtesy Emily Molnar.

10 a.m. — Today and tomorrow are my two days to get as much sleep as possible. Sleep in the hospital is almost non-existent. But my meal prep for the week from Performance Meal Prep is going to be delivered any minute, so it’s time to get up. They deliver CrossFit-approved meals with macros provided to my door and have been a huge help in me staying on track towards my goals throughout treatment ($91.00).

11 a.m. — Time for food.  I constantly battle between needing sleep and being hungry. I make four scrambled eggs then start doing some work around my grandma’s house.

12 p.m. — I have some strawberries because as usual, I am hungry again.  I also put on Fittest On Earth from the 2015 CrossFit Games for some midday motivation.

12:30 p.m. — Shower, get ready for the gym, do some mobility work, and sit with my TENS unit on my legs.  I am trying to get my quads ready for back squats tonight.  I put Fittest On Earth back on while I am sitting there.

2 p.m. — I make some lunch, ground chicken meatballs, and sautéed spinach with garlic and red pepper flakes. I also get all of my food ready to bring with me for the afternoon.

Photograph courtesy Emily Molnar.

3 p.m. — I begin my hour-long trip to the city for CrossFit.  I eat a banana and have a Kill Cliff so the carbs will hit me right when I need them.

4 p.m. — Time for my weekly blood work!

4:30 p.m. — CrossFit time! I’ll spend around two hours here, mobilizing, warming up on the Assault Bike, and working on my programming from my coach.  I also have a shake I made with FNX protein.

7 p.m. — I stop at Mom’s Organic Market for milk for my grandma and some other random groceries and then begin my hour trip home ($21.60). I have an apple with natural peanut butter while on the El.

8:30 p.m. — Time for jerk chicken tacos from Performance Meal Prep — so excited!

9:30 p.m. — I finish reading a book about mindful eating and spend some time planning out my meals for the next day. I have a greek yogurt and do my Headspace meditation.  Now time to get some sleep and do it all over again tomorrow!

Daily total: $112.60

Tuesday

Photograph courtesy Emily Molnar.

10 a.m. — I am up by 10 most mornings because I have a bunch of meds to take. I also drink about 12 ounces of water.  

10:30 a.m. — Breakfast time: a cup of black coffee with four scrambled eggs again and some low-fat chipotle aioli. 

11:30 a.m. — I spend some time doing stuff for my grandma, as well as vacuuming my room. I need it to be as germ-free as possible when I get home from the hospital.

1 p.m. — Time to shower. I am so happy to not be as sore as I was yesterday.

1:30 p.m. — I take a 30-minute rest to sit down and start reading Grit by Angela Duckworth

2 p.m. — Lunch time! I have these awesome whole-wheat wraps from Stacey’s that I got at Mom’s Organic MarketI add a can of tuna, avocado mayo from Primal Kitchen, and some romaine lettuce. I also have strawberries and an ounce of avocado oil chips from Good Health, another Mom’s find!

3 p.m. — I start my hour trek into the city and have a Kill Cliff on the way. I stop at Mom’s again because I forgot apples and strawberries yesterday ($28.93).

4 p.m. — CrossFit time! I do some programming, gymnastics, and I am doing the WOD (Workout of the Day). With all this, I need another Kill Cliff and a protein shake ($4.00).

8 p.m. — Time for that ride home!

9:30 p.m. — I missed my bus from 69th street so I ended up walking about mile. Finally home, I am starving. I have more chicken meatballs with sautéed spinach and prep my food for my early morning tomorrow.

10:30 p.m. — I have some catching up to do, eating-wise, so I have a Greek yogurt and apple with peanut butter.  I read some more Grit and try to sleep so I have energy for my morning workout.

Daily total: $32.93

Wednesday

Photograph courtesy Emily Molnar.

5:30 a.m. — It’s so early, but I have two workouts to do before I go in for my treatment. I have some oatmeal with strawberries and vanilla protein powder as well as a cup of black coffee. I get dressed and order an Uber.

7 a.m. — CrossFit time. Super excited because I hit a new PR on my three-rep strict press.

9:30 a.m. — I walk from CrossFit down to my doctor’s office at Jefferson. Getting in a good workout before chemo definitely helps me to feel stronger and more mentally ready — as well helps me to combat side effects of treatment. After I see my doctor, I start the four-hour infusion. Unfortunately, I do have an allergy to the drug they give me, so I get an IV of Benadryl beforehand. Hopefully I will be able to get some extra sleep!

11:30 a.m. — Okay, sleep isn’t happening. I decide to have my apple with peanut butter and some chicken meatballs. 

12:30 p.m. — I go back to reading Grit and catch up on some CrossFit Instagram.

2:30 p.m. — Done with my infusion, I head home to nap.

6:30 p.m. — I sleep for a bit, but mostly I just relax. Tomorrow I get admitted to the hospital, so I need the rest. Time for another Kill Cliff bar.

6:45 p.m. — I start to pack to get ready for my hospital stay. I bring all my food with me there as well so I can keep to my normal routine.  I eat for my training and I eat for my chemo. I want to fuel my body with the best food possible.  

8 p.m. — Dinner time: more jerk chicken tacos.

8:30 p.m. — I shower, spend some time with my TENS unit and continue reading Grit. Then it’s time for bed.

Daily total: $0

Thursday

Photograph courtesy Emily Molnar.

5:15 a.m. — Early wake up again for CrossFit and chemo!  Black coffee as usual, along with two cups of oatmeal, strawberries, and protein powder. I need all the carbs!

6 a.m. — I Uber all the way into the city with all my food for the next few days.

7 a.m. — I get to the gym, do the WOD and my programming. Lots of gymnastics and snatches today!

10 a.m. — I finish up my protein shake, buy some Kill Cliffs for my stay ($12), and farmer carry all of my stuff to Jefferson.

12 p.m. — I am admitted, unpacked, and ready to go.  I have to wait for my pH levels to come up before they can start my chemo infusion. I munch on an apple with peanut butter and watch part five of the Perseverance documentary on professional Crossfit athlete Sara Sigmundsdottir.  I have a lot of downtime while I am here, so I try to spend as much time as I can learning about CrossFit and studying for my L1. CrossFit has helped me so much in my life, I want to be able to help others who re going through anything.

3 p.m. — I have some strawberries and chicken meatballs. 

4:30 p.m. — After a long wait, I’m finally starting my infusion! I decide to try and nap.

7:30 p.m. — The infusion is still going, but I am starving. I think I might be obsessed with these jerk chicken tacos!

9 p.m. — Infusion is finally done and I decide to go on a 30-minute walk around the oncology floor.

10 p.m. — Thank goodness there’s some good stuff to watch on The Food Network. I get my TENS unit going — my back is mad at me for all the deadlifts.

11 p.m. — I doze off, but it doesn’t last long. I am woken up throughout the night for blood work, vitals, etc. I will be in and out throughout the night.  

Daily total: $12

Friday

Photograph courtesy Emily Molnar.

11 a.m. — I finally got a couple hours of decent sleep.  The nurses know how important sleep and recovery are to me for not just healing, but my CrossFit as well.  I have four scrambled eggs for breakfast and a black coffee from Wawa.

12 p.m. — I go for a walk. Today is actually a rest day for me (my coach makes me in-room workouts to do), but I always make sure to get at least three twenty-minute walks in during the day.

12:30 p.m. — Shower time. It’s a process because of my IV, but it feels so nice.

2 p.m. — My brother comes to visit, and we go for my second walk of the day. I eat a tuna wrap.

5 p.m. — My brother leaves, and it’s time for a nap. 

7 p.m. — I wake up and have an apple with peanut butter. Time for my third walk of the day.

8 p.m. — I eat another meal from Performance Meal Prep. This time it’s pork carnitas. 

9:30 p.m. — Time for a RomWOD and a Headspace meditation. I am not great a meditating to begin with, and it is even harder in the hospital.  However, I always make sure to do both of these on my rest day.  I also watch the next episode of Road to the Games about pro female CrossFit athletes. The steroids they put me on help with my muscle soreness, but I use my TENS unit anyways.

10:30 p.m. — More Grit, and then I’ll attempt to go to sleep. Hopefully only two more days until I get to go home!

Daily total: $0

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $157.53

CrossFit workouts: 4

Average time spent working out each day: 2.5 hours

Performance Meal Prep meals: 4

Kill Cliff bars: 4

Meditation sessions: 2

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly—here’s how: