I Was Terrified of CrossFit, But I Love How Much It’s Changed My Body

Courtney Kimmel shares how she went from a beginner's class to attending CrossFit workouts at least five days a week.

crossfit weight loss

Before and after Courtney Kimmel’s CrossFit weight loss. Photographs courtesy Courtney Kimmel.

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one local’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com.

Who: Courtney Kimmel, 32, a childcare center owner from Northern Liberties

Why I wanted to make a change: “For as long as I can remember, I have been aware of my weight. I recall when I was in elementary school, I overheard the pediatrician telling my mother that according to their calculations and charts, my BMI for my height was something to be conscious of.

“During middle school, I began dieting. There was a whole world of information on various diet plans available. I tried most of them over the years with little to no success. My senior year of high school, I tried the South Beach diet and did reach my lowest weight of 123 pounds! Once I started college, maintaining a full course load as well as a strict low carb diet was not sustainable. This is when I noticed the rise in the numbers on the scale. Although I was always athletic, and enjoyed various sport activities, I found there was little that motivated me to stay in shape. After graduating, I continued to gain weight. While I never was considered an unhealthy weight, the added pounds took a toll on me mentally, and I began to struggle with my confidence. It was this time in my life that I knew I needed something to change, something to motivate me to feel better within my own skin.”

Height: 5’2″

Starting weight: 170

Current weight: 126

How I got started: “I live about a block away from a gym called CrossFit Love, which I passed every day on my way to work. It caught my attention. I decided to ask a friend of mine, who had been doing CrossFit, a few questions about what it was and how she liked it. She told me I would love it, and not to be intimidated. For a second opinion, I turned to Google. I was TERRIFIED! It definitely appeared to be an intense sport, full of fit athletes. June of 2013, I took a deep breath and walked in to try a beginner’s class. The instructor started with tabata squats. I remember at the end of four minutes we went to run and my legs were like Jell-O. Even though it kicked my butt on day one, I felt like I had accomplished something I never saw myself doing, and that feeling was incredible! There it was, the spark of motivation I needed!”

“I felt like I had accomplished something I never saw myself doing, and that feeling was incredible!”

What changed: “Everything changed! My strength, my endurance, my energy, my motivation, and my mood. CrossFit actually transformed my mental happiness before my body. I was less stressed, had more energy, and was more social. Two of my more exciting moments at CrossFit were actually accomplishing things I could not do when I was younger. I remember dreading those horrendous presidential fitness tests in school. I barely passed, could never climb the rope, and always had to repeat the mile until I could get under 13 minutes. I am proud to say that I now love climbing the rope and last year I ran a 7:30 minute mile!”

How I changed my diet: “I actually did not change my diet too drastically, I mostly cut my portion sizes, tried to eat healthy during the week and only indulge on the weekends. Once I realized I could lose weight and keep it off through exercise, I didn’t feel the need to constantly stress over what I was eating. I have recently been trying the Keto diet, focusing on eating the right proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I must say, I feel much better and my body has become more toned. I’ve also noticed, as much as I love to indulge in unhealthy carbohydrates, when I do eat them I definitely notice a decline in my energy level. My current goal is to find the right balance between healthy eating and treating myself without over indulging.”

How I changed my exercise plan: “I was only going to CrossFit two to three times a week, sporadically for the first year. This changed to three times consistently the second year. I now go five to six times a week.”

The hardest part: “The hardest part was getting into the rhythm and routine. Finding the right gym is what really helped me with that. Another was recognizing that change doesn’t happen overnight. People ask me all the time, ‘How did you lose weight?’ ‘What changes did you make?’  My answer is always the same: ‘I committed.’ I made it a priority in my life, and I was also patient. My transformation did not happen overnight. It took three years of CrossFit before I saw any noticeable changes in my body. When it comes to dieting, I have learned that if it happens quickly, it can reverse just as quickly.”

“My transformation did not happen overnight. It took three years of CrossFit before I saw any noticeable changes in my body.”

What I’m most proud of: “I am very proud of my weight loss, but I am more excited about my dedication. I never thought I would be someone who would want to go to the gym, push myself to lift more weight, or run faster. At the end of every class, even five years later, I am amazed that it was ME who just did that intense work out.”

What I want everyone to know: “I want people to know that exercise can change your life. I know it is not easy to make time, but you cannot expect change unless you are willing to commit. You just have to find something that sparks that fire.”

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