Rain. Blah. Rain is frustrating when you’re trying to move your stuff across the city. Rain has been the norm over the past 6 months or so in South Carolina. It saddens me.
You know what isn’t sad though? Great, hardworking people. I said awhile back that I want to use this blog as a platform to rave about the awesome people in my life. CrossFit Electric City has a lot of them. I hope your gym does too. If you want to meet all kinds of people that aren’t like you, get out of your bubble and go to the gym. You’ll meet all kinds of people there.

I’ve had the opportunity to workout alongside Nicole Bowen over the past 3 years. We started CrossFit around the same time. Nicole is a former rower at Clemson. You won’t find a more hardworking person – for real. She works at TTI, does a lot of freelance on the side, somehow makes it to the gym 5 days a week, and is in a D Group(which requires a lot of discipline). On top of that, she is incredibly generous, and she is passionate about always giving her best.

Awhile back, Nicole had some bumps in the road in her fitness journey, and honestly, just life in general. Nicole told me that she has always put an incredible amount of pressure on herself to be a great athlete, friend, and just all around human. However, she felt like she always fell short — being more on the side of “good,” not “great.”

I wanted to share her story, in her own words, because maybe you can relate to Nicole. Her story hits home for me too.

Fast Forward  – I’ve been able to witness Nicole get better in all kinds of ways over the past couple of months. I’ve watched her go from “good” to “great” in the way she carries herself. Great doesn’t always have to mean you’re the best at everything in the gym (Whoa, that would be a lot of pressure, and life is about more than that). I believe that being “great” is all in how you carry yourself. I’ve watched a transformation in Nicole over the past couple of months. In the past, Nicole would get SO down on herself for not meeting her own crazy standards that she put on herself. She would scream, cry, and get SO down on herself. Just ask her about it. We’ve all had our moments, but I think the pressure really got to Nicole. But Nicole has changed. I’ve watched her live a little, laugh at herself more, shake it off, and move on. And I believe THAT has made Nicole better – a better friend, teammate, and ultimately athlete. For real, if you look at her now, she’s better now than she ever has been. She’s moving quickly (even with burpees), and her strength is coming back scary fast! My mouth literally drops watching her throw weight around. And she can butterfly her chest to bar pullups. (Teach me, Nicole). It has been fun to watch, for sure!

Nicole is READY for the CrossFit Games Open this year. And watch out world, because she’s more prepared than ever to show up and have her best Open yet.

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My Break from Life, Friends and Crossfit (In Nicole’s Own Words)

This past year has been one of the most challenging years, mentally and physically, that I have come across thus far. It seemed as if no matter what I did it wasn’t good enough for anything, anyone, and not even myself. I struggled at work, with my freelance work, my friends and relationships with them, my Christianity, and athletic goals. My world was crashing down around me and I kept digging myself into a bigger hole or so I thought.

It all started last summer when I felt like I was in a rut with my spiritual life and I had met with Stephanie Fura and she told me about D Group. Basically D Group is the “Crossfit “ of bible study and it was honestly something that I needed. It’s embarrassing for me to admit that I had gone to Catholic School my entire life to know nothing of the Lord or have anything to show of it other than the few things that were “burned into me” prayer wise from repetition. Once I had gotten back from Charleston I decided to join a group and started my spiritual journey with God as my center.

As the weeks moved forward I felt that I was making great progress with all aspects in my life but I kept having a heavier and heavier workload from work and freelance that was truly impacting me physically and mentally. I was constantly exhausted and never could get the right balance between everything. I struggled with my timing or ever having the time to meal prep, see friends, or do basic chores around my house because I was always working countless hours a day.

I finally hit rock bottom when I was about to row a 2k with a coworker during our lunch break in September. As I was warming up and stretching in spider stretch, I slipped on the smooth concrete floor and dislocated my shoulder … STRETCHING. Just my luck right? I’m trying to get back into the gym and then this happens. Unfortunately, I have dealt with a lot of injuries throughout my time as an athlete. Each time that it happens it just seemed like a slap in the face. I have always been the “GOOD” athlete with the heart to push myself and work hard but never was the “GREAT” athlete that would make it in the top spot, top boat, or top finish. Being a competitive and passionate person in athletics and everything that I was involved in to took a toll on me over time. It kept me from giving any attention to myself because I was so focused on everyone else and their needs when I couldn’t meet my own.

When this happened I felt like it was time for me to throw in the towel and give up. I was never going to be the ideal person that I wanted to be or strived to be which only sunk me deeper and deeper into the rut that I was falling into. I stopped going to the gym most days and said I didn’t have time. I made excuses for everything on why I couldn’t do it. There were days where I would come home and eat a bag of Cheetos and a pint of ice cream because I thought to myself well it really doesn’t matter anymore because I am not worth it or it doesn’t matter what I do its not going to help me or hurt me in the long run. My mindset was really going through the ringer.

As time went by, I realized that I had a competition that I had signed up for at the beginning of December with my partner Derek. There were many times we talked about dropping out or me finding him a different partner that would actually participate well. He wouldn’t accept that ha! His mindset was for I needed to do this for myself and show that I can do anything that I set my mind to and that we were going to do this competition for fun, nothing else and that the outcome didn’t matter. I “got back” into the gym but still struggled due to the holidays. When I did start back, after therapy, etc. I decided to focus on the “fitness group” and the non-competitor group. My new struggle was going in thinking I would do well to only get my “lack of better words”… ass handed to myself. The reality was that I had to clear my mind and refocus myself to why I was doing Crossfit. Not just for the competitive side, but because I really enjoyed it and the people I was around.

It honestly wasn’t until Derek and I did that competition before Christmas to realize how much I missed THIS. By THIS I meant the atmosphere of the people, places, friendships, competition, and camaraderie. Not sure if it was the adrenaline that I was feeling but my first event that Derek and I participated in felt like I could do anything. I went into the remaining events with my head held high but was sadly beaten down again by myself. The second event even though we had practiced it didn’t go as planned. I failed reps, couldn’t hold my own, and just overall felt that hot anger take over me because I couldn’t do the simplest tasks. When the time cap came to a close I couldn’t get away fast enough. I was embarrassed and scared at the same time. I wanted to quit and fully give up. If it hadn’t of been for Derek and Alison to talk me into continuing I probably would have left. This showed me that I had truly special and inspiring people in my life that I was shutting out. I left that competition more humble than I had been in a really long time. This was just only the beginning of my new journey.

I had told myself that the New Year was going to be the new beginning for me, and my journey back to where I want to be. It wasn’t going to be the typical cliché new years resolution of fly and die but a total refocus in that everything that I do is a building and humbling experience. There were going to be days where I would excel and there will be days I will fall behind, but the key was taking the step and moving forward everyday. This really hit home for me when I had gotten one of the most motivating and inspiring gifts from my roommate, Stephanie Trotter. She had made a box of quotes for everyday of the year compiled of bible versus, famous sayings, and tidbits that she had collected from my closest friends. Now every day I start my day with one of these quotes, daily bible reading, and daily devotional (My Upmost for His Highest by: Oswald Chambers – Thanks Shandi! This has forever changed me). All of those set the tone for me and helped get my mind right because I now know I cannot control everything –  only God can –  and we cannot do life alone. So each day is a new day and sometimes you just need to take step back and humble yourself in order to succeed.

“ I will find more within myself” – Julie Foucher

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Nicole was my partner in Clash of the Titans Competition last June. It was a lot of fun. We got 1st place.

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Back in 2013 – competing in Statesboro together. Nicole got 2nd. I got 4th. This was one of the first times Daniel and I hung out with Nicole outside of our gym. 

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Apex Games in GVL in 2014. Nicole did great. Dan did great. He took my place because I couldn’t walk. Good husband, he is.

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Nicole and Derek competing at The Independence Games back in July 2015. Derek is a great friend, and has been a huge encouragement to Nicole over the past couple of years.