How did you get started with CrossFit?
It’s a long story but I’ll try to keep it short.
When I was 21, I was obese. I was very unhealthy physically and mentally. I was working 5 days a week as a cashier and when I would get home and take off my pants and shoes, I would literally throw my back out. I was also a cigarette smoker.
I avoided having pictures taken of me. I literally never looked at my body.
I remember the exact moment I knew I needed to change things. I never really looked at myself from the neck down. And then I accidentally did when I was sitting in front of my mirror putting on my makeup. I couldn’t take my eyes off the mirror, but it wasn’t like it is now. It was like who the hell is that? I was very unhealthy, and it makes me cringe thinking about the way I treated myself and let others treat me.
I asked one of my friends from work to start running with me after work. When the weather got cooler, I did Jillian Michaels workouts on YouTube.
Soon I started looking at home workouts and got a ridiculous pair of pink 2lb dumbbells. A month later, I bought a 10lb set. I started doing squats, thrusters, situps, pushups, planks, and running. I saw results FAST. Without realizing it, my diet had evolved to mostly paleo before I even knew what it was.
While searching for at home workouts, I came across this video from CrossFit named “Beauty in Strength." I knew instantly, this made sense and this is what I wanted to do!
I was trying to think about how I was going to fit a barbell in the tiny space of a patio of our apartment. This whole time I was working out in a tiny space in my apartment bedroom with dumbbells, kettlebells, and a yoga mat. That’s it. So I started doing CrossFit styled workouts in my bedroom.
On my 23rd birthday, I did a crazy workout and 200 pushups and drove to work. I was evacuated because of a massive fire. Later that night, the Valley Fire had traveled miles down to my own apartment and that was the day I lost my apartment and everything in it. Two months later, we (my grandparents and I) found a house after living at my dads in his living room.
When we got a small loan to replace our furniture and things, I took my money and bought a barbell set. We had a garage now. So for about a year and a half, I’ve been seriously into CrossFit, powerlifting and weightlifting. Mostly, I did whatever I felt like. In December, I started doing Margaux Alvarez’s programming.
Where does your motivation come from?
In complete honesty, I feel like everywhere I look, someone in my family has some kind of chronic illness caused by lifestyle. Sleep apnea, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, cancers, you name it, one of my relatives has that. Once, I started to feel insane chronic pain. I was bullied growing up. I knew I needed to change my life.
Every time I wake up early and I’m wanting to hit snooze, I literally tell myself, what do you really want?
When I post progress pictures, sometimes I still can’t believe that I’ve come this far. I look at before pictures, and I don’t have many, but it freaks me out. I remember how I felt about myself and life. I remember how painful it felt to do basic things.
That’s my motivation. Simply, to never go back to that and enjoy the rest of my life in the best quality and form that I can. Also, CrossFit is so fun. I love when I find stuff I suck at because it gives me room to grow and get better!
What's your typical training week look like?
Well, I’m a full-time student, so all my training revolves around my school schedule. I also just started a new job, so I’m going to have to start doing afternoon/evening workouts.
When I don’t have to leave the house until 9 or 10am, I wake up at 4am to workout. I do Wine & WOD Programming through The Vineyard CrossFit and I LOVE it.
How has your coach helped you succeed?
I am my own coach but I have had help from one of my friends who is an L2 Coach, Emily Cook! She taught me how to snatch and she’s been my go to for training advice.
Emily also works with me now at FNX Fit and she’s such a badass she just competed at Wodapolooza! But I film my own workouts since I workout alone and don’t have a mirror in there, and that’s how I correct and coach myself.
How have you built mental toughness, and how do you apply it during training?
To put it bluntly; I’ve gone through A LOT that’s shaped me to be a more resilient person. My grandparents and I lost everything in the 2015 California Valley Fire. I knew so many people who lost everything. It was emotionally draining to say the least.
I had to have surgery in May of 2016 for Endometriosis and had to wait before I could workout and start completely over again with working out and progress and it’s frustrating.
I’m a full time student working three jobs with a 3.5 average GPA. I work really hard because I know the payoff is worth it.
I embrace the suck completely in life and in each WOD.
I remind myself that I will learn something from the things I go through and that it’s how you react from things that happen to you that matter.
What are your 3 favorite movements?
The Snatch because it’s super hard and I super suck at it still but when I hit it, I feel like Wonder Woman. It feels like magic.
Squat Cleans because it’s my favorite lift.
Pushups/Handstands. I can’t do a freestanding handstand. I cannot walk on my hands yet. I can barely hold a handstand against a wall for a few seconds but I’m really really working on them and I’m determined to walk on my hands by the end of the year. Pushups because I used to do them a lot. I did 38 unbroken at a time…now I can do 10. I’m getting better at strict but I want to be able to do 38 unbroken again.
What's your diet like?
I eat the same breakfast everyday
- 3 Eggs scrambled with garlic, mushrooms, pepper, turmeric, and kale, spinach, or both
- Rolled oats with almond milk, nut butter, and cinnamon
- Krill Oil & Folic Acid supplements
- FNX Vanilla Protein Powder
- Whole Foods or School food
- Protein Shakes or Perfect Bars
Where do you train and what have you gained from your CrossFit community?
I train at home in my garage. I love that I don’t feel scared or judged to ask questions or get help. I never feel judged or criticized. I feel encouraged to communicate with others in the community and trade information and tips on nutrition and fitness related topics.
How has CrossFit changed your life?
I never felt strong before. I literally feel like I can handle anything. I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’m not depressed anymore. I was in such bad shape, mentally, physically, just a mess. I’m not that at all.
Ohhhhh man. It’s taught me so much about myself, how much I’m capable of, and how strong I actually am!
I have my moments where I get stressed and overwhelmed with school but it’s NOTHING, not even close to what I used to feel.
I feel like a better human. I’m in control of my own life and it feels amazing. I would not be here like this now if I hadn’t found CrossFit.
I do it alone, at home, and I love the person I’ve become. I feel like I’m constantly pursuing new knowledge about health, fitness, and nutrition.
This is my passion now.
What advice would you give someone new to CrossFit?
“It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop” and don’t get discouraged at anything you see someone else doing that you aren’t able to do yet.
You will be able to if you ask for help and work hard. Consistency is key. The scale shouldn’t be the focus. Remind yourself why you’re doing it when it sucks really bad and all you want to think about is stopping.
Just keep going and you’ll never feel regret.
What are your future plans?
I’m almost done with my Associates in Kinesiology. I’m getting my L1 CrossFit Certification in March. I’m planning on working from home out of my garage as a personal trainer/CrossFit instructor while continuing my education to get my Masters in Kinesiology, minor in nutrition, and teaching credential so I can be a physical education and nutrition hybrid teacher. That’s all I want in life.
I just accepted a badass job that I’m so excited to start through a program as a physical education and fitness and movement instructor for local elementary schools, after school programs, and camps!
I quit my job in November that I was at for almost 6 years. I’ve been in a weird transitional period the last couple months just trying to figure out what makes me happy and how I can still pay bills with the knowledge I have.
I was patient and I found this and I feel like a million pounds has been lifted and I’m finally right where I need to be instead of waiting for something to happen. I’m making it happen.
I feel blessed instead of cursed.
Follow Samantha's journey on Instagram: @samanthaxton
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