Solcana blog

I’ve been thinking about making it to today’s post since I started on this path 52 weeks ago. One year ago. 365 days, A whole entire rotation of the sun.

Buckle up, it’s gonna be good.

Me, exactly one year ago this week.
Me, exactly one year ago (2014)

I have so many feelings bouncing around inside of me with regard to this community I was so generously accepted into one year ago. Solcana CrossFit opened it’s doors officially on June 1, 2014 though I had the luxury of meeting with Coach Hannah for my 1:1 evaluation the week prior – so, this same EXACT week of 2014. Together, we had hatched a plan in the weeks leading up to the opening – a plan that would include me becoming a member of the gym and writing a weekly blog post as a total CrossFit newbie…and actually, if we’re going to be honest, a relatively unfit adult at a total crossroad.

I remember this exact week, last year. It was the week of my dear friend’s (Ellie Hino!) wedding when I popped in to see Hannah and we discussed some qualitative and quantitative goals to work towards during my time at Solcana. As I’ve talked about my Graves’ Disease turned hypothyroid diagnosis years ago that sent me into a world of weightgain, weight loss was part of what I was hoping to achieve in this experience. However, in discussing with Hannah, she made a point to tell me that the scale is not the way they measure fitness. That statement put me at ease considering here I was, living a sedentary lifestyle (with intermittent trips to the big box gym where I would ellipt or walk on a treadmill for an ungodly amount of time, without ever seeing results…mostly because I would go once a week at most), smoking, eating a poor diet (I never ate enough and what I DID eat wasn’t the right stuff), with poor sleep habits, and booze…and, well, this was the me that walked into Solcana CrossFit, thanks to a very generous invitation from Coach Hannah, and her business partners (and now my friends!) Nate and Nicole.

As a reflection, I took some time to go back through some of my old blogs as a way to be reminded of all of the wonderful and crazy experiences I’ve had over the last year at Solcana. It was too perfect not to include this snippet from Week 1 post as it highlighted what I was feeling and the goals Coach Hannah and I discussed on that life changing day:

Last Friday, I went in and met with Coach Hannah who (amidst lots of laughs and hilarity) sat down 1:1 with me to go over qualitative and quantitative goals I have around fitness and my Solcana CrossFit experience. I really liked talking with her about these types of goals because for the first time, some of them feel attainable. It was less about dropping pounds and focusing on the scale numbers, and more about body change measured through things like smaller pants sizes. It was comfortable and I didn’t have to stand on a scale in front of some nice suburban housewife from Maplewood before sitting through a meeting with a bunch of suburban gals talkin’ about sugar free foods. You should know I’ve self diagnosed myself with PTWD (Post Traumatic Weight Watchers Disorder). Full disclosure.


My goals include:

  • Starting something and seeing it through
  • Losing pants sizes
  • Feeling stronger
  • Busting past my brain voice that tells me I need to quit

Those goals? Those goals! OMG those goals. I read and reread them over and over and over because, YOU GUYS!

Starting something and seeing it through. Up until right now, the only thing I’ve ever started and saw through was watching EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE of Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this whole thing started as me writing a blog for which I had to workout in order to have something to write about. Now, I workout and also have to write a blog. I’ve gone from barely being able to make it in to the gym 2x/week to nailing it a minimum of 6x/week. I’m definitely seeing this thing through.

Losing pants sizes. Accomplished. I can’t quite wrap my head around seeing myself fit into clothing sizes I haven’t fit in for years – and I think this is because it’s been such a gradual weightloss it’s been hard to comprehend what has been happening right in front of my face. I’m doing it the healthy way.

Feeling strong. I don’t just feel strong. I am strong. Physically AND emotionally. Physically, I can lift a bunch of heavy stuff of the ground and do pushups from the floor and I can mentally push through barriers presented to me. Lifting has given me so much self-confidence in so many areas of my life – like, physical strength hs given me mental strength, too. As I have put so much time and effort into myself this last year, I’ve started to actually value myself for the first time, possibly ever. Because I’m worth it, I’ve been able to reevaluate behaviors and relationships and make positive changes for myself – changing my priorities, surrounding myself with people that reciprocate love, QUITTING MAH JOB, and, of course, having the strength to ask for help when I most desperately needed it (see Week 30’s post). I’ve had the highest highs and actually gave myself the opportunity to live A LIFE! I’ve had dates and relationships and laughs and experiences and see beauty in the places I used to only see negatively. Which leads me to the last goal:

Busting past my brain voice that tells me I need to quit. I stopped quitting. Don’t get me wrong…lots of times I still feel like quitting – especially when doing something so taxing with my body after work, when all I can think about is WHEN CAN I EAT DINNER I JUST WANT TO DIE. I stopped quitting. I may stop what I’m doing momentarily, reevaluate, look up and see my gym homies cheering me on and PUSH THROUGH. It does something to me to have this kind of incredible support – support like I’ve never felt in my whole life. I have always been a supporter and have always had a hard time asking for and/or receiving support (see: self worth), so once I finally let my walls down and allowed myself to be vulnerable some really magical thing happened. I feel supported. Take last Saturday, for example…Coach Morgen led the Saturday 9am Women-Trans-Femme class. I walked in and saw the workout and was less than excited as we were going to do

5 Rounds for Time of:

  • 25 calorie row (typically ~2 minutes)
  • 9 Ring Rows
  • 9 Push Ups

Rowing is still one of my least favorite things because after a few minutes of sprinting, it gets pretty taxing. I’m so much better at it than I used to be, though, and that progress is measurable. For one, I have asthma and used to have to carry my inhaler with me at all times – ESPECIALLY when rowing. Now? I don’t even bring it with me anywhere. I can’t tell you the last time I used it at the gym. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? I have endurance! I am an athlete! But I digress. I was in round four of this workout, on the rower, working at a really fast pace…wanting to give up. I looked up, caught Coach Morgen’s eye as she mouthed to me with a huge grin, “I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.” You guys. I pushed through that workout so hard and finished with the second best time in the class of 17:29. You should probably know that I am choked up having only just written that last sentence. I feel the love and the support and it has helped me realize that I am capable of some pretty bad ass things. My body is strong and valuable. I have the power to change and I definitely have the strength to do it. Even though I know that I’m the one who’s had to commit, who’s had to show up, who’s had to lift the stuff and run the miles and do the pushups – you know, DO THE WORK…I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without knowing that these magical coaches and gym homies believe in me. As someone who has seriously lacked that feeling (and faked it pretty well through most of life) it’s a gift I’m so grateful to have been given and I hope you all know that I believe in you, too. When I say I love you, I mean it. All of you.

Ugh. Are you guys crying yet like I am? SO MANY EMOTIONS.


I’m a visual girl, so I thought it would be fun to include some comparisons so we can really see how this year has impacted me. Let’s take the baseline – the very first thing I did when I met with Coach Hannah one year ago to asses my physical strength endurance and to give us something to compare to as time went on.

The Baseline (for time):

  • 500 m row
  • 40 squats
  • 30 sit ups
  • 20 push ups
  • 10 pull ups (ring rows)

When I first did this a year ago, it took me exactly 10 minutes to complete everything…and I WAS SPENT. My pushups were on a 30″ elevated box and Coach Hannah had to hold my feet for the 30 pushups because, well, I had no abdominal muscles.

I last did this same workout on May 5, 2015 – nearly a year to the day. My pushups improved to a mix between doing them from the floor and a 20″ elevated box, and I no longer need anyone to hold my feet on my situps. I’ve got abs for days thanks to the millions of situps and ab exercises we’ve done over the year. THIS IS NOT EVEN THE BEST PART!

THE BEST PART is  improving my time by 4 minutes and :16 secondes for the exact same workout that once took me 10 minutes to complete. I nailed it with a final time of 5:44 nearly a year to the day. Man. The feelings. It’s hard to put into words.  I’m sorry…I’m crying again.

The power to change. The strength to do it. You’re damn right. This Saturday, I’ll compete in my very first USA Powerlifting sanctioned meet in Duluth – the Twin Ports Raw Open and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my one year anniversary of this journey. I looked back on my powerlifting progress to give you a little comparison of how far I’ve come:

On June 23, 2014, I squatted 95lbs. My current 1 rep max is 255lbs. I hope to beat that on Saturday in Duluth.

On June 27, 2014, I deadlifted 65lbs. My current 1 rep max is 310lbs. I hope to ALSO beat that on Saturday in Duluth.

On September 6, 2014, I topped out bench press at 115lbs. My current 1 rep max is 135lbs, and…you guessed it…I hope to knock that off the board Saturday in Duluth as well.

This is real proof, you guys. As someone who has never been very goal oriented in life it is THE MOST GRATIFYING THING to set a goal, do the work, and ACTUALLY achieve it. It’s crazy that this concept has taken me 37 and half years to comprehend. Set a goal. Do the work. Achieve. Accountability also plays a huge part in this, and this blog has been exactly that for me. I had to show up in order to have something to write about. You guys would read it and talk to me about it, holding me accountable. Thank you for that. You’ve showed me support and helped me change my life.

I’ve used a few pictures as comparison for progress I’ve made over the year…some of them I’ve posted publically, and many of them I’ve just used for myself. I think it’s good to do something like this because it shows me that I am changing. Not only getting stronger, but also more accepting of my body and allowing it to be captured in photos. Considering this is something I have always dreaded previously, I think this shows huge progress for me. I love myself for the first time in my life because I have accepted that I have the power to change, and the strength to do it. I AM DOING IT! The complete and total embodiment of everything Solcana CrossFit stands for. I’m grateful and a believer and if you’re on the fence about fitness goals or wanting to love yourself, come join me. Anytime. It’s the best gift I’ve ever accepted – the best decision I’ve ever made – and I can’t wait to show you that you can do it, too. You’ve got the strength. You’ve always had it. You just need to see the same strength everyone around you sees in you. It’s the most empowering thing you will ever experience.

Coach Hannah, Morgen, Jake, Marijke, Ariel, Jeff, Emily, Michael, Wendy, Jenn, Lucia, and Sally: Thank you. To Nate and Nicole: Thank you. To my homies, without which I would not know what it means to truly be there for someone: thank you. You all saved my life. You gave me a life. I love you, and I can’t wait to show myself everything I’m capable of in the upcoming days, weeks, and years.







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There 5 responses to “My CrossFit Journey Week 52: I JUST HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS”

Tia Youker

Hmmm… pretty sure I’ll have to be looking into a sit down with Hannah…

I have more I need to read – but CONGRATULATIONS – this is fantastic!

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Jenn Schaal

Tia! I hope you will! I would love to be there with you, too. Trust me, it’s worth it.

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You are so inspiring!!!

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Jenn Schaal


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Jen… you are an inspiration…?says the asthmatic. COPD, overworked, overweight and weak woman who WILL begin my journey this year! Zing mom

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