By Caitlin O. 

Everyone has a story….a journey….a path that has led them to where they stand today. For so many of us, fitness and how we feel about ourselves has been a long time struggle. I find so much inspiration in the real, behind-the-scenes stories of the Incendians that are brave enough to share their stories with us. Meet Caitlin. I think a lot of us can see ourselves inside Caitlin’s struggle. Her success and transformation is remarkable and it has been amazing to watch her emerge from her shell over the past several months. Please take a few minutes and let Caitlin inspire YOU! Lisa

When Lisa posted to the CrossFit Incendia site that she was looking for “Success Stories”, I never would have jumped up to the plate or even considered throwing myself out there BUT someone else had a different idea and suggested that I share my story so I figured I would take a big leap and throw myself out there (thank you Jessica 🙂

I have never been the petite, skinny type (instead I have big hips, bulky thighs, and plenty of junk in the trunk) and I’ve spent many years wishing and hoping for a body type that just doesn’t belong to me. I have struggled with my weight, my self-image, and more importantly my self-worth for pretty much my entire life but all of that is FINALLY beginning to change. Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “where does this girl get the idea that she should even be telling her story if she’s just FINALLY starting to figure things out?!” Well, let me tell you!

My story started many years ago and fortunately, or unfortunately I suppose, it isn’t just about the way I look so I don’t have many pictures available to document my journey…

In 1995, when I was only 12-years old, I was diagnosed with anorexia and I have struggled big time with my weight and sense of self ever since. Over the years, I had such a hard time with my weight and after having my first child in 2003, at 19, my body changed drastically and my weight just seemed to creep higher and higher. I would yo-yo back and forth with my diets, I would go hours trying not to eat, only to end up eating even more, I’ve ingested my fair share of diet pills, shakes, or “magic”, and I would attempt to work out only to get frustrated and quit. In 2010, after I had my two kids, finished nursing school, and many other big (and even little) life challenges, I had reached maximum levels of discomfort, depression, and a complete loss of motivation and not only my health and my weight were suffering, my relationships were too.

At this point in my life, I despised being around friends (they were all cute, skinny, and happy), pushed my loved ones away (they would never understand how I was feeling inside), and just had a hard time being social in general (wasn’t everyone judging my every move?!). I’ve never been very good in social situations because I am terribly shy, but I had really hit a low point! One day at work, one of my coworkers even said to me, “It sure is a shame that you are so heavy. You always look so unhappy but you sure have a beautiful face underneath all that weight.” Although I had been through far worse, there is no doubt that it was then and there that I decided I needed to change!

I started working out at home alone so that no one else could see how miserable it was to do 5 minutes of cardio, how I could barely keep up with the workout videos, and how I would give up on exercise…essentially only giving up on myself over and over again. It took a lot of time to work up stamina and to gain the ability to finish but over time (a long, long time); I lost 50 pounds and started to try and find myself again.

Insert Andy and Mandy, two friends I have had since high school who had seen my life through the good, the bad, and the ugly! When Incendia first opened last year, Andy would ask me nearly every weekend if I would go with her to Crossfit. She would tell me how great of a workout it was, tell me how much I would love it because like her, pre-CF, I loved the Insanity videos, and often tell me about the great people…BUT I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I would talk myself down, tell myself I was in no way good enough, and remind myself over and over just how uncute I was in spandex! (Really Caitlin?! Not cute in spandex is a reason to hide out at home?! I know, I know! Silly!) Shortly after the New Year, Mandy also joined Incendia and she too was often telling me how great it was and I would then give her my lame excuses and that would be that.

Along came February, March, and April and I kept toying with the idea of getting my butt out there and just going for it. After talking with Mandy one weekend afternoon, she talked me into it and we decided that I would start the following week. It was the last week in April and I will never forget the WOD the first day I walked in there…100 wall balls for time! WTF are these people thinking?! I did the WOD and signed up immediately because I knew if I didn’t, I would talk myself out of ever coming back. I am coming up on my seven month mark and I have to admit that CrossFit has absolutely and I kick myself all the time for waiting so dang long to get in there!

“What has changed” you ask?! I have finally learned that I am worth it! When I first walked in to 101, I could barely get my chin over the bar using the thickest band for pull-ups, and in today’s WOD I did 52 kipping pull-ups. My choices over the last several months have allowed my body to do things I never thought I could do! The body that I have spent so much time fighting against is perfect for CrossFit…while my hips, thighs, and trunk junk hold a whole lot of strength; more than anything else, my mind holds all of the power. I have learned to embrace my body for the things that it can do rather than putting it down for the things that it can’t. I am a woman, it is so hard not to compare myself to those around me but reminding myself that I am healthy, I am happy, and I am strong is what really matters most at the end of the day. I feel better now than I ever have in my entire life; I actually look forward to getting out of bed in the morning. Going back to my previous days, letting my demons win, would be so easy but it is so not worth it. Knowing that I am choosing a life of strength is mentally exhilarating. Who needs skinny anyway?!

There are so many people who have believed in me, even when I could hardly believe in myself. We truly are our own worst enemy! Through Incendia, I have not only made some awesome new friends but I have also been lucky enough to strengthen friendships that were already there. I do always have to remind myself to just give each day my best and that my best today could potentially be different than yesterday’s best or even tomorrow’s, and it’s not always for the better. We have good days, and we have bad days, it is imperative that you stop beating yourself up! We must allow our bodies to do what they can do…if you talk yourself out of it before you even begin; you are doomed from the start. CrossFit has taught me that if you fuel your body properly with food, sleep, and exercise, it can do some pretty amazing things. I am worth it….and so are you!

Showing 5 comments
  • Elizabeth

    Such a great story. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marti

    Wow caitlin! Such an awesome inspiration, so many people in similar ruts! You are amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  • Andrea

    I feel as though I’m reading my story, the not geeing adequate,depression and pushing others away. I began my own crossfit journey last week and can only hope to feel as great as you now do. Your successes are an inspiration to me!

  • Caitlin

    Andrea, hang in there and take it day by day! I constantly have to remind myself that I am in competition with me and me only. Keep your mind open to new experiences and more than anything, love yourself as you are 🙂 you’ve got this!!

  • Cherie


    I just read your story and I I thought I was reading my own! Its amazing the way you described how you felt about yourself and the fact that you are a nurse…… so many things reflecting my own life!! I’ve become some what of a self proclaimed recluse and I do not want to get dressed most days!!! I was looking for inspiration today and I found just that right here in this story. This beautiful story of your own struggles and the strength you found to over come! Thank you for sharing this inspiration! I am sure you have touch more lives here than you could ever know. And I am one of those. Thank you!