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Couch to Coach: Melissa’s Story

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“Looking back at myself 3-4 years ago is very odd. It is truly an out of body experience in the sense that I remember it vividly, but it also seems like it never happened. I was someone else. Someone who was disgusted with their body, embarrassed to be photographed, and in deep denial about their potential. I thought this was 30. This is just how a body feels when you’re ‘older’.”

This is a quote from our Coach, Melissa Dixon.

If you would have told me just over 2 years ago, in February of 2016, when Melissa started her introduction to CrossFit personal trainings with me, that I’d be saying the words, Coach Melissa Dixon, I’d be a little skeptical.

She apparently had a different view, telling her husband Scott she could see herself coaching CrossFit in the future, after only our first intro lesson.

It was probably because she knew more about proper rowing form than I. She modestly smirked through my entire rowing presentation and played along before confessing to be a former collegiate rower. I had to admire her courtesy, and sense of humor.

Melissa came in as most newer mom’s do, determined to find an old identity. “I have always identified as an athlete,” says Melissa. “It all happened so fast. Life happened fast. Two kids, two pregnancies, working early, working late, living comfortably, cooking the most rich and decadent things to impress my husband, and eating…a lot.”

“I would joke around with friends about how much I was eating or how I didn’t care about my body anymore, but I was ashamed of myself. There were days that I would hurt so badly from picking up my 2-year-old. My back would ache, my knees were creaky, and my feet would get swollen just from grocery shopping. I would hear that voice in my head telling me, ‘This is what being a woman in your thirties feels like’ or ‘I wish I had the metabolism of a twenty-something again.’ I could rattle off any excuse to dismiss the fact I ended up with a BMI the doctors would discuss with me at every prenatal check up. I felt trapped in a body I did not recognize and wasn’t proud of.”

There was one friend who believed in Melissa’s potential even in her hardest times. “CrossFit would change your life. It was made for you,” her close friend Ashley would tell her. Ashley was also a former collegiate rower, and a member of a CrossFit gym in downtown Miami. Melissa resisted Ashley’s attempts to recruit her to the cult of CrossFit because she believed those girls (and guys) were crazy.

Melissa chose to tell herself the same limiting story. “We should just be cooking and cleaning, wiping snotty noses, and forget about the fact that we don’t recognize the person we see in the mirror. Moms don’t get the luxury of fitness. I’ll be fit again once the kids are grown.”

That all changed when Ashley invited Melissa to watch a CrossFit competition she was participating in called the Cult Classic Series (fitting name). It was right here in Jupiter so Melissa had no excuse not to attend and cheer on her friend.

“I was only 1 month pregnant with my second child when I strolled up to the gates looking for Ashley’s team, appropriately named ‘Probably Gonna Die’. I was scanning for all the fitness lunatics, but I saw some of the fittest people I’ve ever seen doing movements I had never seen before. These girls were squatting below parallel while holding barbells overhead. I thought, ‘Who is supervising this?! Why aren’t their ACLs shredding before my eyes? Wait, that guy with the dad-bod just did 30 pull ups like he was a gymnast. Is this real life?’ My skepticism turned into admiration.”

“That CrossFit competition was a catalyst. Everything clicked. My friend was in the scaled division and I got to cheer her on doing things she was wasn’t capable of when we were 18. It blew my mind. Women who were larger than me were out there pushing sleds, running around the track, doing pull ups. Everyone was cheering them on like they were Olympians. I was hooked.”

“I told myself that as soon as I was done having kids I was going to reclaim my body at all costs and I knew this community would embrace me at whatever stage of my journey I was at.”
As motivated as Melissa was, she smartly didn’t start a new, intense fitness regimen with a second baby on the way. Instead she waited until her second boy, Fischer (brother of Mason), was born.

Even after Fischer’s birth, Melissa wanted to find traces of the athlete she once knew before stepping into the gym. Melissa admits to saying one of our most despised phrases we hear as coaches, “I have to get in shape first to start CrossFit.”

But Melissa did something most people don’t do after saying that, she actually started to get in shape. She began walking Juno beach and the heart trail at Carlin Park. She started small, only going for a mile at a time, and let her progress build. Her husband Scott joked that she was shaking the babies too much on the rocky, mulch trail. If that wasn’t enough child abuse, she lifted up Mason and Fischer (carefully) in place of using weights. She lost 20 pounds and signed up for a mud run 5k race. Finishing that race would be the mental notch in her belt she needed to join CrossFit Palm Beach.

Mason and Fischer were happy to find a new home in the air-conditioned kids room at CFPB where they no longer had to be a vital part of mom’s workouts. Their mom Melissa quickly became a staple in our 8am class, coming 5-6 times a week. We chose Melissa as our Athlete of the Month in January of 2017, after being in our gym for just under a year, one of the shortest membership durations of an awardee we’ve picked. Her passion for learning and positive attitude were two radiant qualities that made her an easy choice.

While Melissa physically looks like a completely different person than she did in 2016, she says her appearance is just a small part of her transformation. But in case you were wondering, she’s lost about 60 pounds while still adding a whole lot of muscle.

“The things you cannot measure are the most valuable part of my life that CrossFit has given me. My self esteem is at an all time high, and my overall energy levels can finally match my toddlers. Well, I can usually keep up with them. I’m proud to say my desire to live a full and healthy life has been reignited. Most of all, my body image has never been this positive. No matter how thin or thick I was in the past I have never been truly happy with myself. I have learned to love every part of myself and celebrate my abilities over my looks. I am no longer concerned as much with how I look, but how it performs, what it needs to move better, and how I treat it. My body is capable of more than I have ever imagined and looking ahead I can only imagine what the future holds.”

We look forward to Melissa helping us transform lives at CFPB. Her positive attitude, thirst for knowledge and growth, and ability to empathize with others are invaluable to our team and our athletes. We are so proud of all she has accomplished and can’t wait to see what she does in the future.

Warmly welcome her to the CrossFit Palm Beach team when you see her.

-Tony