Homeschooling Mom of 4 Makes it to The Games

25 Jun

You heard me right.

If you’re following CrossFit games this year, zero in on Christy Runey. 

Holy Grail!!!   50 looks amazing…swoon! PC: @ctpcam

She’s about to be 50, has only CrossFitted for 5 years, and has no $1,000 certifications (yet).  

Christy maintains cast-iron faith; she’s a West Point Woman (class of 91), an Army Veteran, an Army spouse of more than two decades, a homeschooling mother to four.  There are undoubtedly countless other accomplishments I don’t even know about.

To top it all off, she’s on her way to Madison.

A decade ago, she took me under her wing despite my naivete and inexperience. And she liked me, she REALLY LIKED ME!!!  If only I could sit at her feet every week to soak up all of her practical and spiritual wisdom, life hacks, fitness and nutrition tips, and homeschooling guidance.

She exemplifies and embodies the premise of this entire blog: always stay in the prime of life.  This woman is one of my life’s all-time role models; it’s an honor to get to call her my friend.

She graciously answered a few of my questions to share with us.

__________

Leigh: Where are you training now, and what other boxes have you trained in the past?

Christy: Currently, I train at Crossfit Oyster Point in VA.  I began my CF adventure in Schweinfurt, Germany.  It wasn’t an official affiliate, we used equipment in a generic rec gym on post, and we were only allowed to call it “Functional Fitness.”  I joined my first real box at Fort Knox: the newly-opened CrossFit Hard Knox.  Our next move took us to Carlisle, PA where I trained at CrossFit Perseverance. 

__________

Leigh: Who is/are your coach(es): 

Christy: Right now I am with Becky Rogers from Training Think Tank in Alpharetta, GA.  I also consult Dani Kearns and Trey Steele at Oyster Point for additional coaching and feedback.  And a big shout-out to coaches James Hoffman and Fritz Chatelier who both told me I would go to the Games one day.

__________

LeighWhat fed your initial CrossFit addiction?

Christy:  My husband introduced me to CF in 2006 when really, you just got your information from the website.  He did it with the kids while I was homeschooling.  He put sand in the basketball, strung rings over a tree limb, installed a pull-up bar, measured running distances, etc.  I was fascinated but quickly dismissed it because of the various technically complicated movements I didn’t understand how to do. 

The necessity to perform multiple pull ups was intimidating–I couldn’t do one and never dreamed that I could!  How I wish I had started back then! 

It wasn’t until 2012 that I was ready to give it a try with coaches.  My Germany “Functional Fitness” group captured the heart of the CrossFit method: quantifiable physical improvement + magnetic community.  A powerful bond solidified with that original crew.  We had so much fun, we pushed each other, and we each made rapid and significant improvements in strength and fitness. 

This became my sport.  Now, every time we move, my first google search is to locate the best CrossFit box in our new area.

__________

LeighWhat has been the hardest thing about competing at this level?

Christy: Whew!  This is a tough one because there have been several hard things.  I usually train alone now.  So it’s harder to push myself, and there’s no one to cheer and push with.  Along with that, I miss the rich camaraderie and making some of those deeper friendships which come by experiencing sweat and effort together.  Also, the time commitment decreases opportunities of friendship and service that I would otherwise seek out.  

Finally, while I am at my all-time peak of fitness, I have far more awareness of my limitations and weaknesses in my body.  There are some niggles that keep rearing their heads.  It’s hard to know when to push through discomfort vs. pain or, whether it’s time to back off.  Obviously this is not an ideal season to do much backing off! 

Oh yeah, how could I forget…I’ve had to eliminate my need for regular doses of ice cream! 

__________

LeighHow much training time does the Masters prep really take? 

Christy:  The training has definitely changed from pre-game to now.  Prior to the games, I worked out 5 days a week, 2 of which had AM & PM work.  The other 2 days–complete rest.  I contacted my coach almost monthly in concern that I wasn’t training enough.  I was so sure that I would never improve enough to get to the games. 

My coach encouraged me to trust the process and that she didn’t want me peaking for the Opens.  (That made me more nervous!) Then when I made it to the Qualifiers, she upped the training a little bit more.  I still was afraid it wasn’t enough.  She assured me: trust the process…

Now, I am trusting the process!  Currently I still train 5 days a week.  But 3 of the days I have an AM & PM session, and one of my rest days I swim for “active recovery” (which is comical for me since swimming is anything BUT recovery feeling for me!)  

The actual amount of time I “train” averages 15-20 hours a week.  That includes warm-up and cool-down.  I also do stretching and mobilization stuff at home.

__________

LeighWhat does your nutrition have to look like to maintain this kind of training schedule?

Christy:  Optimum nutrition for performance does not necessarily equal optimum nutrition for the long-term.

Games training requires that I fuel my body quite differently.  In the past I focused on calorie consumption.  Now I must spend the extra time dialing in nutrition at the macronutrient level.  I do try to eat fairly clean.  I aim to eat as many vegetables as I can – lots of greens, some cooked, some raw, some fermented. 

I eat most of my simple carbs (least fibrous) around my workout session.
Most of my fats away from my workouts.
I spread my protein evenly throughout the day.

I need way more carbs than I thought.  I increased carbs through the opens, then had to increase again during the qualifiers, and again pre-games.  I eat less fat now than I normally would. 

I’ve never done CrossFit for the aesthetics.  But right now, my body fat is lower than it’s ever been. I am okay with that as an athlete getting ready to compete.  But after the games, I look forward to more dietary flexibility and establishing a healthier percentage of body fat.  

One size definitely does not fit all.  Dialing it all in may require consulting a nutritionist, even if for a short time.

__________

LeighAny advice for hopefuls in the Masters category? 

Christy:  Take your Open scores and see how you would have done in the next age group up.  You might be surprised and motivated that you actually have a really good shot to be competitive when you promote into the new age group. 

That is what happened to me last year after the Age Group Online Qualifiers…after doing a little comparison research, I realized that I had a serious shot to make it to the Games in 2018!

Just do your very best whatever level you’re at.  Have fun performing better now than you could when you were younger!  It’s amazing to keep hitting new PRs while you are aging!

__________

LeighFavorite motivational saying? (i.e. “Sweat’s just yer fat cryin!)  Yours is probably something less shallow than that. 

ChristyKatrin Davisdottir said 

“Success is giving full effort knowing that was the best I was capable of… “  

For me, this means that I don’t have to worry about the things that are out of my control.  I can know that my good, heavenly Father is in control.  He cares as much about the shaping and prepping of my heart as He does my body. 

How I respond in the daily moments of joy, heartache, bodyache, stress and challenge is an important part of this journey. 

He desires that I would give my very best for His honor and glory, and leave the results to Him–whether I am #1 on the Leaderboard or if nothing goes as planned.  Either way, I can trust in His goodness knowing I gave my all. 

The results are His win or lose.  THAT will be enough for success. 

__________

Quick-Fire Q & A: 

Hand protection or calluses?  Recent convert to Victory Grips for most bar work. Wodndones for Bar Muscle Ups, and still prefer bare hands for Ring Muscle Ups.
When you WOD: Makeup or morning face? Only a little mascara (otherwise I have no eyes)
Leggings or shorts? Leggings in the winter and all rope climb WODs, shorts in the summer
Reebok or Lulu? Ack – both?!…and Nike.  I’m not a purist.
Better Hair Day: Washed hair -or- sweat + dry shampoo? Whatever time constraints allow has gotta be my ‘best’ hair day
In the Box: Metal or Rap? Oooo…rap, if we must.
Cheat meal: Pizza or ice cream?  My two favorite foods usually go hand-in-hand…Pizza + Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk = slice of heaven and a big double cheat…which I haven’t actually given myself yet (only cauliflower crust pizza + Halo Top Oatmeal Cookie!)
Television or scrolling?  Scrolling

__________


Did you hear that folks?  Her **
cheat meal** is caulipizza + Halo Top.  That’s what separates the wheat from the chaff.  

Christy confirms the vast physical possibilities for our “middle” years.  Age doesn’t have to take you past your prime.

Christy, thank you for sharing with us!
Good luck, be safe, and have fun!

Leigh

Christy, your family is gorgeous–in spirit and in looks!

A Broken Spirit is not Despised

6 Jun

So there we were, my two littlest girls and I, creating another batch of playdoh cookies.  The girls were happily mashing discs of colorless playdoh together to make “oreos” while blissfully singing another round of Baby Shark, Space Unicorn. and Spaghetti Cat;  I sat across from them.  Sobbing. 

I am not talking about a loud boo-hooing, ugly cry.  This was an ominous, reckless torrent of silent tears.  They continually brimmed, poured over my eyelids, ran down my face, collected under my chin and pooled onto the plastic craft table.  Brimmed and poured.  Brimmed and poured.  I had to use a kitchen towel to sop it all up.  This was for about the fifth day in a row.

Crying while playing playdoh just means that I am a high-functioning malcontent. 

–Or–maybe it signifies the return of my malady.


Is there a healthy way to battle depression?

How do I get through this tunnel?  It seems so so long.  I don’t know.  But when I am in it, I am sick.  Truly ill, and recognizing that makes me feel a little more free.  I know I have done everything in my power not to feel this way, for it not to be true, to reason my way out of it, to ensure I have the right nutrition and chemical balance. 

But it just is.

Do you see how everything starts with the word “I”?  I this, I that.  What a shamefully selfish place to be.  I am so self-involved.  Jarrod Jones wrote about this in his Ten Ways to Support Someone with Mental Illness.  This is an inherently selfish disease, but what disease is not?  You can break your pinkie toe, and the pain will take over everything in your day, become all you can think about. 

Depression is much the same way.  I can’t think about anything else, I just want it to stop.  And so I have to wait.  I must wait well. 

I wake up in the morning and think–am I going to be better today?
Let me get my coffee and hopefully this fog will vanish.

It’s still here.
Is this real?–Is this in my head?–Am I making a choice?

I have found some freedom in resignation, akin to moving on in the stages of grief.  I don’t like this about myself, and I scratch to get away from it all.  But it festers like a nasty emotional infection.  I can’t undo any of this with all the positive thinking in the world.  So I wait.  I am not going to try to hash it out anymore.  I am going to just settle.  Just be.

I do everything I can to wait with my dignity and grace intact:

I talk less.  I do less.  Plenty of good comes from doing and saying less.  I take comfort in that.  I relish the quiet time with my husband.  There’s nothing more to discuss about all this.  If I can’t change myself, he certainly can’t change me.  So we sit quietly.  He sits next to me shoulder to shoulder.  Holds my hand.  We enjoy a quiet cup of coffee.  A funny episode of TV.

I fall asleep earlier.  The storm in my head makes me tired.  I crave silence and wear earplugs to block everything out.

Am I being mean to my family?
They deserve an upbeat mother who throws parties and is a cheerleader.

They are getting quiet-me.

I am still functioning.  Doing laundry, making all meals, making sure they are all bathed and fed.  I make lunches and make sure everyone gets hugs and kisses even if I feel like an empty ghost.  I get up and take the little ones for an outing.  That’s worth something.  They have quiet-me to take them around. 

That has to be better than couch-me.

I still attend my bible study groups.  I still host my brown bag lunch group.  Even though I feel utterly disconnected, I go through the motions, and the motions matter.  I won’t stop trying.  I keep putting one foot in front of the other.  That is what I am doing for my family.  They have to know that I am doing everything I can.

I say “I love you” to everyone.
That’s everything I can do, regardless of how I feel


What will people think? 

There are recognizable triggers for my crashes but I don’t need to unpack them here.  

My mindchaos makes no sense to people who see my happy marriage, five healthy children, an “adventurous” life, my health, and the myriad of other blessings I enjoy daily.  People in my closest circles, with whom I have privately shared my struggle, have literally recoiled before me.  It’s bewildering when someone reacts to me that way.  

Yet one of my darkest seasons taught me that there just are people who can not handle pain.  I have to forgive them for that.  

I have begged my family not to share my situation with anyone…because I don’t want to be labeled “a negative person” and then written off entirely.  I don’t want my cyclical melancholy weirdness to interfere in friendships or cause someone to feel rejected.  So, in a rather desperate bid to be understood, I’ve started selectively telling my friends about my struggle with this.

But what if they don’t believe in depression?
Transparency is risky. 

The most crushing reality of all this mess is how I feel untied from my husband.  I see the look of helplessness on his face and another layer of guilt grows.  I can see how my hurting hurts him.  I best get myself together, and quickly before the tide turns, and *he* just can’t anymore. 


A broken and contrite heart the Lord will not despise.  

This scripture I’ve read 100 times before, but it came freshly alive in the midst of all the quiet and fear and darkness.  It was sheer light breaking through.

  • Am I broken?
    Yes.  A thousand times yes. 
  • Am I contrite?
    I wake up and empty out my pockets to God every day.

I know the twofold root of my mess:
1.  A messed up (sinful/selfish) heart.
2.  Not being exempt from the disappointments and maladies of our broken world.

Still, brokenness overcomes me and whittles me down to the bone.

But all this: the feelings, the anguish, the spirit of confusion, the quietness…
NONE OF IT IS DESPISED by God.  

What breath that is for me when I feel like I can’t find air.   

I’ll continually pursue healing, and

  • He
  • won’t
  • despise
  • me
  • like this.

He can when everyone else can’tSome people have no grace for this, but His grace is sufficient for me: I don’t need validation from outsiders.

God is here–He is near to the brokenhearted, saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18)

He won’t recoil.  

pc: Hannah Daroczy

Beating Cancer: Seven Tips for Keeping your Head in the Game

18 May

Some stories need to be told.




My friend Jen Hartney is a champion in so many arenas. 

She graduated from West Point, served active duty alongside her husband in the Army for 6 years, deployed to combat zones, commanded an Engineer company in Korea while pregnant, mothers five beautiful children, developed and runs her own nutritional wellness business, and created a beautiful and welcoming home to boot!

That’s a small list of what she has done.  Let me tell you a little more about who she is.

Her thoughtfulness, compassion, generosity, loyalty, and charisma all come together to make her one of the most magnetic people you will ever have the privilege of knowing. 

She freely passes out compliments and encouragement.
She is a fantastic listener.
She gives the most thoughtful gifts and always remembers to bring you a card on your birthday.
She is a people-person in the truest sense of the word.


 

There is a big part of her story that she did not want to be true.  It rocked her world.  It rocked the worlds of everyone who knows her.  When she was pregnant with her fifth child, she received the unimaginable diagnosis of breast cancer.

this photo simply breaks me. a beautiful handmade quilt to cover her “grenades”

 

each ‘grenade’ was attached to tubes coming out of the sides of her chest to drain fluids…. she had them for about 6 weeks

When professionals presented her with the various treatment options, Jen chose to take the least common, most unconventional route.  She did go through various medical procedures and “ectomies” to eliminate the cancer. 

But then, brimming with staggering, prodigious, audacious courage–the precise amount David was given when he faced Goliath–she declined the chemotherapy/radiation regime that doctors *highly* recommended.

Armed with the stones of

a razor-sharp faith
a radically strict diet
laser-focused positive thinking
+ a God ready to show the world His power

Jen achieved a cancer-free status!  

I asked her if I could share her story here at The Prime Pursuit because I wanted to make sure each of you know Jen Hartney, hear about her cancer-defeat story, and be aware of her wellness consulting business, The Prodigal Table

Most of all, I wanted to spotlight a good-news cancer recovery story.  My hope is that we all draw strength and hope from this story…for ourselves and for loved ones who face a devastating cancer journey.  It is responsible to spread this sort of fascinating news in order to encourage others who are suffering this same disease.  You must read the entirety of her story over at The Cancer Tutor


 

Over and above the clean eating regimen she adopted, a different part of her holistic treatment gripped me.


How, exactly, did she fight cancer by “keeping her mind right?”

I asked her to unpack that a little more.
I had to know the practical tips for keeping your head in the game when it comes to beating cancer.

She wrote it up, and graciously gave me permission to share this wisdom with you, my beloved readers.  This wisdom was COSTLY to for her to glean. 

It’s “free chicken” for the rest of us.  


1.  Surround yourself with Truth.

Human hearts can be fickle.  So, surround yourself with truths that are true no matter how you may be feeling in the moment.  Personally, that means reading the Truth, aka the Bible, every day.  Even if just for a few minutes.  Breathe in Truth, exhale doubt and fear.

 


 

2.  Read the ‘ring theory’ and understand your limitations if you are the person ‘in crisis’.

Being very honest here:  I would get resentful when I told people about my diagnosis and then they would react in a way that would leave ME comforting THEM.  And then I was ashamed about feeling resentful.  But understanding the ‘ring theory’ helped me get past feeling guilty.  Read it.  And pass it on to others.  My friend, Kerry (who is current on all things FUN and important) articulated this theory when she was visiting me/taking care of me and it relieved so much guilt from my shoulders.  Check it out here.  The main gist is in the diagram below.

 
 

 


 

3.  Laugh

Laughter is a gift from above.  Yes.  Your situation may truly stink.  It may be tragic.  It could be downright awful.  The absolute worst thing that has ever happened to you and you don’t know that you’ll ever recover…and you may not even want to.  You may feel like the world around you has crumbled and you’re happy to go right down with it because your heart just aches too much.

But here is some truth for you:  laughter is medicine for your heart.  It’s the best pill against depression because it gives you a break from your current tragedy and makes you breathe DEEP.  And you have to keep breathing to keep going.

About a month after my diagnosis I realized that I couldn’t even remember the last time I had laughed and I longed for it.  So, one night, my husband and I looked up some comedians on Netflix and we chuckled and gut laughed for the evening.  My situation hadn’t changed:  I still had cancer.  But for one night, we were able to forget about it and laugh and my heart felt a million times lighter.

Now, hear me on this:  I’m not saying you need to laugh within 30 minutes of being given the worst news of your life (remember, I curled up in the fetal position on my bed and cried tears that I wasn’t sure would ever stop…being pregnant sure didn’t help the flood of tears!).  But I’m telling to tuck this away in the back of your mind and when you finally get a chance to come up for air, even if just a tiny bit, remember this.  Laughter is medicine for your soul.

 


4. Tell People

Yes.  It’s awkward.  And hard to do.  Especially if you are an introvert like me (and if your friends also live all over the world, you can do what I did: write a post, hit enter and walk away:)).  No matter how much of an introvert you are, no one was meant to walk this life alone; we were designed to be in community with others.

I try to stress that over and and over again (hence, the name Prodigal TABLE…a place to gather with other people).  Tell SOMEONE.  All the energy you use hiding the ‘secret’ could be used to heal instead.

Trust me.  I get it.  Telling people about my diagnosis was so unexpectedly hard and I even debated just keeping the news to a very, very small, tight circle of people I trusted because I just didn’t want to burden anyone.  But you know what?  That’s a lie straight from the enemy.  Your heartbreak is NOT a burden to someone else.

In fact, you’ll find the part of humanity that just encourages you to keep going….the beautiful, selfless, grace giving aspects of humanity as people pour out their love on you.  And it will remind you of one of the many things you are fighting for.

You will see people come out of NOWHERE to love on you and your family.  And guess what happens afterwards?  You’ve gained some space and perspective and risen from the ashes in a way you never imagined possible.  Someone will reach out to you when (not if) tragedy enters their life.

You will every bit of your experience to serve another human being and that is redemption, my friend.  Redemption for those years, moments that were lost.  Redemption for the heartbreak and tears that you thought would engulf you.  Redemption.  And it can’t happen unless you tell someone.

 


5.  Accept Help

This follows closely after #4 for a reason.  When you share your heart with someone, people will pour out their love on you in ways you never imagined and then you have to make a choice:  To accept or not accept their help.

Guys.  I’m an 8 – I like challenges and my independence.  “I can do it myself” is something that was forced on me and then became a personal motto of mine.  God, literally, had to bring me to my knees to make me realize “my goodness.  I can’t do this on my own.”  My goodness:  it took being pregnant with baby #5 and being diagnosed with cancer to realize I had been doing it the hard way all along.

I remember the incredibly sobering moment when I realized that I couldn’t even go to the bathroom on my own, much less even hold my 6 week old baby.  So, guys.  Learn this from me.  There is a time and place for everything.  A time to be a big girl and ‘get ‘er done’, but a time and place to ask and accept help.

Be smarter than me.  Don’t hit the bottom of the barrel before you admit that you can’t do it all on your own.  And you know what?  Something magical happens when you accept help without the pretense of ‘trading favors’.  You see a community come together.  Again, like I mentioned in #4 above, you see humanity at its best and it makes your heart smile…and you thank God for these amazing people.

…and it makes you want to fight harder to stay with these amazing people for as long as you can.

 


6.  White Space

I’ve heard interior designers refer to white space as the ‘blank/empty space’ in your home that gives your eyes a break.  The concept here applies to your heart/brain/emotions, etc.

After a diagnosis or crisis of any kind, you get BOMBARDED with information, protocols, long list of doctor names, medications, notes from other people who care about you, people approaching you in the hallways of your school, etc., not to mention your OWN thoughts.  It feels like from the moment you wake up til you go to sleep, you’re surrounded by stimuli and it can drain the energy from you.  Even if you are an extrovert.

So, find some white space.  For me, that goes back to my early mornings where I read in peace and quiet (to me it’s worth getting up early).  Or limiting social media.  Heck, unfollowing someone that is just a negative Nancy.  (you can pick it back up later, if you want!).  Remember, even Jesus got up early to pray and often retreated to be by himself.

If Jesus needed that, then heck, we need it, too.  

Find your white space.

 


 

7. Your identity

Last, but not least.  When you are going through a crisis, it can feel like your identity is being shredded to pieces.  Personally, I saw my body being literally cut apart, stitched back together, with foreign objects and sadly, it shook my confidence.  What I saw happening on the outside, affected who I thought I was on the inside.

When I didn’t recognize my outer skin,  I questioned who I was inside.  I questioned my strength.  I questioned whether my husband would desire me.  I questioned whether anyone would want to be my friend if they knew what I looked like underneath my layers of clothes.  The broken lines on my body exaggerated what was broken inside of me (see the need to fill your head with TRUTH each day?  All day? Refer to #1).

I was embarrassed by the scars on my chest and felt ashamed on the inside…I felt less than.  I could no longer depend on WHO I thought I was.  I had to go back to the beginning and remember WHOSE I was.

When your identity is up to you and your accomplishments/feats/pants size/physical beauty, etc., one small adjustment can bring the house of cards crumbling down.  But when your identity is rooted in WHOSE you are – the never changing, always faithful, God of the Universe who also knows the number of hairs on your head, you breathe in peace and breathe out a sigh of relief.

You remember that your identity as a child of God has been BESTOWED upon you. Your identity has not been earned. Despite what our world says.  What He has bestowed upon you, no one can take away.

 


 

This is not an all-inclusive or exhaustive list by any means…. I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but for now, I hope you can lean on these truths that I learned about ‘getting your head in the game’.

I also get many questions about how to help someone else they know in need.  I’ll get to that list in a post coming up.

But for now, let me leave you with this:  If you know someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer, FOR THE LOVE, do NOT tell them about another person that just died from cancer.  That may seem obvious, but apparently it isn’t.  Just keep that information to yourself.  I wrote that in caps so you would remember it, but there is a LOT of GRACE, if you have been guilty of doing it.  I stick my foot in my mouth all.the.dang.time.  Truth and Grace, friends.

Jen

 


 

Whoa.

I TOLD YOU Jen was amazing.  I read her advice over and over again, just…dumbfounded.  How could she have had enough wherewithal to see that forest for those trees?  I can only come up with one answer.  When life is shattered by uncontrollable circumstances, the grace and strength of the Lord comes rushing, flooding in to fill in all the gaps, make up for lost time, give you the breath you need, and make your story into a memoir the entire world can learn from.  It’s a prayer-breath away: “Lord help!”  

If you want Jen to be a part of your life, if you want her to come alongside you and help you walk through your healing journey, if you want solid confidential, grace-filled consulting toward physical and spiritual nourishment, take the opportunity now.  Or, point her out to a friend in need.  

Leigh

P.S.  Would you be bold and share this message on your favorite social media platform?  I am convinced more than ever that we need to share every good-news story we come across, it’s one of the ways to be light in the midst of the dark world.  

please pin! 🙂

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