We are very excited to announce our first Athlete of the Month for 2018… Colleen Chrien! She has shown incredible growth over the past year, both in CrossFit and in her personal life. Colleen also struggled through an injury this year, which left her in a sling for over 3 months. Despite the injury, she continued to stay positive and find ways to stay active as she chased her goals. Congratulations, Colleen, and cheers to 2018!

What makes you, you? I’d say the trials and triumphs of my life over the past 12 or so years have most shaped who I am today. The big ones being struggling through infertility- but then going on to have 4 kids in 6 years, battling severe post partum depression after our third baby, all the way through my 4th pregnancy and for 2 years after she was born- but then fighting my way completely out of it over the course of this past year, and I was also diagnosed with kidney disease 6 years ago. Somewhere in all of that, I felt like I completely lost myself. I was pretty athletic growing up and all the way through college, but started gaining weight (100 lbs) and stopped working out somewhere along the way. This caused a lot of insecurities that I still struggle with, but am now determined to overcome. I have been incredibly blessed to have married someone who loves me unconditionally and has always supported and believed in me, even when I wasn’t able to believe in myself. Being a wife and a mom of 4 awesome kids are definitely the two biggest defining roles in my life, but making sure that I am always trying to grow as a person and improve my physical and mental health to best fulfill those roles are what makes me, me ๐Ÿ™‚

Describe your experience at CFNC. Is it corny to describe my experience at CFNC as “life changing”? Ha! Because it truly has been. When Matt and I started, I was in a very different place mentally than he was. He was definitely ready physically and mentally to start CrossFit. I just felt like I didn’t want to be left behind, so I signed up with him. Somewhere in my gut, I knew it was what I needed, even if I wasn’t totally ready to dive in. It took me about a year and a half of going to become really consistent with it, and to finally “get it.” It was a slow process for me. I was still majorly struggling with post partum depression and I knew that exercise would help me, so I kept going, but mentally, I was struggling, A LOT. I can look back now and see how much my mindset was holding me back, but also how proud of myself I am for continuing to show up, because it was not an easy mental hurdle for me to overcome. Eventually though, being in an environment that was always encouraging, that always met me where I was at, and that continued to show me that I didn’t have to stay stuck where I was started to win out. A lot of my insecurities started to go away. I started getting stronger. I started changing my diet. I started losing weight. I was able to come off of my anti-depressants, and I was able to finally start to feel capable. I don’t know that any of that would have happened for me had I not joined CFNC. I also just love all of the friendships that have formed and I love seeing the success of others! As a family, our experience at CFNC has been such a positive part of our lives, and for that I feel very grateful!

What are your major life goals? My one overwhelming life goal, is to live a life without regret. I don’t want to look back on my life and feel like I let insecurities hold me back. I feel like I was stuck in that place for a long time. I turned 39 in June and it hit me really hard. I knew that I did not want to turn 40 (eek!) and feel like I was still treading water in my life. I NEEDED to feel like I was moving in a more positive direction, even if it was at a really slow pace. I used to feel like my weight was the cause of all of the frustration I felt in my life, but it wasn’t. It was my mindset. Once I started to do a lot of personal development and work on my mindset, I was able to start making improvements in lots of different areas of life. Now I feel like my weight is the last thing I focus on. It doesn’t hold me back anymore. And the less I focus on it and focus on healthy life choices, the better I feel, the more pounds I am losing, and the stronger I am becoming, mentally and physically. Seven months ago, I challenged myself to give up all added sugar in my diet, and I stuck with it for 180 days (well, 186 if we are being specific ๐Ÿ˜‰ haha) That was a HUGE accomplishment for me! I was majorly addicted to sugar. Not only was it the catalyst for a ton of positive changes in my life, I was able to prove to myself that I have the power to see things through and that small changes, done consistently over time, are the key to reaching my goals. I have lots of smaller goals that I am working on in different areas of my life, but they all fall under the umbrella of living a life without regret. Turning 40 no longer gives me a panic attack, because I finally feel like I am moving in the right direction and becoming the person I want to be for myself and for my family ๐Ÿ™‚

What are your 3 major CrossFit goals?
Craig asked me last year what my goals were and my honest to God answer was “you mean like in life?” I was so confused! I had no clue why he was asking me my goals! Hahahaha. I had absolutely NO CrossFit goals, so it didn’t even cross my mind that he would be asking me what my CROSSFIT goals were! Duh! Thankfully that has changed, and I do actually have goals now ๐Ÿ˜‰
Short term: Double Unders and push ups (not on a box or from my knees), and start consistently doing the extra work posted each week
Long term: I’d like to do a powerlifting competition if I can ever get comfortable with the idea of wearing a singlet (insert grimace face emoji here! LOL) and possibly a local CrossFit competition.

What has been your favorite CrossFit moment so far? Interestingly enough, my favorite CrossFit moment so far was NOT at CFNC ๐Ÿ˜‰ This was a tough question to answer but the one thing that sticks out most in my mind was completing 16.5 at an affiliate in Florida. I had only been doing CrossFit for 7 months, and going to another affiliate, doing a workout that consisted ENTIRELY of burpees and thrusters (2 things I majorly struggle with) was waaaaaay outside of my comfort zone. Especially since I had zero intention of even participating in the Open at the beginning. I was super self conscious of my weight, of how un-fit I was, and how un-capable I felt. The fact that I fought against all of my insecurities and went and did it anyway, was huge for me. I ended up having an awesome coach/judge push me through the whole workout. We follow each other on social media now, and the day after that workout, she sent me a message saying how judging me (and Matt… he had her at a different class) through 16.5 was one of her favorite coaching moments because of how determined we were to not give up. Having a total stranger see me the same way I saw myself during that workout was really meaningful for me. I swear that the fact that it was Aaron Hanna’s Box, and that I got to see him as I was leaving, had nothing to do with this being my favorite moment. LOL ๐Ÿ˜‰

What has been your favorite CrossFit WOD and why? I can’t think of a specific WOD that is my favorite. I have had a few WODs where I think that there is just no way I can finish in the time cap, and then I BARELY make it. Those are my favorites. The ones where I am able to exceed my own expectations. Those are also typically the same workouts where I am the last to finish… which means more people encouraging me to push harder at the end. That encouragement always makes a huge difference!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Professionally, I plan to be back to renovating houses with Matt. We had to put that on hold when we started having the kiddos, but that truly is my happy place, and I can’t wait to be doing that again! Personally, I see myself married to my best friend, raising our kids (sweet Jesus, we will have a TEENAGER by then! Yikes), juggling kids sports schedules, still working out at CFNC, and hopefully traveling more as a family.

Share a recipe for a favorite clean meal. If you follow me on social media, then you know this is my new favorite breakfast staple! LOL I like to make up a batch of this at the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge. I guess you could call it sweet potato hash?? There isn’t really a recipe… just put in it whatever you want!
Dice up sweet potatoes, onion, and red, yellow and orange peppers. Saute them in olive oil. (I start the sweet potatoes first because they take longer to cook, then add in the onions and peppers). While that is cooking, I brown some ground sausage. Add that to the sweet potato mix and you are done! I put about a cup or so on a plate and top it with two fried eggs, or just eat it by itself!

What is your favorite cheat meal? Bobby Fries from Kickin’ Chicken ๐Ÿ˜‰

What is the most challenging aspect of CrossFit? For me, it is letting go of my own insecurities and getting out of my own head. CrossFit has helped me to let go of a lot of my insecurities in life in general. Feeling stronger physically has definitely directly correlated to feeling stronger mentally outside of CrossFit.

What advice would you give to someone new to CrossFit? Well, one of my oldest friends just texted me today and told me she just signed up for CrossFit. So, I will share what I told her… you are probably going to feel REALLY sore when you first start, but don’t give up! The stronger and more capable you start to feel inside the gym will start to make you feel stronger and more capable outside the gym. The struggle with depression and anxiety will start to lessen. Your motivation will start to increase. You will want to make better nutrition choices so that you can fuel your workouts better. You will love being part of a really supportive group of people who just want to see you succeed, and you will love seeing the success of others. And the more often you go, the better and less sore you will feel. It took me over a year to figure that one out. Making it to classes used to be something that happened at the end of my day, IF I wasn’t exhausted and felt like I had time. Now I schedule everything else around making sure I can get to class (as much as possible) because I feel so much better when I go.

What is your personal “walkout song” or anthem? Fight Song by Rachel Platten

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