You can do hard things, too.

Four months. Yesterday officially marked four months since I took my very first CrossFit class. And guess what? After four months, I can do a pull-up.

I may have shrieked. Okay, I definitely shrieked.

I have always seen myself as the non-athlete in my family. My little sister, Amanda, is a former competitive gymnast and D1 collegiate cheerleader. In high school, she lettered in athletics fourteen(!!!!) times. She was All-District in multiple sports and All-Region in a couple. She was a cheerleader, gymnast, pole vaulter, rower. Basically, Amanda is the definition of an athlete. She is determined, strong, and, well, just a champ.

I never felt like I had the athletic prowess that Amanda did/does. And that’s because I don’t. Not naturally, at least. It doesn’t come as easily to me, and, quite honestly, I never really worked as hard as she did. She was putting in 20 hours a week at gymnastics practice while I was cracking jokes at softball.

Here is what I have learned in the last four months: I can do hard things. And you can do them, too.

People who are successful – as athletes, at weight loss, in life – rarely have everything handed to them. They just work a whole lot harder than the rest of us. And granted, I could probably never be a professional athlete because of build alone, but my physical limitations have no impact on my ability to try.

Oftentimes, the only things holding us back from achieving our full potential are the limitations that we set for ourselves. The it’s-too-hards and I-can’ts and the not-so-nice things we tell ourselves that we would never say to our friends.

And so, four months ago, I decided it was time to stop limiting myself. I walked into South Baltimore Strength and Conditioning, I signed myself up for Miss Maryland USA, and I went all in to run the Marine Corps Marathon. And then, I committed to myself.

People have asked me to share the secret of my four month transformation, and so, here it is: the secret is that there is no shortcut. There is no magic supplement or shake or wrap thing that takes you from out of shape and miserable to fit and happy. There is only hard work and continuous commitment to yourself.

The secret is that you have to be your own cheerleader, coach, and advocate before anyone else can be successful in those roles. You have to continuously pump yourself up, get yourself to the gym, and commit to healthy eating. You could pay all the money in the world for a top trainer and top programming (which, I do have the best coaches and the best programming, and it is worth every penny), but if you don’t show up, if you don’t push yourself, or if you’re secretly sabotaging your hard work by binging on brownies at home, no program is going to work for you.

I want to share my before-and-during four month progress picture with you. But, I want to preface this picture by sharing with you everything that went into making the visible changes happen. I want to share this picture and the full disclosure with you because I want you to know that this kind of change is possible for you, too, if you are willing to put in the work.

In four months, I have:

  • Attended CrossFit classes four times a week, pushing myself as hard as possible each class. I worked with the very best coaches and followed the very best programming.
  • Run an average of 15 miles per week, at a fairly reasonable pace.
  • Spent a month attending hot yoga classes four times a week, for an hour per class.
  • Continuously watched what I ate, including sticking to a sub-50 carb per day paleo diet for the last month.
  • Slept like a boss.
  • Stopped drinking alcohol.
  • Continuously taken my favorite AdvoCare supplements for additional nutritional support: OmegaPlex, CorePlex, and Probiotics. DISCLAIMER: Supplements are NOT necessary for health or weight loss success, and you should ALWAYS consult with someone who understands supplements – your trainer, your doctor, your nutritionist – before adding any supplements to your diet plan.

Most importantly, I told myself yes. I got up, showed up, and put in the work every day. I cried, I laughed, I probably drove the people closest to me crazy sometimes.

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The difference between these two pictures is four months of hard work. And the girl on the right? She can also do a pull-up, deadlift 213 pounds, and run 13.1 miles in 2:18.

I may never be the athlete my sister is, but I can match her drive and dedication. I can push myself and tell myself yes every single day. Most importantly, I can do hard things. And you can do them, too.

8 thoughts on “You can do hard things, too.

  1. Laura @ Life with Lolo says:

    What an incredible transformation! I really believe it is the limitations we put on ourselves or believe of ourselves that hold us back. Yet I still let those things do so. This is inspiring to finally get rid of those and make a change!


  2. Nora says:

    That’s amazing! Did you do the CrossFit four times a week, hot yoga four times a week, and running 15 miles a week all at the same time?


  3. Katie says:

    Just have to tell you- I’ve been crossfitting for about 2 years but have been feeling pretty uninspired in my workouts lately. I wanted so badly to quit in the middle of a brutal workout this morning (‘just a bathroom break’ I told myself), then I remembered reading this post of yours a few days ago and it kept me going and made me push myself harder.

    So, thank you! You definitely inspired me and I’m sure I’ll have this post in my mind every time I need an extra push.


  4. Jess Ekstrom says:

    Jen, you are such an inspiration. You’ve always been beautiful, but your spirit is really shining through. No matter what happens in the pageant, you’re a queen to me! 🙂


  5. Mary says:

    You are such an inspiration, do the work and all will fall into place, your transformation is such a motivation!
    Keep up the good work and good luck!!


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