Pete & Carla’s Invictus Experience – Carla’s Story
Written by Invictus Member Carla SanFilippo
(Editor’s Note – If you told me you would only read one article ever posted on our website, I would probably tell you to read this one – and tomorrow’s part two, Pete’s Story. In sharing her experience at Invictus, she affirms every reason that the Invictus staff and I wanted to be in this industry, and shares so many of the life-changing lessons we hope can be learned within our facility. Thank you Carla and Pete, the two of you amaze and inspire us more than you could ever know.)
My journey to Invictus began on a complete whim in September of 2011. The best part is that I had no idea of what a positive change was about to take place in my life.
When presented with an opportunity to run the Phoenix Tough Mudder during the upcoming January, I could not resist. I have always wanted to participate in a mud run, so why not start with a big one? Now became the question of how was I possibly going to get ready for something like this in 6 months. “CrossFit,” said my good friend and co-worker Aimee. As an avid CrossFitter herself, she knew all about Invictus, which was conveniently located about 3 blocks from work. She basically took me by the hand and walked me into Invictus. I met briefly with Jen, made an appointment, and then signed up for a 6-month commitment. I had some apprehension, but if this is what I wanted, I had to go for it and start somewhere. What I did not know was how my experience at Invictus was going to change my life in the best way possible.
I am a wife and mother of two beautiful little girls, Sofia, almost 5, and Madilyn, almost 3 years old. This was going to be a huge commitment for me to take on, as well as a commitment on the part of my husband. I was going to be out of the house three nights a week, and the guilt I was feeling at times was overwhelming. With the support of my amazing husband (who is now as addicted to CrossFit as I am), I did it.
I started from nothing; I lived a sedentary lifestyle. I was a size 16 when I began. The last time I had been physically active was in my late twenties, and I was 38 when I started all of this. I was blessed enough to have Shane Farmer as my coach when I began. I worked with Shane three days a week, for six months. Shane has been an inspirational and motivating support for me, and I could not have made it this far without him. I remember my first workout of pushups, pull-ups, and mountain climbers (mostly modified, of course). I thought, this guy probably thinks I’m in over my head. How completely wrong I was; he had more faith in me than I had in myself at the time. I left the gym in tears, but they were not tears of frustration (those tears would come later), but tears of disappointment in myself to have let myself get to the point of a total lack of fitness and good health.
Today I am a size 8, which I haven’t been since high school. I got through the Tough Mudder and had a blast doing it. I feel great physically and mentally. I owe this to Invictus, CJ and his team who provides this safe, inspiring place to get your workout on. I am sure the CrossFit experience is different for all of us. For me this whole experience has been a mixture of things: it is fun, challenging, therapeutic, and a stress releaser. Best of all, I leave every workout with a sense of accomplishment.
It has taken me some time to get to this place of mental and physical fitness, and I don’t want to go back to the place of complacency. I knew early on I had overcome some personal obstacles, and I wanted this change so badly. I knew I had to commit, not look back, stay open to the experience and give myself time, and that it would come together. I had to learn to be patient with myself, and, hardest of all, to forgive myself. Realizing how all of this translated into my life outside of the gym was also crucial to my success.
Anyone who knows Pete and I know how much we love Invictus. Our family and friends will even at times tease us when we are together, will say, “Do you think Shane will approve of what you are eating?” Invictus and the team are part of our lives in ways I never thought possible of a gym. If I had to pick only two positive changes that this experience has done for me, they would be
- My Health: Being a working mom, I thought being exhausted was part of the job. How wrong I was; I have so much more energy. Being tired is part of the job, but not feeling exhausted all day is wonderful. Nutrition plays a large role in that feeling, and while it continues to be somewhat of a challenge for me, I am finding it easier to conquer. I just feel mentally and physically better all around. I am much more active and can keep up with both home and work.
- Life Priorities: CrossFit helped me realign my life. I was giving nothing to myself while giving my all to my work and family; unfortunately, in that order. I am happy to say it has changed, and I can have it all and more. Only now I am committed to myself too, which in turns gives me more energy to return to my family and work, in that order now.
This past year is summed up best with what I have learned in and out of the gym because of Invictus. I have had to face some personal challenges, but I got some of my old self back. I found some misplaced confidence and then some. I learned that I can take time out for myself without losing focus on my children, and my family seems better for it. I have learned to forgive, be patient with, and not punish myself. I have also learned that nutrition matters, and that, if I make a poor choice this time, it’s okay because I can make it up with a better choice next time. I have learned that I am capable of more than I know. I have learned to focus and to not stress during the most challenging workouts. I have learned that the “proof is in the pudding”, to “keep a proud chest”, to “push through the heels”, and that I “can do anything for at least 60 seconds” (all thanks to Shane). Thanks to Toby’s article, I also feel that High Fives are where it’s at.
There is so much more that I cannot put into words, but I am so grateful for Invictus and the Sea of Green. I am proud to be part of this community and hope to be for years to come.