A Thank You Letter to Invictus
Written by Invictus Member Michelle Cowan

Dear Invictus,

How do I start this? I am not the most exuberant person by nature;  I usually keep to myself before socializing with folks and being the life of the party. So you will not typically see me chatting someone’s ear off about the wonders of Invictus, and how rare a find I consider you all to be. However, I do want you all to know how much you’ve done for me, and how much I appreciate it – all too often folks are too ready to criticize, less likely to say thank you… I don’t want to be one of those people! As a small show of appreciation, I made some dehydrated fruit snacks for you to enjoy 🙂

Why am I so grateful? Invictus has become a constant in my life, in a way I never anticipated. You’ve helped me improve my body, bringing it to new heights of awesomeness! You’ve educated me about proper movements, built up my strength, and reminded me how to use body parts that I’d long forgotten. You’ve trained me on healthy eating to the point that I have resolved all my food “challenges.” Beyond the physical, you’ve helped me to achieve far greater balance, confidence and inner peace in my life as well.

Perhaps the greatest gift, is that you gave and continue to give me support and encouragement, whether or not I asked for it, or if I am able to return it. I am humbled by your grace and generosity. What makes your help so profound is that you were just doing what you do; it is in your nature, because you’ve fostered such a sincere and caring atmosphere that runs deep into the core of every person at Invictus. Maybe this is part of the culture of CrossFit; I don’t have the experience to say for sure. I believe Invictus is a step beyond the typical CrossFit experience: by sharing such positive energy and support, you enable yourselves and those you interact with to achieve new heights – the Regionals are a prime example of this fact! Personally, I can say that despite having surgery and losing my job, I am in the best physical and mental shape of my life. I have a positive outlook, focus on those things I can control, and strive to let go of the things I can’t – in a way never before achieved. This ideal was certainly tested in the past few months, and it was in these past few months that I’ve realized my new mental state. Your support during this time has been crucial, when I had the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned through you to other facets of my life. I can’t express enough how grateful I am.

So….moving on from all this gushiness, I have been attending Invictus and doing CrossFit for one year now, and over this year have compiled all sorts of fun data and stats I would love to share with you! I can’t share this with the average person without losing their attention within the first minute. However, you’ve been with me this year, and have seen first-hand my progress. Being the data-driven person that I am, I have organized some stats that quantify the effectiveness of CrossFit and paleo eating, that I hope you find as enlightening as I did!

Michele has helped me get caliper readings throughout the year, below is a summary of my before and after results.

Starting Point

No Paleo, (11/12 – 1/13 reduced weight lifting)

3/13 – 4/13, full Paleo, weight lifting

















Sub Scap




Mid Ax








Supra Iliac
















I was very happy with my results at the end of January, and astonished by the results achieved just in the last two months! This was achieved immediately after surgery, thanks to the following two factors. All my back issues healed during February as I was resting, which meant I could start doing weight lifting full force again, and I had newfound focus (and time!) to eat 100% paleo starting March 1st. My weight a year ago was roughly 130, down to 118 in January, and then dropped to 112 in April. It would have been more, but I splurged on my birthday . This means I lost 18 pounds total, 1/3 of which was lost in just the last 2 months. Pre-paleo, my rate of weight loss was 1.3 pounds per month, versus 3 pounds per month post-paleo. Another way to say this is that Paleo eating increased my weight loss nearly 3 times over! Maybe a more telling number is to look at my body fat percentage over the year. Roughly, I was around 28+% body fat a year ago, and now I am 17%! This means I’ve lost at least 18 pounds of fat, since I’ve also gained so much muscle mass! How rad is that!?!

Other notable facts: I’ve lost inches all around; 3 inches off my waist, 4 at my hips, 3 off my thighs, and 1 around my calves. I’ve reached all my goals set with Nuno and Michele, including being able to fit into my awesome orange leather pants, boo yea! A few years ago, I worked out at 24 hr fitness, doing one-on-one appointments and group classes. In one year, at the same weekly time investment, I achieved the same fitness level I had achieved with Invictus after just 6 months. Other random fact: Invictus has oddly healed my relationship with my neighbor Roz. After not talking for 2 years , she and I are closer friends than ever, and we both frequently compliment each other on our newfound positive spirit.

I am not sharing these stats to brag; I know that my achievements are slight when compared to the feats I see every day at Invictus. These numbers helped quantify my progress and thus motivated me to keep moving forward. Maybe they can help someone else in the same way. I am at an interesting point – I feel I’ve achieved phase 1 of my journey by absolving all my body issues. I am currently setting new goals for myself, and I am excited to see that they are all ability-focused; increasing strength, mastering muscle-ups, double unders, etc. I am using the regionals as my baseline – I want to be able to do all the same movements. I might be over-reaching, but I’ll never know if I don’t try, right? And the athlete in me (long forgotten) wants to try!

I hope you enjoy the food, and take my gratitude to heart. I was lucky to start working with Nuno – he gave me the most amazing foundation to start this journey. He balked at my goal to run 1 mile in one year, and constantly supported and pushed me to help me see my potential as he does. Michele followed up by continuing to push me, and push me, and push me, and always with a grin on her face! Patient, supportive, listened, and kept me moving forward. And I can’t forget Pops. In one moment, he gave me more support and encouragement than I ever could have hoped for. He reminded me of my own grandpa with his authentic compassion. However, you’ve all helped me at one point or another, by saying hi to me when I enter, helping me with my movements, etc.

Thank you again for all your help (in all the ways that you have helped me); I’ll be seeing you shortly!

Michelle Cowan

  • Mary DeHart

    Yay Michelle!! I love that the spirit of Invictus has spread into other aspects of your life. I have personally seen your fitness gains and have enjoyed working out next to you. Keep up the good work.

  • Roz

    You look amazing Michelle!! Now let’s continue to recruit the rest of our complex!

  • Shaver

    Wow Michelle, very impressive numbers! Thanks for sharing.
    Invictus: “Redefining fitness”- who knew that this pertained not just to physical, but also to mental, emotional, and even social fitness?
    CJ Martin has created something almost magical, and I’m willing to bet that if they posted every Invictus success story – it would fill up the blog for the rest of the year.
    One thing still puzzles me, however: Judging by the door behind you – how did they get you to grow 6-8 inches taller? Truly amazing!

  • Love it! Great job Michelle

  • M

    It has been a true pleasure to work with Michelle over the past year as she is what I consider the “ideal client.” She always comes with a positive attitude, pushes herself in each session, asks how to improve and then actually acts on our recommendations! I credit her for this transformation. We were only the support crew. Congrats, Michelle! You deserve every accomplishment!

  • Bob

    This was such an awesome read. Cheers Michelle!

  • Steph

    This is so cool, Michelle. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with all of us!

  • Matt

    Way to go Michelle. Love to see the 930 crew representin’. We’re all glad you are part of our CF family!

  • Michelle

    Thanks everyone! I can’t believe I forgot the best thing about Invictus… It’s members!!! It’s freaky rad how much help and inspiration I get working w u all. And shaver – yes, I did grow by a foot at least! Little known to most Invicti… there’s a turn of the century stretching device housed upstairs used to “motivate” as needed 🙂 I now plan to start a support network for other crazy cat lady turned amazonians like myself…

    I would love to read about everyone else’s stories! That would totally run thru the year and keep us all trudging onward :))))))

  • Alicia

    Congratulations on all your success Michelle! Your story is truly inspirational, thanks for sharing!

  • Kari

    Michelle, you are a jewel of the 9:30 mob. You are quietly determined, yet always “presence” with your lovely smile. I really enjoy your energy at our mid morning meets.

  • Kari

    present, I meant present!

  • Nuno

    Congratulations Michelle – it was a pleasure working with you. It’s been great to watch you evolve and continue to take on new challenges. Continue to set high goals, you are on the right path and I am super proud of you!!!!!

  • Craig


    Great to read about this. As a long-distance Invictus follower I like to read this kind of thing because it solidifies by reason for following this programming. The support provided by the crew to ALL comers is amazing. If it wasn’t for the fact that my family and I love Florida so much I’d consider a move to Cali just to have the opportunity to train and possibly work with the team. Keep it up!!!

    Craig in FL

  • Congratulations! This is a great letter and you are an inspiration.

  • Nick

    Such a great story, thank you for sharing it.

  • Sơn Tùng

    Other notable facts: I’ve lost inches all around; 3 inches off my waist,
    4 at my hips, 3 off my thighs, and 1 around my calves. I’ve reached all
    my goals set with Nuno and Michele, including being able to fit into my
    awesome orange leather pants, boo yea!
    Siêu xe , Ảnh siêu xe, Đồng hồ , Liên minh huyền thoại | oto
    moto , Ảnh người đẹp và xe , Thời tiết , Tóc nam | Xem ngày
    xe do | xe may