CrossFit was the start of learning to curb my drinking. Before CF, I would drink a bottle of bourbon over two nights, weekdays and weekends. Drive hungover for the 90-minute commute to work in stupid NJ Turnpike traffic. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, many times I thought I might never get to the end of the tunnel…thoughts of suicide were a regular thing as I cried myself to sleep at night. I had nobody to talk to except my friend Brad, who was the one that told me I should join a CrossFit gym because he thought I might be able to meet people there.

I found CrossFit in September of 2018 before I turned 41. One might say that’s pretty old to be joining a cult like CrossFit, but this community has done so much for me. I walked in one Saturday for a free class and got my ass kicked…then I came back on Monday morning at 5:45am and got my ass kicked again. Then I came back to a few more classes that week and the next week and the next…I was so sore from using muscles I’ve NEVER used before.

I joined the CrossFit gym in what was arguably the toughest year of my life: I was recently divorced, just turned 40, was out of shape, had a challenging relationship with alcohol and hated my job. But going to that morning CrossFit class turned out to be the most amazing thing. I’d leave the gym and drive 90 minutes to my office and work for a company that didn’t value their employees, only the bottom line. But after that ridiculously challenging hour of CrossFit each morning, I slowly realized that the workout we did was going to be the hardest part of my day. If I could complete whatever was programmed that morning, the rest of the day was a breeze.

I slowly tapered my weeknight drinking but never completely stopped. Every night there was bourbon or wine, just less of it when I knew I was going to class the next morning. I got good at drinking enough water with the alcohol, combined with an early bedtime made for enough energy for the next morning.

Throughout the next seven or eight months my confidence skyrocketed. I got to a point where I felt comfortable with leaving my current job of 17 years in favor of something that was more rewarding and something that wasn’t in Secaucus, NJ. The old, beat-up me could never have killed the interviews and earned the Director of Business Development position with the new company. I truly believe the self-confidence gained from CrossFit was the single most important thing that happened to me in that time of my life.

But with the new job came new challenges that would test me and my drinking. The position was work from home before work from home was a thing. I had to rely on self-discipline to get through each day and continue to bring leads to the table…spoiler, I wasn’t very good at it. At 4:00 or so each day I’d pour a little tequila into a kombucha, a little pick-me-up that would start the night. My drinking started earlier because I knew I had to get to bed early to hit the gym in the morning.

That went on for a few months, until the spring of 2020 and the Covid pandemic. March 17th is a day most of us won’t forget…here in New Jersey it was the day every business shut down, including my beloved CrossFit gym. I won’t lie, I was scared as hell when that happened. Scared that my morning fitness routine was over, scared that I would fall back on old habits, scared that I would lose what I worked so hard for.

Like all businesses, the gym had to make some serious changes and evolve into a remote gym. We had classes on YouTube and meetings on Zoom. I pulled out my old GoPro and started videoing my workouts and posting them on Instagram. It was a fun way for me to share my progress and at the same time, have my peers hold me accountable.

I’m still doing CrossFit today, at 46, and absolutely love it…the people, the exercise, the challenges. But most important to me, the mental fortitude it takes to get out of bed each day and drive 20 minutes to the gym, only to get my ass kicked over and over. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.