I think I was 450. That’s as high as the scale really went. And so it would get to 449 it will go, “Error. Error. Error.” I don’t know if there was really a word, it was just,
“Oh my god.” So what I would do is I
would brace onto the countertops. Getting from the living room to the
bathroom I’d have to stop, take a rest in the kitchen, sit there, breathe it out and
then continue on to the bathroom. So just getting around the house I was holding onto countertops. It got to a point where I was living in my living room because it got too hard to go upstairs. I hadn’t even been in my room over a year. And so I literally saw my living room, the kitchen, and the bathroom for like, almost two years. My parents divorced when I was super super young.
I was like three. And my father remarried
this woman that didn’t like me. I spent that— those— child I call the “childhood years” under ten, you know, from four to ten. In a very abusive home. Food was part of punishment. So when I say that like, food was used as a weapon. Anytime I would get in trouble, there were days at a time where I wouldn’t eat. Or I would go without eating. Or, there was this thing that she used to use called “prison sentence”, right? So she— it used to be just like a piece of bread with butter on it and a glass of water and that was that was your meal for the day.
And she called it “prison sentence”. I was 39, it was just before my 40th birthday. Sometimes I would luck out, right? And I would sneak out to the garage and pull loaf of frozen bread out of the freezer and hide it under my bed and she wouldn’t find it. Sometimes that would last like a couple days
other times I got caught. So that meant “more trouble”, right? We came home from church one day and she had this great big bowl of salad on the table. Like, it was enough to feed the
entire family and this pot of soup. And, so she sits me down and she’s like, “Athena, if you want to eat then you’re gonna eat.” So I started eating, right? I didn’t want to get in trouble. So I started eating out of this massive bowl, and pretty soon, I mean it wasn’t too long, I was getting full. And so she said, “No, you need to you need to keep eating it. You need to keep eating it.” And every time I would stop, because I was literally getting full by this point. She would literally take the back of my head and shove my head back into the bowls, right? And it got to a point where I told her, “I’m gonna throw up because I can’t eat anymore.” Well, you know like, that’s exactly what happened.
I threw up all over it. So there was throw-up in the bowl,
there was throw-up in the pot. She put like cellophane over the top of the
bowl, over the top of the pot, put it back in the fridge, and that’s what I got to eat for breakfast the next day. Throw-up and all. When I went to live with my mom, I was just shy of 11 I was still sneaking food because it was
such a habit. I was now in an environment where I didn’t have to do that anymore. You know? I didn’t have to sneak food anymore. But she would go in my room and she would find you know, like, wrappers and cans of peas. So, I started putting on weight almost right away when I was 11 or 12 and by the time that I was in sixth grade, I was 225 pounds. So I would go to school and get picked on all day. I would come home, and guess what? My best friend in the world was food. So that’s what I would do, right? So, by the time I graduated high school, I was— that was the first time I’d gotten way up there. I was over 400 pounds by the time I was 18. I thought that bariatric surgery was gonna
be the only way out. My orthopedic surgeon was the one that had recommended it. The nutritionist was like, “I don’t know if you can get this under control. Like, Athena, you have to. You have to.” I got caught up on YouTube one night, watching videos of you know, people that
had had bariatric surgery. And I’m watching all these horror stories, and they’re showing me all their loose skin. And then they’re showing me you know, the scars, and they’re going through all
these side-effects that they have. Holy shit. You know, if I’m gonna have to do all the work, and this is what I risk. Like, you could die. I was like, “You know, I could probably die from a workout… But, doesn’t sound half as bad as you know, dying.” [Andrew] You know, we’ve had people that were a little more overweight or obese that have been in the gym before. I think the first thing that kind of went through my head is, “Okay, is this girl gonna be ready to do this.” [Athena] When I first walked in the door though, I didn’t think that I would be doing CrossFit. [Andrew] The first time we ever met she sat down and she said to me— she goes, “Andrew, I’m never gonna run. I just want you to know that right now.” [Athena] I didn’t think I would be able to do anything more than that. That was my self-talk saying, “Okay, this is how you’re gonna be able to do.” [DJ] I remember the first time we tried to go for a 500 meter row, to just kind of see where she was at her time, and she had to stop a couple throughout that 500 meters and you could kind of see her get emotional and wonder, “Can I even finish a 500 meter row? I’m not even fit enough for this? Can I do this?” And after weeks of row and going through progressions, she was able to row 500 meters in under 2 minutes which was a huge goal for her. (Laughing)
[Athena] Yeah, DJ is awesome. That was my first pull on 275 deadlift. [Interviewer] DJ doesn’t really look that
impressed with that. (Laughing) [Athena] He was like, concentrating. He didn’t think I was gonna be able to do it. Every time I get around that bar I’d get
excited you know, like a kid with a new toy. So I had gone into Bear Fitness
looking for just a place where if the weather was bad or the roads were bad,
I didn’t want to chance it. And I walked in there that day to check it out and they’re like, “Yeah, we have a— we have a powerlifting team.” And I was like, “What?” Competition was something I thought
about on the weightlifting side and it was actually a goal for 2018. Like, I think I want to compete. You know? Like that would be fun. [Coach] The biggest thing is you need to make sure that you’re going hip crease past your knee so you’re going all the way down then standing up. Full extension at the top every time. I remember about six months into working out, we had a— like our own little Games here. And, I had a shirt that said “athlete” on the back, and I had gone up to Andrew and I said,
“Dude, this shirt says ‘athlete’ on it. And he’s like, “Well, that’s what you are.”
And I’m like, “What?” It wasn’t the community that took a while, it was wrapping my own head around the fact that this was my life now. You can do all these things that everybody else does. And you are making this a part of your life.
And you are becoming fit. And I just didn’t think that those words were ever gonna be part of my vocabulary. (Cheering) When I started CrossFit, I was 424 pounds,
and now I weigh 248. What’s hard for me to wrap my head around sometimes is, how much weight that actually was. You know, like, have you ever put 200 pounds on a bar and tried to hold it there? That was how much weight was on my joints. One of the— the biggest things that I’m grateful for was getting off of painkillers. Tylenol, Motrin, I was taking all kinds of stuff. I didn’t have a life before, it wasn’t a life.
I was awake and breathing but, I was half dead. (Laughing)
[Friend] I love you man. [Athena] I think for me having a place that
felt safe was everything. People, and a group of people that rallied around me to cheer me on and keep me going on those days where I didn’t want to drive down here. I thought it was all about weight loss, it wasn’t until I really got into it that I realized it’s not a weight loss journey, this is a journey about figuring
out who you are. What you like. What you’re capable of. Overcoming all the shit that you spent decades telling yourself. [Andrew] When she came in, she was just thinking about, “I just need to— I need to get healthy. I need to get well. I need to get fit.” And that’s it. Now, she’s thinking more of a big, more global perspective I think, and realizing that this journey is pretty special. It’s something that a lot of people don’t—
don’t continue on with. [Athena] If the purpose of this is to help other people, what I would want them to know… I let the word “CrossFit” scare me from walking into a place like this sooner. And, I know that there’s probably somebody out there that weighs 400 pounds thinking, “Can I do that? You know like, “Is that for me?” And the answer is like, “Hell yeah.”