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Meet Christina

Hey, my name is Christina Norris and Im going to share my story of overcoming Anorexia along with how I fell in love with CrossFit and found Health Coaching as a profession.

Ever since I was very little, I was upside down and tumbling around. My parents put me in gymnastics and I never wanted to do anything else. It was my life.

When I was around 13, I noticed my body changing and I didn’t like it. I couldn’t control it.

I remember sitting with my friends making a list of all the fast food things we would replace and stop having to lose weight. For them I think it was more a joke, but as I noticed slight weight loss, that stuck with me. It could have a been healthy thing for some to choose nutrient dense options but I only saw the weight loss, and that I could control that.

Fast forward a bit, and really close friend of mine at the time moved across the country. It devastated me and I didn’t really know how to handle it. This was really the first truly difficult thing I can remember dealing with, which naturally caused some loss of appetite and exercising more. This coping helped my anxiety and made me feel better, but even when she came back, the restricting and over-exercising didn’t stop. I liked how I looked and it consumed me. A couple years passed and I still was losing weight, but then it began to noticeably affect me negatively and others too. I had people commenting things like, “you really need to eat a burger”, or kids I worked with calling me “chicken legs”.

I barely dated, but when I did, I wasn’t all there because I couldn’t feel or give much in any relationship at that time. I wasn’t able to focus in school. My OCD tendencies were uncontrollable. My parents were worried, and getting test after test done to see what was going on. I was even tested for a tumor in my pituitary gland. Which was of course negative. At gymnastics, they would watch me to see if I would be able to compete. It even started where I would get weighed to see if I was gaining anything and getting healthier. I remember after my 17th birthday party, my parents telling me I had to stop gymnastics and get help. They had me talk on the phone to a psychiatrist 3 hours away in Charleston SC, who specialized in eating disorders. I don’t remember what he asked me because so much of my life is a blur due to being so malnourished.

Once a week, we started going to Charleston and seeing this doctor. One thing I will never forget, is a blurry memory of the doctor telling me I had anorexia and exercise bulimia.

I said something along with the lines of “I’d rather of had a tumor, because I feel so ashamed.” . I'll never forget that feeling.

I knew my family was hurting and it was eating me up inside. We then did one on one and family sessions together weekly. I was thankful that we could at least go to the beach each time. Seeing the ocean alone was healing for me. I was put on medication to slow my body down and gain weight. This was the weirdest sensation I remember, as it literally made me not able to move fast during the day. I felt so calm for the first time and since it knocked me out when I took it, I got good sleep finally.

My parents were in charge of all my meals and made sure I ate all of my meal plan. I remember my first meal out after the doctors appointment and crying while eating. I was determined to do it though. I felt very supported and am so thankful for that. Fast forward a bit a year later. I was up to the doctors goal weight and seemed to be in a good place of not relapsing, so was dismissed from treatment. That was family vacation and a good way to celebrate.

Suddenly though, I was in college and everything was not as easy anymore. I joined the cheerleading team to be able to do something close to gymnastics. This was definitely a challenge because being a flyer, that meant you were small, so the fear of not staying that way would be on my mind. I was open to my coach though and she was really understanding. There would be a few things that would trigger me and I would call her and let her know. Im so thankful that she was my coach. I look back and am pretty proud of myself for trying out for cheerleading because I had NEVER cheered in my life. It was completely out of my comfort zone. I never felt I was the best at it, but I found a place I belonged and just had a good time for the first time in a while.

I also found amazing friends pretty quick in college, which was a huge blessing because I know that can be tough at first. So I had a lot fun, but when it came to direction in my life and identity/future plans, I would get trembling anxiety. I changed my major 5 times before I graduated. While I was there, I realized I never really learned how to eat on my own and dealt with a-lot of food anxiety, so I got help at a local eating disorder treatment center, seeing a counselor and dietitian.

The Dietitians help was HUGE for me. Just gaining basic knowledge. Well, little background, my dad is a chiropractor and holistic medicine practitioner. So, I knew all about “healthy” eating and “bad” foods. This was the first time, I was able to learn a more balanced way of eating with accountability. It was hard and I cried a lot during this time of learning to let go. I will always remember a night I went to cook out with some friends and had a milkshake and a meal, just like everyone else. On the car ride back, I just started crying and my roommate comforted me.

All I could think about was how I wanted to go run it off but I didn’t and it was freaking hard. That happened often until finally it wasn’t too bad anymore. In the mix of all of this, I met a guy. Remind you, I haven’t dated much and felt very behind in this field. I didn’t even have my period naturally yet, so felt embarrassed about myself. I wont go in deep detail here, but it’s important because I have grieved that coming to an end. I grieve looking back at it because it showed me how the eating disorder didn’t just affect my body physically, but how I viewed/view myself. I didn’t deal with the trauma of having an eating disorder. I didn’t deal with everything it took away from me, such as just knowing what a good relationship looks like.

So many things that it took and I grieve that. I didn't realize those were things I could heal from until I found Empowered. Empowered allowed me to go back and see how my nervous system and health were connected, so thanks to Leah. In between all of this, I graduated college and was unsure what I wanted to do. I started my masters in counseling while I nannied a sweet baby and her brother. This got put on hold, because little did I know, I was going to be having my own baby! I remember seeing that pregnancy test, knowing full well that this was not the “best” time, but filled with so much joy that my body was able to get pregnant and I was going to be a mom.

I was so sick while pregnant and couldn’t keep anything down, and for first time I really knew deep down that I needed fuel. I had no desire to restrict. I needed to keep my baby safe. I was put on medicine to help the nausea, but really I just had to push through it for 9 months. Despite the sickness, I never felt so happy seeing my belly grow and it was such joy to see her little kicks. I had a goal to have a natural delivery and breastfeed. I read everything you could find on it. I was fascinated and I just felt like I could do anything now. Giving birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but when I saw her, I forgot how hard it was. She was perfect. I stayed home with her and breastfed her for 2 years! Pretty amazing to think my body was able to do that.

I enjoyed the whole experience of pregnancy so much and was fascinated by women's health. When my daughter was about a year old, I certified as a Birth Doula. I met women prenatally to talk about their birth plans and answered any questions they had. I was there the entire birth, using natural comfort measures to ease anxiety and be a constant. I also helped the dads know what to do. I was then there after they got home for a few times until they were settled and felt confident. It was amazing seeing women give birth. Women are just SO strong.

My oldest, Rane, started having a lot of behavior issues and I noticed a speech delay. I took her in for what feels like a million different examinations. She qualified for a government funded program, called babynet, where an early interventionist comes in and works with her at home, as well as other services such as speech and OT. Her anxiety around people got so bad that I couldn’t leave her with anyone, and she wasn’t progressing at all in speech or social skills. She just always seemed safe with me, so I decided to stay home with her, and put any work to the side. I then found out I was pregnant with my second! It was very similar, where I was sick the whole time, but I at least I had a distraction chasing a toddler around! I remember finding out it was another girl, and I LOVED the thought of being a girl mom. It just felt right. I was able to have another healthy natural delivery, but this time in my apartment. It was planned! I had an awesome midwife and doula. It was really hard but again just amazed at what my body could do, even while exhausted from being pregnant with a toddler for 9 months.

Hazel was just perfect too. Around 3 months later, Rane was diagnosed with Autism. I knew it already, but hearing it was crushing. It was sort of like hearing when I was diagnosed with Anorexia. I probably already knew it, but hearing it hits deeper. I was scared, mad, confused. They couldn’t tell me what she would be like in 5, 10, 20 years. Would she have friends? Go to college? Get married? All the questions were going through my mind. I grieved that for a while, but I knew that she was special, and extremely smart. I knew I would do anything it took to help her. She began a special education preschool program and it was a miracle worker. She said her first word after not talking at all for over a year. I remember vividly, she copied a video of herself saying “eww yucky”. The simple things were just beautiful to see.

Since then, she has continued to progress in speech and other ways. It took a while, but she started to really love Hazel being around too. As hazel has grown, she has become the best sister to her (most of the time lol). As I adjusted to life as a mom of two, I began to look for a gym to go to. I needed an outlet and community and I am so thankful I found one! I had dabbled in crossfit off an on for a few years and really liked it, so when I moved to a new house and area in town I decided to try out a CrossFit in the area that had childcare. My daughter surprisingly did well there, and I fell in love with the community and atmosphere!

All of my experiences have helped me. I realized the mindset of exercising for enjoyment and fueling for performance was possible and freeing. Having goals of new skills and being in local competitions has been a huge mindset shift from diet culture and overall confidence booster. Enjoying exercise and fueling for it, allows us to respect all our bodies can do. I have hit new PR’s and gained new skills I never would have thought possible!

Just in the past year, I went from a #135 power clean to #150! I got past my mental block of going over #85 on the snatch, and got #105 last week!

On just a few tries, I did my first ring muscle up, which is something I never saw myself doing because I didn’t understand it. Due to consistency, recovery, and fueling correctly, this has been possible.

I am a certified Crossfit Coach and love teaching. Coaching was WAY out of my comfort zone at first, but I am so glad I worked past those fears. I also continued my education, by completing my nutrition and health coaching certifications, prenatal and postpartum certifications, and the Crossfit gymnastics course.

I have helped many women regain a healthy relationship with food through mindful eating and understanding all that their body really needs to thrive. I love being a coach because I get to be a vital part of seeing others gain confidence in their bodies abilities, just as my coaches have done for me!

Recovery is an ongoing journey for everyone, including myself. I am thankful to be in a place in recovery now, where I can meet others where they are at and be there to walk with them into new freedom around food and body image. If you need help with building a healthy relationship around food and your body, please reach out. I can’t wait to work with you!

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