Becoming a Mom Made Me a Better CrossFitter

January 26, 2017 by
Sweet Life Ericka
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Before I had my son, I had all the time in the world to work out. I could do it anytime, twice a day if I wanted. I had been a runner for years and started CrossFit in 2012 after hearing about the craze. I wasn’t sure I would like it, as I’d never done serious weightlifting in my life. But I quickly found love in the box! It was fast, varied, competitive, challenging and best of all, fun.

And though I got the hang of it, I could never seem to improve much. I felt like that’s “just the way it is” for me — impossible to gain strength or speed in the gym. The thrill of a heart pumping WOD was basically enough but there was always a hopeless longing to actually get stronger.

When I got pregnant, I was dealing with a back flare and immediately got terrible sciatica. CrossFit was out and I spent the next 9 months at yoga, on the barre and walking trails. I stared wistfully at my old box every time I drove by, dreaming about the day I could possibly go back. Maybe lighter weights, maybe modified if I had to but, but I had to get back there.

A photo posted by Ericka Andersen Sylvester (@ericka81) on

I was finally able to get back to CrossFit when Jacob was 5 months old. I felt SO rusty, like I couldn’t remember how to do a back squat and box jumps freaked me out. I hadn’t been this weak in years. So how is it that 9 months later, I was in the best shape of my life, able to lift and perform better than ever before?

After having a baby, my time was no longer mine.

Every minute I spent away from my son is a little guilt-ridden, whether I like it or not. But something about that made me want those minutes to count. And at the same time, I began to feel the satisfaction of hard work coming to fruition. One day I lifted more than I knew was possible and realized there was potential in there I hadn’t seen before.

But it wasn’t just that. There was a confidence that came with this title of Mom. Before — I was just me, often wondering if I was good enough, smart enough, ambitious enough, strong enough. I’ve struggled with self-esteem my entire life. And I think that mental struggle was holding me back in the gym as well. But becoming a mom flipped a switch in my brain. It shouldn’t have been that way but it was.

All of the sudden, I was responsible for keeping this human being alive – and I would eventually be responsible for why he went to therapy in the future (as all mothers are) — it’s a lot of pressure! All of the sudden, I had to be strong enough, I had to be good enough because he was relying on me for everything, including my own body for food in the beginning. There was no space left to doubt myself — it was game time — and I was up for the challenge.

Stepping into my life’s most important non-stop workout — being a Mom — revealed other places in my life that I could start PRing. I was able to get a strict pull up (something I thought would never happen), starting lifting heavier weights consistently and in other parts of life, I was also thriving mentally in a way I hadn’t before.

It was a coincidence that I didn’t put together until now. Becoming a Mom made me a better CrossFitter. But it also made me a better, stronger person overall — finally getting over the self-confidence hump that had been holding me back in so many areas.

I’m so thankful for this bonus, unexpected gift (on top of his life) this sweet sweet baby boy brought to my world. Here’s to continuing to gain strength and most importantly, be the best Mom I can without doubting myself.


Ericka Andersen Sylvester is a professional living in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has been doing CrossFit for 5 years. She’s married and a mom to one-year-old Jacob, and runs a healthy living blog, The Sweet Life. Follow her on Instagram @Ericka81 and here on Facebook.

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