Amid Pandemic and Divorce, Leigh Willhide Loses 40 Pounds, Gets First Pull-Up

October 8, 2020 by
Courtesy of Amanda Peretich
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“Not this time.”

That’s what 39-year-old Leigh Willhide told herself during the pandemic when everyone was talking about gaining the COVID- 15.

  • Considering Willhide was going through a divorce, a move, and adjusting to working from home with her 10 and 6-year-old children running around in the background, “where I could have just sat there at the computer and eaten all day,” nobody would have blamed her had she given into the stress.
  • “There were so many negative things going on in my life. All the stressors were there for me to say ‘Screw this, I’m going to eat pizza,’ which I have done many times in my life. But I was like, ‘You know what. I have done that too many times. Not this time. I’m going to be healthy,’” she said.

The big picture: When everything else in your life is chaotic, CrossFit is often the rock or foundation that allows people to meet or achieve their goals. That has been the case for Leigh Willhide. Willhide showed up to her gym, CrossFit Panthera in Dunkirk, MD, and picked up as much equipment as she was allowed to take, filled her truck and created a home gym. Then she committed to working out “almost every day” and eating whole foods 90 percent of the time.

  • “I got rid of processed foods and sweets. I’ll still indulge maybe once a week. I love cakes and brownies and cookies and all that delicious stuff…but mostly it has been lots of protein, healthy carbs and healthy fats,” she said.
  • Though challenging at first, “it definitely got easier,” Willhide said. “Soon I found I was more active than ever because we were playing outside with the kids all the time, going for walks, meeting neighbors we had never seen before.”
Courtesy of Amanda Peretich // Courtesy of Leigh Willhide

One big thing: The longer she kept going, the easier it became. Though the last months have been anything but easy for Willhide, she gives huge credit to CrossFit for helping her remain committed and she’s down nearly 40 pounds from her pre-COVID weight, and even more than that from last October. “If I didn’t have CrossFit, I don’t know what I would have done.”

  • “I just felt so much better. And it felt good to be able to focus on what I could control when there were all these other things in my life I couldn’t control,”
  • “A year ago I was over 200 pounds. Now I’m 155,” said the five-foot-nine Willhide. “And before COVID, I couldn’t do a pull-up. Now I can do three, almost four…And I’m lifting heavier too, because when your nutrition is on, you lift better. My body is responding really well. I’m still losing.”
  • “Going through a divorce is always hard. Even if you want the divorce, it’s always a stressful environment,” she said. “So having that hour to myself, where it’s just me against me” made it a whole lot easier, she explained, as did having the CrossFit Panthera community to offer support.
  • “We’re a very supportive, family-oriented box. Some people know what I have been going through and are super supportive, especially (owner) Amanda (Peretich)…There have been different dinners and social stuff, social distancing, of course. I have met some really amazing people, who have lived in my shoes, and it has been wonderful.”

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