Jennifer Broxterman: Thriving Through the Pandemic with a “Serious Comorbidity”
Jennifer Broxterman admits the thought of getting COVID-19 has caused her crippling amounts of stress and fear in the past months. This is because the 36-year-old 2014 Canada East Regionals athlete has been battling ovarian cancer for the last two years, a cancer that doesn’t ever technically go into remission. So, although she’s currently cancer-free, she knows she still has a “pretty serious comorbidity,” she said, that has led her to prioritize her safety first and foremost.
- “The first time I had to go to the hospital for a CT scan and bloodwork during the pandemic, I was really, really nervous. When I got home, I stripped down and threw my clothes in a garbage bag and showered right away,” she said of her level of COVID fear.
Remind me: When we first featured Broxterman in February, 2020, she had just recovered from surgery after her entire reproductive tract and various other parts of her digestive system were removed because of two types of Stage 3 ovarian cancers in her body, a slow-growing one, and a particularly deadly rapid-growing form known to have a nine percent five-year survival rate.
One month after that, the global pandemic hit. This left Broxterman, a Registered Dietician and the owner of NutritionRx, with a choice to make: Hide away in fear, or continue to attack life. She chose the latter.
- “When COVID hit, it just made it all the more pressing for me to pivot and figure out a new way of living healthy,” she said.
The details: In the last nine months, Broxterman has continued to prioritize her fitness, albeit at home, with the help of the community at CrossFit London in Ontario. She also teamed up with Two-Brain Business and built a nutrition coaching course designed specifically for CrossFit coaches, and most recently she has been developing an innovative 6-week nutrition challenge that she will release in the new year. All of this has led to her best financial year with her company to date.
One big thing: For Broxterman, her current situation has come down to two things: Her ability to adapt and her commitment to healthy habits for life.
- Because she wants to limit her time near other people until COVID numbers come down, Broxterman has mostly been working out at home since March. In the early days of the pandemic, this meant getting creative and using bags of dog food or textbooks as weights. “It’s very CrossFit-like. Can your fitness be tested anywhere and under any circumstance? I committed to being fit, and I learned it’s OK if it’s not a dumbbell or barbell,” she said.
- Most recently, Broxterman, who started doing CrossFit in 2008, celebrated hitting 3,000 workouts at CrossFit London. The community celebrated with her when she tuned in for an at-home Zoom class. That day, she was tired and “not totally in the mood to exercise…but my positive habit nudged me in the right direction,” she explained.
- This habits-based approach to change also became the backbone of Broxterman’s nutrition coaching course for CrossFit coaches, which she released in July. “At the beginning of COVID, there was a slowdown in my nutrition business. I have two other dietitians who work for me and rely on me for their livelihood, so (the pandemic) challenged me to be creative and adapt and survive. I asked myself, ‘How can I add value to the world and take what I know about eating healthy and bring it to other gyms and coaches?’” she explained.
- The course has been a huge success already. In fact, one affiliate owner who took the course has managed to generate more than $120,000 in nutrition coaching sales so far this year by using the concepts taught in the course. “Many gyms are struggling and I knew nutrition coaching is something you can do to keep your members healthy and increase revenue,” Broxterman said. “It’s also a service that gyms can easily offer virtually, especially when mandated by local governments to shut down their physical location,” she added.
- Her most recent project: Broxterman has been building a six-week nutrition challenge called Powerful Progress: Your Blueprint to Healthier Living. “It came out of conversations with clients who are stressed out and working from home, and their nutrition routines are destroyed and they’re snacking in their pantries and fridges all day long. It’s not about judging someone’s weight gain or body shaming, but the “COVID 15” is a real thing, and I wanted to bring something to people to help them reset their habits and food choices for six weeks,” she said. “The idea is to give people a sense that there are still things you can control in your life even in this pandemic climate.”
The big picture: The pandemic doesn’t need to bring you down, and it certainly doesn’t have to stop you from living a full life. That’s Broxterman’s message to those who are struggling.
- “Action breeds motivation, not the other way around. People think they have to have motivation before they take action, but it works in reverse. Take a tiny action and it will build your motivation to do more,” she said.