Interview

Celina Alger – Females Of Fitness

header for females of fitnessCelina Alger

Meet Celina: adventurer, corporate guru, lover of CrossFit and all things active. Oh, and she lost just a little bit of weight recently, okay a lot, but that’s only a small part of her awesomely inspiring story. Read on for more! 

I have always been the chubby kid. You know the one in class that’s funny and silly and everyone feels drawn to? That’s me. For a lot of people their fitness journey and their weight are two separate adventures. For me, the two have been heavily intertwined my entire life. Growing up I was always overweight. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a hard time finding cute back-to-school clothes, or worry about finding anything that fit.

For a lot of people this would stop them from doing the things they wanted. They would worry about people looking at them or being judged. I guess I just decided If I was going to be fat, I was going to be fat with an amazing life. I was going to put myself out there and do all the things I ever wanted to do. I played sports in school, was in the color guard, was elected to student government, went to dances and had a lot of fun. When I moved away to attend college I just never thought that being fat should factor into my life. At school I made friends, dated, become scuba certified and traveled the world. I graduated, started a career and  even packed up my entire life to live in Ethiopia on a whim. Which I am glad I had the confidence to go, because that’s where I met my sweetie. We eventually decided to get married and started our life together back in the United States.

Throughout all this time I gained and lost a lot of weight. I ran, then stopped running, the started running again. I would go through long stretches where I loved working out at regular gym then periods of time where I just didn’t care. The same is true with my nutrition. Like most people it was up and down and up and down. I never really found something that lasted long-term.

After getting married and having some time together we decided maybe it would be fun to start a family. In that process we learned that on top of some reproductive challenges, I had some health concerns that needed to be addressed. It was the first time in my life that my weight had made me unhealthy and unable to do something. This was a huge paradigm shift for me. For years my annual physical and blood work had come back clean. I would get the talk from the doctor, “You’re healthy and you’re obese” followed by some prompting to lose weight. So to be sitting in the office, being talked to about a busted thyroid and the possibility of type II diabetes was a shocker. I felt like a zombie leaving the doctor’s office that day.

I went into full on research mode, found the best endocrinologist I could and decided to tackle my health the way I had tackled any other challenges in my life. With the help of my specialist he helped me get a plan together to medically tackle my weight loss. I worked with an amazing team at the University of Utah and couldn’t have done it without them. In the process of learning about nutrition, macros and my medications, I also met with exercise scientists and a rehabilitation psychologist to get the tools that I needed.

Celina Alger

I started my fitness plan doing the things I had always done- hour on the elliptical, swimming laps, walking outside. I knew I wanted to be more than skinny, I wanted to be strong and fit and feel healthy. One of my good friends at work invited me to come with her to a lunch time CrossFit class at Generator. I was super hesitant. I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to do anything, but I wanted to learn how to lift weights and I needed something to help push me.

I went to that first class and had a good time. Group fitness felt a LOT out of my element. People talked to you, encouraged you and sometimes even cheered for you as you finished a workout. You had a coach that would work with you and check in to make sure you were doing ok. I was used to going to the gym with my headphones on and not making eye contact with anyone. It was a whole new world and a new community. I loved that I could ask for help and people would jump in and show me how to do the something how ever many times I needed to be shown. I liked that even though I was the least fit person in the class the movements and workout could be tailored to me and I could still get a killer workout. It was nice that my lack of fitness wasn’t holding anyone else back. It made it safe and fun to workout.

For me, the missing piece was finding something I loved to do. Training no longer feels like a hassle, it’s become something I look forward to.The people at Generator have become my friends and my fitness family. Being in my element really feels natural and good, it’s become my happy place.

When I first started out I went to CrossFit 4-5 days a week. I would be in and out and feel really good about my workout. As I lost weight and gained confidence in my body, things started to change a bit. I started to set little goals for myself. It started small, hit below parallel on my back squat, for example. I’d set time aside and work on that specific skill, cross it off my list and set new goals. Eventually I trained for 2 novice competitions. The first one I just wanted to finish without making a fool of myself. Literally, I just didn’t want to be in last place and ended up 4th from the bottom. Goal met! I had a lot more fun than I expected and it pushed me to train harder. For my second competition I trained with a friend and we put a lot of effort into improving improving our form, increasing in weight on our lifts and building up our endurance. In April it was amazing to go to a competition filled with other fit healthy people and set a personal record on a lift, improve all of my times and finish in the top 10.  

The fun thing about competing is I am really just competing against myself. That little voice in your head that tells you maybe you can’t do it. I LOVE proving her wrong. I like that it takes discipline and a lot of mental fortitude to keep going. It’s fun to see my body change, but more importantly it’s fun to see my confidence grow. Every time I try and fail and get back up, I’m stronger. Every time I try and work hard and complete a goal, I get more excited about what comes next. It’s pushed me to try something I never thought I would want to do.

Celina Alger

This year I hiked Angels landing and Observation Point down in Zion’s National Park, both hikes I would have never even considered a year ago. 8 miles of hiking would have sounded like my personal version of hell back then! Not this year. I LOVED both hikes! They were beautiful and fun and felt easy.  

I was invited to go rappelling and thought, that sounds like fun! I was nervous from years of being obese that I would need to rent a special harness to be able to go. I was assured that I’d be just find. I was shocked when we hiked in and I was fine carrying a little boy on my shoulders, that I easily fit in the harness and that it was fun to backup and then JUMP over a cliff! I loved every minute of the experience.

I have some friends who love to run, and they invited me to train for a half marathon. At the time I thought they were nuts. There was NO WAY my body could do that. They encouraged me that if I could run 5 miles I would be able to build up to half marathon. I had already set a personal goal to run an official 5K race so I figured I would see how that went first. I added in some long runs leading up to the 5k and surprised myself when I could run 6 mile and then the next week run 8. So I decided to join my friends and will be running a half marathon at the end of July.

I fell in love with CrossFit because of the functional fitness. The whole point is get better and stronger at things you need to do in everyday life. I am not going to be a regional games athlete. I do not build muscle fast enough to compete in weightlifting competition. I still have about 40 pounds to lose before I am officially not “overweight”, and in the process I want to build those habits to help me live a healthy and active life. The strength and endurance base that I build at my gym translates so easily into my everyday life. It allows me to go run or hike or paddleboard with friends. It allows me to move heavy boxes, lift and carry things across distances. The community and support I found in my CrossFit family has given me confidence to do all kinds of amazing things I never would have expected for myself. So I probably drank the koolaid and that’s totally cool. I drop in at gyms when I am on vacation. I plan my weightlifting schedule so I don’t miss the strength while I am gone.

I am a better person in all aspects of my life when I take care of myself. It’s probably equal parts physical and mental. There are a lot of areas of my life that feel mundane. Tasks to be done, things to check off a list, emails to respond to.  It can get boring. It can feel pointless. Struggling with infertility can really rock your world. It changes all the rules you thought you were operating under. The life you imagined for yourself becomes just out of your grasp and there is nothing you can do about it. My body was failing me. It wasn’t able to do the ONE thing is was supposed to. the ONE thing I really desperately wanted it to do. Despite medication and doctors and appointments my body just didn’t work. The process and the loss can leave you hating and resenting your body. How come it can do this? Why is it so easy for other people? What am I doing wrong? Why am I not good enough? It’s a really hard and terrible cycle to get caught in. I got caught in it. I hated my body. I hated the treatment. I hated how broken I felt.

Through my fitness journey I learned to love my body. Its imperfect. It may never meet cultural beauty standards, and that’s ok! I was able to heal my heart as I learned to love my body and find opportunities to celebrate it. In a short amount of time it has lost more weight than most people probably weigh. It has adapted and changed and is capable of doing amazing things. Just a short year ago I never would have been able to run a half mile. Today I ran 3 rounds of an 800 meter run with 50 sit ups smashed in between, and I did it just as fast or faster than some of the fittest women at my gym. My body is able to hug and comfort and love people. My soft curves make me a baby whisperer and my strong legs allowed me to hike and run miles and lift big weights. My body has become this amazing vehicle to help me live the life I want to build.

The stronger my body has gotten, my mental fortitude has gotten stronger. Conquering goals in the gym, lifting heavy weights, completing hard workouts- helps you to feel tough and strong. This has helped me conquer really hard things in my personal life. I don’t know a better motivator than those two things!

I have so many goals. TOO many goals! I want to do it all! CrossFit has enabled me to try and do so many things I never thought I would want to try or do. I want to continue building my strength and endurance with CrossFit. I am working towards a lot of the skill work- pushups, pull ups, rope climbs and double unders. I will feel so good when I have all of these down. That’s when I’ll look at becoming a certified CrossFit coach… (#secretgoal).  Outside of the gym I want to continue to be active and find ways to make my family and social circles more active. I want to continue to hike and run and compete with friends.

This summer I will complete my first half marathon, and I signed up for a Spartan obstacle course race that will really push me. I’m kind of afraid of it, but it will be amazing to say that I finished it. Finishing hard things always feels amazing. Plus I’m going to reward myself with a skydiving trip!

I also have a ways to go with my body weight and composition. I always say eventually my fat loss and strength gain will meet at the access of fitness and THEN… I’ll be unstoppable!

Finding what you love is so important when it comes to fitness. Sometimes you just gotta set the fear aside and dive in. Try our 6 week Fit Body Challenge to

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