April Elsbernd

April is one of our ‘Original 7,’ the first Foundations class here at CFD. There aren’t enough good things to say about April – besides being an incredible athlete and also a great coach as well, both to her volleyball girls and to her fellow CrossFit athletes, she has a great attitude every day she’s here and couldn’t be more pleasant to everyon in her life. She has a smile that will light up the room and a clean and jerk that’ll outdo plenty of guys out there, and that’s what I LOVE about April!!! Strong women ARE beautiful, and she’s proof of it! Here’s her testimonial:

Before I joined CrossFit Dubuque, I spent a few years trying to figure out how to get in shape and lose those extra pounds that had started to creep up on me in my 20s. I started working out with a personal trainer and committed myself to being a healthy role model for the college volleyball players that I coach. At the time, I thought was doing all the right things with my exercise plan and nutrition by following the conventional wisdom of a healthy diet: low fat, lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and a little protein. I saw gains in my strength and endurance, but never saw any changes in my body or the ability to lose more than a few pounds here and there. An athlete my whole life, I have always been “thick.” I wasn’t necessarily happy with how I looked and felt, but I began to accept that maybe this was the size I was supposed to be, and that I had better learn to be ok with it.

When I found out that an actual CrossFit Box was opening in Dubuque, I was eager to check it out. I had been “CrossFitting” for about 6 months, doing some workouts with my trainer and on my own; checking out the main site, learning the lingo, appreciating the good-looking men, and trying to figure out what the heck Tabata was! From the moment I arrived at the first Intro session, I was hooked. Not only was the atmosphere exactly what I had been looking for, I was thoroughly impressed with the fitness knowledge and genuine character of Phil and Mike. I could immediately tell they were focused on making people better, and not just running a business. I couldn’t wait to start Foundations, and I was able to join the “Original 7” in November 2011.

Since I graduated Foundations, my life has changed dramatically! I have consistently been working out for 5-6 days a week, and I go stir crazy if I have to miss more than a couple of days with the crew. Even though the workouts are intense and exhausting, I never dread going – it’s the opposite – I look forward to every day. Each workout presents a new set of challenges. I have seen an improvement in my ability to cope with life and work, I no longer panic or stress when things get overwhelming or don’t go my way, and I am much more equipped to handle day to day crises with a calm and productive attitude.

This summer I decided to compete in a sprint triathlon within one week of when I heard about it. I had wanted to do one for at least 5 years, but was always intimidated by the training regimen. It had been a year since I was on a bike, two years since I had done any lap swimming, and I hadn’t ran more than a continuous mile since May. I was nervous, but confident that I could “survive” the tri with the level of training I had been doing at CrossFit Dubuque. Not only did I finish the race without ever having to take a break, I completely surprised myself with how well I performed and how effortless it was!

Physically I have seen my body go through tremendous changes as well. One essential idea that I accepted in the last 9 months, is the importance of nutrition in both muscle building and fat loss. Notice that I say “fat loss” and not “weight loss.” I have only seen the scale drop a few actual pounds, but I have lost enough inches of fat to the point that my old clothes are falling off. I am also ecstatic to see the muscle tone in my legs, arms and even my stomach!

A year ago I could not have imagined a “diet” – that never leaves me hungry – consisting of meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit, and a little starch would make me the leanest I’ve ever been in my life. Although the discipline it takes to make a dietary lifestyle change is difficult, I have had an incredible support group. There were many late night calls and texts to Mike that helped me through the cravings for processed food, sugar and bread; and there were also many classes when I got “scolded” for not fueling my body the way it deserves. It was a challenging process but through great coaching, many conversations with fellow members, and a lot of reading and research on my own about the Paleo and Primal Lifestyle, I can see and feel the positive effects its having on my body.

However, the most important thing I have learned being a CrossFit Athlete, is not to be ashamed of my strength – strong women are beautiful. Until I started, I was self-conscious about my physical presence, and never pleased with the muscles that were beneath my skin. I have struggled with self-esteem issues and I can’t begin to express how much CrossFit Dubuque has helped me to love and accept who I am physically, mentally and emotionally. Now I am proud to be strong and confident on the outside, and grateful for my inner strength and independence.

What helped me through this transformation are the amazing members and coaches at CFD. I feel so lucky to be part of such an inclusive and motivating environment. We workout with people of all ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and sizes; where everyone can truly be themselves. We laugh, we cry, we cheer and we swear together! It’s an incredible atmosphere filled with accountability but also tremendous acceptance and support.

So… there is no looking back for me. I could not return to a regular gym with mirrors, treadmills, and weight machines; and especially not without encouragement that the group provides. CrossFit is more than a workout – it’s a community. Although it took me until my 30s to find it, I look forward to continuing down this path of outstanding health and wellness, and seeing where this lifestyle will lead me!

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