Growing up, I was your standard oldest sibling. I exemplified all the characteristics of a first born: high achievement, leadership and the need to please others through my perfectionist nature. I was also quite good at being bossy. My sister, on the other hand, shared almost no physical resemblance to me at a young age, and her personality reflected those differences as well. As a second child, and the baby, she stayed true to the textbook description: laid back, less emotional and free-spirited. It was fun to tease my sister. As a toddler she struggled to say our last name, Fangman. Instead, when asked her name, she would reply with, “Cali Mayfin.” She also had a haircut that made her look a bit like a boy, so at some point she gained the nickname “Gary Mayfin.” You may deem this cruel, but Cal and her carefree mannerisms embraced it a bit. But with about six years difference between us, we found ways to butt heads continuously.
Although we shared very little in terms of personality traits, we did share a physical attribute — athleticism. I was a standout gymnast and diver, and my sister excelled in volleyball, Shot Put and discus. Because of our age difference, sports selection and differing expectations, my sister and I were never forced into a competitive situation. The thought of my sister being better than me at a sport had never crossed my mind. And the idea of her being some sort of inspiration in my life seemed almost silly at that time...she was the baby so I always expected to be the one to provide that.
Fresh out of college, she and I moved into an apartment together and we got a taste of one another’s bad habits. We had a way of enabling regularly devoured plates of pancakes and mindless glasses of Moscato. My son would snack on Pop Tarts and fruit snacks, and pizza delivery was a regular fast-food feast. I’d tried to get back into a workout routine with little success. In an attempt to better ourselves, Cal and I set out to run. It didn’t last long. We hated running. But soon after, I discovered CrossFit. Where I met my now husband. It began to consume me, and Cal noticed. After a couple years of participation, my husband and I decided to open our own gym. Although she’d jumped into a few classes here and there, Cal had never fully committed to CrossFit, but once our gym opened, she had no choice but to join. She started off like many — slow and struggling. My first-born need to lead kept encouraging her (aka, bossing her around), and my husband (also a firstborn with a younger brother) badgered a bit, too.
After about six months, Cal began to develop a real interest. Her first year of teaching was wrapping up, she had the summer to schedule in workouts, and she was signed up for a Whole 30 nutrition challenge. To be honest, I thought there was no way she’d make it even a couple weeks. It’s not that I don’t believe in her; it’s just that she’d always had such a carefree personality I wasn’t sure she had the ability to commit to such a drastic lifestyle change. But she did. And following the Whole 30, her bodyfat and weight drastically reduced, and she looked more lively than ever. On her own, she continued making healthy food choices, and months later, she was looking like her high-school-hottie self and acting like a Paleo Pro and CrossFit cult member.
Now, less than a year into her CrossFit experience, I’m being forced to deal with a competitive situation. My sister is starting to lift more than me. She’s learning skills that she never expected to do. And this past weekend, she carried me all the way through a pairs competition with grace and ease. She lectures me on nutrition, cheers me on during workouts and continues her physical and personal progress. And all the while I sit back and adore her tenacity.
She is an everyday example of how CrossFit can change a life. People see the weight loss, and notice the improved performance, but I see more. I see her increased confidence. I see her smile more. I see her empowered to make decisions. I see her not as my little sister, but as my CrossFit confidant. She’s an inspiration to me, and to anybody who needs a little lift. She proves that where there is a will, there is a way. It’s a story that while lacking drama and teardrops, identifies with so many people. She took control of a life she wanted more from, and now she’s kicking ass and taking names...including mine.
At this point, I just try to keep up.
Co-Owner/Trainer, CrossFit 8035
Writer of www.prettyngritty.com