Meet Jill Chrusciel


Fear is strange thing.  It can make you feel inadequate, incompetent, and unable to change your circumstances.  It can paralyze you where you can’t move out of its grip although staying there only reminds you of the many, many times you have tried before and failed.  It’s the top of the shame spiral it creates.  Fear was what I was being asked to overcome at the beginning of my fitness journey.
My experience is less about success with calorie deficit and more with obedience to what God was asking me to do, trust him and face my fears again and again and again.  First, let me say I’ve always been that heavy kid.  Even from birth — Not even kidding.  So it seems that I got the shaft from the outset.  There are many things that I discovered I seemed to have a natural talent or ability for, but physical activity is not one.  I didn’t mind sports or working out, but I never exceled at it.

More often than not, I found it embarrassing and demoralizing.  What I discovered myself doing to compensate for my physical incompetency was gravitating toward the things I found easy or came naturally.  Avoiding difficult things to avoid failure and disappointment.  It seemed to work well for me most of the time until the Presidential Fitness Test came around each year.  Then I just added to the previous years’ failures and solidified my fear and disdain for all things physical.  One can live a long life avoiding the things that come difficult to her until she is halted in her tracks and realizes the only way forward is no longer AROUND.  It’s THROUGH.

As early as 2008, I felt God calling me to some sort of missions.  And like any obedient child of God, who had a history of avoiding difficult things and being ruled by fear and failure, I ran from the calling.  You can’t run from God forever, though. Ask Jonah.  So in 2010, my first act of obedience was to go on a construction mission to Mexico to help finish a family’s house.  It was an amazing experience and I knew I was where I needed to be.  Until I got the pictures back.  One of the most telling pictures from the trip was of me on a ladder.  Innocuous, right?  Until I realized someone captured my moment when I realized I needed to change.  See, we were installing a new roof this family had been waiting to finish for two years.  I was easily the heaviest person on the team, by my own estimation, and I was not about to be the gringa gordita that dropped her fat self through these precious people’s already humble home.  So, I resigned myself to the ladder to be the go between the roof crew and the tools on the ground.  My weight was keeping me from fulfilling my calling and my purpose.  Devastated, I realized it was time to begin to face down those fears keeping me from fully participating in my own life.  And God was faithful to provide the tools and courage he knew I needed to begin this journey.

Over the next two years, I began to juice fruits and vegetables and learned how to make healthier food choices.  I bought a few more DVD home workout series, to add to the exhaustive collection I had already amassed. Things were going ok, I at least had stopped the weight gain and lost some.  But I realized I was still being ruled by fear to try something new and unknown, to do hard work. Like my normal avoidance behavior dictated in wanting to see body change quickly and easily, I changed my hair color.  Change, but too easy.  Then I had it all cut off.  Change, braver and harder but I knew these were superficial moves and not getting at the root of my problem.  I had heard of this thing called CrossFit and had been toying with the idea for months.  Then all of the sudden they were having an intro class.  No more excuses.  With God’s help, I stepped forward in faith with MUCH fear and went by myself.

In the first class, we learned form and technique for the moves we would be doing and I was so thankful to be taught HOW to do this because it was not in my body’s natural mechanics to just “get it.”  But I could be a good student and learn how.  I also did a pull-up for the first time ever in my life.  It was assisted with two green bands, but I didn’t care.  Holy Crap!!  I just did a pull-up!!  Take that stupid Presidential Fitness Test failure!!  From that moment on, I was hooked.  The next class we had running and I had a mild exercise-enduced asthma attack.  And so begun the cycle of CrossFit victory followed by humbling defeat that would show itself to keep my ego in check again, and again, and again.  This wasn’t going to be easy, but it could be good.  And each class was also an opportunity to stretch my prayer life.  So many prayers went up for strength, for perseverance, for endurance and to get that dadgummed Double Under!!!  (There were also prayers asking forgiveness for the muttered curses when Double Under practice didn’t go so well.)

The other beautiful benefit of CrossFit I discovered was a tight community of friends who were for me, wanting my success, willing me to finish and very often coming back for me after they were done to finish that last run or set of reps with me.  The CrossFit community is unique and amazing in this way and God has given me beautiful, strong, lifelong friendships as a reward for making the commitment to come week in-week out, day in-day out.  These people inspire me, make me want to be brave and to finish what I started.  I found myself wanting to try new things, to see if I could conquer the very things that used to haunt me.  One by one, they all began to fall.  And it was sweet freedom.  Through the cheers of my friends and training cues of my coaches, God was faithfully renewing my mind during this process, replacing the defeating self-talk when I would try something difficult or new with words of affirmation and positivity to finish.

One of the great things we do at Muddy Water CrossFit is to establish monthly goals.  That was unheard of before now.  My goal for physical activity had always been not to die, or vomit, or pee my pants in public.  But our coaches help us focus in on the things we really want, to write them “out loud” for all to see for accountability and to show us techniques, modifications and progressions to accomplish each goal.  That training and support is a true gift because it helps me to chip off more manageable chunks from this mountain I am asking God to move and I have more faith now that it’s possible to see it accomplished.

I am not at my destination of physical health.  I still have a ways to go and skills and strength to develop and master, but what this journey has brought me is a bravery I had never known.  I am no longer a slave to fear, paralyzed to act upon what I was called to do.  Fear isn’t from God.  He is all about victory and giving us a full and abundant life.  By his strength, I haven’t waited until I had achieved my overall goal to do difficult things. With the help of my friends and God’s grace and mercy, I keep stepping out of my comfort zone and tackling things I was once so afraid of.  I have finished a Tough Mudder, several 5Ks, my first CrossFit Open,  and even did two Open WODs during the very public Friday Night Lights, one of the Rx!!  AND I have traveled to Guatemala three times to fulfill my mission calling, hosting a camp for the awesome kids in a children’s home there.  I don’t sit on the side lines.  I am now able to join in on the action and fun and get to fully participate in my own life.  As you can see, I am never alone in these pictures.  God graciously provided positive people in my life who loved me as I was, as I am and who I’m becoming.  Forever grateful.  To God be all the Glory for my story.