SISU Transformation: Janelle Pherson

About Janelle

About two years ago, I moved to Minnesota from the East Coast and have been enjoying life here with my husband Dan and our two young daughters. I have been blessed with the opportunity to stay home and take care of our children while also being able to keep my passion as an educator alive by providing tutoring services for local students.

I have had many hobbies over the years, but in my current stage of life, the thing that brings me the most joy is simply spending quality time with my family.

Finding SISU

My CrossFit journey began years ago, but between several moves, job changes, pregnancies, and the general task of motherhood, the journey was quite choppy and definitely kept me at a beginner status. During the summer of 2017, I saw some photos taken of me in a swimsuit, and I was mortified.  I decided I needed to put aside the excuses I had been making and figure out a way to get back into a CrossFit gym. Fortunately, I stumbled upon SISU and decided to give it a try. Knowing how out of shape I was, I was definitely nervous and intimidated walking in on my first day, but it did not take long for me to realize that SISU was the perfect place for me to continue my health and fitness journey. I signed up back in September of 2017 and have been regularly attending classes ever since.

Ready for a Change

I struggled to lose weight after having my second child, and by the time I joined SISU, I was up about 25 pounds from what I considered ideal. My wardrobe was completely outdated and frumpy. I desperately needed new clothes, but I did not want to invest in a new wardrobe and settle for my new size. Getting ready for any event was a depressing chore—nothing fit right, nothing looked right, and most importantly, nothing felt comfortable!  

More than that, though, the main reason for making a change in my lifestyle was because it began to have a negative impact on my children. I found myself trying to avoid taking my daughters places that required me to wear a swimsuit because I was too embarrassed to wear one in public. It was not fair to them, and I was setting a poor example. I did not want my girls to look back on their childhood and have no memories of me playing and enjoying my time with them during those precious and carefree days of summer. Instead, I wanted my daughters to remember a strong and confident mother who always took pride in following the steps to leading a healthy and active lifestyle.

Janelle’s youngest daughter Vivian comes to gym with her mom every day.

Building New Habits

One thing I realized early on is that I needed to find a way to make consistency at the gym a priority. The positive and inviting atmosphere at SISU was encouraging and getting to know the other members of the gym helped keep me accountable. I enjoyed going to the gym every day and quickly became the person who was checking Wodify the minute the daily workout was released. I slowly started to make progress, but I soon realized that I could only go so far by just focusing on one aspect of my health. In addition to consistency, I needed to take control of my nutrition. In April 2018, I finally decided to sign up for the 12-week nutrition program, and it was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. It was not until I combined my consistency at the gym with my consistency in how I was fueling my body that I truly began to see huge changes in my performance, energy levels, and body composition. As it stands today, I have lost more than 20 pounds, several pant sizes and have moved up more than 40,000 places from the 2018 to the 2019 CrossFit Open Worldwide Leaderboard.

A New Perspective

Since joining SISU and learning how to properly fuel my body, my outlook on myself and my overall health has been positive. Prior to completing the nutrition program, I had not even owned a pair of shorts since the 2ndgrade because I did not feel comfortable wearing them. This past summer, I was excited to not only purchase shorts for the first time but also to get out of the “mom suit” at the beach and toss all of my outdated and frumpy clothes. More importantly, I no longer avoid all of the fun summer activities that require me to be out in public in a swimsuit. At the gym, I’ve gained strength in many areas. Slowly but surely, skills that once seemed impossible have become things that I can complete RX in a workout. Perhaps the most significant change in outlook comes with my view of fitness and nutrition in general. They are not are tasks that I feel like I have to do—they are things I can’t imagine not doing because I enjoy them so much.

Word of Encouragement

When I think back to my first few days at SISU, I remember the encouragement, support and welcoming nature of the other members.  I still remember how during some of the earlier workouts, other athletes who finished before me would come and run an additional lap or cheer me on through the finish (they are still known to do that!) Though I worried about it at first, there was certainly never any judgement for being last. If I could provide one tip or word of encouragement to myself when first starting my journey I would say that it is okay to be last — believe it when people say that it will not be forever. And, sometimes it is good to be at the bottom of the leaderboard because perhaps it means that you used a heavier weight than usual or are focusing on practicing a newly developed skill. It does not really matter where you fall—what matters is that you are getting a good workout in, doing your best, and using the leaderboard as a motivational tool to work harder.

Going Forward

I am amazed at how easy it has been this past year to maintain the lifestyle and the habits that I developed during those 12 weeks on the nutrition program, but that is because it is a reasonable and maintainable lifestyle!  Although I am certainly not as strict now as I was during my 12 weeks, I still hold myself accountable and use the tools I was given in order to get right back at it whenever I fall off track. My body feels and performs best when it is properly fueled—that in itself is motivating enough to stick with it. In addition, my family is on board—both with nutrition and staying active.  My husband joined SISU back in November and has also taken control of his health and nutrition. Even though my girls are young, they watch everything that we do so it is important for us to be strong role models.  They are not only learning the importance of eating balanced meals and properly fueling for the day but are developing a healthy relationship with food and learning how to make living a healthy lifestyle a priority!