Way back in 2014 when I was a Sophomore in High School I attempted to make the 750lb club in the weight room. To get into the club you have to lift a combined total weight of 750 pounds with a single Back Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift on a single day. I had been training hard to make it into the club I desperately wanted to be in, and I had finally gotten the weights needed to make the club in practice. All I had to do now was hit the same numbers on the testing day.
About a week before the testing day, I went to the Orthopedic & Sports Enhancement Center to get my back checked out. I had been having back spasms when playing football, and when lifting I could feel a sharp pain in my lower back. I didn’t think anything would really be wrong as I haven’t had to deal with many injuries in the past. When I went in, they took and x-ray and I was left waiting in their office for a while…quite a while. It became such a long wait that I was getting nervous that something was really wrong. After what seemed like forever the doctor finally came back with my results. I have Congenital Spondylolisthesis and Spina Bifida in my spine. The Spondylolisthesis means that a vertebra in my spine is slipping out of place. The Spina Bifida means that my spine and spinal cord did not form properly at birth. I was told that I would at some point, likely starting in my late 20s, that I would need multiple surgeries throughout my life to keep repairing the slipped vertebra. I was told to not lift anything heavy in the weight room. I was told I would have to be careful with my back for the rest of my life. At that point I was mad. I wasn’t allowed to try to make the 750 club, I wouldn’t be able to be a great athlete, and I lost motivation to push physically and at sports because of this news.
Flash forward to 2015, when I came back home after a year away at college and came to Five Alarm CrossFit. I took a week or two to come in 3 times a week, but then shortly after that I was in the gym seven days a week. I loved the variety, skill, challenge, friendships, and everything else that came along with going to the gym. I was taught to move well and to think about my form when performing any movement. I carried those lessons and keep them in mind to this day to ensure my back is healthy and to prove that I can do whatever I want to, and that a back issue is not going to stop me from pursuing my goals. Now, I can Back Squat 405 pounds, I have Cleaned 315 pounds, I have lifted 325 pounds from my shoulders and pushed it over my head, and best of all I Deadlifted 445 pounds from the floor with no issues what so ever. Do I still have this back issue, yes. But I have worked hard to strengthen my body so that I do not have to deal with the repercussions of this deficit, hopefully forever.
Never let anything stop you from reaching your goals. For 3 years I believed that my goals had to end because of a diagnosis. For 3 years I could have been working to improve my body and work towards my dreams. I’m glad I was able to be shown a new path that led me to the happy and healthy life I live today.