Friday, October 19

Guest blog from Michelle Whitford!


The above pictures are of me descending after an acclimatization hike to 20,000 ft with snow up to my thighs. The other is Torres del Paine, one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve traveled to 5:7 continents and I will get to all 7. I mostly put these on here to get everyone’s attention, lol.


The coaches asked me a while ago if I wanted to write a WOD blog. I’ve thought about it quite a bit since I’m pretty private and have a hard time trusting people with what I consider personal stuff unless I feel it can really help them. That plus never feeling like I fit in anywhere. Bear with me, this will be a little long-winded (even after several drafts) and hard for me to do. This might set the record for the longest WOD blog ever. ;)

I’ve been aware for quite awhile that I haven’t been living my best life. I have cut back significantly on my hours but I need to do more. This means making some hard decisions, including letting go of the relationship I’ve been in for almost 2.5 years. In some ways it’d be easier to stay, but I’m pretty low maintenance and he hasn’t met a very basic set of things that keep me happy in months. I need to be patted on the head once in awhile and told that I’m pretty. Taken out once in awhile to get outside of my own head. And a travel partner who wants to explore the world with me. Part of me is afraid I’ll wind up alone forever because who wants a burned out, 40 year old ER physician? But that’s self-defeating talk and I’m quite the catch for the right person. I only bring this up because I might be doing more frowning for awhile. I’ll be ok though, I’m tough and have never not taken the harder path when it’s the right thing to do.

On the surface, I’m an ER physician. I flew Aeromed for awhile. I’ve lived quite a few places and have seen a lot in my 4 decades, but as far as where I’m at in life, it’s more like late 20’s-early 30’s since I spent my 20’s in school and training. Despite living a full life, some aspects of being an adult are in development. Most things got put on hold for 11 years while I went through training. I’ve had lots of jobs; I’ve worked in a chemistry lab, done organometallic research, was a bartender and waitress, taught English as a second language, worked dietary, did landscaping, watered the plants around campus, and was a cashier at Meijer.

Let’s dig a little deeper. You might have noticed that I like to workout. Athletic endeavors don’t come naturally to me. I was held back from kindergarten because I had significant gross motor skill deficits. For instance, I had trouble sitting up and eating at the same time. I couldn’t pass the physical screening tests even if my brain was ahead. Plus I was painfully shy. I’ve had to work really hard to be sort of athletic. I walked onto a division 3 soccer team in college (I wasn’t very good) and I did clock a 5:45 mile running a 1600m when they asked me to try a season of track. Training is my primary coping mechanism for stress and anxiety, of which I have lots.

I’ve wanted to be a doctor since age 5 but the path hasn’t always been smooth. I’ve battled body dysmorphia and issues with food since I was 14 because the physician doing my sports physical told me I was overweight even though I wasn’t much shorter or lighter than I am now (5’4.5”, 126.5 lbs back then), compounded by a very petite sister who has a much more typical Asian build. And what mutant Korean genes are responsible for my tatas, I would like to know, haha.

I was fit though, after lifting weights with the JV and varsity team plus practices. We also did a lot of manual labor growing up. You’d think since the doctor was a bodybuilder and has just complimented me on how fit I was, would know better. I was devastated though. I used to eat less than 25 gm of fat a day and up until doing Christian’s program, I restricted my calories, severely at times. I got down to a size 0 and 112 pounds at my lightest during residency. That happened after my house burned down at the end of second year of residency and I lost everything, including my three best friends a.k.a. my kitties. It wasn’t until Christian finally convinced me to slowly go up on my calories last winter that I started to see changes in my body. I’m up to 2400 calories (as of today) and I don’t weigh myself anymore either.

In residency and my first year as an attending in Detroit, we saw messed up shit. I still do, though not as often. My residency was one of the last of the old-school style programs. (I learned I could fall asleep standing up.) I’m not going into details but it was the closest to being in a war zone as you can get without being military. We had a few shootings in the ER and lots of death threats too. Security would beg to drive me to my car after some shifts. We had murders all around the outside of the hospital. Gang shootouts would come in and the ED would go on lockdown. I got in trouble once because my shift had ended but I couldn’t leave because of the above. I left anyways because I quite frankly, I didn’t care if I didn’t make it to the next shift. I just wanted to go home. (Also, I had to help code my uncle a few years ago and then pronounce him.) I live in a different world and I suppose that’s why I tend to mostly date and hang around with ER/EMS people, or spend time alone. (I’ve dated quite a few firemen and paramedics, lol.) It can be hard for me to find things to talk about outside of this bubble. What I do is a big part of who I am, but I need to diversify and get out more.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in the past but feel like I’m through the worst of it and am well into the recovery phase. I rarely have moments and it’s pretty common in my specialty to have a degree of it. I also had something bad happen to me in medical school, so combined with the above, that’s what I ended up with. What everything has taught me is resiliency. I’ve always been stubborn but I’ve also become really tough. I’ve been knocked down so many times but I always find my feet. Maybe that’s why I like cats so much! 

Anyhow, I know I need more balance in my life and it’s an ongoing battle. I’ve cut back on my hours substantially. Even going out for my birthday, I couldn’t help but think “Gosh, it’s nice to be out with friends. I need to get out more.” That was between beers and Manhattans, lol. I used to play piano, violin, and some guitar. Pottery. I love to cook for other people and dote on my friends and family. I like to fish, climb mountains, rock climb, and scuba dive. I sew and knit too. I like being kind and generous but I have a mischievous and adventurous streak. I LOVE to travel and am a huge Anthony Bourdain fan. I like UFC fights and most things martial arts. I rewatch ‘Battlestar Galactica’ not infrequently. I’m also a Tolkien nerd. I’ve also been known to try and climb up things while drinking. ;)

So there it is, a lot about me. I am unique as is my story, but my struggles are not. I had a boyfriend tell me that they didn’t just break the mold when I was made, they shattered it. My dad tells me I have always had my own drummer. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to embrace my eccentricities even if I don’t fit in. I decided to go against the grain and tell part of my story because it might help someone else. I suspect I’m not the only one at the gym who has similar stories or if something comes up, I’m always available to listen. I get it.

Workout for Friday, October 19
Jump Rope Progressions

5 Round Test
30 sec Max Single Unders @ 150 to 180 RPM
30 sec Rest

For Time:
21-15-9
Deadlifts (245/165)
Box Jumps (24/20)
*Mandatory Step Down!

CrossFit 616