Ep 115 – Becoming a CrossFit Games Athlete: Rookies Fee Saghafi & Erin Vandendriessche

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“I didn’t start CrossFit to be competitive, and I didn’t get into the competitive side until several years later.  And, I would say, I didn’t start getting competitive until 3… 3-4 years ago.  And then I was like, ‘Oh, this is fun,’ I started with local competitions.  I remember seeing Erin at local competitions, and so that was always cool to me and that was always fun, and it wasn’t so much about competing, it was about, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something that I never thought that I could do.  I always see these- the top-level girls, they have the 10 years of gymnastics, they come from Division 1 swimming, they are- they were- elite track competitors.  And I just didn’t have that background, and I didn’t have those same opportunities, and to be able to prove that I could still get there, over time, was something that I wanted to prove to myself.” – Fee Saghafi

Neither Feeroozeh Saghafi nor Erin Vandendriessche started CrossFit with the intention of becoming competitors, but over the last several years, both women have slowly worked their way from beginners to up-and-coming Games athletes.

Erin Vandendriessche is a former Baldwin Wallace University gymnast and two-time Central Regional athlete, making an appearance on the CTown CrossFit team in 2017, and an individual appearance in 2018.  With the changes to the 2019 Games season, Erin made the surprising decision to opt out of the Open, and instead focused on competing at Sanctionals, most notably the Italian Showdown where she topped the podium and earned her ticket to the 2019 CrossFit Games.  A former nurse and current nutrition coach, Erin trains out of her husband’s affiliate, Root 18 CrossFit in Medina, OH.

Fee Saghafi is a former high school volleyball athlete who started CrossFit as a way to manage her weight and provide direction in the gym while she was in college.  After two appearances at the Central Regional (on team CrossFit Mentality in 2017 and as an individual in 2018) she decided to dial in her training and her mindset and commit to her goal of becoming a Games competitor.  She finished 24th in the 2019 Open, securing her rookie berth to the CrossFit Games.  Fee attended John Carroll University where she earned a degree in Exercise Science and most recently graduated with her Master’s in Business Administration. Fee coaches and trains alongside Scott Panchik at CrossFit Mentality in Mentor, OH.

Through the years of competing alongside each other in local events, Fee and Erin have grown to become friends in addition to fellow competitors.  While they earned their rookie spot at the Games through different avenues, both women have found that embracing a champion mindset has been an integral part of making the leap to becoming one of the best in the world.  I caught up with Fee and Erin at CrossFit Mentality to chat about their evolution as athletes, and what tips, habits, and practices they used to qualify for their first CrossFit Games.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Erin & Fee’s athletic backgrounds
  • How and why they got started doing CrossFit
  • How the three of us got to know each other
  • Erin & Fee’s first Regionals experience, and how that impacted their goals for the future
  • How their training changed as they made the transition from team athlete to individual
  • The importance of dialing in areas outside the gym to improve performance
  • The lessons Fee learned from her individual experience at the 2018 Regionals, and how she changed her training and mindset going into the 2019 season
  • Their reaction to the changes in the qualification process for the 2019 CrossFit Games
  • Erin’s strategy to qualify for the Games, and why she opted out of the Open
  • Erin’s team experience at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge
  • Their experience at the CrossFit Italian Showdown, and finding comfort in competing alongside a familiar face
  • The biggest mindset shift that Erin & Fee made that helped them to qualify for the Games
  • How Fee draws on Games veteran Scott Panchik’s competition experience to improve her training
  • The biggest changes Fee & Erin made in their training and their mentality to support their goal of making it to the Games
  • What their schedule, training and nutrition look like as the 2019 Games approaches
  • Three things Fee & Erin do on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on their health
  • One thing they struggle to implement that could have a big impact on their health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Fee and to Erin

You can follow Fee and Erin on Instagram.

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If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

This episode is also brought to you by Butcher Box. Butcher Box delivers 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage-breed pork directly to your doorstep, on your schedule. You can order curated or custom boxes of meat, and they always come with recipe ideas for you to explore. Visit butcherbox.com/Julie to receive an exclusive offer for being a listener of Pursuing Health: Free Bacon for Life* + $20 off your order!

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 114 – Practicing CrossFit for Health with Dr. Maude Dull

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I really just… kind of wanted to get more into the CrossFit community.  More interested in sort of where things were going, especially as we were moving, CrossFit as an organization, is moving away from the sort of Games mentality into more of a health mentality.  And I remember saying a lot of times in Huntsville when I was training that CrossFit is wasted on the fit.  I really felt like training for the Games, training for the Open, or people are training for the Games, and stuff like that, and there’s this huge emphasis on this elite fitness and I was like, it’s kind of wasted on people that already have it.  Whereas there’s people like me that needed it so bad.  That had to sort of, we were embraced and brought into it, but not the way we would be embraced now.  You had to sort of… you had to break in a little bit, still.  So, that was always one of the things that I said, was CrossFit was wasted on the fit.  So, I would… when I sort of saw this shift going on, and heard some of the stuff that Coach Glassman was talking about, I was like, ‘You know what? I want to get in on this, I want to check it out.’” – Dr. Maude Dull

Dr. Maude Dull has been active throughout her life, but from middle school through medical training she struggled to maintain a healthy weight, peaking at 240 lbs.  As a young doctor specializing in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and working in fast-paced intensive care settings, she used martial arts and then CrossFit to provide an outlet for her stressful work schedule but found her weight wouldn’t budge.  Wanting to reach her full potential as an athlete, she enlisted the help of a nutrition coach from Precision Nutrition who focused on changing her habits, and a performance coach who helped her shift her mindset.  Maude was finally able to bring her weight to a healthy level, and along the way she learned valuable lessons about the importance of balance in all aspects of life.

These days, Maude has pivoted away from adrenaline-seeking work and workouts, and instead enjoys moderation with a challenging job in a Step-Down Unit and workouts scaled to help her remain healthy long-term.

I had the pleasure of meeting Maude at a recent CFMDL1 seminar, and was excited to catch up with her at San Francisco CrossFit to share her story of how she changed her habits to overcome obesity, why she made the shift from training for the Open to training for longevity, and what prompted her to join the CrossFit Health movement.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Maude’s childhood and why she decided to pursue medicine
  • The multiple factors that played into her becoming obese as a middle schooler
  • Qualities that contributed to Maude’s persistence in pursuing her goals
  • Deciding on her specialty of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
  • Maude’s experience with weight fluctuations and the healthy habits she prioritized throughout her medical training
  • Maude’s observations of the differences in critical care for adults vs children
  • Maude’s turning point for her own health
  • How she got involved with CrossFit
  • Her coach’s suggestion that she try Precision Nutrition to spur weight loss when her consistent exercise was not creating change
  • How Maude found success using a personal coach to change her mindset to support her weight loss goals
  • Her realization that her alcohol consumption was holding her back
  • How Maude gets herself into a parasympathetic mindset and away from constant adrenaline seeking behaviors
  • Making choices to support her long-term health, including shifting her career and dialing back her workouts
  • Changing her goals from training for the Open towards training to get out and play
  • The legacy she hopes to leave
  • How Maude’s focus on diet and nutrition has changed
  • What drew Maude to attend the CFMDL1 and what her experience was like
  • The advice Maude would give to someone going through medical training
  • Three things Maude does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Maude

You can follow Maude on Instagram.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

This episode is also brought to you by Butcher Box. Butcher Box delivers 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage-breed pork directly to your doorstep, on your schedule. You can order curated or custom boxes of meat, and they always come with recipe ideas for you to explore. Visit butcherbox.com/Julie to receive an exclusive offer for being a listener of Pursuing Health: Free Bacon for Life* + $20 off your order!

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.