INTRODUCING: TARA NICOLE JENKINS
My name is Tara & I'm 32 years young, and an elite CrossFit athlete.
As a young adult, I lived a normal life, spending time with friends, partying & I wound up working in the Police Force as a constable at Frankston for 2 years from the age of 19.
At 19 I was diagnosed with depression & tried to mask my symptoms by partying & becoming a very unhealthy version of the young elite track and field athlete I was as a child/teen.
These patterns continued through my early 20's and I remember constantly feeling empty and as if I had an empty void to fill.
At 25 I hired a trainer & got stuck into body building. After realising I was quiet strong & naturally athletic, I started womens Gridiron where I made a bunch of new friends & took out my emotions & anger running into pads & other people. I felt good for the first time in a really long time! This feeling was like an antidepressant in itself, it was amazing.
After 2 years of Gridiron, my marriage broke down and I hit rock bottom. The only way I knew how to deal with being this low was to train, so I amped up my weight lifting & doubled my sessions... it was the only thing I could control and the only thing that made me feel good within myself.
After a year of hardcore training, I really wanted to try CrossFit because it was next level madness (in my eyes). I wanted to continue to push myself as far as I could go because my body & mind adapted to everything I did & by now, I hadn't taken an antidepressant in 3-4 years.
I joined my local CrossFit gym (CrossFit Moorabbin) & I got hooked from day 1. It was brutal, it challenged me physically & mentally, I hated it when I was doing it because it was so gruelling... but the buzz I got after it was too hard to not go back, I was addicted. I surrounded myself with better athletes, watched, learned from the coaches and ALWAYS did extra.
Every life crisis or breakup I went through made me a better athlete because it made me try harder, I had fuel for my fire & I didn't need alcohol or antidepressants to fix my feelings. I just had to become mentally stronger on my own & push through. Yes it was tough but it was worth it!
Two years into my CrossFit career, I competed at the CrossFit Games & I have been to multiple world class competitions in my short career so far. This has now become a lifestyle for me, working in the industry & training part time as an elite athlete.
Training has contributed to my health and wellbeing in so many ways! I no longer need antidepressants, I have learnt how strong physically and mentally I am and can still continue to improve, I have made friends with the same mindset and life goals, I have so many great friends to hang out with in my 30's, I set goals and crush them with the help of the people around me, my muscle mass has increased so much that I can basically eat all day and not gain weight (massive perk), I get to travel and train/compete, I appreciate the feeling of being sober and fulfilled, I appreciate what my body can do, my bone density has increased where I have almost no chance of getting Osteoporosis, I value my health & understand what my body needs to function at its best, I am more focused & driven. I could go on all day about the pro's of training, the list is endless!
Tips if you are getting into training;
- Take one day at a time and don't look too far ahead
- Do your best every single session. If you're not feeling it, just do your best. You can't be motivated every day, you're only human. Just rock up and go through the motions - you'll feel proud of yourself for it later.
- Perform each movement perfectly before you add weight otherwise you'll eventually plateau or injure yourself. Be patient and persistent.
- Treat your body with respect. Feed it, water it & pamper it (massages, chiro, myotherapy - whatever you need). It's all you have, take care of it.
- Take care of your brain. Get out of the habit of talking down to yourself & having doubt in your own abilities. Switch on, tell yourself you're doing a good job, listen to motivational podcasts and just keep on your path. This is something you need to work on every single day.
- If you're hungry... eat! Just eat good quality foods and NEVER skip breakfast.
- When you're pushing in a workout and your brain is screaming at you to stop, your body can handle it. Switch off, focus on one rep at a time or the music and go for an extra 30+ seconds if you can. Going into that redline zone regularly is going to do a world of good for your fitness, your mental strength & self confidence with training.
- Make sure you're getting good quality sleep. Whether it's 4 hours or 10 hours, quality is better than quantity.
- Surround yourself with people that motivate you and you respect, you will only grow from there,
- Don't go overboard with supplements. The fewer the better, your body can only handle so much. I stick with protein, amino acids & ZMA's before bed.
I hope this information has helped someone out there that might relate to a similar life history as me.
Ten years ago, I never thought I would have been training 6-7 days a week, lifting the weight I lift, training at the intensity I do, travelling the world training & competing, getting sponsored by awesome companies, still hanging out with friends doing things I did when I was 15 & living the happiest, fittest life. Getting into health and fitness was easily the best decision I have made as an adult & I am living proof that life doesn't have to slow down & you don't need to live a life on antidepressants to be happy.
Keep pushing, keep making new goals, take one step at a time, be smart and one day, you will achieve everything you hoped for and maybe even more!
Tara Nicole Jenkins,
CrossFit Games Athlete & Coach/Trainer at CrossFit Moorabbin
& Director of Online Programming at Iron Bodies Athletic
CLICK HERE to follow Tara