Today we’re profiling one of our Sweat Pink Ambassadors, Christine from Run Out of the Box. She’s a fearless, motivated, and supportive voice in our community, and we were thrilled to sit down with her and chat about all things CrossFit, chasing your goals, and making the impossible happen.
For many people, maternity leave is a time to focus on and adjust to all the momentous life changes that come with bringing a new life into the world. For Christine Parizo from Run Out of the Box, maternity leave was a catalyst to change virtually every aspect of her life: in addition to taking care of her daughter, she found fitness and started a new business.
Going into her maternity leave, Christine says, she knew she couldn’t go back to the job she’d been working. “I made a very bad decision to work as a paralegal for about a decade,” she says. Presented with an opportunity to find her way back to her former career as a journalist and writer, she seized it. Instead of “sleeping when the baby sleeps,” as new moms are so commonly advised, she used naptimes to schedule conference calls and get her business off the ground.
The looming deadline of her maternity leave ending was a powerful motivator to keep her moving toward her goal. She managed to hustle enough clients so that she did not have to go crawling back to a job she knew wasn’t right for her. “I grabbed the client tree and shook it and shook it so I didn’t have to go back,” she says. “If you want something badly enough you will do it and you will get it.”
And get it she did. Seven years later, she’s working from home at this very same business as a freelance B2B technology writer, relishing the flexibility that comes with being your own boss.
That kind of fierce determination characterizes her fitness life, too. Before her daughter was born, she says, “I was largely non-athletic. I would do some group ex classes, some walk-jogs, but I didn’t find what I loved.” The demands of a new baby and starting a new business was just the push she needed to find what worked for her. “To break up the stress, I’d put my daughter in the bouncy chair for 20 minutes and do a Jillian Michaels workout. It was the only thing to get me out of my own head. That was where my fitness came from.”
Since those early days of squeezing in video workouts, Christine’s fitness has evolved into a lifestyle. From dabbling in strength training classes to starting to run to blow off steam, she finally found her way to CrossFit. “All my running friends told me how awesome CrossFit was. I thought maybe they were just drinking the Kool-Aid.” After she finally tried it, Christine knew she’d found her thing. “This is what I’ve been looking for with my entire workout routine,” she remembers thinking at her first class on a press tour of Reebok Headquarters, where she was both “afraid of the barbell” but exhilarated by the challenge and the competitive element.
She found a box near home where she could immerse herself in that competitive but supportive environment, and felt empowered by doing things she never believed she’d be able to do, such as “throwing barbells over my head, or doing pull-ups.” Despite these accomplishments, she emphasizes that she is a scaled athlete who modifies 95% of the workouts. She credits her local box’s owner—a “phenomenal woman” who also does most of the coaching—with developing her commitment to CrossFit, and sparking her interest in competing.
For Christine, CrossFit catalyzed multiple other big lifestyle changes. “Once you go all-in for CrossFit, everything falls into place,” she says. “I look at food differently. I don’t do paleo or anything, but I avoid artificial sugars and animal fats because I know it affects my training. It’s totally a down the rabbit hole kind of thing.” This shift in how she approaches healthy living all connects back to how she wants to raise her daughter. “I want her to see me be the healthiest version of myself. My mother was always very focused on the number on the scale. She got herself sick from fad diets and I do not want my daughter to see me doing that.”
Instead, she models a healthy lifestyle through her training, and, while she insists that her workouts are time for herself, she does incorporate her kids into her fitness: she does yoga with her daughter at home, and her son participates in CrossFit Kids.
Christine is ruthlessly focused on her goals, and doesn’t appear to let distractions get in the way. “I say it’s definitely a Gen X thing that you should be able to have a career, a family, and a perfect home. The reality is there’s a tradeoff for everything. I can have a stellar career, or I can have a really clean spotless home, or be a Pinterest mom, or I can just make sure that everything is running and that we’re all happy.” The balance, she says, comes from focusing on what makes you happy and letting the rest slide. Clothes in the dryer? Not as important as making sure the kids’ homework is mostly done. Piles of magazines to be sorted through? Doesn’t even compare, priority-wise, to fitting in a workout.
Right now, Christine’s priorities are—well, beyond her kids, who are always her #1 priority—training for the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa, OK and an in-house CrossFit competition, and taking on more professional speaking engagements. Ultimately, though, “I’m mostly motivated just by doing better than I did yesterday or a year ago.”
For those who are thinking about taking a risk like she did starting her business, she offers the following no-nonsense advice: “Figure out what you need to do to get to where you want to be, then do it. I knew I needed X amount of income, so I figured out who to talk to. You have to want it. If you can’t bring yourself to pull the trigger, then I don’t think you want it badly enough.”