We couldn't be more excited to share this interview with you today! Ladies and gents, meet the gorgeous, funny, humble and totally badass Kelsey Nagel. Together with her amazing team from Crossfit Marysville, she took third place at the CrossFit Games this year- an absolutely astounding feat of strength & endurance. We got to pick her brain and ask her about her life, and we hope you enjoy learning about her journey as much as we did!
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CROSSFITTING AND HOW WERE YOU INTRODUCED TO IT? WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU LOVE IT?
I have been CrossFitting since summer of 2009. I was working in downtown Seattle and a couple co-workers of mine (who were also college athletes) told me about it and roped me into a WOD in the “globo gym” in our building. It was instantly a love-hate relationship. We were those people in the corner doing box jumps, barbell work, pullups etc... You know, the ones that get asked to be quiet and to stop scuffing up the walls and equipment. We felt quite welcome.
I realized I loved the sport after I learned there was a competition side of it. I trained at Lynnwood CrossFit when I first started at a real Affiliate with Jesse Ward, Abi Grove and Diedra Duchane, and I vividly remember the conversation I had with them a couple months after I started: Deidra and Abi told me that I was going to sign up for the 2010 Sectionals that Jesse was organizing for CrossFit HQ not two months later. I was terrified and thrilled at the same time. I finally got to train for something again. I competed at Sectionals that January and qualified by the skin of my teeth for the 2010 Regionals in Puyallup, and the rest is history.
I realized that I loved it even more when I transitioned to CrossFit Marysville in the summer of 2013 and found a group of people who were just as competitive and driven to make a statement at the CrossFit Games as I was. These people quickly became like family and I am so excited to go into another competition year with them.
HAS YOUR BODY IMAGE CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED CROSSFIT?
Of course. After following main site WODs in the “Globo Gym” downtown for a couple months, I started seeing results; not just in better times or heavier weights, but I saw my upper body gaining tone and muscle. As a soccer player I was used to having larger, stronger legs (have had them my entire life) but I was not used to seeing muscle or size on my upper body... I wasn’t okay with that.
I actually stopped doing CrossFit for the sole reason of not wanting to be bulky – I was already 5’11 (and about 6’3 with heels) and single – I didn’t need to be even more intimidating. September of 2008 I had a major hip surgery and was unable to bear ANY weight on my left leg for 3 months. My only option was to swim with a pull buoy and work my upper body. So I set my crutches for that of a 5’5 gal (more work had to be done to crutch) and as soon as I could physically get into a pool I was all over it.
Over the course of the three months I started getting that upper body muscle that I didn’t like, and then it hit me... I no longer give a sh*t what other people thought about my physical appearance. I no longer cared if people were intimidated by me because I was not only tall but I was built. And since I had to live for 3 months without any weight on my legs (which turned to noodles), I never wanted to not use them to their full potential ever again. I had committed to diving head first into that ‘CrossFit’ thing as soon as my body was ready and healed from the surgery.
About a year later (Sept 2009) I started at Lynnwood CrossFit and never looked back. Through the 5 years of CrossFit I have gained 10-15lbs of muscle and have never been stronger, leaner or in better shape in my life. I get to chuckle that I out-weigh a lot of the guys that I know and am no longer sensitive to being called things like “beast”. I take it as a compliment when guys come up to me and ask me how much I bench and when they get to brag that they are still 5lbs above me in a lift. It took me awhile to get to this point but CrossFit has given me a world that I haven’t seen since the athletic department in college: a bunch of likeminded people who are about always bettering themselves and their game.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GO TO THE CROSSFIT GAMES AND MAKE THE PODIUM WITH YOUR TEAM?
I switched to CrossFit Marysville in the summer of 2013. Our goal as a team was to make the CrossFit Games and represent the Northwest on that global stage. Once we qualified, our number one goal was to have fun and perform to the best of our abilities. Of course we wanted to podium, but our thought was just, “it would be amazing to finish top 10”. At the end of the second to last day we were sitting in 3rd overall and sh*t got real. It hit all of us like a ton of bricks...we could not just podium but we had a shot to take the whole thing! After the first workout of the Final day we actually moved up to 1st overall – we were all speechless. The worm gave us some trouble on the final workout but we still managed to keep 3rd place. We got a taste of 1st place and we are hungry to come back and get it next year.
WHAT IS YOUR NUTRITION LIKE? DO YOU HAVE GENERAL GUIDELINES YOU FOLLOW WITH FOOD?
My Name is Kelsey and my life revolves around food. No joke though – Ask anyone, I plan my days around my meals. I once had a tantrum because my parents took us to a Brunch and I threw a fit because that meant an entire meal was skipped...Only Brunch and dinner?! WTF is that about?!
I eat clean though. Food makes me happy and if I limit myself too much on what I eat (i.e. strict paleo/zone etc) then my performance and my attitude suffers. I have realized that I am not going to be that super shredded girl who’s veins pop out during workouts...and I am okay with that. I eat to perform well more than eating for aesthetics.
WHAT DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH MOST IN YOUR LIFESTYLE AND HOW DO YOU WORK THROUGH IT? (DIET, WORK/LIFE BALANCE, A SPECIFIC SKILL, ETC)
I struggle with the fact that there aren’t more hours in the day. I have to get a lot in between 5am and 9pm including work, fitness and family/friends. Most of the time it works and I have the energy to make it all happen...there are days though where I am dragging arse. It comes with the territory though.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND GIVE YOUR 20-YEAR-OLD SELF ADVICE ON HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would tell myself to get over the fact that I am not ever going to weigh under 170lbs. That if guys think you are too tall, large or muscular that is their own fault, you shouldn’t be wasting time on them anyway – they are too insecure in their own self to see the breeding potential in you . That strong will be the new beautiful and that there is this thing called CrossFit out there that will keep you competitive, motivated and driven well into your later years.
WHAT'S ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU NEXT? WHAT GOALS ARE YOU LOOKING TO HIT IN THE COMING YEAR(S)?
I would like to qualify for Nationals in weight lifting. I want my team to place, if not win, our next few competitions and of course qualify for regionals and win the 2015 CrossFit games with my CrossFit Marysville Bobcats.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT YOUR BODY AND WHAT IT CAN DO?
Honestly, I am most proud of all of it. I’m proud that since college I have added 75lbs onto my bench press, 85lbs onto my power clean, 110 onto my squat, I can deadlift almost 400lbs and I have increased my pullups from 5 to almost 30. That isn’t because of one part of my body – it’s the whole package getting stronger.
ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR WOMEN ATHLETES OUT THERE, BOTH NOVICE & ADVANCED?
Nothing worth having comes without hard work and sacrifice. I would tell women that there is no ideal physical mold for a strong female athlete. Everyone is built & shaped differently. Work EXTREMELY hard on your weaknesses and embrace your strengths. Don’t let naysayers get in your head or in the way of your goals...the female body is an amazing thing and if you put your mind to it, it can accomplish almost anything. Lastly, have fun. The second you stop having fun...you’re doing it wrong.
Follow Kelsey here & wish her and the Crossfit Marysville Bobcats best of luck this season!
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