Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson
The Inspiring & Relatable Story of One Woman's Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle
Julia DosSantos has been doing CrossFit since 2019. Her story isn’t one of extreme makeover or huge feats of strength. It is honest, inspiring, and most importantly, relatable.
“I have setbacks all of the time. If I have a bad day, I’m going to eat whatever I want that day, but I know whenever I eat well and exercise, I feel 100 percent better,” she admits. “[My family] has always been overweight. I grew up in Louisiana. We eat when we’re sad. We eat all of the time.”
Inspiration Through Grief
Julia grew up in a close family with an older and younger brother. In 2003, the family was excited to learn the news that her older brother would become a father. It was only a few months after his daughter was born that Julia’s brother was diagnosed with cancer.
In 2007, he passed away due to complications from a bone marrow transplant. “Every year at this time is hard because his birthday was November 15th. So, he would have been 42 years old this year, but, instead, he died when he was 28.
“I’m living my life, because he would want us to, and he wouldn’t want us to cry. This time of year, I’m mad. Another year without him. I went to [CrossFit] class, and then I felt so much better. I’m eating wrong, but at least I got a good workout and spent time with my friends and coach.
“That’s where my inspiration came from—through his cancer fight, he was so strong.”
In 2019, Julia’s doctor suggested she join a gym with classes available. Until then, she had been in an on again/off again pattern utilizing her home gym equipment. That suggestion changed her life.
Published February 1, 2022
Story by Lisa Anderson
The Conclusion of Julia's Story
After her brother passed away in 2007, Julia DosSantos knew she needed to get healthy. She would work out off and on, and her dietary habits would fluctuate. In order to establish a stronger routine, she began boxing.
However, Julia’s self-confidence took a hit when she received a black eye during an exhibition match. She began to doubt her ability, and boxing was never the same for her. Between the low self-esteem and the loss of her aunt and her father-in-law, Julia decided not to return to the ring.
She went back to her unstable home workout. In 2019, her doctor suggested she join a gym with classes. “I like being with other people. Shared suffering [is what] they call it,” she laughs.
Julia decided to try the CrossFit classes offered at her new gym, but when she tried to lift the barbell, her weak wrist made the task feel impossible. The coach immediately began to show her alternative exercises, and Julia was encouraged by the directions she was given.
Again, her self-confidence started to become a barrier, but when she learned that several of the women in class had done CrossFit during their pregnancies, Julia was inspired. “Slowly, I started improving. It’s a tough workout, but [there’s] a feeling of accomplishment afterwards. It’s addicting!”
One of her favorite accomplishments has been strengthening her wrists enough to pick up the barbell. “The feeling of holding the metal in my hands made me feel so strong.”
Julia continues to attend classes, push herself, and conquer her fears. Ask her what she’d say to someone thinking about starting their own health journey and she’ll tell you to “get out of your comfort zone. You don’t know what you don’t know.” She didn’t know there were alternative ways to do the exercises in CrossFit, when she first started, and she didn’t expect to gain a new family, ready to motivate her. “Through shared suffering, you find a family you didn’t know you needed.”