Strong is what matters. - Courtney Sudac

CrossFit helps Ball State Student Overcome Eating Disorders

Courtney Sudac

“Strong is what matters.”

Courtney Sudac pointed her car down the alley and when the sun splashed across the ice-crusted windshield, she couldn’t see. That wasn’t going to stop her. She didn’t want to be late for the 7AM Muncie CrossFit class at The Arsenal.

“All of a sudden I hear a BANG!” Courtney told me. “I hit the cable guy. I drove right into him. Long story short…I still went to the gym…30 minutes late.”

On another day she got a speeding ticket trying to make it to the 7AM class on time. She doesn’t want to miss a workout. She can’t miss a workout. Courtney approaches CrossFit with a sense of fierce urgency and necessity. She must do CrossFit.

A Punch in the Gut

“Growing up, I was really fat. In middle school, I started noticing I was bigger than everyone else. I struggled with an eating disorder. I starved myself for a lot of middle school. I’d only let myself eat 500 calories. I would chew gum when I got hungry. When people noticed I was getting thin, they complimented me a lot, and I thought it was a good thing. I lost over 30 pounds.”

In high school, Courtney, a cross-country athlete, came to a realize that food was too good to miss out on, so she ate whatever she wanted and then would puke it back up.

“This sounds so dumb. I would punch myself in the stomach and make myself throw up. I was really starving myself at that point.”

That didn’t keep her from throwing herself into running.

“I was tired all the time. I was obsessed with running. I don’t know how I did it when I wasn’t eating anything. I’d run twice a day. I remember it being winter, and I was like, ‘I have to go run.’  One time I was walking down the stairs and passed out and fell down.”

Courtney’s mom noticed she had a problem and took her to see a dietitian. The dietitian helped her realize that her eating disorder was a problem, but it continued.

“I’m not small like my other friends. I wanted to look like them.”

Finding CrossFit

Courtney had heard about CrossFit from her cousins in California and decided to give Muncie CrossFit at The Arsenal a chance. Her first workout was Hotshots, A hero workout that involves a lot of squatting and running among other things. It’s not exactly easing into CrossFit.

“It was terrible. I was like, ‘I am never doing this again.’”

That was three years ago.

She was studying dietetics at Ball State, and her classes made her more aware of how she ate and how she performed in the gym. Slowly her bulimia stopped.

“Sometimes I feel like I am getting fat again and wonder if I should go back to that, but I know I couldn’t lift as much. Now when I look back, I know I was an idiot. Once I started CrossFit, I was like, ‘I can’t keep doing this to my body!’ I was so insecure and self conscious. I come off as a really tough person, and people think I’m a bitch, but I struggle with insecurity. The good thing about CrossFit is that I’m way more confident than I’ve ever been. I can be healthier than even the skinniest person. Strong is what matters.”

Everyone’s Daughter

“Having the community has been so great for me these past four years,” she told me.

Courtney is sort of everyone’s daughter. My wife Annie bakes her special cookies just for her (“Those aren’t for you. Those are for Courtney”). She babysits for so many families and so many kids that she already thinks about missing them when she moves on from Ball State and Muncie.

When Courtney’s mom moved to Arizona, she didn’t have a place for Thanksgiving. Former Muncie CrossFit coaches, Josh and Brooke Winger, invited her.

Brooke and Brian Shrieve have basically adopted Courtney. Brooke talks to her about eating healthy.

Courtney is in Bible study with Coach Adam and Muncie CrossFit member, Laura.

Courtney is applying to grad schools. She hopes to study eating disorders and help people that have struggled like her.

“I’m afraid to quit CrossFit because I’m afraid I might go back to that point. I am more confident with my appearance. I feel like I’m more ok with how I look. I’m not striving to look like someone else now. Being more confident makes you happier.”

Her class at Ball State prepared and served a meal on campus. Annie and I went. Courtney was in charge of the kitchen, rocking one of those funny chef hats. She oversaw the food preparation, running things. Surrounded by her peers. Surrounded by food. I felt something. Maybe it was just heartburn from the meatloaf, but I actually think it was a sort of a pride one friend feels for another for a job, and meatloaf, well done.

There is a lot to be proud of. Courtney faces her weaknesses head on with a fierce urgency that leads to the occasional fender bender and speeding ticket.