Testimonial Week: Carissa Stith

Someone once told me that my potential as a CrossFit athlete was limited. I could compete in the Open, earn points for the gym, but the chance of making it to Regionals as an individual was too far-fetched. Heading to Regionals on the team was plausible — that is, if I even earned a spot. Clearly, the Open workouts would need to fall in my wheelhouse. Any WODs involving heavy lifts, rowing or long distance runs would surely knock me over to the sideline.


Because I am small. I was never a college athlete. I have the Khalipa mentality — fast out of the gate and then flail around like a crazed person on the verge of death. Fortunately, I have a pretty awesome pain face so it works to my advantage.

As much as I wanted to push past these thoughts, they continued to linger in the back of mind. I questioned my abilities and if I wanted to simply CrossFit for fun, or continue striving for what others deemed to be impossible.

Steve Prefontaine said that, “Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” I believe I lost that mentality a year into crossfitting. I needed someone to show me the way … to show me what I was truly capable of with some bumper plates and a barbell.

Enter Blake Johnson. Blake — our resident strong man and coach with the killer warm-ups — saw the potential in me. He knew my CrossFit Total numbers, did the research and knew I could make a name for myself on the powerlifting circuit. For my weight class, I was strong. But looking at the record boards in the gym, this thought never truly crossed my mind. I was 30 pounds away from making the majority of the boards on the strength side.

But Blake didn’t see it that way. He put together a program, coached, and prepared me over a six-week period for my first powerlifting competition. He never asked for anything in return. He saw me as an athlete and simply wanted me to succeed.

With his coaching efforts, and the support of JerBear and friends, I became the state record holder in the back squat and the bench press for my weight class. At 120 pounds, I have a 222-pound back squat and a 125-pound bench press.

I know that a 185-pound clean and jerk may never happen. But I am ok with that. I can throw my bodyweight over my head and deadlift twice my weight. When I stopped focusing on what everyone else was accomplishing, I found my own sense of achievement. I know my own potential. And perhaps I’ll never stand on the podium at Regionals, but at least I know that when you break it down to body percentages, I am stronger than some of the competitors out there.

Women with the small weights on the bar and the extra gas left in the tank, I dare you to grow some cojones. Not literally. But figuratively. Stop thinking of yourself as weaker than you are. Banish those “slow” or “old” thoughts from your head. Throw some mother****ing weight on the bar and make the lift happen. And run faster. And try for the extra pull-up and the handstand push-up. Maybe it won’t be perfect. Maybe you’ll fail. Maybe you’ll fail a bunch. I don’t care. That’s okay. You won’t die from failure here. More importantly, you’ll be living.

Someone kinda famous once said to me: “You’re going to misstep and you’re going to find success. So what. I love you no matter how it turns out and most things are fixable (or not, so ****ing what).” This is the way to live life — with these thoughts in your head. Be bold, be brave, be invincible.” – CrossFit Lisbeth