If you’re in need of a bit of inspiration as we kick off this first day of the 2016 Granite Games, we’ve got just the thing. Megan Benzik, one of our individual AsRx competitors this year, was kind enough to share her story with us, and it blew us away. Check out what Megan had to say about coping with a chronic illness, working hard and not making excuses. And remember her name! We’ve got a feeling this athlete is going places!
GG: So, living with lupus, diagnosed when you were twelve… How did that change your approach to life, health and fitness?
Megan Benzik: It actually put me in the direction of health and fitness. When I was 12 years old I got diagnosed, and then shortly after that my mom got me a gym membership, because I was actually old enough to go upstairs [at the gym]. So for my birthday, that’s what she got me.
So I started to go with her early in the morning. And I just knew at that point that if I was going to have to live with this my whole life that I needed to do everything I could to not let it affect me. And that was the starting point of like, I need to center my whole life around fitness. So, I started personal training right out of high school, and I was always working out consistently. I never really played sports though, I wasn’t very coordinated.
GG: Haha I’m so with you. So you had a personal trainer, or you became one yourself?
MB: I had a personal trainer when I was younger, because there was a point when I got very sick and was in the hospital for a while, and I think I was like 15; I missed three weeks of school. So after that my mom got me a personal trainer to help get me back into everything and try to get things back on track and he inspired me to become a personal trainer. So, I started actually personal training straight out of high school. It was a personal trainer friend who introduced me to CrossFit. I was like oh, working out is a sport, that’s my sport!
GG: EXACTLY! Now, would you say there’s anything you’re not able to do because of lupus?
MB: I would say the biggest thing that affects me is fatigue. When I was first diagnosed, I had the really bad joint pain and arthritis, stuff like that. But I think just building strength has really helped me to overcome that, to the point that I don’t really feel it too bad. I haven’t had a flare-up in a long time, so that’s been good. I haven’t really gotten sick in a long time, so I eat really healthy. So I’d say the fatigue. I train twice a day most days, so I have to take naps. I’m a coach as well, so that’s very active. I get tired a lot. That’s probably the biggest thing.
GG: So what motivates you to push your fitness to this level? You already do an incredible job of maintaining normalcy, so what pushes you to strive for more?
MB: When I first started CrossFit, Annie Thorisdottir was winning at that time, about 4 years ago… I was like, “If they can do it, why can’t I?” so I was like, I’m going to do everything I can to see if I can make it happen from there. And I feel like every day that I’m able to push a little harder or hit a PR, I feel like I’m overcoming being stuck back (held back by) lupus.
When I was younger, I would go to support groups, and the women there were negative, they wouldn’t take their medicine, and I decided I didn’t want to be like them.
GG: I love that. So what event are you most looking forward to this weekend? Is there one that’s just your jam, you’re just going to crush it?
MB: I’m most excited for the clean & jerks, the ladder. That one should be pretty fun. I’ve never done a competition where there was sprinting, so I don’t know how I’m going to do with that, it’ll be interesting. I’ve also never competed at this level. I’ve done a lot of local competitions, but it’s going to be interesting to see where I stack up against everyone else. In the Open this year, I was 31st, so I was right out of making Regionals, I was super close!