“…my proudest accomplishment is hearing my kids talk about how their mom is strong because she CrossFits.” – CD
Athlete Feature: Cathy Dalal
Training Facility: CFD Lincoln Square
Joined CFD: March 2014
Profession / Titles: Mother of 2, Wife, Enthusiastic Home Cook and Amateur Mixologist
Hometown: Northampton, MA
Who is Cathy Dalal?
Cathy emerged as a determined athlete who pushes us all to be better and move beyond what we thought possible. Cathy stands up to any challenge. Her drive and positivity are magnetic and makes our team stronger on all fronts. She cares for all around her from celebrating victories to her gourmet recovery cocktails. Above all, her impact is most evident in the strength of her family and children. She is gracious role model at home and for all of us in the gym.
Product Manager for a CPG (consumer packaged goods) market research firm. I’m pretty good at my job because I am not above hosting cocktail hours at the office to get people to do what needs to get done on my projects.
I was born in Vietnam and my family left after the war in 1978. We were among the lucky to survive the journey across the Pacific and lived in a refugee camp in Malaysia. A group of families from a Baptist church in Paducah, Kentucky sponsored our family and we came to the US in 1980. We moved to Chicago in 1981 and it’s been my hometown since.
Tell us how you got started with CrossFit and what you did prior to finding CFD?
Growing up in a very strict traditional Asian home, physical fitness & athletics were not a priority. Our focus was getting straight A’s in school and working random jobs to help support the family. I pretty much did nothing physical as kid. We watched a lot of TV growing up because my parents thought it was too dangerous to play outside (I grew up in Uptown in the early 80s). The closest thing our family did that was remotely sports-related was watching World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) and jumping up & down in front of the TV as we cheered on the Von Erich brothers take down the bad guys like Ric Flair & the Fabulous Freebirds.
In my quest for the Janet Jackson abs, I joined a big box gym in my 20’s. But it was your typical big box gym experience…I’d make myself go 2-3 times a week, did my ‘cardio’ on the StairMaster and tried not to fall flat on my face in step aerobics class. I think I might have been brave enough to venture into the weight room a couple of times to work on some leg presses.
My 30’s were all about getting married, starting a family and juggling a full-time job with 2 young children and trying to squeeze in sleep whenever I could. I kept my big box gym membership but probably only stepped foot inside the gym ten times that entire decade. I was really unhappy with my post-baby body having gained close to 50 lbs during my first pregnancy and keeping a good chunk of it after baby #2. I joined Weight Watchers at work and was able to get to back to a healthy weight. At about the same time, a good friend convinced my husband & I to join him to run the Shamrock Shuffle. I followed a Couch to 5K training program to work my way up from barely being able to run 1 block without dying to running my first 8K without stopping to walk once. While it was hard and I hated every minute of it, my husband and I continued to sign up for more races and this past year we ran our 6th Shamrock Shuffle together.
This running business continued for several years even though I have never and still don’t enjoy running. I snuck in short runs in the evenings while the kids ate dinner. This routine worked well enough until Heidi (a fellow CFD’er) convinced me to join her for the F3 Half Marathon in January 2013. I had to figure out a way to squeeze in longer runs in the evenings since there was no way I was waking up early to run! A runner friend gave me the idea to run from my West Loop office to pick up my daughter from school in North Center (about a 5+ mile run). This was the start of my fitness routine for the next couple of years and it was pure genius! I was able to avoid the CTA rush hour craziness and get my training runs in before it got too dark.
I willed myself to stay motivated but after a couple of years of running in sub-zero temps with the constant fear that I’d fall & risk injury from the snow and ice, I was ready for something new. So after surviving the bitter cold winter of Chiberia and my second F3 Half Marathon, Heidi & I decided to check out this thing called CrossFit and the rest is history.
What makes CFD different from other fitness programs you’ve tried?
Going to the gym and running were things that I forced myself to do to lose or maintain my weight. I almost always dreaded it beforehand and occasionally I’d feel good after a workout. But CrossFit is different. In the beginning, there were days I did not want to come to the box because I was so sore and terrified of what was waiting for me behind those bright yellow doors. But there has never been a day since I started CrossFit where I’ve not felt great leaving CFD knowing that I’ve made progress on something.
Over time, I’ve learned to embrace the sore and accept that there’s always going to be something in the day’s training that will scare me. There’s always going to be something that I either don’t like to do or am terrified of trying, but the amazing coaches and community at CFD gives me the confidence to at least try. Anytime someone at CFD PRs (personal record) or successfully tackles a new movement, it feels like a huge win for all of us not just that individual. I feel so blessed to be part of such a supportive community where we push each other and share the joy in each other’s success.
What is your proudest accomplishment during your time as an athlete here?
It isn’t anything that can be measured inside the box. While I’ve learned to not hate burpees and being upside-down, my proudest accomplishment is hearing my kids talk about how their mom is strong because she does CrossFit.
CrossFit has given me the confidence to try things I never even thought I’d want to do; like lift heavy weights or climb a rope. Doing a pull-up would have been crazy talk a couple of years ago! My CrossFit experiences have been used many times in our home whenever I need examples to push my kids to be brave, to do something new and outside of their comfort zone.
If you could give somebody starting out some advice, what would it be?
When someone asks me about why I love CrossFit, I tell them that it is the most humbling yet rewarding thing I do for myself every day. Every day, there is something in the day’s training that still scares me and at the end of the hour I may still suck at it, but I know that I was brave enough to tackle it and progress will come as long as I show up every day and put in the hard work. There is no substitution for hard work.
How has training changed how you see yourself?
While I occasionally revert back to my scaredy-cat ways, I remind myself of the progress I’ve made and to push myself out of my comfort zone, take the plunge and try whatever the new scary thing is. Even if I fail, I don’t focus on the failure; instead, I celebrate my bravery for trying.
One thing we would be surprised to know about you?
While I have a driver’s license and would probably not run anyone over, I detest driving and haven’t driven in years. I blame that really mean Driver’s Ed instructor.
What are your goals in the new year?
My big goal for the new year is to get stronger and be confident enough to tackle WODs at the RX weights. There’s always a little voice in the back of my head that gives me a hard time about not going heavier in the WOD so I want to shut that voice down and just do it! That and kipping pull-ups…those stinkin’ evasive kipping pull-ups…
Words to live by:
I’d rather have a life of ‘Oh Wells’ than ‘What Ifs’.
Spot Light Athlete! Cathy emerged as a determined athlete who pushes us all to be better and move beyond what we thought possible. Cathy stands up to any challenge. Her drive and positivity are magnetic and makes our team stronger on all fronts. She cares for all around her from celebrating victories to her gourmet recovery cocktails. Above all, her impact is most evident in the strength of her family and children. She is gracious role model at home and for all of us in the gym. Read more about our amazing spotlight athletes coming soon on our website! #SpotLightAthlete #crossfitdefined #crossfit #liftheavy #powerlifting #stronwomen #womenofcrossfit #womenoffitness #strongmentality #stayhumble #staystrong #stayawesome