YWCA of Tulsa
health and safety of women and girls

CiCi Bell Story

YWCA Tulsa member finds healing in 100-day fitness challenge
Following a struggle with depression, CiCi Bell finds a supportive community in YWCA Tulsa CrossFit group

 

CiCi Bell and some of fellow CrossFit members strike a pose after a WOD

 

One YWCA Tulsa member pushed herself to complete not one but two incredible challenges, and is poised to complete her second in just a few months!
 

A spiritual crisis led CiCi Bell into a severe depression that lasted more than six years. During this time, she gained between 60 and 70 pounds.
 

Determined to pull herself from her depression and lose the weight she had gained, Bell challenged herself to a 100-day fitness challenge. Her goal was to go to the gym every day for 100 days, ending on July 4, 2015.
 

Though Bell was already a member at YWCA Tulsa's Patti Johnson Wilson Center at Midtown, she did not actively engage in programming. "I would just go and walk in the fitness rooms," she said.
 

A couple of days in to her challenge, Bell was heading out of the gym and ran into a couple doing CrossFit. They began talking and the couple suggested that Bell try out the class.
 

"I laughed at them," said Bell. "I thought, 'There is now way! I get exhausted just getting up the stairs."
 

But this planted a seed in Bell's mind. She found out that a friend had also been thinking about trying CrossFit, and the two made a plan to go together the next day.
 

"I woke up at 5 a.m. that morning, sick to my stomach," said Bell. "And when we started the workout I kept thinking, 'What did I get myself in to?' But it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me."
 

Bell continued to go to CrossFit, and with the help of her instructor, Sarah Haynes, she modified the workouts to be challenging but achievable. The class quickly became a part of her daily routine.
 

"Having that routine of having a place I needed to be and knowing that if I didn't come to class, someone was going to check in and see where I was held me accountable," said Bell. "The people in class were my accountability and they made me push harder."
 

This feeling of comradery kept Bell coming back, drawing on the support and spirit the CrossFit crew provided.
 

 "When you feel tired and gross and don't want to do anything, you can use their energy to keep going," said Bell. "I clung to that class."
 

Bell's 100 days culminated in a final challenge, the Firecracker 5K Run on the Fourth of July that she entered with members of the CrossFit group.   

Nelson, Sarah, CiCi and Abbie at the Firecracker 5K

"Sarah, our instructor, could have ran that entire thing," said Bell. "But she stayed back to support us. She was walking with another member of our group, so I was a little ahead of her, but I could feel her behind me. And I did it! I didn't make the fastest time, but I was there. And that is huge."
 

Somewhere along the way, the point of this 100-day journey shifted for Bell.
 

"This accomplishment isn't about weight loss, though that is still a goal of mine," said Bell. "This is about getting out of my comfort zone and having courage. It took courage to get up and go to that class, and it is courage that comes in when you keep failing but you continue to get up and do it again."

CiCi shows off her medal after completing the Firecracker 5K

 

Armed with the knowledge that she has the support of her fellow YWCA CrossFitters, Bell embarked on a new 100-day challenge on July 27. This time, she is challenging herself to change her eating habits and increase her water intake, while maintaining her commitment to exercise.
 

"If I can help someone else get out of their comfort zone, if one person was encouraged, I would feel so good," said Bell.