Wellbeing Champion- Leila Alsulaiman

CrossFit Keeps me motivated.

1. How did you get introduced to CrossFit?

In 2017 I had a plan to quit my job and go travelling through South-East Asia. But before the plane took off, I needed to get in shape. How do you expect someone to carry a 25 kilogram (55 pounds) backpack all the time when they can’t even carry their groceries from the car to the apartment? So, I started looking for a sport that would give strength, and that’s how I got introduced to CrossFit.

2. What motivates you to continue to practice them?

The quick results. Especially in the beginning, you have ‘newbie gains’ and you see your body changing every day. But even after that, the cool thing about CrossFit is that you build up your weights and even when there’s just a slight difference from the last time, that keeps me motivated.

3. Are you coming from a sporty family?

Not really! My brother and I were more into music and playing instruments than sports when growing up. But one day, my brother’s heart got broken and he started working out intensely. That got me interested into weightlifting as well. Today we go to the same gym 😊  

4. Do you follow, or try to follow a certain diet to aid your physical activities?

When you do CrossFit/weightlifting you have to make sure you eat enough protein. Unfortunately, it’s also the most difficult thing 😁 (especially as a vegetarian). It’s essential for building lean muscle mass and it helps with weight loss. Hello cottage cheese, almonds, and soy!

5. What do you dislike the most about the CrossFit?

I bruise like a peach! So, thanks to all the dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and many different movements, I always have a ton of bruises on my legs. Not so cute when wearing a Summer dress.

I also hate the preconceptions about women lifting/CrossFiting. Heavy lifting won’t make you bulky, it’s perfect for fat loss and getting ‘toned’.

6. Do you think sport has a positive impact on your mental wellbeing?

I know it does. If I have a bad day, I lack motivation to go to the gym or a CrossFit lesson after work. When I return, I’m a different person. I know it sounds corny but it’s true. I also sleep a lot better on days I went to the gym.

7. How were you keeping fit during lockdown?

I wasn’t. Lockdown was extended every time, so I kept thinking: when the gym opens back up, I'll start again. I really need the vibe of a full class of motivated people and a coach to give it my all. I tried to not to be too hard on myself and focused mainly on mental health instead of physical health.

8. What’s your proudest sporting achievement?

Deadlifting 80kg (176 pounds) was pretty nice.

9. Does your sport impact your wellbeing at work?

Yes! I have more energy, I’m in a more positive and happy state of mind and am healthier. I feel less stressed throughout the week and I have more energy. All wins. And when I’m sore I don’t walk to the kitchen too often to look for something snacky.

10. What advice would you give to someone wanting to start getting active?

Just start with one lesson and give it a month. The first workouts will be hard, and you’ll be sore, but you must push through. It gets addictive real fast. Another tip would be to follow some inspirational people on Instagram (Reels) or TikTok. Seeing other women weightlifting or CrossFitting and learning about their tips and tricks is very motivational!