CFB Member Profile, Kiley MacLeod

Kiley MacLeod, member since May 2015.

The first time I had ever heard of “Crossfit” was when a gym opened up right across from my house back in Tyler, Texas, USA. Whenever they were outside, I would catch glimpses of these people doing these insane workouts while having huge grins on their faces and laughing. I just shook my head in disbelief as I passed them on the way to my own Muay Thai/K1 Kickboxing training. Workouts weren't supposed to be “fun” - they were supposed to be hard and miserable, with people yelling in your face! But, still, the idea of CrossFit stuck in the back of my mind even as I continued down my martial arts path.

Not long after the Crossfit gym cropped up, my husband decided he wanted to be back “home” in Belfast and we left Texas behind. Sadly, I had just been diagnosed with a genetic form of an auto-immune skin disease called Hidradenitis Suppurativa and once we arrived in Northern Ireland, I exploded from Stage 1, mild, to Stage 3, severe. (Most sufferers at Stage 3 are immobile and under palliative care, which usually consists of strong opioid narcotics.) For the next few months I became progressively worse, having to give up my beloved martial arts as well as any and all physical activities. Next, I began a round of surgeries that required removal of huge areas of my skin – cutting all the way down to the muscles and sometimes, cutting into the actual muscles, which had to be stapled back together. This left me bedridden for weeks at a time. After it was all over, my once thick and strong legs were matchsticks and my arms hadn't fared much better while my midsection ballooned outward as a result of my weight being the highest it had ever been. I spent most of the next two years of recovery obese and immobile in a bed; the only movement or activity I had was from physical therapy.

Finally the day came when I was officially released as a patient. I was told to pick up my life right where it had stopped and I attempted to do just that. I tried kickboxing again but my weight gain and atrophied muscles hampered my movements and frustrated me beyond belief . Not one to give up too easily, I dropped kickboxing and began practising with the Belfast Roller Derby league. I embraced my new sport whole-heartedly, even as I tried to get used to my new heavy and less able body.

Freed from the hospital bed, I also had to adopt a new diet to help control my auto-immune disease. This meant no longer eating any refined carbs or sugar. My weight loss was fast in the beginning and as it became more apparent to those around me, everyone wanted to know how I was doing it - so before long I created The Unsweetened Life. (TUL is not a diet but a lifestyle that encourages portion control, exercise and healthy eating.)  Along with the website and Facebook group I started in 2014, I also released a cookbook and am now working on selling all-natural, refined sugar-free products.

Within  six months I had lost nearly half the weight needed to meet my final goal weight but I still wasn't excelling at my sport. I knew I needed to get strong in order to achieve any success and that's when Crossfit started knocking at my brain again. (Of course, it helps that I have several friends back in Texas that are also members of CF and that they constantly post pics and vids of their awesome progress on their Facebook pages.)

I'm only just starting out on my CF journey but I can already tell a huge difference it has made in my life! I've lost another dress size, my cardio and mobility have vastly improved and my performance in roller derby is getting progressively better. On top of the physical aspects, my self-confidence has grown as has my desire to take better care of myself. As a sufferer of Stage 3 HS and stuck in a hospital bed for nearly two years, I could never have imagined half of the things I'm able to do now but, it seems a combination of Crossfit and The Unsweetened Life-style may have been just what the doctor ordered! Cannot wait to reach my full potential in this great program!

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We are super proud of Kiley for what she has achieved so far, through healthy choices, lifestyle changes and hard work we are seeing huge progress each and every week!  Team CFB are delighted to be working with Kiley and supporting her throughout her journey, it's an absolute pleasure to work with someone who shows fierce determination and enthusiasm for what they do and what they want!!

Thanks for sharing your story Kiley, keep up the great work!!

If you are keen to start your CrossFit Journey please join us on our next foundations course which is scheduled to commence on Monday 6th July.  4 sessions Monday, Tuesday Wednesday & Thursday evening 7pm for 60 mins, £45 each

Click below to register and let us help you achieve your fitness goals!

Register Here

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve searched to see if anyone else with this horrible disease is also fighting back from being bed ridden and experiencing the same journey I am. I came across this article! Kiley, I’m supporting you all the way from the USA at Widowmaker Crossfit! Such and inspiration! Get it girl 🙂

    • Aw, thank you so much, Elena!! It’s a tough road that we have but I’m so thrilled to hear of someone else fighting back against this absolutely dreadful disease! I do believe there is hope for those of us who are fighting 😉 I will now be cheering YOU on from Crossfit Belfast!! Good luck on your journey – we can beat this! 😀

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