Megan Benzik’s lifelong struggle to overcome Lupus and compete in CrossFit
“The further I get into the competitive side of CrossFit, the more I feel like I’m beating my Lupus.” – Megan Benzik
Just this past year, Megan finally qualified for the CrossFit Regionals. It was the culmination of six years of training and a significant triumph over a debilitating and rare autoimmune disorder called lupus. Though she has reached her original goal when she started CrossFit in 2011, she still continues to push her own limitations fearlessly in an effort to ‘beat’ her condition.
Megan was first diagnosed with lupus when she was twelve. Lupus is rare autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks itself. Essentially the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks any healthy tissue.
Soon after she was diagnosed, she began intensive treatments to help her maintain some semblance of a healthy regulated immune system. This often meant extended visits to the local hospital on a weekly basis. There she witnessed what the rest of her life would look like because of her condition. She was determined to do anything to change her fate.
“I had to go to a children’s hospital and stay for IV infusions regularly. Which involved sitting for hours as well as taking a lot of medications. I was determined to do anything to make my life better. That’s when I started going to the gym.” – Megan Benzik
In an effort to find alternative methods to help Meghan cope with the bodily aches and pains associated with her lupus, her mother signed her up for a personal training. After just one session, much of the pain Megan’s body vanished and was replaced with a fervor for physical activity and exercise.
“I fell in love with personal training and decided to pursue it as a career. It had changed my life in fundamental ways and I wanted to show others what it could do for them.” – Megan Benzik
Over time, this passion for fitness led Megan to CrossFit. Like all the great athletes in the Sport, she was hooked after her first workout. This passion has continued for 6 straight years in an effort to get to the CrossFit Regionals as a competitor.
“I’ve done the Crossfit Open every year starting back in 2012. This last year I finally managed to get to the CrossFit Regionals and I surprised myself with my performance and my 15th place finish. I keep surprising myself, and I keep progressing. It’s the little surprises each day in the gym that really inspire me to keep pushing my limits.– Megan Benzik
Despite her condition and reaching her original goal, Megan has never been one to settle for anything less than the best. Reaching her goal hasn’t caused her to find a new direction to travel. It’s only made her more determined to get further in the sport.
“When I want something I’ll just keep going after it until I get it. I’m always looking for that next step that will take me further in the sport.” – Megan Benzik
Though Megan continues to excel in the Sport of Fitness, managing her Lupus remains a constant struggle vital to not only her performance, but her very survival. Extremely strict protocols regarding nutrition, sun exposure, and even sleep must be adhered to if she wishes to continue.
With her coach’s help, our very own Director of Coaching Mike Lee, she has managed to walk the fine line between the health and performance. Perhaps one of things she admires about the way in which OPEX coaches is the emphasis we place on gut health and recovery as it relates to athletic performance and health rather than the traditional approach to CrossFit training.
One of the great things about fitness is that anyone can participate regardless of disability and change their life for the better. What’s your excuse?
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