Sandra 

Bitelli

Where did you born and where do you live? 

Born in North Vancouver, currently living in the West End

What is your athletic background? 

I swam competitively growing up, but stopped when I was about 15 to finish my piano diploma. I began rowing at Arizona State, which I continued doing until 2017, at which point I started Crossfit.

How long ago did you start and How did get into this sport? 

I started Crossfit almost exactly 3 years ago. I'd been following the sport for about a year before I actually got into it, but was still rowing competitively at the time. I always admired the work ethic of elite CF athletes and was intrigued by how constantly varied the sport is.

What is your main goal? 

I want to be as competitive as possible.

Tell me about a hardship that you’ve been through, that you turned into a positive outcome and how your training help you? 

2019 threw some curveballs into my life in a bunch of different ways. For someone who likes to be in control, having things happen in your life that you have no control over can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Training was the one thing I felt I had full control over and so I dug into that every day to clear my head, get some space from what life was handing me at the time, and do it with some of my best friends.

What has been your proudest moment or/and biggest accomplishment? 

I'm not really sure - I had moments in my University rowing career that were pretty monumental for me, but I also think some of the things I'm most proud of have nothing to do with athletics at all. I'm happy with the overall person I am; the things I choose to do daily, and the people I have in my life, and the way I live my life are all things I'm proud of, and SO thankful for.

What does keep you motivated? and what are your top 3 mental skills to keep you going? 

I want to be the best athlete (and person) I can be. The daily challenge to better myself physically, mentally, emotionally not only for myself but for the other people in my life motivates me. I always try to find the positive in every situation - in some instances that's harder to grasp, but I find getting through the tougher crap in life easier if I can look at it with some positivity. Remembering how far I've come and how much progress I've made is always a nice "grounding" moment for me. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in PRs (in the gym and in life) that we forget where we started and how far we've come. I (try to) stop comparing myself to other people. I think athletes are especially prone to falling into the comparison trap. And don't get me wrong - a competitive edge is needed to some degree, otherwise we'd be perfectly satisfied giving 60% in a workout. But it becomes a different story when comparison is detrimental to your mental health. I've found that the less I compare myself, my progress, my body, (the list goes on) to other people, the happier I am. I'm doing this for me, not for anyone else.

How did you adapt your training during insolation and what did you learn the most about yourself during this time? 

At the beginning of isolation, I experienced a good (massive) degree of panic when I realized my training routine was going to drastically change and I had zero control over how that was going to happen. I love my routine and generally shy away from change, but Crossfit 604 was phenomenal during isolation - they ran regular classes over Zoom, and the programming was so adaptable for members who had varying amounts equipment (or none at all). We were so lucky in Vancouver to have great weather for the most part during the Spring, and so a bunch of us from 604 started training at nearby parks downtown and on the North Shore. Breaking away from our typical training in the gym turned out to be so refreshing, and gave us the opportunity to train in different ways than we had previously.

How have Covid-19 affected your training? 

Besides getting me outdoors a lot more often than I would've been otherwise in the Spring, I'd say the pandemic was/has been a good reminder that training doesn't always have to be done in the same way day in and day out. Switching it up is not only physically rewarding, but mentally too. I remember being pleasantly surprised that after 2 months without being in a physical gym, my fitness level and strength was much higher than I feared it might have been.

How has your mental strength helped you deal with these times? 

Just like anyone else in the world, I think I went through some real ups and downs mentally. Some days I was happy to have gotten my training done in the sunshine and on other days, I was beating myself up because I felt I hadn't done enough. Overall, though, I tried to take each day at a time and remind myself that I wasn't the only person going through this weird time - every single other person I knew was experiencing the same thing. And no one had the luxury of feeling in control of any of it. I knew at some point things would start to go back to normal and here we are, at the end of October, and things are looking much better than they were 6 months ago. Positive outlook goes a long way.

Please give me the top 3 things/rituals/habits you do to stay on track towards your goals 

1. Have a plan. Plan meals, plan training, plan rest. If I go into a week without having prepped my food over the weekend or without planning a rest day, it won't happen.

2. Surround yourself with likeminded people. I think this goes without saying, but having a group of people who understand you, your strengths, your weaknesses, your goals, your habits, etc. is so important. You shouldn't feel like you have to make excuses for not wanting to go out on a Friday night, and on the other hand be able to discuss training frustrations without feeling judged.

3. Understand that life happens. Sometimes weeks come up when you're at the office for 14hr days, or family drama keeps you up all night for days. Give yourself a break and realize that that will not cancel out all the hard work you've put in or kill your progress. Be kind to yourself, rest up, and get back on the horse.

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