1,500 Calories a Day, 50 Miles a Week, 1 Broken Hip

By Emily Beers – August 26th, 2018

When Amy Williams’ bones began to spontaneously break before she turned 30, she knew it was time for a change.

Her body fat had dropped to just six percent, and her dangerously low bone density contributed first to a broken hand and then to a broken hip.

“I hit rock bottom when I broke my hip from basically just walking,” said Williams, now 34. At the time she had also been trying to get pregnant but had stopped menstruating, which interfered with her ability to conceive.

ALT TEXTFor Amy Williams, a restrictive diet coupled with high-volume running led to more injury than fitness. (Courtesy of Amy Williams)

While Williams said that she wasn’t anorexic—she never deliberately restricted her caloric intake—the effects of her diet on her body were similar to that of anorexia. A long-distance runner logging 50 miles a week, Williams said she simply wasn’t educated about how to fuel her body to support her training volume.

At 5 foot 4 and 95 lb., she was consuming fewer than 1,500 calories a day, which she thought was enough to support her active lifestyle.

But when she fractured her hip in 2014, Williams had to put running on hold. In the meantime, she started going to CrossFit War Town in Warner Robins, Georgia. The gym, which Williams purchased in 2017, is now called CrossFit Carnivore.

At CrossFit War Town, Williams focused on upper-body strength work until her hip fully healed. During this time, she gained 10 lb. and increased her body fat to a healthier 12 percent, adding more calorie-dense foods such as sweet potatoes, rice and peanut butter to her diet.

ALT TEXTNo longer prone to broken bones, Williams says CrossFit has made her healthy and happy. (Courtesy of Amy Williams)

Today, Williams said she eats close to 2,500 calories per day and weighs 116 lb., 21 lb. more than during her running days.

“As soon as I started listening to my coaches, eating real food and not paying attention to my weight, I was also able to get pregnant,” said Williams, who now has two healthy children.

She added: “I never realized how unhealthy I was, and it took CrossFit to show me.”

Williams credited Liz Cunningham, a friend and former coach at the affiliate, with helping her accept her stronger, heavier body.

“I would watch Liz, and I liked not just what she looked like, but what she could do in the gym. I was amazed by her and wanted to lift heavy like her,” Williams said. “At first, I was scared of gaining weight, but women like Liz helped me look at myself and realize I wasn’t healthy.”

ALT TEXTWilliams’ coach Liz Cunningham (center) inspired Williams to value strength over size. (Courtesy of Liz Cunningham)

She continued: “And once I started putting on a little bit of weight, I realized I looked better, could do more. And I realized gaining weight wasn’t as scary as I thought it was. I know it sounds so cliché, but I owe it to CrossFit for helping me see muscles and weight aren’t a bad thing.”

Cunningham said Williams’ efforts have been inspiring to many athletes at the gym, whether their goals are to lose or gain mass.

“Even when she weighed 95 lb., women struggling with weight loss would envy her since they felt they had so far to go. I would tell them she was trying to gain weight and people would look at me like I was insane until I reminded them we all have our goals, and the journey of eating well and working out is the same for all of us, even if the details are different,” Cunningham said.

ALT TEXTToday, Williams is more concerned with what her body can do than how much it weighs. (Courtesy of Amy Williams)

She added: “Amy’s goal wasn’t ‘I need to weigh this many pounds and then I’ll be happy,’ but rather, ‘Healthy Amy weighs more than this, so that’s where I want to be: healthier and stronger.”

Now, five years later, that’s exactly what Amy is.

“Looking back, I was so focused on my weight (that) it took away from everything. I weighed myself every day, and if my jeans felt tight, I didn’t want to go out or didn’t want to do anything,” Williams said. “I’m 100 percent happier now.”

And when she thinks about her hip fracture today, she sees the experience as positive.

“It was definitely a blessing in disguise. The hip injury was devastating when it happened, and I went through a dark time, but it was a blessing. It got me to change and commit to CrossFit.”

She added: “It may sound dramatic, but CrossFit saved my life.”

About the Author: Emily Beers is a CrossFit Journal contributor and coach at CrossFit Vancouver. She finished 37th at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.

Cover image: iStockphoto.com/anouchka

This article was originally published on the CrossFit Journal. You can find it here.

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About The Author

Neil Scholtz

Neil Scholtz is a certified Personal Trainer turned CrossFit coach. He has competed at the CrossFit Games and coached athletes that have competed at the CrossFit Games, but that's not his main focus. Most of his time is spent consulting or coaching individuals to improve their lives through fitness. He has worked with over 1000 individuals from various walks of life. Tailoring solutions to their lifestyle needs.