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Della, 64: A Different Kind of Winning

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Meet Della Adams. She’s one of the 2023 Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes, and she’ll be sharing updates on her health and wellness journey through the rest of this year. 12 years ago, Della found herself at the crossroads of a medical crisis. That’s when she decided to make a commitment to fitness that altered not only her physical health, but her entire perception of self.


Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a very driven person. Whether at work or in my social life, I like to excel in everything that I do. Up until 12 years ago, the only area of my life where I had not been very competitive was athletics. Through inactivity and poor nutritional habits, I ended up — at only 5’ 1” tall — overweight at 215 pounds.

I was so out of shape that I couldn’t climb one flight of stairs without stopping to catch my breath. I suffered from a myriad of chronic illnesses including diabetes. I was facing a medical crisis that finally compelled me to make some radical changes.

Fitness Over Fear

One of these life-altering decisions was taking up the sport of CrossFit. We’ve all probably seen the CrossFit games on television and have looked at these amazing competitors in awe. Believe me, my version of CrossFit was nothing like that of those world-class athletes! Every workout had to be scaled back by my coaches to accommodate my skill level. But, after nine months of fumbling my way through the workouts, I was talked (tricked?) into participating in a local area CrossFit games competition hosted by my gym!

Something else inside of me said that by simply participating, I would WIN over my fear and WIN over my lack of confidence.

I say “tricked” because I was told that this competition was for amateurs only… Everything in me told me not to do this. Logic told me there was no way that I could be competitive because I was still overweight and not very strong. I was sure I would make a fool of myself! But, something else inside of me said that by simply participating, I would WIN over my fear and WIN over my lack of confidence.

The Competition

On game day, all my fears came rushing in as I saw the other competitors. Yes, they were all amateurs at CrossFit, but they were all young and most were actual athletes. I was the oldest person competing, and I was the most out of shape. I didn’t have a chance in the world, and I wanted to just quit before it even started. But again, something in me told me to try to WIN over my fears.

The competition was an all-day event with three workouts, plus a bonus workout:

Workout 1
In 10 Minutes, find your 1 rep max Front Squat and maximum pushups

Workout 2
As Many Rounds in 15 MINUTES:
10 Wallballs Shots (10#)
15 Burpees
20 Lunges
10 Sit-ups

Workout 3 (26# kettlebell for all)
60 Sumo Deadlift High Pull
50 KB Swings
40 Box Step ups w/KB
30 Goblet Squats
KB Farmers Carry 100 meters

Most importantly, what I remember about that day was being able to reach deep down inside and find the strength, endurance, and physical power that I never imagined I possessed.

There was not a single moment that day when I did not want to just simply quit. I honestly don’t know where I got the strength and resilience to go on. I absolutely do know that this was the hardest, most brutally grueling thing I’ve ever experienced! Most importantly, what I remember about that day was being able to reach deep down inside and find the strength, endurance, and physical power that I never imagined I possessed.

Dig Deep

This win showed me that I was an athlete — because the meaning of athlete is simply someone that is dedicated to training for a sport.

The end result? I came in dead LAST. (No surprise there!) But, I WON the day. I won over my fear. I won over my lack of confidence in my physical ability. Everyone in that gym also knew that I won because the entire gym was cheering for me! My husband and son were on the sidelines crying with joy for me. My gym friends accompanied me on my last leg of the final workout to show solidarity in my struggle.

This win showed me that I was an athlete — because the meaning of athlete is simply someone that is dedicated to training for a sport. This experience changed how I viewed myself and changed the course of how I committed to making progress in my training.

It doesn’t matter where someone is on their fitness journey. You will be absolutely amazed at how strong you really are if you dig deep and push yourself.

Want to hear more from Della about how to kickstart your own fitness journey? Mark your calendar for Wednesday, May 17 at 1:30pm EDT. Event details will be posted in the coming weeks at seniorplanet.org/fitness!


In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our free online exercise programs, get the latest fitness updates from Senior Planet by signing up for our health and wellness newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!

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