TOUCHED BY LYME: When Crossfit crosses paths with Lyme disease

Sept. 17, 2021

CrossFit is a competitive sport that incorporates elements of weightlifting, gymnastics, and other vigorous athletic endeavors. Suffice it to say, people who excel at this must be in tiptop shape and full of energy.

That’s why it’s so remarkable that 17-year-old Mallory O’Brien, named CrossFit’s 2021 “Rookie of the Year,” has recently experienced a prolonged and debilitating case of Lyme disease.

According to an article by Nicole Payton on the CrossFit Games website:

“For more than a year, O’Brien suffered from severe headaches and exhaustion before she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She recalled having two tick bites around ages 10 or 11, but it wasn’t until right before the 2019 CrossFit Open, when she was 15, that she started feeling the effects of the disease.…Unable to train as she was accustomed to, let alone compete in 2020, she made the wise decision to pull back the throttle, and allow her body and mind time to recover.”

Mallory said her headaches were “severe, daily, and lasting all day.”

How did she do it?

How did she recover and return to such a physically demanding sport? Mallory attributes it to “a combination of focused treatment, sound nutrition, and functional fitness.”

Furthermore, she said, “I became very aware of how nutrition and vitamins can heal our bodies and learned to look at food labels so that I know what I’m putting into my body. I’m really into healing my body naturally now and understanding the science behind nutrition and natural medicine.”

Payton’s article continues: “She has demonstrated an enormous amount of resilience in her recovery from Lyme disease, and she has a few words of encouragement for anyone suffering from the disease and losing hope.”

“Never give up! I was told so many times that there was nothing wrong with me, or that they couldn’t explain my symptoms,” O’Brien said.

“It felt like no one was listening. My mom and I became obsessed with finding an answer. We knew there was no way this was not explainable. Trust your instincts. You know your body better than anyone! Find a doctor that listens to you and is committed to helping you.”

Click here to read the whole article.

Note: The photos accompanying this blog are from Mallory’s Instagram page.

TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland,’s Vice-president and Director of Communications. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at .

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