Caramie Schnell

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83 pounds in 12 months

A lot can change in 12 months. Just ask Ashley Perrigaud, 30, who has marked the change using a scale. The Edwards resident has shed 83 pounds from her 4-foot, 9-inch frame. As such, life is entirely different now.

For one, “my afternoons and weekends aren’t spent on the couch with a plate of nachos” anymore, she said.

Her breaking point came after a visit to her doctor.

“I had a lot of medical issues going on related to being overweight,” she said. “Weird skin lesions, acid reflux, joint problems; I was constantly in pain. The doctor said ‘you’re too large.’ When I stepped on the scale and it said nearly 250 pounds, that was a breaking point.”

Around the same time, Perrigaud was going through a divorce and taking care of her 3 1/2 year old daughter, Sylvia, alone.

“I realized I’m all that’s left for Sylvia,” Perrigaud said.

That knowledge lit a fire inside, Perrigaud said; she re-enrolled in college to finish her associates of arts degree at Colorado Mountain College and she agreed to take a CrossFit Venture class in Avon, something her longtime friend April Ramker, a trainer at CrossFit, had been pushing her to do for nearly a month.

“I had basically tried everything: Diets, going to the gym by myself, yoga, pilates,” Perrigaud said. “Nothing worked.”

Finally, she took Ramker’s advice.

‘The first step is the hardest’

Walking through the doors to CrossFit Venture in Avon for the first time was the hardest part. She was nervous, especially since she’d Googled CrossFit and seen “a bunch of very fit people lifting weights and running,” she said.

“I was the biggest girl there when I walked in,” Perrigaud remembered. “And for any person, it’s hard to walk into a gym when you haven’t been in one for many, many years. But once I came in and met everyone who was so nice and so supportive, I stopped feeling intimidated.

“The first step is the hardest, but once you’re in there and meet everyone, you realize it’s a community and it’s awesome, so you keep coming back,” she continued.

And she kept coming back. You can find Perrigaud at CrossFit Venture each morning at 9, six or seven days a week (the trainers recommend a minimum of three days per week, max of six).

The first 45 pounds came off fairly easily for Perrigaud, who at first didn’t change her diet much. But she got stuck at around 190 pounds. “I hit a wall because I wasn’t paying attention to my nutrition,” she said. “I couldn’t get anywhere.”

Now along with working out, Perrigaud counts calories, weighs her food and eats an 80 percent paleo diet — basically vegetables, meat, some fruits and nuts. The hardest thing for her to give up was cheese and pasta, but now Perrigaud has a new favorite vegetable — Brussels sprouts, which she either grills or steams.

Along for the journey

It’s the sense of community at CrossFit that Perrigaud credits as making the difference.

“Ashley’s experience is the perfect example of why CrossFit isn’t just for athletes or ultra-athletic people,” said Melissa Matthews, one of the owners and trainers at CrossFit in Avon. “It’s so good for people like Ashley who need accountability. Having everyone know where she started, know where she’s going, and be alongside her on that journey.”

In some cases, literally alongside her. Even when that meant doing burpees, a full body exercise used in strength training that even people in fantastic shape sometimes dread.

“Most people hate burpees. They see it on the board and they instantly complain,” Matthews said.

But after Perrigaud hit her 75-pound weight loss goal, nearly every gym member did 75 burpees to celebrate. “Not only did they not complain, people were smiling,” Matthews said.

‘An all-encompassing change’

Smiling is something that’s always come naturally to Perrigaud, but especially now. A wide grin lit up her face this past weekend when she walked across the stage to accept her Associates of Arts degree.

“I’m happier,” she said. “It’s been an all-encompassing change. Now I’m able to be a better mom, a better student, a better girlfriend. I have a clear head. I can sleep well at night.”

Her journey isn’t over yet. This fall, Perrigaud will move to Denver with daughter Sylvia and her boyfriend, Rane. She plans to attend Metro State, where she’ll work on getting her bachelor’s degree in social work, hopefully followed by a master’s degree in psychology.

While she has yet to figure out where she’ll live, she does know where she’ll be working out.

“I’ll be going to CrossFit Eminence in Thorton,” she said. It’s important to me to keep going with that kind of community, that kind of gym.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at or 970-748-2984.

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The VailDaily Updated Mar 2, 2014 04:16PM Published May 9, 2013 06:15AM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.