CrossFit and body image. It’s not going to resonate with all of you, but it may just hit home in some way, shape, or form.
It is not easy to live in our society today. Everything is so focused on money, power, and beauty. And, with health and fitness, we are constantly flooded with what the ideal person should look like and how the ideal person should act. Health, wellness, and fitness is DEFINITELY not something that should be “one size fits all” – each person will respond to different behaviors with regard to eating and exercising.
I began my CrossFit journey in October 2012…the gym’s annual competition was really my first interaction with the gym. At the competition, I was given my first glimpse of “ESPN CrossFit” – people were grunting and jumping over boxes and lifting seemingly heavy heavy things over their heads. The dudes were jacked. Hell, the girls were even jacked! My immediate response…”Why are the girls not worried about their traps? About their super muscular thighs? This seems really intense.”
At the time, I had been religiously going to yoga classes, boot camps, Zumba sessions, running miles upon miles, and eating way too little to function at my best capacity. I was so incredibly fixated on my body. And definitely not in a positive way. I felt selfish, embarrassed, and constantly at war with the girl in the mirror. And not to mention, both physically and emotionally drained. Why was I acting like this? In all seriousness – I have never been overweight. My body has fluctuated from a thick-legged ballerina, to a lean and mean volleyballer, to a thick-legged runner, then a long and lean yogi before I found CrossFit. To be honest, it seems crazy to me that I have always struggled with my body. It feels like a first world problem. “Oh woe is me, I’m not a size 2. I fail at life.” So silly sounding, yet, each day that I couldn’t squeeze into my size 2 goal jeans, I felt more and more like a failure. It should be quite apparent to you that, for the longest time, I have had such negative body concept. I oftentimes ask myself, “Why? Why can’t I just be happy with myself?” Maybe it was being raised as a borderline OCD Type A ballerina-type. Maybe I have the genetic and biological propensity to deal with these types of issues. Maybe, just maybe, I am a victim of the times…the media, the fat shaming, the body hating.
Anyway. I toyed with CrossFit to appease my brand new boss at the time. I’d go sporadically, between my yoga sessions and boot camps, just to see what it’d do to my body. I promised myself that the moment I started growing muscles, I’d be outta there. Through November and December, I could feel it. The legs of my pants got a little tighter…my shoulders, a little broader. It wasn’t incredibly noticeable, plus my stomach started to look amazing! So, I continued on, constantly telling that little voice that whispered to me, “Be careful…watch those traps…” to shut up.
After a few months of constantly growing traps and awkward fitting jeans, I returned to my usual routine of 3-a-days (no exaggeration) of yoga, boot camp, and running. Lost my big “bulging” muscles, seemingly. I began to feel better in my skinny-ish body. I’d say my CF hiatus went from April(ish) of 2013 to October(ish) 2013, when my boss (the one I mentioned previously) talked about doing the Skinny class. Skinny was a program that involved “cardio CrossFit and progressive paleo.” Meaning, less ESPN CrossFit and a nutrition plan focused on weight loss and weight maintenance. For those of you that don’t know me, I have a pretty substantial background in nutrition…and nutrition people can be very pretentious when it comes to their craft. “Ugh,” I’d snort, “The developer doesn’t even have a Nutrition degree.” It turns out…the program and that “oh-so-non-trained” developer would quite literally change my life.
So why did Skinny change my life? It kept me in SAFE parameters. It was regimented. It was a structure. The coach was my go-to gal. Even though she had no stuffy formal nutrition education, she was so incredibly knowledgeable and intelligent. She was well-read. I could bring to her ANY and EVERY nutrition question on the planet and if she didn’t know, she’d find out. I challenged her…and I challenged myself. I wanted to stick with something and not take it out of “safe” parameters. So I went through the program…I removed grains…most sugary products…dairy….etc etc etc. And what happened? I lost weight and FELT DAMN GOOD! I didn’t feel drained or starved or deprived. I felt empowered and confident! I felt like I could DO THIS.
To date, I have gone through TWO rounds of the Skinny program. The coach sadly ended up leaving the gym this past summer. Of course, when I heard the news…my first reaction was, “WHAT ABOUT SKINNY?!” I felt a sense of loss and panic and dread. What would I do? Would I be able to keep myself in check? Luckily, my amazing boss (whom is also incredibly plugged into the gym) called me one day and asked me, “Would you like to get your L1 and coach Skinny?” I felt overjoyed and incredibly flattered to be asked to do such a wonderful thing! As you can see, I’m fairly new to the sport, but I am eager to learn. I was also set up for success by being paired with a wonderful, much more experienced coach to develop and implement a Skinny-type class. She and I put our two quirky brains together and have come up with CFKT CORE. C = Cardiorespiratory Endurance, O = Origin-based nutrition, R = Results, E = Education.
Coaching CORE has helped me in many ways…not only do I get to enact my passion of nutrition education and nurturing people…I love love love to get people excited about getting healthy – ask Geri Scalf and the rest of the Round 1 CORE participants. But, quite honestly, developing and coaching CORE has also been a selfish endeavor. I have been able to keep myself in check, too. The whole concept of “Lead by example” resonates with me here. In addition, I have begun to train under the head coach and owner’s watchful eye with competitive programming. Now, more than ever, it has been important to keep myself fueled for success. It is so funny…after two years, I went from being terrified of the ESPN CrossFit scene to wanting to BE that ESPN CrossFit girl more than anything! My all-encompassing involvement with CORE, however, has kept my head on straight and kept me with a firm sense of reality. Not too long ago, I was the broken girl staring at herself in the mirror…
As far as I have come with my confidence, my body image, my love for the sport of CrossFit, I will never lose my past. I know that in the back of my mind, if I let myself slip, I could be right back to where I once was. Having a love/hate relationship with my body…no energy…miserable. As scary as that is, it certainly serves as quite a motivator. CrossFit has transformed my self-perception…no longer do I judge whether I have a little jiggle on my belly. The body is incredibly dynamic and I have begun to understand how to appreciate that lovely fact. Bodies jiggle, body parts jiggle. People gain and lose muscle and the scale will always fluctuate. Loving myself is THE most important lesson that I’ve had to learn in life. And, of course, I’m still learning. Every single day.