Three days ago it was Saturday. Saturday, January 19th. If you check your calendar, there’s nothing listed. It’s not a special date. In fact, I almost didn’t give it a second glance until one of my friends reminded me that it was my one year anniversary of starting CrossFit. Thinking back to that freezing cold Thursday last January, I felt a surprisingly huge rush of emotions; happiness because I met some of my best friends that day, embarrassment remembering that I sat in the Super Target parking lot for 20 minutes because I was convinced I couldn’t do the workout, pride because of all I’ve accomplished since then, and hopefulness at what my CrossFit future may bring. But the feeling of gratitude suddenly overtook my thoughts and feelings. Gratitude for ALL I lost. Gratitude for ALL I gained. Let’s go back a year to understand exactly what I mean.
After being a gymnast for 20 years, the thought of working out never excited me. In fact, I absolutely hated going to the gym. The more I forced myself to try and go, the more I avoided it. I probably wasted hundreds of dollars on gym memberships in the past few years. The shame I placed on myself for not working out caused my already negative body image to plummet. Even after being in recovery from Anorexia for almost 3 years, the only real motivation I had for working out was to lose weight and look thin. “Perfectly” shape my body into what I thought was beautiful. Since I never really went to the gym anyway, it was a vicious cycle of negative thinking towards my body and myself.
On January 19, 2012, I decided to give this thing called “CrossFit” a try. A couple of my friends are avid crossfitters and I noticed how much they loved it. Since I was still in the “skinny=beautiful” mindset, I figured this was just what I “needed.” Although I didn’t know this at the time, this way of thinking would change FAST. The wonderful gym I now am grateful to be an athlete AND coach at was running a special for newcomers so I figured….what did I have to lose? Little did I know, I had A LOT to lose and even more to gain! And for once, I’m not talking about this in terms of weight.
After my first few workouts, I felt incredible. The crazy endorphin rush left me in a great mood for hours afterwards. The sense of pride I felt after doing things I never thought I could do was amazing. I loved how my body felt after pushing it past my self-set limits. The extremely patient and knowledgeable trainers provided the perfect balance of patience, excitement, and encouragement. I was hooked.
As my first two weeks of “beginner” classes ended, I started to notice a shift in my way of thinking. Because of how physically demanding the classes are, I started to go out of my way to make sure I was eating enough to provide an adequate amount of energy for the day’s workout. Even after two and a half solid years of recovery, increasing my food intake was a little scary but I knew it was what I needed to do! For the first time in almost ten years, the thought of not having enough energy to complete a workout to the best of my ability was 100% more scary than increasing what I ate. At first, I couldn’t believe that this was MY thinking. I started to doubt myself. Was it just because I was “infatuated” with CrossFit since it was something new? Would I eventually fall back into my old ways of thinking? After a few days of turning these thoughts around in my head, I let go. Let go of any “what-ifs” and just decided to enjoy this change. Scary? Absolutely. But I was willing to trust this change to see where it would take me and what it might do for me.
Fast forward to now. January 2013. I’m proud to say that I am 100% (more if it was possible!) recovered from Anorexia, restrictive eating, AND body image issues. During my every day life, I’m focused on becoming strong and healthy. I make my food choices based off what my body needs and what sounds good in that moment. I look in the mirror at my body and am proud of what I see. Instead of seeing all my flaws and insecurities, my hard work, strength, tenacity, and resilience are reflected in the mirror. I respect my body and appreciate the amazing things it can do for me. I want to be strong, healthy, and happy. The word “skinny” no longer has a positive meaning in my vocabulary. I’m in a place today that I honestly never thought would be possible. People would always talk about a life free of eating disorders and body image issues. While that idea sounded nice, I just never thought it to be possible for me. I thought I would always be held captive, gripped by poor body image, eating disordered thoughts, and restrictive eating. But here I am today, living proof that it truly is obtainable. Life is so much better on this side!
I’ve always been incredibly optimistic, but this past year has awakened in me a new zest for life. A passion for achieving my goals and inspiring others. It’s a wonderful thing that much of the progress I see is OUTSIDE the gym. Every aspect of my life has been improved. Has it been easy? No way. Has every day at the gym been sunshine and rainbows? Hardly. But failing miserable and rising above the obstacles, trials, and challenges is what has taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons.
CrossFit was the catalyst for this change, this shift in thinking. The amazing community and the ever present message that strong is beautiful is such a positive influence for all involved. So yes, when I hear people speak negatively about CrossFit, discredit its validity, or make uninformed prejudices, I take it personal. This past year I have learned, changed, grew, gained, lost, and loved more than I EVER thought possible.
My before and after picture is below. I contemplated not sharing it…but I think it’s important. In the picture on the left, I don’t look healthy. I’m too skinny. There isn’t very much happiness in my eyes. It almost makes me sad to look at it. It wasn’t until I put these two pictures side-by-side that I really saw the difference. I’m genuinely happy and healthy in the picture on the right. Am I still small? Yes. But it’s all a journey. I’m just happy to be on the right path 🙂
We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. -Eleanor Roosevelt