Body Talk, By A New CrossFitter
By Heather Poblete
I started CrossFit a little over 9 months ago and it’s been a pretty amazing journey. I was that person who was hooked after the first class. I drank the proverbial Kool-Aid. I started at 2 class per week, which quickly turned in to 4 which eventually turned into 6, mostly at the ungodly hour of 6am. I may have a slight addiction. They say admitting it is the first step, right? Why do I like it so much? Well, it’s had some pretty great pay offs. I love the strength that I’m building. It really does make my day to day life much easier. I love the high I get from pushing myself and working harder than I though I could. It also turns out that I’m a pretty competitive person so that aspect of it is pretty cool too. Who knew? I also (and here it is) love what CrossFit has done to my body. I’ve gained muscle and lost fat. Hell, I’ll say it. I have killer legs and finally some junk in the trunk and I like it! This has certainly not always been the case. As is so common with newbies, I was hesitant when I first started about getting ‘too bulky’. I looked at some of the women in the gym and thought, ‘Ooh, that’s not feminine enough for me. I don’t want to look like that.’ Funny how my opinion of muscle has changed! I love my muscles and want more! At nearly 39 years old and 2 kids, I never expected to be in the best shape of my life and feel the better in my own skin than I ever have.
But even more importantly, CrossFit has changed the way I think about my body. I’ve had a shift in my mentality. It may sound cliché to say ‘it’s not about how I look, but about what my body can do’, however it’s very true and very significant. I don’t think I need to get into why body image can be such an issue for women. We all know that we are surrounded by images of what beautiful is supposed to look like. One size fits all. One way to be beautiful. Very few of us fit that mold and it leads to a life of comparisons and judgments of ourselves and of others. Worrying about this robs us of security and contentment and we waist so much mental and emotional energy this way. The bottom line is, it steals our happiness.
CrossFit has been confronting this is a big way. There has been a lot of talk within the sport about how it challenges this idea of conventional beauty. Muscles are beautiful! Femininity can include being strong. It’s not about what we look like but what our bodies can do. I love this. I’m all in. I totally agree. I am proud of what my body can do! And yes, I am proud of the way I look but it plays second fiddle to how many reps I did in yesterdays AMRAP. I come home from workouts on an adrenaline high and haven’t put any thought into the fact that I just spent the last hour red faced and dripping sweat…in public. And maybe people even got a glimpse of my imperfect abs during handstand push-up. I couldn’t care less and it’s a wonderful thing.
I’ve come to a very important realization, and I wish I had woken up years ago: If your goal is to look good, you will never achieve it. You will never be happy with yourself. There will always be some part of your body to criticize. And while I’m at it, if your goal is to weigh a particular amount, well you can just throw that right out the window. Muscle weighs too much to make the scale meaningful for CrossFitters. But if your goal is to perform better than you did yesterday, or achieve that elusive pistol, or conquer the rope, well that is a goal worth having. If your goal is to be physically fit and do it in a way that can be sustained over your lifetime, then that is a goal you can achieve and be proud of.
So let’s stop comparing ourselves to others, both outside the gym and in. Let’s accept ourselves they way we are today and not the way we wish we were (or the way we used to be when we were young). Let’s be happy with our bodies because they allow us to live our lives in a meaningful way and not because of how they look. So let’s make our goal life-long fitness. It’s a long term goal and one that takes patience but, in the end, is worth far more than beauty or performance.