So this post is quite the digression from my normal sort of blog post, but it’s something that I have really felt the need to get down on “paper” and put out there for any other girls/women who have had similar experiences to me.. Since I put down the baby weights and picked up a barbell, and got off the treadmill and into a CrossFit box, I have faced the occasional criticism from friends and family. Criticism towards lifting weights, towards the “dangers” of CrossFit, and towards my new muscles and changing body. I try my hardest to not be reactive towards these sorts of comments in the moment, but I inevitably wind up reflecting on the exchange and thinking about what I wish that person understood about what CrossFit has done for me, physically, mentally and emotionally.
All of the women who contributed to this BuzzFeed article were pretty spot on and I could relate to most of them. This one in particular resonated with me, as I’m sure it would with many women:
As women, we view exercise as a way to lose weight, or to maintain it. Which is to say, as a way to shrink, or to stay small. Not to say that vanity is necessarily any less of a motivation for women who lift weights than it is for women who spend hours on the elliptical, but there’s a difference between exercising to look strong and exercising to look small. Treating exercise as a means to be more, as opposed to viewing it as a never-ending struggle to be less, is absolutely a game changer.
True dat , Christine. Reading what all of those ladies had to say about what lifting weights has taught them about being a woman inspired me to finally express my own feelings on this topic. So here I am today, sharing with the world what CrossFit has taught/given me.
- Humility. There’s nothing more humbling than failing over and over again to hit a new clean PR, or watching other people rip through 20+ consecutive butterfly pull-ups while I struggle to string together 5 kipping pull-ups. There is always strength to be gained and skills to acquire, and CrossFit has reminded me time and time again that I need to walk before I can run, which has kept me grounded in life outside of the gym too.
- Patience and dedication. As my coach reminds me, it’s a journey, not a destination, and this journey of mine is filled with a constant desire to better myself, inside and outside of the gym. Instant gratification never truly gratifies, and I have developed a deeper understanding of the saying “all good things take time.” The time I dedicate to CrossFit is time dedicated to becoming healthier, stronger and happier. I no longer seek instant gratification from my workouts (or everyday tasks for that matter), rather I recognize that I’m putting in the time to build a sustainable lifestyle that will continually reward me day in and day out.
- Body acceptance and self-love. This is probably the most important thing CrossFit has given me. After my childhood sports career ended and before I joined the CrossFit community, I was one of those girls who was “exercising to look small.” I was still pretty active, but only with the intention of burning calories. So inevitably, I was skinny fat with twig arms and no booty. But once I started seriously lifting weights and realized how much I actually enjoyed CrossFit and Olympic lifting, I acquired an immense appreciation and respect for what my body is capable of, instead of what it looks like. I realized that my self worth is not determined by my weight, size, or body fat percentage; rather it’s determined by my physical and mental fortitude. In the past year and a half of weight lifting and CrossFit, I have put on roughly 25 pounds (mostly of muscle), and I’m damn proud of that! Never have I been so at peace with my mind and body, and I have CrossFit to thank for that.
- Confidence. This goes hand in hand with self-love. Lifting weights is empowering in all sorts of ways. You learn you’re capable of so much more than you think, and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you hit a PR or learn a new skill is unreal. Not to mention that physical strength bolsters mental and emotional strength too.
- A healthier relationship with food. Along with a large portion of the world population, I have dealt with my fair share of disordered eating behaviors. Towards the end of high school I was obsessive about the food I ate, and for a period of time meticulously counted calories. I dabbled in dieting, and over time all of these behaviors contributed to an overall disordered attitude towards food, as well as an extremely skewed perception of what “healthy” meant. Like many girls who restrict their intake in some way or another (whether it’s restricting calories, or putting “bad foods” off limits as I did) I battled a binge/restrict cycle for a while too. The first step to healing my broken relationship with food was to realize that I was not alone; binge/restrict cycles are extremely common among girls and women (and men too!) and discovering that made me so much less ashamed, and allowed me to begin the healing process. And then CrossFit entered my life, and I learned the importance of eating to fuel and recover from your workouts. There’s that quote that says, “athletes eat and train, they don’t diet and exercise.” This renewed perspective that food is fuel has enabled me to build a healthy relationship with food again.
- A Community. I don’t think I have ever felt so much a part of a community as I do at my CrossFit box. There’s just something about it. That perfect balance of competitiveness and support that you feel in a room during a WOD is something you can’t get anywhere else. And the beautiful thing is that this sense of community extends beyond individual CrossFit gyms; every time I have dropped in at boxes while traveling in other states, I have been greeted with the utmost kindness and welcomed as one of their own.
- A booty. Lol I couldn’t not throw that one in there! It’s just the truth. Sorry mom! 😀
So there ya have it folks. That is what CrossFit has given me, that is why I do it, and that is why I love it.
To all you ladies out there reading this, what has weight lifting and/or CrossFit given you?