Oh Boy, I Hate That

It was the annual CrossFit Games a couple of weeks ago.  Kind of like the “Olympics of CrossFit,” this annual competition is held in California every year, and hosts the best CrossFitters from around the world to determine the title of “Fittest on Earth” through several days of grueling events. For the average CrossFitter like myself, it’s a chance to marvel at the athleticism involved; competitors performing movements that we do day in and day out at the gym, but doing it far faster and far heavier than we can ever hope to do.  But we hope anyways.  And we cheer.  And we dream.

CrossFit has a big presence on Social Media, so there’s lots of public opinion on display.  And I’ve been shocked and saddened at some of the comments about the appearance of the female competitors.  “Too muscular,” “too manly,” “not feminine.”  Predictably, I did not come across one negative comment about the bodies of the male athletes.  Oh boy, I hate that.

Brooke Ence, a 25-year-old rookie CrossFit Games competitor, won the one-rep-max clean and jerk event.  She cleaned a 242lb barbell up to her shoulders and jerked it over her head.  242 pounds.  My max deadlift is 226 lbs and I have been doing CrossFit for more than five years- and she took 242lbs and put it over her head.  This is a display of athletic power that few people can ever hope to achieve.  It was also a 12-pound personal best for her; a testament to her training and the influence of an energetic stadium crowd.

brooke ence

I think she looks like Barbie.  But not a Barbie that is so disproportionate that she would tip over if she were a real person- rather, a Barbie that has worked hard to make herself into an incredible athlete and reach her goals doing something she loves.  Yes, she has more muscle than the average woman.  And it’s that muscle that allows her to do these amazing things.  She has trained for years for that muscle and I wish that the naysayers would look at it from another side.  I’m looking at it from the eating disorder side.

It’s no secret that I’ve battled eating disorders and body image issues throughout much of my life.  I’ve also been successfully fighting this battle since I began CrossFit in 2010.  I no longer view my body as a series of measurements and numbers on a scale- I view it as capacity in the gym and in my life.  I look at how fast I can run, how much I can lift, how high I can jump.  I look at how my fitness transfers into living a healthier life.

I strive to be strong instead of striving be skinny.  This is a big shift for me.  Imagine if we could make this shift happen for the thousands upon thousands of teenage girls and adult women watching the CrossFit Games.  Could we change the world?  Well, we could change their worlds.

This Thing Called ‘The Open’

Maybe you’ve heard of the Crossfit Open.  Maybe you haven’t.  But I want to inspire you, I want to motivate you, I want to raise your spirits.  So let me tell you about this thing called ‘The Open’.

crossfit-logo-games-blackThe Crossfit Open is a worldwide competition in which 130 000 Crossfitters have registered, paid their $20, and are completing one workout per week for five weeks (we just finished week 3), as dictated by Crossfit Headquarters.  Competitors submit their scores to an online leaderboard and the fun begins.  Top-scoring competitors will advance to their respective Regional competitions, with the ultimate  goal being to qualify for the Crossfit Games, the ‘Olympics of Crossfit’, in California in July.

Although I’ve been Crossfitting for three years, this is the first time I’ve entered the Open, as I’ve always been very pregnant or newly post-partum in year’s past.  And as an average Crossfitter, I will definitely not advance to Regionals.  But a funny thing has happened along the way.  I have gotten really into it.  No, I mean really into it.  I’ve bookmarked the Crossfit Games leaderboard on my computer, I watch elite competitor’s video submissions, I get nervous on Tuesdays for Wednesday’s workout announcement, and I check the scores of people I know and names I recognize.

It’s shown me what I’m physically capable of.

It’s shown me what I’m mentally capable of.

It’s made me feel like part of a team, through accountability, support, and friendship.

It’s made me feel pride in myself and confidence in my abilities.

It’s made me strong, healthy, inspired, and hopeful.

It’s made me cry, it’s made me laugh, it’s made me scared, it’s made me excited.

It’s broken me down and built me right back up.

But this post is not about the Crossfit Open.  This post is about challenging yourself.  This post is about stepping outside of your comfort zone.  This post is about changing the impossible to the possible.  So challenge yourself.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Change the possibilities.  And see what happens.