Blizzards and Accomplishments

It was the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show last week.  Not sure if you watched it, but I did, as I do every year, and this was my view:


Yes, those are DQ blizzards.  And yes, I realize the irony of watching women with 2% bodyfat parade around in lingerie while downing 800 calories in a single go.  And that’s why I did it.  Because I am about enjoying the simple things in life, like couches and ice cream with my husband.  Because I will never be a Victoria’s Secret model.  Because my body-image has shifted ever-so-slightly over the years.  Because I love blizzards.

I’ve written about my personal struggles with eating disorders, so this isn’t a surprise to many of you.  But the surprising part to me is how my thinking has shifted away from my own struggles, and onto changing those  future struggles for my daughter.  As a mother, I’ve become much more aware of the images that bombard our young girls.  I can now see the damage that photoshop and magazine covers and yes, Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, can do.  Most of us will never be 6 feet tall.  Most of us will never weigh 110lbs.  And yet, skinny is still lauded and valued and praised.  As is height.  And blond hair.  And blue eyes.  And the thing is, I actually have a few of those qualities.  But I don’t have the skinny.  And so my body-dysmorphic thinking only focuses on that.

But instead, I have the strong.

This is a relatively new world for me.  A world where strong is praised and skinny is secondary.  A world where how much you can lift, how fast you can run, how high you can jump, are more important measurements than your 36-24-36.  A world where you can work hard, reach your goals, and keep striving for more.  Where accomplishments are calculated against your own personal bests rather than against external factors that you cannot control.

My three-year-old daughter proudly dressed herself yesterday morning.  When she was done, she went running to find her big brother.  “Look, look,” she squealed, “Look how beautiful I am!  I got dressed all by myself!”  Can you see why her statement is so magical?

Because she measured her beauty based on her accomplishment.

Brilliant.  She thought she was beautiful not because of how she looked, but because of what she could do.

And I’m going to do everything I can to keep it that way.

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.