This morning, I was struck by my appearance in the mirror after my usual shower. I noticed a different look in my eyes, a leanness to my chin and neck, a general hardness in my features that appeared to make me look strong yet beautiful. This doesn’t often happen, especially if I’m not wearing any makeup, but I thought it interesting enough to write a post about.
What has changed recently that has caused me to look at myself differently today than any other day? Nothing that I can readily tell, at least not externally. However, something is going on in my head that is turning the tables. Over the last few months, I have slowly been putting on weight. I haven’t really changed my diet, and if anything have become more active than before, but for some reason my weight has been steadily climbing. I am now about 25 pounds more than I was in January.
A little over a month ago, I said enough is enough and asked my therapist if she could recommend a dietician for me to see. She did have some nutrition contacts, so I decided that was fine. A week later I was scheduled to see a nice nutritionist about a 45 minute drive away. Well, everything seemed to be going fine until I went on a month-long road trip and added an additional 10 pounds onto my clinically overweight frame. NOW enough was really enough! Like an addict has to hit rock bottom before wanting to change, I no longer fit into ANY of my “fat” clothes (except a skirt and a pair of leggings, but you can only wear the same thing for so long before people start to notice) and refused to purchase anything new that was bigger than what I already had. No, it was either lose the weight, or go around naked.
I’d been hearing about this workout club that seemed to be talked about in whispers as if it were some sort of myth or taboo. People said it was this awful cult that humiliated you and caused irreversible injuries. I would watch these athletes on television and wonder how one even begins to do that kind of work. I’m talking about CrossFit. That’s right. If you haven’t heard of it, just do a YouTube search and prepare to be amazed.
Anyway, so I am recently home from a grueling road trip – for personal reasons, not pleasure – tired and sick of being in my overly-large body. I have quit seeing my nutritionist because I could have told myself to eat fewer carbs and more vegetables! Duh…So I sit down and reexamine my options. My boyfriend, who is subsequently my ever-present cheerleader, mentioned that an all-women’s CrossFit gym just opened in the next town. I am intrigued – I had heard of this mythical gym/workout craze but was unsure of what it was all about. So I posted a comment on Facebook about what peoples’ thoughts were about the phenomenon. I got resounding, enthusiastically positive replies.
I think that all of this came together as a “right time and place” sort of thing, because when I visited the gym (that had only been open for 7 weeks) the girl at the front told me that they were running a month-long discount for new members – less than HALF of what the normal cost was for the same package. I immediately asked “Where do I sign up?”
That weekend, I attended a free trial session that heartily kicked my ass and pumped me up beyond belief. I realized that all of these years out of competitive athletics, I have been telling myself that I am done with all of that, that I want to scale it down into the recreational sports realm, that I don’t want to “push” myself the way I used to anymore. I can’t believe how wrong I was. All of these years I have been wasting hundreds of dollars on wimpy fitness trainers, lax swim clubs, and pitiful attempts at starting my own workout routine in discount gyms and my university’s free facilities. All to no avail. Don’t get me wrong – I always start something with enthusiasm, vow to go every day, well…maybe just three times a week…well, I think once a week is better than nothing…until…six months go by and I am still paying for that expensive gym membership and haven’t even bothered to walk on the treadmill. Once. Not getting my ass kicked was just not enough for me, no matter how much I wanted to be that “casual workout chick but still look super athletic.” I needed something that was either all or nothing. And this realization scared me a little because of the issues I’ve had revolving around my OCD and severe black and white thinking. But, I thought, it couldn’t be that bad if I am in a controlled environment with other healthy women who are all or nothing. That was the key, I realized. Being with other healthy women who like to kick ass and have their asses kicked. Right away I knew this gym was different. Here, body mastery meant how many reps you could dead lift your own body weight, not what size you fit into, or how good you looked in those tiny workout shorts. There weren’t even any mirrors here. These women were proud of their size because it meant that they were tough mother you-know-whats who didn’t take any flak from anybody. People walking by the front of the gym look up as if this strange new building had tentacles growing from it. An all-women’s gym that teaches people how to have their asses handed to them on a silver platter? Again, sign me up.
So, it has been a week and two days since I officially joined the CrossFit revolution. I know the way I tout it makes me sound brainwashed and cultified, but trust me. It is the funnest, most challenging, self-confidence boosting activity I have ever done. The people here are all friendly, even if you just met them. The gym owner takes the time to learn your name and hear your story, and remembers you the next time you come in. There are tears. There is laughter. There is triumph. And most of all, I leave there feeling like I am a better person than before I went in.
I decided this was the difference I had seen in the mirror. It was the confidence that I am doing something good with my body – really good. I’m not just casually running on a treadmill watching Family Guy reruns. I am not recreationally throwing frisbees around with dudes who have beer bellies and college girls with flabby arms. I am pushing myself past limits I thought I’d maxed out years ago. I am learning new skills that are doing wonders for my sense of mastery. I am meeting like-minded people who praise whatever size body I happen to have. I have amazing role models who don’t look like models, but rather are chiseled like Greek statues. Seriously, try punching them in the bicep and you’ll bruise your knuckle. What’s more is that it’s accessible to anybody, and even the most green of beginners can envision herself doing the CrossFit Games one day.
I am doing this for a lot of reasons. The motivating push to get me here was my weight of course, but now that I have dived in, I see myself doing this for my health, for my mental well-being, for my kids that I coach and consequently am a role model for. Honestly, I don’t see any down side to it, other than I am not able to do it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Maybe I should look into getting a job there…