You know what you know and you don’t know what do you don’t know. Four years ago if you asked me to define beauty, I probably would have told you it involved weighing 120 pounds, wearing a size four and looking “lean and toned.” Today, though I wear a size 4, I am proud to weigh a strong 150 pounds. Before Crossfit I simply did not know. In a world that tells us who we are is not enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not tan enough, notstrong enough, it is hard to believe that you are enough.
When did strong become the new skinny?
I discovered CrossFit six years ago through my ex-husband. When he returned from his deployment to Afghanistan he introduced me to CrossFit and a completely new world of, you are not enough. While CrossFit motivates most people to want to better for themselves, I embraced CrossFit to make my husband happy. For 12 months I had spent hours on the elliptical, counting calories and skipping meals, starving myself in an attempt turn my body into what I thought was desirable. I thought exposed hip and collar bones was beauty, yet now I find myself envious of girls with muscles and strength because that is what my husband suddenly found attractive. All my hard work was now, once again, not enough. It was no longer, you are not skinny enough but instead you are not strong enough. I was now expected to learn to row fast, jump high and clean massive amounts of weight all while wearing booty shorts if I wanted to be enough for him.
It is hard to openly admit that I fell in love with CrossFit for all the wrong reasons, but it’s the truth. I thought that embracing CrossFit would save my marriage, that it would turn me into what my husband wanted me to be. What I didn’t expect was that it would turn out to be the saving grace that gave me the strength to walk away from an abusive marriage. CrossFit for the first time taught me to embrace who I am today, not who I want to be tomorrow, as enough.
The transformation from I am too fat, to I am too skinny to, hey I am Melissa.
The transition from cardioaholic to CrossFitter was not an easy one. It’s one thing to be told you don’t need to do hours of cardio in order to maintain your figure. It is another to be told that you should drink whole milk instead of soy, eat bacon instead oatmeal, and yolks with your whites. I think I simply went into a state of shock and didn’t wake up until I found myself stuck in the middle of a WOD with my coach screaming at me to jump up on the god damn box. Believe me, I jumped, I jumped head first into my future right in that moment. I was hooked on the personal competitive nature of every WOD, fascinated by the nutritional science behind Paleo and mesmerized by this world of women who didn’t spend all their time complaining about how unhappy they were with their bodies. I wanted to be a part of their world and they openly let me in. Muscle quickly replaced bone protrusions and I found myself caring less about the approval of my husband and more about how amazing I felt. For the first time his approval of my body stopped being what I yearned for. The final straw was when we were out at dinner with friends. I had hit a good PR that day and was feeling good. His response to my success was an hour-long tirade of how CrossFit had changed me too much. I now ate too much, was bulking up too much, and stupidly cared too much about it. In that moment I realized that maybe all along I had been too much for him, that maybe I had been enough for myself and just didn’t know it.
Paying it Forward
After leaving my husband and moving home, I struggled to find a way to combine my passion for CrossFit with my desire to give others what CrossFit had given me. I started a job working with at-risk youth in a transitional group home, and attempted to share my newfound sense of “enough” with the kids I worked with. While I tried my hardest to cultivate in them a sense of self worth, I quickly realized that creating a sense of “enough” takes more than the short amount of time they spent in the transitional home. In a place where kids come and go every other week, I felt that I could make a greater impact working with my community somewhere where I could provide continuity of growth.
In 2011 I began transitioning into becoming a CrossFit coach. First as a coach then creating my own CrossFit Kids and Women Only Programs. This was just the beginning of my journey. Enter OPEX. In the fall of 2013 I met my coach and mentor Mike Lee. Not only has he taught me how to move with intent but also how to be a damn good coach. It has been through our work together and my continued education through OPEX that I've become the coach I am today. I am finally able to reach others the way I wanted to.
In the world of Pintrest boards and air brushed images we have stopped being enough. We have been taught that you must constantly strive for more without compassion for where you are today. My goal is to change that mentality. Strong is not the new skinny in my box. You are you where are you are today, wherever that may be. Six pack abs are no more a sign of your strength than collar bones are of your beauty. My 7th grade girls don’t come to my class to get in shape so that they can impress their peers; their motivational drive is to be better for themselves. We celebrate a love for ourselves, just as we are. We celebrate elbows finally touching knees on the pull up bar and graduating from dumbbells to barbells. Whether it’s a teen or a retired mother, we as a CrossFit family of females are learning together that who we are is simply enough.
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