How CrossFit Changed My Idea of Body Image

I’ll be the first to admit that, like any person, I’ve struggled with my body image. No matter how much we tell ourselves that we’re awesome (which, let’s face it, human bodies are a miracle unto themselves), the concept of “perfect” is constantly drilled into our heads through television, magazines, movies, blogs, etc.:

Women want to be thin and voluptuous at the same time. We want long legs, and we “need” the ever-coveted thigh gap. Men need to be muscular and have a body fat percentage below 10%. Only six-pack abs allowed!

Seriously, society?


Since starting CrossFit, though, I’ve noticed a definite 180* turnaround in the way I view “body image.” My focus isn’t on being supermodel thin–it’s a focus on health and strength and seeing my body achieve what I never thought it could. I’m about to tell you something that I never thought I’d hear myself say in my lifetime.

CrossFit is the only place where I’ve not been “proud” by how little I weigh. 

At CrossFit, what I’ve found important is building muscle, working to get stronger and faster, and eating to fuel your body, not losing pounds and looking thin.

Sweaty Run

One morning long before I broke my leg, my 5:15am class was working on dead lifts. I was still pretty new and struggling with the concept of “fighting for a lift.” In every other weight lifting class I’d ever taken, you were supposed to chose a weight you knew you could lift over and over–because you were going to be doing it for a long time, repeatedly.

In CrossFit, you work to get the highest weight you can for 5 reps, 3 reps, and even just 1 rep. This means you’re lifting heavier–but for much shorter periods of time.

Back to dead lifts. A CrossFit friend of mine who is always super encouraging, was rooting for me to try more weight since I always let myself off easy. So, for this class my goal was to dead lift at least my body weight. I got up to around 5# over my body weight, and it wasn’t that hard. When I told her my goal, she said something like, “Good job, but I know you can do more! You’re stronger than you think you are.”

Cute Cat

For some reason, the concept of “numbers on a scale” struck me instantly, and I realized that the pounds I’m lifting and the times my workouts take are far more important numbers than the ones on the scale. I also realized that if my *important* numbers are going to get better, the numbers on the scale will also go up as I build more muscle.

And I’m ok with that.

Sure, I still want my clothes to fit (because I’m not buying new ones–see my New Year’s resolution), but I’m not worried about whether I’m at the lowest weight I can be or the thinnest I can be. Heck, I’ve even come to appreciate all my legs can do for me–even if they are thick!

Splint Fashion

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