I posted a picture on Facebook a few days back of a woman, who in my opinion, is absolutely beautiful and inspiring. I was surprised, however, by the response it received. It was quite the little conversation starter, I must say. What I realized, is that A LOT of people have a lot of opinions on how other people should look…
Let me begin by saying why I DIDN’T post that picture…I didn’t post that picture to have anyone rip Andrea apart. That was in no way shape or form the intention behind that posting. This did upset me a little, for the reason that if I were to put up a picture of a woman who I felt was beautiful and inspiring, and she was by cultural standards “overweight”, how many comments of “she is disgusting/she is fat/she is a fat pig” do you think there would have been up there? If there were any (I would be surprised if there were), there would have been FAR fewer. Why then do we feel it’s okay to judge someone who is ”too fit’ for your liking?
Well then, why DID I post it? I posted the picture because so often I hear women say they don’t want to get bulky doing Crossfit. I hear ya, neither do I! When I think of bulky, I think of female body builders. I am not saying that is not beautiful, it is what it is…those are women who are literally building their bodies for the sake of a competition…and I will go out on a limb here and say that those women are probably using some unnatural “supplementation” to get that way. So, when I think of bulky, THAT is what I think women are worried about becoming, not a lean, cut woman who is probably a size 4/6. Let me also reiterate something that has probably been said 1000 times over…you will NOT become anything by ACCIDENT. If you WANT to look like a female bodybuilder for instance, you can…with A LOT of work…and probably “supplementation”… You will not, however, go to the gym 4-5 times a week, do the WOD of the day, eat a Paleo diet, and start looking like a female body builder…it just WILL NOT HAPPEN. You probably won’t even be able to go to the gym 4-5 times a week, do the WOD of the day, eat a Paleo diet and start looking like Andrea Ager (the beautiful lady in the picture)! She didn’t get that way by accident either!
Now, before going into this further, I also need to cover my arse and say that Crossfit competitors are not necessarily HEALTHY. They are pushing their bodies to an unhealthy standard for the sake of competition. Their results are based on a LOT of hard work, a particular diet (not always Paleo…some of the competitors eat some pretty unhealthy things, and still kick ASS…like WIN…the Games…), and dedication to winning and becoming “The Fittest on the EARTH”; 99% of Crossfitters are not ever going to be at that level.
There were some pretty great, interesting comments on the Facebook thread, one of which was “I think there is a line between being body obsessed, chasing a cultural ideal of beauty or strength, and what is reasonable, balanced and healthy.” I couldnt’ agree with this more. The question here is…what IS ‘reasonable, balanced and healthy’? I think as women, we are a little confused on this… There is not a week (or even a day!) that goes by without some image of a woman being put on display in the public eye as “too fat’, “too skinny”…and now, “too fit”. There are poor women who have lost a bunch of weight after hearing over and over how “fat” they were by critics, only to be criticized for being “too skinny”. Luckily, most of us will never have to worry about being scrutinized publically this way, however, we are often victims of this in another way.
As far back as I can remember, I fantasized about being “skinny”. I literally would think, “oh man, if I were skinny my life would be so much better”. I had some pretty dark, negative thoughts about my body on a daily basis (some as horrible as “I wish I could cut off my legs!”, how terrible is THAT!?). I’m not saying any of this was right…I was younger, and “body obsessed” and had some pretty horrible self talk going on. I tried every diet under the sun, and literally never got “skinny” until I was basically starving myself (not on purpose…I was diagnosed with IBS and it was more out of necessity) and got down to a bony (for me) 140 lbs (which by the way, is still considered “heavy” to some people). It was literally not until I found Crossfit that my negative self talk stopped. I stopped thinking about calorie counting (completely!) and started actually eating MORE and ENJOYING food! I started exercising and not only starting changing my body, but changing my MIND! Exercise has done wonders for my moodiness…seriously, it’s amazing. The coolest part, however, has been the amount of RESPECT I have developed for my body. I no longer look at my body in the mirror and pick it apart (“my thighs are too fat, my boobs are too small” whatever it may be), I look at my body with complete respect and gratitude for everything it allows me to do. Thank you for my big, strong legs for helping me squat my BODY WEIGHT…Thank you for my bigger-than-it-used-to-be butt for allowing me to drop it like its hot 100 times over in a workout. I am GRATEFUL for my body now, and to me, there is NOTHING more “reasonable, balanced and healthy” than that. In my strongest opinion, this is all what Crossfit is REALLY about, isn’t it? In addition, I have been on this journey now for 3 years…and it is 100% SUSTAINABLE for me, I have much more balanced moods, and I feel the healthiest I have ever felt in my entire life…hell, physically AND mentally. As a bonus, I am SMALLER than I was at my “skinniest”…and not at all starved or deprived! Bonusssss!
Crossfit is MOST inspiring when a 70-year-old woman walks in and decides to start a fitness regime for the first time in her life; when a 15-year-old boy starts to build confidence; when a regular ole’ person like me, who has never been an athlete in his/her life starts Crossfit, it completely changes his/her life and he/she finds PASSION and ENTHUSIASM in something for the first time in his/her life. Yes, Crossfitters can be a bit evangalistic…that is absolutely, 100% true…but why do you think that is?! People only rave and rant about something that has worked for them; that has changed their life in some way. I am no different there. Crossfit is for everyone, and can absolutely be life changing…if you WANT it to be; it does not HAVE to be, no one is pushing Crossfit on you here. This is my platform, to talk about how Crossfit has changed my life; just like there are platforms to talk about how triathlons, or marathons, or tattoos, or art, or heck, heroin, has changed people’s lives… I choose to be inspired by specifically Andrea Ager because it helps me set goals for myself. I am a person who is not self-motivated (which is why nothing else WORKED for me); I thrive off visual motivation, and community support. Boom, Crossfit! Looking at an image like I posted helps me create fitness goals for myself (I want to look like Andrea Ager to some degree, so, what does Andrea do? In order for me to look like Andrea, I need to do what Andrea does…).
I am grateful for all of the comments on the picture, it really helped me recognize all over again how passionate I am about health and fitness, and really what this whole blog is about; my project to become beautifully strong.Beautiful is different to every single person…to me, a woman with strong, healthy muscles, who works REALLY hard in the gym and isn’t afraid to get really sweaty, and grunt her way through a WOD…is beautiful. I do not, however, live to Crossfit…I Crossfit to live; to make my life easier, longer and happier. Thank you for your comments, and I will step off my soap box now :)
Have a most fantastic day!