After 8 months and 3 competitions, I’m seeing some major gains in CrossFit—physically and mentally. Prior to CrossFit, I worked out to maintain an ideal size. My motivation was driven by physical appearance. I would religiously track my weight and count calories which would result in over exercising and under eating. All of these measures were unhealthy and obsessive. Since CrossFit, I track my gains, not my losses. My motivation has shifted from my physical appearance to performance. I’ve realized it’s far more important to have a strong body that can lift and perform optimally than one which looks good in a specific size. My struggle is not uncommon. Sadly, it’s almost every woman’s struggle. To be exact, 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to extreme measures. “The problem is that relentless pursuit of a beach-ready butt isn’t likely to be the foundation of a lasting, fulfilling relationship with one’s body or any sustainable fitness program.”[i] There are two key reasons why CrossFit has helped me shift my perception of my body and self-worth:
- It’s a performance based sport. In judge-based sports like gymnastics, ballet and figure skating, studies find a higher frequency of eating disorders (13% compared to 3% in refereed sports). CrossFit, on the other hand, is exclusively performance based. You aren’t working out to look better. Instead, you’re there to track your progress and beat your personal record.
- The CrossFit community is supportive. In psychologist Allison Wenglin Belger’s book, she describes the importance of group affiliation—of having a network of mutual support and human connection. At my CrossFit gym, people give kudos for the effort you put into your workout not by the outfit you wear. Determination and dedication are respected and applauded. “Anytime you bring a crew of people together to work ridiculously hard, good things happen.”[ii]
As a result, my new mantras are:
- Respect your body because of what it can do, not by how it looks.
- View food as fuel, not as an enemy.
- Don’t take any shortcuts. Be patient and enjoy the journey.
I’m not suggesting that there aren’t moments of doubt or temptations of reverting to old behaviours. I’ve struggled far too long for it to just go away in 8 months. But CrossFit has enabled me to shift my focus and direct my energy into a healthy more productive way. So find something that boosts your confidence and helps you realize that you ARE good enough. Additional reading: here are other great reasons why being strong is awesome!