Getting Better: How CrossFit Changed My Life
I audibly gasped when I saw the picture. It was a happy picture, one that was taken in one of my favorite places with some of the people I love and like the most in the world. However, the setting and the people blurred and all that I could see was my gut. It was hanging over my shorts. It was straining the threads of my t-shirt.
I tried to justify it. It was probably the angle, the shadow, the wind.
Then I cropped it. Now, it was all better. But, it wasn’t.
It wasn’t the first picture that had given me pause. However, it was the first one that I couldn’t shake, couldn’t shrug off, couldn’t crop into a different reality.
So, I did what any 40 year old woman would do and came up with a game plan. The first course of action was to throw a proper tantrum. I railed against the unfairness of my sloth like metabolism. I gathered all of my righteous indignation and reminded my empty living room that I led a fairly healthy lifestyle.
I only ate pizza and wings and burgers three to four days a week. The antioxidants in wine were making my heart healthy. I actually prefer black coffee. And, I exercised. I took a spin class every week…or two. Hell, a few years ago I ran a marathon. I had traversed 26.2 miles – using nothing but my feet and ironclad willpower – that made it virtually impossible to be fat.
Next came the raging pity party. Clearly something was wrong with my thyroid. Did I even have a thyroid? Bless my heart. I was sick. Obviously. This definitely had nothing to do with eating and drinking like a complete asshole.
I was so certain that I had a grave medical condition that I badgered my doctor into running tests. They confirmed that I did, in fact, eat and drink like a complete asshole.
When the pity party was over, rage sashayed its fiery ass right into its place. My doctor had the audacity to tell me that I should really start watching what I eat and that some weightlifting would do me good. I shook my increasingly plump hands in the air. I was vehemently opposed to watching what I ate. Food is the bedrock of celebration and consolation. And, apparently my doctor had never tasted waffles.
All there was left to do was wait on acceptance. Acceptance was relief. Acceptance allowed everything to remain the same. I didn’t have to make any changes. However, this time it didn’t come. I couldn’t accept that picture. I couldn’t accept that this was just was how it was going to be. I couldn’t accept that this was the example I was setting for my daughter.
I had to find something different, something that would work. I knew that I needed a place where I would feel comfortable. I knew that for me to stick with something I needed to not only feel accountability but a sense of community. As I researched different gyms in Charlotte, I kept being drawn back to one in particular – CrossFit Jane (CFJ).
However, I couldn’t join that gym. They were surely all hopped up on the CrossFit Kool-Aid. I knew that part of their contract would include wearing white sunglasses, saying bro at least 16 times a day and updating my social media accounts with non-sensical anagrams. Oh, and, I had made fun of CrossFitters for years. I would have to eat a lot of too-cool-for-school crow if I started AMRAP’ing and RX’ing.
Then “the picture” floated through my mind. The flappy gut. The once spectacular tits that wished for their glory days. I seasoned and baked the crow. It was kind of bland but at least it was high in protein.
When I nervously walked into CFJ. I was greeted by the impossibly fit owner, Brent Smith, and thought, damn, he must have the thyroid of a demi-god.
After I was finished admiring his thyroids (and pecs and biceps and...maybe his ass), I was surprised with how comfortable, how at home I felt there.
I was intimidated, absolutely. It was a lot to take in. I almost vomited during my first workout. However, it was love at first anagram.
CrossFit has changed my life. I have lost a good bit of weight, but I’ve stopped gauging my success on the number that pops up on a scale. I see it in the mirror, in pictures, in how clothes hang, in the muscles popping up in places I didn’t know that muscles existed. I’m sleeping through the night on a regular basis for the first time in decades. My sex life is pretty lights out. I drink a lot less. My daughter joined me at CFJ.
But, those aren’t even the best of what has changed for me in the past five years.
I wake up happy, joyful. I have confidence, real confidence, not the puffed-up, put-on bravado of the past. I am proud of myself. I’m less frustrated, more supportive. My smiles aren’t forced. My laughter generates from my belly and spreads into my soul.
And, the people, particularly the women, of Crossfit Jane have enriched my life in ways that I didn’t know possible. They are strong and complex and supportive and bad ass and completely lovely. I have made deep, lasting friendships; these are people whom I can count on to cheer me on in times of success and pick me up off my knees in time of failure.
They make me better.
I am proud of the progress that I’ve made in the past five years. I have so much more to learn and to accomplish. However, I am learning to be patient and loving with myself; to be proud of giving my best rather than “being” the best; that CrossFit, like life, isn’t actually about the leaderboards or the personal records (not that they’re not nice), but it’s about showing up, doing your best, surrounding yourself with good people, being present and engaged, giving back when you can and getting the most out of the short time that you’re given.