Andie Farias

"Small and lean is more important than healthy"

I live in Morelia, Mexico, I am six years old and I’m one of the few girls competing against the boys in Taekwondo. 

It’s a boys sport, so having girly characteristics isn’t well seen.

I don’t want to be a girl. It’s a disadvantage, so I have to find a way to keep up with the boys.

When I hit middle school, I start competing against girls my age and my size, and I realize I need to stay small and as lean as possible, in order to be able to compete. 

This carries on through my teenage years, as I compete at the World Junior Championships weighing less than 105 pounds.

I am an elite level athlete, I’m super lean, super small, but I don’t even have the strength to do a pull-up. And my body doesn’t menstruate. I’m not healthy. 

Finding CrossFit

I find CrossFit and it’s the opposite of what I have been striving to be.

In this world, it’s OK to gain mass, to build muscle, to be able to carry weight, to be able to do pull-ups. 

It’s hard for me to embrace this new way. I want to get strong, but I also want to be small and lean. I want to get strong, but I’m scared to get big, and doesn’t strong mean big?

This new culture, though, focuses on overall health, on nutrition and hormonal health, too.

I get pretty into the community and realize I want to start coaching CrossFit, but I also realize that if I want to be a coach who helps people with their lifestyle then I need to start taking care of my own health—start eating healthier, sleeping better, and seeing if I can get my female cycle on track.

I start eating more and gaining weight, but it’s a challenge. It becomes a battle of what do I want to look like versus what do I want my body to be able to do.

Me Today

Mexico isn’t the best place to be a woman. 

Even though traditionally we have a lot of female heroes, today it seems the general population has forgotten that.

We have a lot of violence against women over here.

I drive for a ride sharing app, and one time I pick up a tiny girl who tells me she has been assaulted by men who have given her rides on more than one occasion. She looks like a tiny, weak mouse telling me her stories.

I told my husband that night about her, asking him if he thinks I should be worried. 

That’s never going to happen to you because you walk with confidence. You look strong. You are strong. You project that.  

He’s right. I mean, it’s not that it couldn’t happen to me, but today, when I walk alone on the street, I walk with more confidence. I feel more confident. I feel better. I walk with a sense of empowerment. 

They aren’t looking for women like me. I’m not a tiny weak woman. Instead, predators will look at me and think, ‘Shit, she’s got muscles’ and move on.

I mean, I still get whistled at one the street, but now I have the confidence to turn around and say, ‘Hey, that’s rude.’

Since I have gained strength, I feel I have influenced men in my own life to see women as something, not to be protected, but to be respected. It feels good.

Today, I’m 31 and I weigh 130 pounds, twenty five pounds more than my competitive Taekwondo days.

Today, my priority is health over being super lean all the time. My priority is being healthy and fit long-term, and I’m thinking about becoming a mother.

Today, I try to educate my clients about their own ways of thinking, to educate them about strength training, and that getting strong doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to get big. 

That strong means healthy. Strength gives confidence. Strength empowers.

It does for me.