I’m 10 years old at a Saturday morning gymnastics practice.
My coach shows up with a scale underneath his arm.
Panic overtakes my body, as I know I’m a foot taller and a whole lot heavier than my tiny teammates.
I run to the bathroom and stick my finger down my throat, hoping if I puke up my breakfast I might weigh a little less. It doesn’t work.
I can’t delay the inevitable anymore, so I join my teammates.
Kate steps on the scale: 55 pounds.
Desiree: 57 pounds.
Carla: 62 pounds.
It’s my turn.
I step onto the scale and try to shift my bodyweight onto one leg, hoping this will somehow make me lighter.
I am mortified.
Our coach ushers us to the big mirror that runs the length of the gymnastics floor and tells us to examine our bodies to see if there are areas we might be able to tighten up.
Susie tells me that I only have a four-pack.
What’s a four-pack? I ask.
It’s your abs. See how I have six little muscle bumps? You only have four, she explains.
I am too heavy. I am too big. I only have a four-pack. That’s not good enough.
The Western Canadian Championships have wrapped up and there’s a dance for all the competitors in the lobby of our hotel. We’re all a little scared because we have never danced with boys before.
The first slow song comes on and my hands start to sweat, my heart starts to race as I stand with Kate, Carla and Megan.
Then a boy gymnast comes over to ask Kate to dance. And then another comes for Carla.
Well at least I have Megan still.
Nope. Megan gets swiped by another boy, leaving me to stand alone and watch everyone dance until the song comes to an end.
I am too heavy. I am too big. Boys will never like me.
University Basketball Days
I’m sitting on the bus traveling to a game with the men’s team. It’s late, I’m trying to sleep, but I can hear two male players talking.
There are no hot girls on the women’s team. We need to hit up the volleyball players. They’re the hot ones.
Yeah, the basketball girls are so bulky and dyke-ish.
I am too heavy. I am too big. Too bulky. Men just aren’t attracted to me.
The Early CrossFit Days
It’s 2009. I’m a varsity rower at the University of Western Ontario and I decide CrossFit seems like a great way to crosstrain.
I like what it does to my body right away. I feel my old youthful gymnastics strength come back, and it’s obvious that this community is impressed by strength.
A couple months in, we do a workout called Fran.
21-5-9 seems super random and weird, but whatever, this is the workout.
I finish in four minutes and 39 seconds.
Holy shit, says the coach. That’s like legitimately good.
I find myself thinking more and more about CrossFit and about the skills I want to learn. And the more I improve, the more I focus on what my body can do, rather than what it looks like, or what I wish it looked like.
Maybe I’m not too heavy, or too big, after all.
The 2014 CrossFit Games
I did it. I qualified for the CrossFit Games and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
Generally, I’m happy with my body. It’s the fittest it has ever been and I’m proud that I’m 5’9 and 165 pounds with long legs and I managed to qualify for the Games with a less than ideal CrossFit physique.
But when I get there, I am triggered. I see Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Michele Letendre and Julie Foucher and suddenly I feel like I’m back at that gymnastics dance when none of the boys asked me to dance.
You’re here to compete. Focus on that.
Becca Voigt calls me and Emily Abbott, the other Canadian who qualified from my region The Twin Canadian Towers.
You guys are badass, she adds.
It actually makes me feel better. I don’t necessarily look like the classic Games athlete, but I have put in the work. I made it. I’m here, and I might as well embrace who I am at this moment.
The weekend is still a mind fuck, but I have come a long way.
I’m at Wodapalooza in Miami, FL as a journalist with the Morning Chalk Up.
My competition days are over, but generally I’m still pretty fit. At least fitter than 95 percent of the population.
In my day-to-day life, I know that and I’m happy with where I’m at, with where my fitness and my body is at, but in Miami, I am hit with serious leg and ass envy.
It’s the opposite from before, though. I look around and see legs and asses larger and way more muscular than mine. I feel almost skinny fat and flabby.
(Note to self: The best way to give yourself acute onset body dysmorphia is to attend a high level CrossFit event).
How ironic. I spent my gymnastics days praying I was smaller, my high school days hiding behind baggy basketball shorts because my legs were too big, and here I am today wanting to be bigger, longing for Dani Speegle’s ass.
I retreat to my hotel room on my last night in Miami, and burst out laughing at the irony of my journey. Even though I want the opposite of what I used to want, ultimately the concept is still the same. I’m still longing for something I’m not.
On the other hand, maybe 100 percent self-love and self-acceptance all the time is an unrealistic goal. Maybe the fact that I have more and more moments, more and more days, more and more weeks where I accept, embrace, love my body is enough.
Because today, more often than not, I don’t think I’m too heavy. I don’t think I’m too big. And I know that I’m attractive to the opposite sex.
I might be an acquired taste, but attractive nonetheless.