So, I’ve been thinking a lot about body image and body acceptance for a while now. It is a tricky thing, figuring out how to get rid of conflicting and sometimes crazy notions of what I “should” look like and come to terms with both reality and how my brain works.
You’d think, after three and a half years of CrossFit, after five or so years of really eating well, after losing about seventy pounds, I’d look like those ab-muscled, sleek women in those fitspo images.
Instead, I look like this:
And I am beginning to finally be okay with it.
I have begun to accept that after years of obesity, producing three kids, and now heading toward menopause (hopefully not for a while yet, but I’m 43 so it’s on the horizon), and also just not having a terribly genetic propensity toward leanness in the first place (definitely an endomorph type), abs just maybe aren’t in the cards. Actually, I have lots of abs, but they (and many other muscles) are “camouflaged.” 🙂
But still, I worry. I worry what people think when they hear I’ve been CrossFitting for so long, because I don’t fit the image. I worry they think I am exaggerating or even flat-out lying when I say that I usually eat really cleanly and am extremely active. I worry nobody will ever want me to coach them because I carry too much body fat. (Too much by whose standards?)
I get irritated at the advice to “just” eat paleo or more carbs or fewer carbs or protein or avoid this or take that supplement. Eat dairy; avoid dairy. Red wine’s fine; avoid all the alcohol. Eat nuts; OMG don’t even. Honey, I’ve tried it all, and still haven’t figured out my ideal combination yet. That’s okay. I’ll keep trying. And yes, I’ve got hypothyroidism and a busy life and an allergy to grocery shopping regularly, so those factors don’t help either. Those aren’t excuses–they are facts about my life right now, things I need to work around. (Context: just like assholes, everyone’s got one.)
I get truly pissed off when I hear people disparage “fatties” for going to the gym or having the nerve to run in a 5K race (overheard a guy complaining about all the fatties once during a race, and for all I know, he was talking about me). You can’t tell what a person can do just by looking at them. Trust me. I’ve been overtaken in 5K races by enough pregnant women and other folks who are probably twenty years older than me. You can’t tell just by looking.
I hate that I really considered not undertaking my new obsession, kettlebell sport (which is so awesome OMG, and you’re going to be hearing a lot about this new sport in the coming years as it becomes more popular, which it surely will, in part because I am writing about it here on my world famous blog)…. Anyway, I almost didn’t even try it because it is a weight-classed sport. It took some nerve to do my first competition, I tell you, but it all worked out fine in the end. Didn’t even faze me in my second competition.
But enough of what I hate and worry about. Here is what I do and here is what I am.
- I recently pulled a 265 pound deadlift. Not too shabby.
- I can do pull ups, and toes-to-bar, and handstands, and all kinds of badass moves.
- I achieved Rank 1 in Kettlebell Sport Long Cycle. I can snatch a 20kg kettlebell and jerk a 24kg bell. (Heh. I said snatch. And jerk. And yes, I’m still 12 in my head and no, I still haven’t stopped laughing at those terms, despite all this time in CF).
- I finished my third CrossFit Open and did not suck at all the things. I can do 84 thrusters and 84 bar-facing burpees and not die.
- I also do not suck at yoga, being pretty strong and naturally flexible. Speaking of awesome yoga people, this is a great post I recently discovered, and is the inspiration for the title of this post. I second all the things she says.
- I generally feel awesome, and last time I had all the basic bloodwork done, the results were in the “pretty much fucking awesome” category. My resting heart rate is usually around 55-60 beats per minute (which that dude complaining about all the fatties in the race would surely never believe).
- I can teach people how to move well and make it fun and interesting and motivate them to keep going. I have people, mostly women, ask me for ideas regularly about moving well and getting back on the exercise horse (so to speak, I don’t know nothing ’bout horses). I think I am sought out because they know I know about the struggle to keep doing it, to stay motivated, to keep trying your hardest even though there will not be size zero dresses in the future. How we all know size zero dresses aren’t and shouldn’t be the goal, but that it’s hard to get that idea out of one’s head. How it takes effort to renew your courage and keep walking into the gym when you still are not lean after all this time, even though you know that the only person really even worried about that part is you, that nobody else at the gym cares about that even a little. And how challenging it is, this ever-lasting puzzle, worse than that 2048 game, to figure out how to keep your focus where it needs to be (health and fitness and mobility and strength) and not body fat percentage, and yet try to find a place where it is okay to want to improve one’s appearance.
So those are some things I’ve been wanting to say for a while. And for the record, here is what a real CrossFitter looks like: