So many people are terrified to step foot into a CrossFit gym. They think they need to be fit first, or they might get too bulky, or they might get injured. Truth is we don’t injure people, anyone can do it, and we have different options so that everyone can get their health and fitness needs met here.

We all start our journey from a different place and for a different reason. Over the course of the coming weeks and months I’m going to share stories of some of our members. They are vulnerable, beautiful, honest, and true. I hope you can connect with one or multiple stories and please, if and when you do, reach out. Don’t go at it alone.

This is Nicole’s story.

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The truth is I never thought about my body or body image until I was in college. I had played sports my entire life, was naturally thin and ate whatever I wanted…never a thought.

Then the freshman 15 happened. I was eating the same way that I had always eaten but I was no longer practicing soccer two to three hours a day so it crept up on me pretty quickly. At first I didn’t pay too much attention to it until my boyfriend at the time made a comment about it. I began to think maybe I could stand to lose a few pounds or at the very least start paying closer attention to what I was eating and maybe even try the gym.

What started off as an innocent attempt to lose weight evolved into a full blown obsession. I soon found myself counting calories, restricting my diet, and religiously grinding out cardio on some stupid machine. It became a measure of how well I was doing at life, how okay I was, and how I measured my self worth.

As I lost weight it was continuously positively reinforced by those around me, my boyfriend, my mom, and even acquaintances who felt at liberty to comment on my body. “I noticed you had gained a few pounds,” “I’m glad to see you starting to exercise because you were getting kind of big.” This perpetuated the idea that I absolutely had to continue to do what I was doing in order to be accepted by the people I loved.

I was able to keep up my grueling school schedule, gym time, and restrictive diet for about a year before things started to go from bad to worse. I was going to UCLA, studying like crazy, and worked in the fashion industry with designers and sample size clothing. I was also faced with dining hall living, which allowed for whatever I wanted to eat at my fingertips. It was a recipe for disaster.

You see, restricting your diet is like holding a rubber band extremely taut,, the moment you let go it shoots all the way to the other side of the room. I started binging and felt totally out of control. The binging led to purging because I absolutely could not go back to the body that everyone made so clear was completely unacceptable. I lived in a pretty hellish cycle of binging and purging for a couple of years before I was able to get back on track and find my way back to myself.

That’s an epic book so I won’t go into all of that now.

What I will focus on is what I do to not go back to that place. I absolutely do not restrict my food…ever! There is a part of me that is still drawn to diets and I have definitely fallen into the trap of trying some of them, but I always come back to the same conclusion that restrictive diets lead to obsessive thinking about food and detract from overall quality of life. No thanks.

I also try to surround myself with people who not only love me for who I am but are comfortable in their own skin. I think this is obvious from who I’m married to and who I workout with most. I love lifting with Sally because she is a badass obviously…not so obvious, I genuinely enjoy her company and our conversations are about our lives and not about what we ate the night before or what our bodies look like. That’s helpful to me and it reminds me of what’s valuable and who I want to choose to be.

I came to crossfit because it seemed like a good workout. I stayed because I discovered that it challenges me on a daily basis and forces me outside my comfort zone. It changed my body to a strength-based body that I never aspired to have.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but that was pretty quickly over ridden by my passion for the sport and that in itself felt freeing. I continue to work at improving my strength and conditioning because it feels amazing to be able to do something today that I couldn’t do a month ago.

I also want to show my three boys that to feel fulfilled by something it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of failed attempts. I sometimes feel guilty that my passion for crossfit means that we drag them to gym but I think it’s important for them to see that Bret and I have passions outside of them.

In an attempt to bring it all together (for those of you who don’t know I’m a psychotherapist who has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders and addiction) food and body related issues tend to be a disconnect from a deeper passion, self, and meaning….the obsession of it has a deadening effect on the soul and keeps us safe from knowing some of the scarier places in our psyche.

For me, Crossfit helps to counteract this. It makes me feel alive, and I have noticed that when I feel alive I’m not focused on my body image or food as a means to manipulate my body. I’m more concerned about fueling my body and bettering myself, and my
interpersonal relationships.

I don’t have it down to an exact science but I will continue to work at digging deeper, confronting the discomfort, and trying to set a positive example for the little people in my life.