Today is one of my forced off days… I’ve spent basically my entire day icing, Ibuprofen-ing, foam rolling, mashing out, and studying. Sitting here in my injury-misery (this phrase should totally be made an actual disorder..) has got me thinking about a lot of things. Why am I the way I am? That is, why am I such a perfectionist? Why am I so hard on myself? Why in the world do I rarely applaud my accomplishments? Why do I, day in and day out, push, press, pull, hoist, throw weight around… most of which is far above my body weight? Never in my life have I felt such intense anger and frustration….and pure euphoria and passion. Never in my life have I participated in something that can so easily crush your soul while also making you feel more free and alive than you’ve ever felt. Why put your mind and body through such a crazy emotional roller coaster?
I’ll tell you why. The only thing in my life I’ve ever put this much effort, energy, and time into was something unhealthy: my eating disorder. I had an idea of what it was like to want something so bad that it made it hard to sleep at night. It made it hard to enjoy the small things in life because you were so deep in the vicious cycle of thinking about everything you’re not. At sixteen years old, I made anorexia my full time job. Before finding weightlifting and Crossfit, I have never felt so powerful. The ability to restrict what I ate and work out for hours on end gave me a sense of power and control. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t struggled with the same sort of disorder, but I’ll try my best. Every bite of food I didn’t take made me feel a step above everyone else. “HA! You guys are hungry and you have to eat, and I’m starving and I’m not going to eat! My will power is so great!”. Sounds crazy, huh? That’s because it was. I can honestly say that up until I was about 20 years old (2 years ago), everything was a big blur. Hating myself, hating everyday…. it gets old, it gets tiring, and days turn into weeks which turn into months. Four years had gone by and I felt that I had nothing to show for it. I had some damaged organs and slight brain atrophy from the anorexia, and a TON of emotional baggage to sort through… but what else?
When I was twenty one (one year ago), I found Crossfit. That’s when my life changed. Crossfit…. going into the gym everyday with people who seem to love and support you. Crossfit… suffering with other people during the most grueling of workouts and all coming together to laugh about it afterwards. Crossfit has been my cure, my therapy, my life saver. Something about gripping the bar and ripping that shit off the ground is so primal, intense, and raw.. it allows you to take every negative emotion you’re feeling, grab it by the neck, and throw it around like it’s a ragdoll. Bringing yourself into states of extreme discomfort and pain and being able to come out on top show you what you’re truly made of; you’re stronger than you once thought. Crossfit helped me find myself. Back when I had the wonderful opportunity of having my own gym, there were days that I’d go in at 11 o’clock at night, tears in my eyes, and just load up the bar and clean and snatch until the tears stopped flowing. There were days I would go in there, happy as a lark, ready to attack the day, and I’d start bawling after a few shitty misses. There was one day that I’ll never forget. I record all of my lifts, because without a coach, there really is no other way of seeing what you’re doing correctly and what you’re doing incorrectly. It was getting dark out, and I knew that I should probably call it quits and head home, but I was unsatisfied with my session that day. So, I kept going… and kept missing, My mind wasn’t in a great place, which means my body would in no way be capable of doing what I wanted it to do. After a missed snatch, I literally collapse to the floor, hang over the bar, and sob. Forgetting I was recording all of this, I must have sat there for a good 20 minutes, crying my little eyes out. Sure, this may not have been my proudest of moments, but it was clear: weightlifting made me FEEL. Weightlifting allowed me to let go of EVERYTHING that I hold inside… all of those comments I don’t tell people, all of those words I choose not to say, all those texts I never send, and all of those times I should speak up when I don’t… they are all laid out there, on the gym floor.
So, why do I lift weights? Why do I do Crossfit? Because it fills a void in my spirit that I thought would never be filled again after the diagnosis of my eating disorder. Because it makes me feel more alive than I ever have in my entire life. Because I’m truly obsessed with it. I’m addicted to it… every aspect of it. It’s taught me to be resilient. It’s taught me to fight back when fighting back doesn’t seem like an option. It’s helped me to develop a thicker skin. It’s helped me become more patient. CROSSFIT HAS MADE ME A BETTER PERSON.
The greatest tool you have is your mind…. use it, and use it well.