I’ve never been comfortable in my body. There has always been something to fix, cover up, shrink, and be ashamed of. When I accidentally became immersed in the world of Crossfit, I found myself to be the chubby girl in a sea of thin and thin-obsessed women (and men). The diet talk was constant. Every food and drink was weighed and measured and came with an emotional and moral attachment of “good” or “bad”. There was no middle ground, definitely no body positivity, not even a sliver of body acceptance or neutrality. This is a toxic environment for any person, but especially dangerous for someone like me who was struggling with eating disorders and negative body image.
During my first Crossfit Open, I took the Judge’s Course (a $10 online course that teaches you how to count reps, ha) so that I could watch and record my gymmates’ performance in each Open WOD (workout of the day). My first day judging, the workout was barbell snatches and bar over burpees. It was HOT, and the workout was HARD. I was sitting on the sidelines judging, when I learned so much than I bargained for about what it means to be a badass woman.
A new acquaintance, Staci, was in the middle of her WOD, when she suddenly and casually took off her shirt. She did the rest of that workout in just crop pants and a sports bra. And I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Strong, capable, fit, confident, self-assured, and unapologetic. She wasn’t thin-obsessed. She didn’t complain about her body, or apologize that it wasn’t smaller or more tan or more “toned”. She was hot and she was working her ass off, so she took off her shirt. That’s it. It’s as simple as that. She wasn’t making a statement. She wasn’t trying to get attention. She wasn’t trying to piss anyone off or offend anyone. She was just trying to get more comfortable. She finished that WOD like a champ and then laid on the ground sweating and panting from a combination of the intense effort and heat.
That was my very first glimpse into what I would discover later as “body acceptance”.
Staci embodied it and lived it—not as a movement, but as a way of being. She didn’t wear it on her clothes or put hashtags on it. She just DID it. She taught me so much in that moment, and inspired me to more deeply explore the idea that my body may not be as shameful as I had thought. She helped me to imagine that maybe one day, like her, I could take off my shirt during a workout because it’s hot. Or maybe, because I just feel like it.
And since that day, I’ve become more and more comfortable with my own body. I still have a long way to go, and I’m ok with that. The learning and growth happen slowly over time, with intermittent bursts of those desperately sought after “aha” moments. My most recent “aha” moment came earlier this week when I found myself working out in shorts and sports bra only—because it was hot and humid—and more importantly, because I just felt like it.