Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Positive Body Image: Let's Work on THAT Skill

Among the many hats I wear each day--including mother, wife, volunteer, writer--I am also a Crossfitter. For those of you who don't know, Crossfit is a high-intensity workout involving Olympic weightlifting (lifting really heavy barbells off the floor), gymnastics movements (think: pull ups and ring dips), and cardio (running, rowing, jump roping). I've been a Crossfitter for nearly five years and I love it. I throw myself into each workout, leaving my mom- and wife-worries and to-dos at the door as I warm up for the challenging workout ahead.

Crossfit is known for having stripped-down, bare-bones facilities, and ours is no different: Crossfit Reston is an empty warehouse with ropes hanging from the ceiling and pull-up racks lining the walls. The only mirrors are those in the bathrooms. There's not even one in the changing room. And while there should be a shower, there isn't. Summers are fairly stinky around this place.

I work out with an amazing group of women and men. But let me focus on the women for a minute. These women are so strong--they can back squat nearly 200 pounds and lift their body weight over their head. Each workout consists of a few different skills; I'm constantly being humbled because there is constantly something to work out. My jump roping skill might be wanting, my form on a front squat could be improved. My trainer tells me to use my hips more, and I watch with a little envy at a hard-working pal who is able to swing her way into a muscle up.

This is a place for tough chicks, and I'm proud to be one.

Therefore, I was a little thrown off by the conversation the women at the 9:30 class collapsed onto the floor yesterday after a long, intense workout. One woman, whose first son just turned one and who has lost 20 pounds more than just her "baby weight" in the 12 months since his birth, started the conversation about body image. She and a few other women agreed it was so frustrating to see themselves in workout gear or while workout because of the extra jiggle, the extra bounce, the extra roll. That's what their eyes first saw whenever they looked in the mirror. They pinched extra skin around their armpits and waist, saying "I wish I didn't have this."


I wanted to throw my hands up in despair! Why is it that we cannot focus on how our bodies function, and the amazing things our bodies can do for us (such as create babies and lift heavy stuff) rather than what they simply look like? Why can't we work on THAT skill as much as work on the others, ladies? Let's focus on health and well-being, rather than the simple aesthetic of what our bodies look like.

Beauty is more than skin deep. We all know that, but maybe we could remember it a little more often.

Or could we at least wait a few more minutes to trash talk the body that just performed all the crazy skills we asked it to do pretty damn well?


  1. Great post! I feel like talking trash about your body is almost small talk for women, along with discussions of calories and diet. I hate that. As a person not so fit, it bothers me but didn't think it would bother a Crossfit person... You opened my eyes to this today. I think our culture places so much emphasis on how a woman looks (a certain presidential candidate certainly discusses women and their appearance) that you really have to fight to keep the focus on health rather than appearance.,

  2. Yes! Yes! Yes! And although I can be self-deprecating as well, it really is ridiculous how unaccepting we are of ourselves and each other. Crossfit--impressive! maribethbatcho

  3. I'm in awe of crossfitters. I am with you. We need to be more accepting and less attacking of ourselves and our bodies. We are strong! LOVE this post! Thank you!

  4. You are so right .. those ladies should be proud of their healthy/amazing bodies .. and if they can get through a Crossfit workout, they probably FEEL pretty good -- enjoy it!