Tag Archives: body image

Hot Bodies Part 3: The Perfect Body

BOL cheer

I was standing there talking to my friends after a WOD when one of them pulls up my shirt, grabs my bauch, and says, “You’re too skinny! You must eat more!”

This is also the same woman who routinely grabs my butt.

Germans can be a very tactile people.

Since this is probably the fourth person to mention my physique recently, I’m starting to think my body IS changing. I’ve never ben called skinny.

But we rarely see ourselves how others see us. When I look at my body, I see the things that still need improvement. Even though some of my size small clothes are now getting baggy, my eyes are first drawn to what I perceive as flaws.

If I had the money, I would get plastic surgery to get rid of the extra Michelin man skin I have around the midsection from bearing 4 kids, and to perhaps reshape a couple of superfluous body parts. But now I wonder if that would even make me feel better?

I used to shop, thinking that a new pair of pants would make me feel different. But that’s as ridiculous as thinking a new pair of running shoes will make you faster. If you’re fast, you’re fast, no matter what shoes you’re wearing. If you’re strong, you’re strong. If you’re weak, you’re still weak. If you’re kind; you’re kind. If you’re an asshole; you’re still an asshole–no matter what your tee-shirt says.

There are two important points here:

Even the most 'perfect' body has room for improvement.

Go up to someone who you think has the ‘perfect’ body. You know…this is probably the person who can do stuff that you can’t do yet. Ask him his weakness–and if he doesn’t think you’re a stalker, he’ll probably tell you. The human body requires maintenance, and that means working on things that aren’t quite up to our standards.

It is a life-long endeavor, and no one ever arrives at some kind of Superhero Valhalla, where we all walk around with tight, properly-bulgy bodies, flashing Hollywood smiles as we fist-bump and where WODS come so easily we don’t even sweat. 

Crossfit is hard for everyone. And the people who seem to do things ‘easily’ have put in countless hours of sweat and possibly blood to get where they are.

Who cares what your body looks like? Can you do things that are hard?

It makes me cringe to hear people talking about Crossfit as a means to lose weight. That’s just stupid. Crossfit is about doing things that are hard. If your body begins to change because of it, then great, but it shouldn’t be your primary focus. This IS functional fitness. That means it is PRACTICAL for enjoying life TODAY and facing challenges that make most people slink away.

I never would have dreamed of moving an entire household of furniture myself had it not been for Crossfit. As a marathon runner, I was in no shape to extract major appliances from a basement. But as a Crossfitter–bring it on!

As the washing machine was pushing me over backwards down the basement stairs, I wasn’t thinking about my chunky thighs, ample posterior or how I look in my running tights. I was thinking, “Tighten up! Tighten up!” I was using every ounce of muscle to keep that SOB from crushing me.

Now that’s functional fitness. 

So, am I losing weight? I have no idea. I could clean the dust and dog-hair off the scale and step on it. But judging from the fit of my ‘skinny’ jeans, which now have the ‘Cross-fit’ (loose in the waist, tight in the thighs), something is changing. My small shirts are loose in the belly (as my friend so enthusiastically demonstrated) and I’ve had the experience of combining  paradoxical words: spandex and XSMALL.

When I hold up the XSMALL TALL pants, I don’t think they’ll fit. But they’re like super pants and they always slide on.

Do I like it? I guess I do, on some level.

Do I care? Not really.

I never set out to go down in size and my goal is not to have a ‘hot’ body (*definitions may vary). Rather, I want to be strong enough to run mountain marathons, and ultras, and lift heavier and heavier, as my hair turns white and the wrinkles take over.

I need to reprogram my mind so that notions of plastic surgery go the way of the bathroom scale.

Crossfit makes you strong.

Sexiness is just a by-product.

What’s Holding You Back?

Holding Back

I was going to write a post on the intimate nature of the partnered pretzel stretch when I ran across this article by Dr. Allison Belger on Psychology WOD, which gave me a lot to think about.

There were two closely-related issues that struck home with me:

1) Body image isn’t SO much about what the media pumps into your head about beauty, but it’s our response to it that matters.

2) If we have ‘body issues’ it MIGHT be that we are unconsciously sabotaging ourselves; and we should really spend some time reflecting on the root of the problem–if it is indeed something we can control. 

Because I have a melancholy disposition, I’m naturally prone to scourging myself with introspection, but THIS time, it seems to be a good thing. Dr. Belger’s article gave me a chance to consider that perhaps the reason I haven’t ‘lost those last ten pounds’ is because of something psychological.

Dr. Belger writes: “The reality is that our susceptibility to the cultural phenomenon of perfection is fundamentally and essentially based not only on the images we see, but on our own psychology.”

Basically, when I see an image of the ‘perfect body,’ I immediately look for the ‘flaws’ in my own body and lament that I’m not different. But Belger’s thesis suggest there’s more to it than an inferiority complex brought on by false advertising in the media–she suggests that my own psychological makeup (for better or…usually for worse) hinders me from really being content in my own skin.

Belger punched me in the gut with this: “How do you imagine your life would change if you had another body—you know, the one you watch enviously at the gym every day or the one with which your best friend is blessed?

We tend to think everything would be just fine if only [FILL IN THE BLANK].

But what if the reason I haven’t broken through the chunky thigh plateau is because I’ve used my ‘imperfections’ as a defense mechanism?


After pondering this in the wee hours of the morning, I’ve come to realize that for most of my life, I’ve wanted to be invisible. I learned at an early age to associate ‘attention’ with something bad. Thus, my goal in life was to blend in with the wallpaper–to not rock the boat–to escape notice.

Those of you who knew me in high school drama class might think, “Wait a minute–you were Nun #4 in the Sound of Music! How is that invisible?” But when you’re in a play, you’re either having fun; being a diva; or hiding.

I was hiding.

Fast forward.

I’m in my 40s now and still don’t have what I would consider the ‘ideal’ body.

So back to Dr. Belger’s question: how do I think my life would be different if I had a different body?

Well…I wouldn’t be invisible anymore, and I would have to risk failing at something or worse–risk succeeding at something. Fear of failure and fear of success seem like stupid issues to have, but they are real for many of us. Because when you fail, it draws attention. And when you succeed, it draws attention.

You see the conundrum here for the invisible woman?

Something has changed in my life recently, and I owe much of it to Crossfit: a certain sort of inner gumption has bubbled up from somewhere inside. It’s this feeling or belief or whatever you want to call it that says: win or lose, you have to go for it! 

I have some big dreams, and I can’t let my own warped ideas about myself hold me back.

I don’t know if every Crossfit environment is pretty much the same across the world, but our box has such a great atmosphere that the only reason you walk away feeling like a failure is because of the erroneous thoughts rattling around in your own noggin.

Crossfit is not about seeing results that can be quantified on a scale; it’s about being able to carry heavy stuff that you couldn’t carry before; it’s about running up three flights of stairs for fun; it’s about being with people who are supportive and encouraging, even when your life outside the box is ripping apart at the seams.

It’s about setting free that person whose been hiding all these years, and watching what she does with the time she’s been given.

If you’ve not yet done so, check out Dr. Allison Belger’s article and give it some thought! It’s worth the time!