How my body image has evolved through my fitness journey & how CrossFit helped

I didn’t always struggle with my body image. I originally got into health and fitness in 2012 because I watched my Nanny (grandmother) pass away at 65 years old from a 10 year fight with breast cancer. Being at my most unhealthy weight, I wanted to start living a healthy lifestyle to prevent the same thing from happening to me.

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My Nanny and I about a week before she passed

It wasn’t until I got my first Instagram account that I started comparing my body to other girls’. I had reached my goals of creating healthy habits like exercising daily and eating whole, nutrient dense foods, as well as feeling good & getting the extra weight off my body that I gained after high school (pics below), but these ripped ladies on Instagram made me think, “wow, I can look so much better” and “dang, I’m not even close to ripped enough.” So, this is when I decided to pursue the “look like those women on IG” mission.

From there on out it was ALL about how I looked compared to other women. I was literally getting up on a stage next to women the same height as me, who have been working hard just like me to beat me, to be picked apart by a panel of people who would place me based upon how I looked compared to the other women. I am 100% extremist, so I got very into the “be better” mindset, which is a good thing, I just took it too far. Every day I worked to look better than I did yesterday, to look better the next time I got on stage, and to look better than the girl next to me. My body was NEVER GOOD ENOUGH. (This is not a bash on the sport of bodybuilding, this is just where I took it. Pics of me during this time below.)

Fast forward to summer 2016, post bodybuilding competitions, post hormone crash and Epstein barre diagnosis, I was very much into thinking my body should look a certain way in fear of how others would perceive me. I was still very lean from shows (see below), but I saw my body changing and getting “softer” and hated it and constantly wished I were back where I was just 3 months prior, which was an unmaintainable lean.

The weight gain continued as I did what I had to do for my health, and the hatred I had for my body grew even larger. I stopped exercising intensely by cutting out the 45-60 mins of cardio I was doing daily to allow my body to rest and repair, I started on hormone therapy in hopes of waking up my body and get it producing hormones on its own again, and I stopped counting/tracking/restricting the food I was eating after enrolling in the Beating Binge Eating program. (I’ll share a post on this program later!) After gaining 30lbs in a short period of time, my anxiety revolving around my body was at an all time high. I was self conscious going to my gym at the time because I was a personal trainer there and I worried what others thought of me for gaining weight. I was binge eating quite often so I was puffy, bloated, guilty, & self conscious. I didn’t wear tank tops because I thought my arms were fat. I HATED looking in the mirrors at myself when I exercised or trained a client. I dreaded walking through the gym where the people I knew looked at my changing body. I started avoiding taking on new clients because I didn’t feel like I was “fit enough” to teach others how to exercise. I wore baggy sweats, loose shirts, and workout clothes outside of the gym. I felt ugly and worthless. To be honest, I went through a depression because I had drug myself down such a dark hole. It’s very sad to look back at now… but this is where I was at.

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Double fast forward to fall 2016: post completion of the Beating Binge Eating program, post 30lb weight gain, post becoming Mrs. Ferguson, I found CrossFit!

Since I was feeling the way I mentioned above about going to my conventional gym, when I found out we had a legit CrossFit box in our town, I was super excited. I wanted to exercise, just not where I was and CrossFit always sparked my interest so I immediately went to check it out! When I first went into the box, I was shocked there were no mirrors! It was SO refreshing since I’d been so self conscious while being surrounded by mirrors at my conventional gym. I no longer saw myself while I was exercising and it made the stress of being at the gym go from 100 to 10 and allowed me to focus solely on my workout, rather than stress about how I looked the whole time. Beside this, the tone of the CrossFit community is completely different than the tone at my old gym. There is not much talk like “wow, you look awesome!”, but rather “damn, you killed that workout, you badass!” The focus on looks slowly started to fade, focus on my performance started to take over.

I’ve been doing CrossFit now for 6 months and even though not much has changed about my body since last fall, I’m finally at the point where I look at myself in the mirror and pictures and don’t have a negative thought. I don’t hate on myself when I look in the mirror or put on my jeans and shirt for the day. I am physically the most I’ve ever weighed in my life, BUT, I am stronger than I have ever been, my health is about 90% restored, and I’m happy. THAT, to me, is a win!! I finally believe that I don’t have to be shredded to be a healthy and fit, badass athlete. The word healthy is defined as: “in good health” or “not diseased,” and the word fit actually means: “in good health, especially because of regular physical exercise” and I am proudly BOTH of these. Thanks to CrossFit, I can finally see that my body is badass and love it for what it is!! I am finally loving who I am today and enjoying the process of bettering myself every day!

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