For as long as I can remember I've struggled with body image issues; I could find nothing but discomfort in my own skin, and an unhealthy relationship with food that only seemed to get stronger over the years. My goals were always oriented around being smaller, skinnier, looking like someone else I'd seen on social media or at the gym. Five years ago I joined a local CrossFit gym and started to see a slow shift in mindset. I worried less about how big I was, and more about what I was capable of doing. I saw how strong some of the other gym members were, and I was in awe every day. I wanted to be able to lift those heavy weight, run fast, and to learn the technical skills that would allow me to do gymnastics movements (handstand push-ups, muscle-ups, etc.).
I know if I want to get stronger, faster, fitter, I have to fuel my body. I can feel the effects of not eating enough when I'm at the gym, and it encourages me to fill up on well-balanced meals. I wish I could say I have nothing but good days, eat all the right foods, and do all the right things, but that's not true. I still have to fight off the negative thoughts. I still have to remind myself how important food is when I don't feel like eating. But I have made progress, too. So many more thoughts are focused on what I can do rather than all the things I can't. It's less about not being able to lift a certain weight, or do a certain number of unbroken movements, or not eating "that" because it's "unhealthy". I am strong; I can lift heavy weights, I can do gymnastics movements (even if it means chipping away at them one at a time). I can eat the foods I want. My body feels better when I eat whole, nutritious foods but for my mind and my heart's sake, every now and then I need that piece of cake or pizza. Learning to eat those without feeling guilty, thinking "I shouldn't have done that" was monumental. I am beginning to realize these aren't failures, weaknesses, or setbacks, it's part of being human, enjoying the moment, and living a balanced life.