I love these pictures. But they’re not why I crossfit.

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By Hilary Wiebe

Look at these two pictures. They are taken about 5 ½ months apart, the one on the left when I was 3 months into crossfitting, going just a few times a week, and not making too many other changes. The one on the right is after almost 9 months of crossfit, going 6 days a week and cleaning up my diet a bit. How could you look at the before/after progress and not be happy?

And I am. Thrilled really. After all, I’ve always been self conscious about my weight and how I look. It’s great to see that all of my hard work and dedication are yielding some tangible results. But guess what? That’s not why I crossfit.

Back story: I never liked exercise. Until last fall, I was never someone who found exercise enjoyable. I’m not talking just “working out,” but any or all form of exercise: team sports, individual sports, running, going to the gym. You name it, I hated it. But guess what? I did it anyway. Why? As a “bigger girl,” I thought working out was what I had to do to be skinny. So I soldiered on through years of workouts I didn’t really like because I was “supposed to.”

Then I found Crossfit. I drank the Kool-aid and fell pretty hard. I couldn’t get enough. Pretty soon the twice a week membership I signed up for wasn’t enough, so I upped it to three days a week, and then unlimited.

So what has me so hooked? And why, exactly, do I crossfit?

Progress. And not in the sense of “the number on the scale is going down.” More like “the amount of weight on the bar is going up” or “the number of double-unders I can do in two minutes is increasing.” I can’t begin to describe the high I get from performing a skill I’ve been working on for months or setting a PR on a lift. Seeing myself achieve things I couldn’t do a few months ago is way more exciting and fulfilling than any number on a scale could ever be.

I can be having the worst day ever, but the second I walk into the gym, warm up and get working out, I leave it all behind. For that hour, I mean business. I am going to go hard, lift heavy, and attack that WOD; nothing else matters. Since starting Crossfit, I’ve had several difficult life situations come up, and being able to go to the gym and clear my head has kept me sane.

Speaking of sanity, I feel that I am not only physically, but mentally stronger since becoming a crossfitter. Even though Crossfit is a ton of fun, often it’s just plain HARD. It takes a lot of mental toughness to push yourself through a WOD you feel like you just can’t finish. And Crossfit has exposed me to a whole bunch of negative attitudes, beliefs and self doubt that have held me back for years. Not to mention helping me dream big, set goals, and then come up with a plan and work hard to achieve them.

These days, my self confidence is higher than it’s ever been. I am so proud of what I’ve accomplished in just 9 months. I am stronger than ever. Looking at those before and after photos is fun. It makes me feel good about myself. But they’re just pictures. They might show a girl who’s made a few changes and lost a bit of weight.

But what they can’t tell you is the story of a girl who never believed in herself. Who always told herself “I can’t.” The girl who was never an athlete. The same girl who now sets goals and works for them. Who is taking her “I can’t” and changing it into “I will” then “I did.” The girl who is surprising herself with all she can do and how much of an athlete she really is. And THAT is why I crossfit, no before and after photos required.

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