September 19, 2016

Using Fitness to Strengthen our Spirit.


I started doing Crossfit five years ago.

At the time, I considered myself to be in great shape. I’d always been in the gym and had been doing triathlons for the six months leading up to my first Crossfit class.

I didn’t know quite what to expect when I went in for my complimentary first Crossfit class. All I knew was my sister said, “It’s like a Rocky gym with ropes and tires!” I’d always been game for any challenge and this seemed to be right up my alley.

My original goal was just to get stronger so I could do better in my triathlons. Little did I know that I would not only get stronger physically, but mentally and emotionally as well—leaving my triathlons as a thing of the past.

I’ve always been “tough” when it comes to life. Life always seemed to be throwing something at me that I had to either climb over, suffer through or dodge past. So Crossfit was a natural fit. In the months that followed my first Crossfit class, I learned how to: climb a 15-foot rope, flip a 500-pound tire and snatch, clean and squat a barbell. All along, I learned how to jump higher, run faster and master the body-destroying burpee.

Each time I walked into that gym, I felt at home. It was the first “gym” I had ever been to where everyone knew my name. I shared blood, sweat and tears with my fellow box-mates. After each workout, I found myself laid out on my back, gasping for air, covered in chalk and smiling at the ceiling. Excited for tomorrow, so I could come back and do it again.

You see, at the time, I was going through a rough patch in life. Just one year prior, I’d buried my mother after she lost her battle to cancer. My then husband’s business was currently going under, and we were being forced to short sale our home.

I was understandably depressed.

The loss of my mother was still an unhealed wound. The stress of my husband’s closing business was weighing heavy on my marriage, and the home I thought I was going to grow old in had a for sale sign in the front yard.

There were days I could barely raise up my head. Other days I didn’t even want to try, but somehow that dingy Crossfit warehouse, with cement walls and rubber padded floors, kept me alive. It was the one place I stopped thinking about the world and all my troubles. The only weight I had to carry was what I could put on my barbell. Time ceased to exist. Bills meant nothing and the world stopped spinning when I stepped foot in there.

It was just me, my barbell and the Workout of the Day.

I walked into Crossfit Skylands 90 pounds of soaking wet insecurity. Before Skylands I would wear eye liner and mascara when I worked out. I wore bras under my sports bra because I was afraid I looked to flat. My eyes were always busy looking at my flaws in the mirror. I was constantly measuring myself up against all the strangers surrounding me—who I saw as more fit, thinner or prettier than me.

Not any more.

I’ve gained 12 pounds of muscle since I started Crossfit, and immeasurable weight in confidence. The thought of wearing makeup makes me laugh because I’d only sweat it off and it would get in my eyes. I proudly walk around in my size A sports bra—because I not longer see myself as flat, I’ve finally accepted my body as fit.

I now love the body I was born with.

I stopped fantasizing about altering my body to satisfy society or anyone else but myself. I no longer look in the mirror because we don’t judge anyone in our box and there are no strangers here for me to compare myself against.

They are my family.

I see them make gains, hit goals and personal records and I share in their excitement. I am usually more excited about them reaching their goals then I am reaching my own. We build each other up instead of tearing each other down and now, as their coach, I’m proud of each and every one of them.

Crossfit has made me strong by allowing me to be myself.

There is no cookie cutter shape to fit into in our box.

Crossfit has given me confidence in myself. After all, when we can learn to back squat twice our weight, dead lift two and a quarter times our weight and flip a tire five times our weight, we learn that we can surely carry our own weight in this world and any troubles that we pick up along the way.

My friend and coach, Big Jay from Crossfit Brazen once told me, “Put all your troubles on the bar and lift that sh*t.” He also told me to change my thoughts and it would change my world. So that’s what I’ve done every day since I started Crossfit. I change my thoughts and lift that sh*t!

Five years later, life still continues to throw curve balls at me. I’ve just become quicker and stronger at hitting them out of the park.

Author: Anne DeLima

Image: pexels

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

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Anne DeLima