Archive for November 18, 2010

“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself…”

Posted in Articles on November 18, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

I’m really proud of everyone who has helped this all happen. All the writers featured this week have been Barbell Club members. We are a pretty cheeky crew, we drink with eachother, give eachother shit, and on many occasions have cried together. The article below is written by an athlete very close to me. All my athletes are close to me, but then you have Carrie.

The little southern belle that was good at pushups that Big Bad Coach Zach would always give shit for not lifting. Carrie is a amazing athlete and friend. Coming from where she started to where she is, Carrie is inspiring to me and should be inspiring to everyone.

And here we go…

When Zach asked me to write a week-ending post for Strong is Beautiful Week I was flattered. And lord, felt a little pressure, especially after these two posts this week by Roo and Joey. He said I may have some good perspective because I’ve got a pretty varied athletic background. A long history with gymnastics, yoga, an apprenticeship in a Circus troupe (really), competition cheerleading, NCSU dance team, teaching spinning classes, dance, and hiphop, along with some really sad uncoordinated ball-sport experiments along the way, ie soccer, basketball, softball.

It was about this time last year is when I started lifting. Real lifting. With barbells and plates and chalk. I had been doing CrossFit hard for about 6 months but skipping the so-called Heavy Day. “Heavy” just didn’t sound fun to me. I was always “too busy” on Wednesdays. I wanted to keep doing push ups and pull ups and box jumps until I died!

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This was not an easy article to write. I’m about to get real on you.

If this post was a movie, this is where everything would skip backwards, a fast rewind montage of 20 years of my life.

I was 9 when I first turned the yogurt container around to read the nutritional information. I’m not really sure what prompted this, and I’m sure I had no context for what any of that information meant. But I do remember it was strawberry yogurt, and I decided then and there I would only eat half of it.

Now, I have a muscular body type, even as a little girl. But when you are 9 you don’t understand. At this age, I was taking dance twice a week at a little dance studio in my little home town in NC. In class, I had begun to compare myself to other girls in class. I remember specifically judging the size my legs in the mirror against others. As an adult, I know I was beginning to develop muscle definition, but through the eyes of a little girl I saw my legs as lumpy. I hated my calves. I thought they looked fat. I was jealous of Claire’s slender legs. Katherine’s thin arms. In the dark mirrors of comparison I thought I was chubby.

These are feelings I couldn’t really escape. Over the next several years a body dysmorphic disorder slowly crept in manifesting itself in anorexia and bulimia. It was ugly. By high school I was restricting my eating as a way to control my little world. An honor student, cheerleader, jr. Rotary club member, I wanted to control “perfect”.  I kept a secret food diary and wrote down every bite. At one point I was getting by on less than 600 calories a day, sometimes going days without eating. I remember taking packets of saltines, breaking them into fourths and having ¼ every hour just so I wouldn’t pass out and get in trouble. To have such a fear of food, I loved food. My life revolved around food.

I hated who I was. I hated sneaking around. I hated all the guilt I brought on myself. All I wanted was to “eat like a normal person”. I kept what I was feeling a secret. But soon enough though, the weight loss became apparent to others— my parents, coaches, teachers.

By the summer of my junior year, I weighed 87 pounds. I went on a youth group rafting trip, freezing the whole time because I had no body fat left. I was dizzy and cold and utterly and completely miserable. I was imprisoned by my obsessions. And I was scared. I had to let go. I had to get out of these cycles.  I’ll save you all the rest of the gory details, but by my senior year, I was beginning to look more healthy. The next few years I struggled with myself to accept my own body. It took many more years to shake those demons.

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I know my story is one shared by many. One in four women in college has been affected by an eating disorder. We can blame media all we want. We can blame stress. We can our blame family histories. But I think we individually have the power to reverse these pressures on young women.

It starts with you. I had to learn this. You have to accept yourself. It takes strength. Guts. We need to stop comparing ourselves to each other, and instead, work on become strong, positive role models for those around us. Be that woman that shows others that strong is beautiful. Advocate it. Evangelize it. Be that woman that little girls look up to who proves that women can be just as strong as men and look good at the same time.

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I no longer come to the gym to burn off calories. I come to the gym to get stronger. I come to the gym to build my confidence. That’s when I started lifting. I was tired of having to scale workouts. I know there is a connection between my physical, outside body and my inside one. That’s the power of what we’re here doing: building strength physically and mentally. One hour a day is completely mine. I come to the gym to celebrate me.

Ladies, I challenge you. Tonight, and every night for a week, I want you take a look at yourself in the mirror. I don’t mean that critical kind of look where you pinch this and poke that. I want you to look at a part of your body that you love. Think about all the work you’ve put into that part or muscle to get it that way. Do you love your calves? Thank those muscles that carry you around the world. Do you love your arms? Appreciate those muscles that you hold your babies close with. Is it you shoulders? Your butt? Your back? Love those muscles in the mirror, even if for just a few seconds. You won’t be able to hold back a smile.

Posted by: Carrie

I’d like to thank everyone who reads these articles and more importantly I’d like to thank the writers. You guys never let me down… – Z