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

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!

******

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.

******

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.

******

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

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

  1. Carrie! Thank you so much for this article and thank you so much for the impact you’ve had on my life/training/coaching. I remember watching you when I first started and I’d sit in awe of your physique and just hope that someday I’d have muscles like yours, probably not going to happen but still… 🙂 Everyday you push me to do my best and I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for your being such an amazing friend/teammate. I know it took a lot for you to share this with everyone and that means a lot. Before I start rambling too much I’ll just end with a big THANK YOU! You truly are an inspiration to me both inside and outside of the gym.

  2. ricepaddielegs Says:

    carrie, im typing this with teardrops hitting the keyboard. i love the ladies of the barbell club because every single one of them is exemplifies elegant confidence and pride in earned strength. i battle everyday with self-doubt and negative self-image. i cringe to think of what ive done to my body out of frustration and hopelessness. your words are truly inspirational, and i will carry them with me long after i’m kyphotic and can’t hold a barbell.

  3. Carrie- if you were in front of me now, I would give you the longest tightest embrace.
    The pains of life that we endure can become our lessons learned & earned; our most challenging struggles can become our most laureled triumphs.

    By your example, we can only survive to teach & tell these stories through the conditioning of our strengths; strength of conviction, of sheer will, of our integrity and the love & acceptance of our physical bodies.

    Women are such wonderfully & naturally strong creatures; physically, emotionally. We are born this way. It is when we allow the outside negative influences infuse & poison the way we view ourselves, that we can become so disfunctional, so weakened.

    Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story. You survived this through your strength and with that, there will be some other little girl that will draw from this experience & make that decision to turn her life around & find her own inner strength and therefore, find something in herself that is beautiful.

    I so love the women of this gym.

    Thank you, again.

  4. There are a lot of really amazing things that have happened at this gym in the year since I have been coming here. The posts this week are by far the most impressive.

  5. Thank you all too for being an inspiration to me. This is all a journey we’re on!

  6. The Tiger

    TIGER, tiger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    In what distant deeps or skies
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand dare seize the fire?

    And what shoulder and what art
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand and what dread feet?

    What the hammer? what the chain?
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? What dread grasp
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

    When the stars threw down their spears,
    And water’d heaven with their tears,
    Did He smile His work to see?
    Did He who made the lamb make thee?

    Tiger, tiger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

    By William Blake

    I love this poem, I know Big Bad Coach Z likes what. For those of you familiar with it you may not understand why I posted it. The poem some say is a refrence to the industrial Revolution.

    A teacher once told me it was more then that. It was about a man making his stand against the coming tide(a refrence I still use and have also heard used by William Cutting, Gangs of New York). That tide may have been the Revolution, it may have been him holding onto something magical he found in words. I choose to find my own meaning.

    Yes I’m a barbell jockey. Yes I’m gruff, some might say a dick. But I see magic in all of my ladies. I was lucky enough to spend part of my life with a very strong beautiful women. She helped me become the man I am today. I couldn’t have done it without her, or any of my ladies from my Ma to the girls I train every day. I believe in all of you, and I believe “Strong is Beautiful.”

    • Blessed are the Mommas! I wish I had done a better job of listening to my mother who was always supportive and told me I was beautiful all the time.

  7. Wow. I just read all of these Strong is Beautiful posts and am so impressed and inspired by them…and then I read the comments and Coach Z busts out with William Blake?! Forget Disneyland – CFWS is the happiest place on earth! Seriously, though – these posts about strong women and womens’ strength are so fantastic. As a mom, I want my kids to see me as strong, to see themselves as strong, and to value strength in others. All of them, yes, but I do make an extra point to tell my little girl, “It’s cool to be strong, honey,” because I know the outside world isn’t always going to tell her that. But the boys get the message, too. A recent proud moment for me was when my oldest was telling me about how his step-mom was on a diet where she (in his words) “basically just doesn’t eat anything” – and then he said, “I guess she doesn’t understand that it doesn’t matter what you weigh, it matters how strong you are.” Yeah.

    Thanks again for these posts, all of you.

  8. Zach and I were sitting on the couch so I read Destiny’s comment to him so he could be up to date on the log, I started tearing up and had to stop and just chill for a minute. Destiny awesome comment! And it was wonderful to hear that what you are passing on to your kids.

    It’s funny cause after I read Destiny’s comment to Zach he said, “see what you started roo?” I just looked at him and said, “I didn’t start this.” It was the beautiful ladies around me. I saw some people hurting and some people that were “uneducated” throwing around terms like “bulky” and “unfeminine” and it broke my heart because I think that being a strong woman is something to be celebrated. I can’t even begin to explain though the emotions I have felt this week seeing the response from everyone. I feel blessed to be around such talented wonderful people and am so moved by everyone’s comments. I think both Z and I were kind of surprised at how influential this week has turned out to be so I just wanted to thank all of the strong beautiful people that I am surrounded by!

  9. Reading all the inspiration, honesty and compassion in the postings this past week makes me really happy.  It’s not a coincidence that many of the activities I love in life are ones not traditional or easy for women. My job reminds me of this every day, the sports I love like sprint canoe (which is still not an Olympic Sport for women) and Crossfit…which after hearing from the strong ladies at our gym, takes hit as well. 

    These words bring back memories of the first time I got in a canoe…being told that “high-kneeling would affect my reproductive system and break me”.  As an 11yr old I was like “and so what? I’m never having kids I’m 11!”.  That whole thing a myth by the way just like many myths made up about weightlifting to discourage women.  Or when I first saw a woman firefighter and told my mom I was gonna be just like her and no one ever believed in me because to them it never made sense.  I mean why on earth would you want to be a strong woman and do a physical job?

    Being a woman and saying that you want to be strong, you want to be fast and that you want to be able to manhandle a barbell like it’s no big deal takes so much inner confidence and beauty.  And if a person can’t understand why someone would “choose” that and “desire” that then maybe they weren’t cut out to do this.

    Having spent the majority of my youth pursuing a career in the fire service I would say I’ve been around a lot of tough women.  With that being said-I was scared of a majority of the women in our gym for at least the first few months of this year.  Having come from some Crossfit gyms that never put more than 65lb on a barbell for a woman-the first time I watched Sarah and Carrie do Grace at “Big Girls Don’t Cry” I was blown away…both of them in my mind being girls I would consider slender and fit.  How about meeting Michelle and seeing her bench my body weight WITH a brace on her wrist.  Roo jerking Betsy a shit-ton during Diesel (not a dirty joke!) and Gogo making deadlifts look so easy. Oh yea and then Joey…just watch Squat and Deadlifts videos, no explanation needed there. 

    I’m happy there are strong people, people who want to be strong, people who support being strong and those who will tell someone to eat a bag when they have negative things to say about strength.  My favorite part about our gym is that there are so many badass people around that I know I’ll always have someone to chase, someone to be inspired by and a support system there when times are rough.

    Thanks to everyone that wrote articles or commented and shared…I enjoyed them and I don’t even like reading  It was a nice reminder of what all this is really about.

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