“Well I don’t go around Smiling all day if that’s what you mean… “

There really is little I can say about this next writer. There are few people  that can brighten my day and gives me headaches all at the same time whenever they walks into the room… 

But when I was considering the writers for this years “Strong is Beautiful Edition” I knew I couldn’t forget this individual. She’s funny, she asks the most off the wall questions, and she is one of the strongest people I know. The scary thing is she doesn’t even know how strong she is, I dont think I could truly tell you either. And I’m just talking with a barbell right now.

What I could tell you is that she carries a really beautiful inner strength. One that shines through in this article. She may give me headaches but she honestly brightens my day every time she walks in with that smile of hers.  And you know what? When I read this article it made me think of that smile, and like always it brightened my day. Z

I joined Crossfit for all of the wrong reasons. I didn’t have any goals other than to get thinner, maybe tone up a bit. Half my family elders originally came from another country. Their ideals of beauty or even acceptable appearance or behavior is pretty narrow. From a young age I was a tom-boy kind of girl, which was frowned upon. My brother was allowed to play basket ball after school when he was in junior high, and when I asked while in 7th grade I was told, “No, your legs will get too big.”

I didn’t look like the rest of my family, my height was acceptable, but my “shape” wasn’t. As years went on, some of the elder family members started to loosen up on their ideals of body image. My mother did not. She paid someone to Photoshop my wedding photos.

It might seem extreme, but really my mother’s act was just a straightforward manifestation of how society puts pressure on people to look a certain way, especially women, and more specifically young women. I am sure I don’t need to get into what these messages by media, family, friends and whoever will do to the self confidence of our society, our youth and us as individual.

I had spent several years working out frantically at the YMCA and Hot Yoga before that. I had suffered nearly two years of Weight Watchers meetings hearing stories of people avoiding birthday cake at office parties, counting calories and points.

Then cut to me walking into the gym on the Monday after the Superbowl in January 2010. I was rebellious obese, out of shape and nervous. Who are all these intense people? Like most girls, while joining a gym I literally said to the owner, “I don’t want to bulk up.” Honestly, I just wanted to be “skinny.” I didn’t care about athletics, skills, techniques or friendships.

Little did I know that my life was going to change, rather than my just body. I never did sports. I was uncoordinated. I didn’t know left from right. I couldn’t remember instructions to all these new and seemingly complicated movements. I couldn’t finish workouts in the cut off times.

As time went on, I learned I could actually move some significant weight. I joined the Caliber Cycle in January 2011. I learned to trust that I could do these movements without injuring myself. My coach called me an athlete and I nearly fell over. He would tell me I was capable of doing something, I trusted him, so I would try and accomplish it to my astonishment. I started learning to trust myself.

Yeah, I lost some weight, but I never got “thin”. More importantly I lost a lot of emotional baggage along the way. I didn’t know as I strengthen my body, I was strengthening my self-confidence and my soul. I learned that I could rise to all sorts of challenges that I never thought possible. I even completed a marathon five months after coming in with only one single day of “marathon” training.

My spirit grew more adventurous and now I do all sorts of activities I couldn’t have imagine trying before. I am so lucky to be around the great group of people, who support and encourage each other without a mean competitive undertone.

Life isn’t a made for TV movie. There was no heartfelt apology or sudden approval from my mother. In fact, I don’t think I have reached her level of “acceptable body shape.” But, it turns out that my life is better than a movie.

I lifted weights, my body grew strong and my self-confidence grew stronger. Lifting weights changed my life in a way that years of step aerobics never did. I am strong, not just in body but mind, body and soul.

Strong is Beautiful 

Article by: Michelle B.
Posted by: Z

13 Responses to ““Well I don’t go around Smiling all day if that’s what you mean… “”

  1. Michelle…in so many ways as I read your article, I was completely relating to the things you mentioned. And as silly as this sounds, I found myself getting teary eyed while reading it, because I grew up struggling with those same expectations of body image and how important it was to be “skinny” from my mom too (damn asian women!) You said it perfectly that “Strong is Beautiful”, and lifting weights and training OCIC style has been life changing. You’re amazing, and thanks for sharing your inspirational story!

  2. Michelle B Says:

    thanks Julie.

    For the record, as many of you can guess, that is not my mother in the photo. I just couldn’t figure out how to corp out my family friend when I was looking for a “before” photo.

  3. hmmm where to start with michelle b?

    first i’m going to throw it out there i believe she has the record for most consecutive squats at 225, something like 10… michelle is also the girl that 3 repped 255 like it was nothing not hesitation, z told her to go for 3 and that’s what she did

    ok… so when z and i were talking about writers for this week michelle came to mind instantly. as pple have said she is more than just a strong ass athlete, just like Z every single time i see her she puts a smile on my face. i dont think she realizes how much she has inspired me to be the person i am. no matter how bad of a day she has she always walks in the door (or runs in the door) with a big smile on her face and it’s infectious and everyone else cant help but smile. michelle embraces who she and it is more than beautiful.

    when i was at nationals suffering tryin to cut the last few pounds i had to lose to make weight, i grabbed my phone to try and help me sit through the misery of our “sauna” pulled up my facebook and what do you know, i have a message from michelle, she made me smile, laugh, and made me dig to finish losing those last few pounds, i honestly dont know if could have made it if she hadnt made me laugh like she did

    i’ll stop writing my novel, but michelle is more than just an inspiration to me, she is one of the main reasons i do what i do and i will be forever grateful for the way she has impacted my life!

    much love to you michelle!

  4. Michelle, you are a pleasure to work out with. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Your message is so important. So many women are stronger than they think they are.

  5. Michelle- Thanks for your story I really enjoyed reading it. I’ll be sending people this way to read this pos because I think it’s important to realize what you have. Life is our own movie, if we don’t like it we just have to rewrite the script. It’s not that easy but you are a testament to that possibility. Thank you again !

  6. Michelle, in one word is amazing. Her energy and infectious nature has more than once gotten me through a rough workout. Your story is one I wish more women could hear. You are strong and you are beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

  7. I’m very proud of you for sharing all of this Chelle. I really am.

  8. Michelle, my badass hapa, fellow punk rocker, Foundations class buddy – you are awesome. I’m glad we came in together, and I’m glad we’re still here together. Your squats blow my mind. You are strong and beautiful – rock on!

  9. Michelle, you are a delight to be around. You are beautiful and strong inside and out. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. Michelle B Says:


    Originally, I was going to focus on how klutzy I am, but still learned some athletic skills. Then I started thinking about how strength training changed my attitude. It occurred to me that CC really developed within me the STRENGTH and FREEDOM to let go of others’ expectations. That is something no amount of money could buy.

    I achieved the “American Dream” of education, career, home, marriage and whatever else. I still didn’t measure up to my parents’ expectations. IN A MOVIE, my mother would have given me her approval after losing weight and everyone would be happy. IN REAL LIFE, I discovered through my development within the CC program that I didn’t need her approval. Becoming self validating means my sense of worth comes from within, which is far more stable and enduring.

    CC isn’t really much but an idea or theory. What makes Iron Club CC a life changing experience is the people behind it. The coaches creating an amazing, skilled and fun environment, which includes the other athletes helping coach form and cheering each other on.

    Thank you for each of your comments. The impact that people involved in CC will be farther and deeper than they’ll ever know.

  11. Michelle,
    Late to post, but I just had to say that I always enjoy seeing you in the gym and even more so when I get to work with you. You’re humble and self-depricating, but get it done when the time comes. I love it.

  12. thank you for sharing this – takes courage to show up and (IMO) even more to share the inner journey it takes to get here. very well written and inspiring!

  13. In my first week in the gym, you reached out and told me to keep coming, it gets better. That you too were where I was. You have no idea how much that helps me keep coming back. Thank you!

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