Let’s just get down to the nitty gritty. I’m a ball of emotion right now. Straight up cluster f*ck. I tend to build all of my emotions inside until they are about to burst out my eyes, in turn bearing tears. And the tears sure came. Full force. Multiple times. For no apparent reason. My lord.

So why am I telling you this? Well, I have this wonderful friend named Ryan who has told me multiple times since the start of my blog to be as real as possible with my audience and they will appreciate it. Ok Ryan, sh*t is about to get real.

As I’ve entered my CrossFit life, I’ve changed a sh*t ton. I began dabbling in CrossFit on my own (in a globo gym) when my best friend Jon introduced me to it. I then began changing my diet. SLOWLY. I disregarded the fact that diet was the most important part to a lifestyle and thought exercise could hold me through. Obviously, I was wrong. So I took out most grains, then took out dairy, then took out grains altogether, then zoned, then paleoed, then paleo-zoned, then cut out all cheating, then added in paleo cheating. Wow, that was exhausting.

So my body changed  A LOT during that time frame. I went from almost 160 pounds to 123, then back to 130 where I stuck for several months until I began to train for Sectionals this year. After going through a hard break up and getting below 120, I began to train harder and harder to be sure I would do my best through Sectionals. I also began gaining more and more weight. And I wasn’t sure why. My clothes started fitting tighter, my butt started getting back to it’s original 160lb size, and my face started to round out more and more. I was excited because I was getting stronger, but more uncomfortable because I was not my small frame I had come to know and become comfortable with.

March 2009--Not quite my heaviest, but barely any muscle at time.
November 2010--Almost my thinnest...yeah, those shorts definitely do not fit now.
Regionals 2011--heaviest I've been.

I began not fitting into my clothes, not being able to shop anywhere because my legs were too big, and not wanting to even step foot in front of the mirror. I was incredibly uncomfortable with who I had become. I had never received more compliments in my life, but all I could think about was how I was “fat.” Oh yeah, I just went there. And the most frustrating part of it all, I was (and still am) working with amazing women every day who I am trying to inspire to be comfortable with themselves and to love every muscle on their body, all the while I’m crying at home wishing I looked different.

When Regionals rolled around, I finally felt normal again. I was around women who looked exactly like me. These women looked strong, their legs rubbed together just like mine, and they just oozed confidence. It was exactly what I needed. I needed a wake up call that how I looked was not disgusting, it was not abnormal, and it was not weird. It’s how I should look if I’m going to lift 205 pounds 45 times. It’s how I should look if I’m going to do 30 handstand push ups. It’s how I should look if I’m going to be THE BEST that I can be.

But this confidence is not something I have conquered as of yet. I still am challenged daily by it. I still look in the mirror and see the insignificant things. I still see the acne, I still see the cellulite, and I still see the lumpy areas that I will most likely always have. And I’m coming to terms with that. You know why? Because I’m stronger and faster than I ever have been. I am woding every day, keeping my body healthy, and providing a life that I would never have had if I hadn’t found CrossFit.

I have struggled all my life with self confidence. I have never once considered myself beautiful or strong. But I know one thing, I am passionate. I have the passion to find a way to become the person I’ve always wanted to be. I’m not sure I even know what that person looks like. But I know she is strong, inside and out. And that strength I pursue daily will lead me in the right direction.

What direction do I want to pursue? A direction that leads me to personal excellence. I want to excel, I want to push through pain, and I want to change the world for the better. Whether that be through blogging about a recipe, inspiring someone in the gym, or pushing through a wod to hopefully someday better my chances at making it to the Games, I hope to change at least one person’s life in the meantime.

I want to strive to be a better person and I want to base that off of how many hearts I hit. I’m writing this blog not to complain, but to help someone out there who has the same struggles I have. As women, as CrossFitters, as paleo-enthusiasts, or as bloggers, all of us are looking at blogs for a reason. To connect. I hope that you are able to connect with me on a new level now that you better understand my inner demons. Just like strength is not conquered in a day, self satisfaction is not conquered in even a year. I blog because I love people and I love sharing my stories and recipes in hopes inspire one person to see themselves differently. To help someone cook something delicious, feel better on the inside, and let that feeling transfer over to how they present themselves daily…With confidence. With self excitement. And with self satisfaction.

Work hard. Every day. And never settle for less than your best. And with that,….do this with me–look in the mirror, tell yourself either “you are beautiful” or “you are amazing” and change your attitude for the day. Smile. Show the world what you have to offer. I’m about to go do that now.

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  1. Cheri says:

    Juli, your website and life are inspiring to me! I was a college and professional softball player. I have always had a muscular build and bigger than most girls at 5’9″ and have ranged anywhere from 135-160.. At 135 i lost muscle and strength but felt more “girly”. My body definitely did not want to be here….. 145-150 is easy to maintain for me. 160 was playing weight. Since following you I am finding myself doing Olympic lifts in the gym again and loving every part of feeling the strength come back. I just wish I could force myself to buy the jeans that fit my body comfortably and stop trying to be the size my brain tells me it should be or other girls are. I am going to focus on my body fat percentage more and less on the size, or at least try. It is a constant battle but you are a true inspiration to women everywhere! Thank you!!! Also thinking of starting crossfit, again just afraid it will just make me bulk up!!!! Shit it is such a mind fu&$!!! Thank you again for all of your awesomeness!!!

  2. Trish says:


    Definitely just read this for the first time, and at the perfect time. I starting crossfitting 2 months ago. Ish. Recently and unexpectedly my coach and several of my fellow athletes have informed me that I’m going to regionals. Not really something I thought was a possibility but I guess they think so. But that means they’ve also started to talk at me about putting on some weight, which I know is necessary…but also so, so freaky. I’ve been through every eating disorder in the book and really would rather not go back to any of them, having just figured out how to be healthy recently. This post helped more than I can even really explain. You’re awesome =).

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been at CF for about 3.5 months again! I dabbled before, but never enough to seriously change my body composition. Now, I”m back to being around the size I was when I was playing sports heavily (rugby to be specific) and struggling HUGE! I feel bulky, and awkard. It’s like being a baby deer with new legs trying to navigate this “new” body. I know I could definitely change a few things to get leaner, but I’m not sure jeans and I will be friends so long as I love crossfit. I went to try on a pair of pre-crossfit pants on the weekend and couldn’t get them past mid-thigh. My god, that was depressing! Thanks for this post and thanks to everyone for the comments. Feeling a little better and a little less alone in this stuggle!!!!!

  4. Mia Capuano says:

    Juli, thank you so much for this inspiring post, and for not afraid to be a real human being when writing your blog. Thanks for saying the stuff that seems to be too tough for people to want to cover, and for doing it with grace and humor.

    I’m a DI college athlete that eats paleo and does crossfit in the off season. I know what it feels like to walk into a store and walk out discouraged because NOTHING flattered my broad shoulders or thunder thighs, and to resign myself to a wardrobe of spandex and workout tops. Over the years and through many battles with my weight, I’ve come to realize that if you fuel your body properly, it will get to a “happy weight.” For me, that weight is one that allows me to lift heavy and train hard without feeling like I’m going to collapse. If that means the scale reads heavier than normal one day, I can shake it off knowing that I’m healthy and that my body will do what it is designed to do as long as I eat as clean as possible.

    I would never trade my strong for skinny, ever.

    Thanks for a delicious, relatable blog! I’m a believer in you and in PaleOMG 😀

  5. JOJO says:

    Hey Julie, I’ve come back to this post a couple times – it’s so helpful to read and re-read. Just wanted to say thank you for putting your body image story out there publicly for so many of us to relate to. As others have already mentioned, it can often feel like we are going through these bouts of body-image/scale anxiety alone – but that’s the farthest thing from the truth, isn’t it?

    I’ve been on my CF journey for almost a year now – a few weeks after I began crossfit I got really serious about cleaning up my eating and went to about 80% paleo, eating things that made me happy and energized… and though I barely weighed myself during this time, I lost about 12 lbs, went down a couple sizes and REALLY toned up in the first 3-4 months… my self-confidence SKYROCKETED, I felt like I was the size I was “meant to be”– like I was eating for optimal performance rather than feeling like I had to limit what I was eating so I wouldn’t get fat…. and I got really excited to see my new muscles “emerging”!!

    Then a few months in we did a 100% paleo challenge at our box, and, being super-competitive by nature, I took this very seriously – it was complete with pre and post measurements and weight recordings…. during this challenge i started really jacking up my PR’s, and that’s also when I started to notice I was putting weight back on and my body was getting bigger… …it didn’t take long before I started agonizing and obsessing over my measurements and weight – determined that I needed to lose more in order to “win” the challenge since weight loss/inch loss were two of the criteria for determining the “winner”…a few months later we did another paleo challenge, this time with zone block prescriptions… which meant to me, even more number agonizing and obsessing. I’ve now come to realize that I really am an obsessive, Type-A number freak! …and the same thing happened, even more weight gain… clothes were fitting even tighter, PR’s started to plateau, and I was starting to become really unhappy. I remember coming to my coach in tears about the fact that I was following the guidelines to the T and wasn’t losing weight and wasn’t getting any new PRs. The advice he gave me? Relax– dont be so serious…remember how you felt when you started…and just do what makes you happy! 🙂

    Fast forward to a year later, I’m no longer on any strict measurements for my food and I’m back to about 80% paleo and I’m the heaviest I’ve EVER been… I pulled my summer clothes out of the closet a few weeks ago and nothing fits again –same situation I was in at this time last year before starting crossfit – only now I have a THICK layer of muscle underneath it all. I’m also the strongest I’ve ever been. I think my initial weight loss really helped me get my first unassisted pullups – but now 15 lbs heavier and I’m still rockin’ em and then some.

    Do I still struggle with my body image? I definitely still have my days –lately more often than not. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be able to fit back into those summer clothes, and I have a lot of guilt about feeling this way. Sort of like what you said, how am I supposed to help others feel and perform their best if I’m not seeing myself as just as amazing and capable?? So without measuring or weighing or obsessing, I’m trying to relax, take it a day at a time, and be a little more conscientious right now about what and how much I’m eating, – without sacrificing any strength — in hopes that in a few weeks those shorts will once again fit over my tree trunk thighs and honkin’ caboose… I’m not even sure if this is even possible or not!

    And on days like today when those negative voices start coming up, I just have to remind myself how lucky I am to have a healthy and strong body, how privileged I am to be able to crossfit, to be able to be so free to move and play and experience the world in all of its awesomeness.

    Thanks for keeping it real, lady — you’re beautiful inside and out —and ps. – I love your new cookbook 😉

  6. Heather says:

    Thank you! I needed to read this today.

  7. Olivia says:

    I just re-read this (for the billionth time) after getting measured/ weighed and body fat tested, feeling like total shit and then forcing myself through a less than motivated workout.

    It really is sad that you can be your strongest, healthiest self and still be made to feel like the scum of the earth by some stupid numbers, on a scale, a clothing label or wherever.

    However, it is a blessing that there are people like you who aren’t afraid to talk about their insecurities publicly and to encourage other women to talk about theirs. I swear, just scrolling through the comments has given me an overwhelming sense of relief. (And particularly interesting to note that several women mentioned that they never had body issues until they started working out, WTF SOCIETY???)

    Thanks for all that you do! You are so inspirational 🙂

    1. Tiffany says:

      Thanks, Juli, for this post. Seriously. Yeah, I’m reading this two and a half years after you published it, but it still resonates deeply. Thanks for your honesty. You are a light in this world!

      And Olivia, I totally get you on the “It really is sad that you can be your strongest, healthiest self and still be made to feel like the scum of the earth by some stupid numbers, on a scale, a clothing label or wherever.” This issue does not inherently stem from us–beautiful, strong, healthy women–but from the standards and expectations imposed on us by media and society!

  8. cerena says:

    simply amazing

  9. Ali says:

    You have no idea how much I relate to your post! And, I do thank you for this… I started crossfit 5 years ago, and immediately dropped a ton of weight.. I’m 5’0 tall, so I went from 115 to 90 pounds.. Everyone told me how sick I looked and how I was unhealthy.. When in reality- I was the healthiest I had ever been. I ate strict paleo and cheated once a week. I was faster and stronger than I had ever been.. With change of coaches, I began listening to him and began lifting really heavy and stopped doing as many metcons.. Gained a ton of strength, but I hated how I looked… I felt fat… really fat… Body image issues arised heavily, and I quit eating. My idea of food was broccoli… I began battling severe depression. For two years, I have been trying to become normal again. Much to my dismay, I quit doing crossfit after my last competition in September. I miss the community more and more everyday. And, weigtlifting in the gym is nothing like a workout at the crossfit gym… Finally came to my senses and I started back paleo two weeks ago. Look forward to getting healthy again!
    So thankful to have found your blog! You have been inspiring me daily!