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Finding my Inner Strength

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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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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.

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44 thoughts on “Finding my Inner Strength”

  1. That is an awesome post and really gets to the heart of what all girls (and maybe some guys) go through with regard to body image. I had never struggled with diet or exercise before CrossFit because I didn't diet or exercise and my weight still stayed the same. Ever since starting CrossFit, I have only gotten heavier, which I know is due to muscle, but it still bothers me. It's not the number on the scale that I care about, but I dislike seeing muscle in my arms and legs that I couldn't see before, and clothes do fit differently. I wish I could say that the gains I've made in my health wash away the negative feelings I have about my body, but I haven't gotten to that point! I'm proud of how hard you've worked inside and outside of the gym to get to where you are today. I wish I had even an ounce of your dedication. You are a beautiful person both inside and out, and you inspire people to want to better themselves. I miss having you around at Evolve because you're a blast to hang out with, and also because you make me want to push myself. I can't wait to see you competing at the Games. Keep it up!

  2. Juli, I could see on your face this morning that something wasn't right. You have a lot on your plate right now. I want you to know that I am one of the lives you have helped to change. You have motivated me and spent time with me and worked with me on a one on one basis and I appreciate that perhaps more than you will ever know. You are beautiful, Juli- BEAUTIFUL!

  3. Hey, girl!!! I appreciate your honesty. I have pretty much the same story (except the part where you are now ripped …and competing as an individual at regionals).

    Funny thing, before I knew who you were, I called you "the pretty girl with the purple headband" at regionals! HA!

    I was 162lbs when I moved to Denver almost 2 years ago. I did CrossFit in Cali before I moved here, but never actually committed to training hard and being purely disciplined-even though I thought I did. I zoned, paleo-zoned, did paleo (without portion control), and swore it all off periodically.

    A couple months ago, I realized that if I didn't get my shit together, and really start training hard and being disciplined (permanently) with my nutrition, I will never be able to compete in CrossFit. The pond of talented athletes has now turned into an ocean of talent. I now sit right at 140lbs, feel better than I ever have, PR on everything, I'm getting faster, and can actually see muscle definition on my body. CrossFit + proper nutrition + lifting heavy weight = a better life.

    I believe with all of my fiber that strong is beautiful, and skinny-fat is gross. I refuse to allow people in my life who don't believe that. I would never date a man that thinks stick-girl-with-huge-fake-boobs-that-can-clearly-not-do-a-single-pull-up at the pool is hot, or be friends with girls who think strong and muscular is manly.

    All women have insecurities, if someone says they don't, they are lying. I am sure it is instinctual (how could it not be when all of us share the same trait?) With that in mind, I try to acknowledge those insecurities when they creep up, and then promptly dismiss them, keeping in mind that I work every day to become a better person (inside and out). I also truly believe that we CAN be confident, strong, amazing crossfitters, (aka badass women), and still have insecure, ugly moments….it's human nature. After all: courage is NOT the absence of fear, it is doing something even though you are afraid. (This quote connects these issues for me, I hope they do for you too.)

    And, Juli, if you are a strong BADASS woman, that in itself is helping to change lives one woman at a time. We live as an example that strong is beautiful, and weak and deconditioned is not.

    -Katie

    1. Not sure where this reply will pop up, but I’m trying to comment on K-Mac’s July 2011 post.

      I know this is not really the point of this post, and I’m not trying to be argumentative, but I just can’t resist saying something, because this whole business of women being made to feel awful about themselves to the extent that they are literally INCAPABLE of seeing their bodies as they ACTUALLY ARE makes me so, soooo ANGRY. And it seems relevant – at least to me – because I think the point of Juli’s post was to empower, both herself and her female readers. And I want to help.

      Anyway, K-Mac said, “All women have insecurities, if someone says they don’t, they are lying. I am sure it is instinctual (how could it not be when all of us share the same trait?)…”

      ^ I’m *assuming* (I might just being seeing this through my feminist lens…) that K-Mac is referring to body/appearance insecurities. That being said, what I have to say is this:
      It is NOT instinctual. It is CULTURAL. Western women (or maybe it’s women from industrialized cultures? either way it’s ESPECIALLY bad in the U.S.) have been totally BRAINWASHED into micromanaging their appearances in a way that simply does not exist in less “developed” areas of the world. The media is to blame for this. Industry (beauty, diet, fashion, even fitness) is to blame for this. Pornography is to blame for this. Ubiquitous marketing is to blame for this.

      Telling hints:
      – Anorexia is a culture-specific syndrome that DOES NOT EXIST outside of the U.S. and a few highly “developed” European countries.
      – One study introduced American television into a “tribal” culture (can’t remember where) that otherwise had no media. After a mere 3 weeks, the rate of self-induced vomiting in the tribe’s women skyrocketed — up something 30% (sorry I’m being sloppy with the details… it was years ago that I learned about this research)
      – When questioned about their “body satisfaction, 80% of African-American women indicated that they were “satisfied” with their bodies, compared to a paltry 11% of Caucasian women. Psychologists hypothesize that this is partly due to the different portrayals of AA and white women in American media (“curvy” vs “boyish” bodies), as well as greater value being placed on “curviness” in AA culture (in general).
      – This is PURELY ANECDOTAL, but I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa a few years ago. Where I lived, men frequently said that “all women are beautiful”. Many thought it was ridiculous to compare them for this reason, even asserting that you simply “cannot compare” them. For them, volumptuosness was a status symbol that indicated wealth. Husbands liked to publicly point out their wives fatty spots – with great pride! This meant that the husband took good care of this wife and gave her only the best fool to eat. It also indicated that the woman was fertile and would have many children (big families are another status symbol, as you have to have the resources to support everyone). African men used “WOW! You are well-formed!” accompanied by a stocky, pec-flexing gesture as a PICK-UP LINE, and the targeted women would giggle and blush. (Men said this to me all the time. It took forever to get used to it and truly FEEL it as a compliment.) Additionally, in what little media you came across (music videos in the local cinema or restaurant in the city, sparse billboards in the city, posters in little stores that came along with the products [like powdered milk or cookies]), EVERYONE was depicted. It didn’t matter what the person looked like. Skinny, fat, snaggly-toothed, whathaveyou. Normal people. Normal Africans. Hey, that’s what people look like! There was little attempt to portray anything besides reality – real and simple.
      ^ By the way, largeness/fatness in rural Africa is not uncommon by any means, especially among the women. (Men tend to be lean, but – as we know – the male body simply doesn’t store fat the way the female body does.) Ubiquitous scrawny, starving Africans is a total myth. (Malnutrition in Africa is a result of limited VARIETY of foods, partly due to harsh climates and partly due to a lack of interest/knowledge in/about optimal nutrition, not a question of abundance.) So it’s not valued simply because it’s unique or hard to come by.

      ANYHOO, the reason I wanted to say something was NOT to criticize or argue (I promise! I am writing this and loving you all!), but in the hopes that – if women saw that this was a problem imposed on us from an external source, that it is our perfectly sane response to an insane context – we could start to attack that parasite TOGETHER. I believe that is the only way it will ever go away. We have to reject the whole business en masse. We have to stop sanctioning the culture surrounding it. So hard, because when all you’ve experienced is *that* culture, you can’t see it. You can only see it from the outside looking in. (The whole “fish in the water not knowing they are wet” thing.) So hard. But so necessary.

      ^ I think it is so, so dangerous for us to accept this whole business as “instinctual”, “natural”, “normal”, and/or “just part of being a woman”. It’s NOT. This is partly semantics, of course. You could say that it’s “part of being an American woman,” and that would totally change the tone, because it would point out that the problem is culture-specific. I know this sounds nit-picky, but I just think this is so important, because it helps us get our minds in the place they need to be to unite against the problem. The minute we accept it as “just the way it is”, we also accept that it can’t be changed (to some extent), which is disempowering. If we frame it as something temporary and changeable, we feel more in control, more empowered. This is totally what we need! 😉

      SIDE NOTE — Life changers:
      – Read “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf. It’s a bit old, and the writing can be hard to follow, but Wolf takes you on a historical journey by explaining the various ways we have been culturally conditioned to place disproportionate value on “beauty”. If you read it with an open mind, this book can give you the strength to say, “NO. F*CK THAT. This is not ‘just how it is’. I’m not playing this f*cking game anymore!” and to say “buh-bye!” to those who do.
      – Read “The Feminine Mystique”. This was the dilemma of our grandmother’s. Instead of beauty being the determinant of their value and “woman-ness”, it was their domestic prowess. I feel like this book is less relatable for young women simply because we never had this experience, but it is eerie how PERFECTLY the domesticity issue parallels the beauty one. I think it helps you see how the social power dynamics have played out over time. Plus, this author takes a more scientific approach, and her writing is quite clear and analytical.
      – Get the heck out of this country and go somewhere where there are no advertisements. Stay there for an extended period of time, and only hang out with the locals. They will teach you so much. 🙂

    1. Also sorry for hogging the page :p* .. and for all the typos, lol. Well, thanks for listening!! I hope what I said helps some woman somewhere get through her day. 🙂

  4. I absolutely love you all for all your support and amazing comments. You are all such amazing men and women, I can't help but tear up when I read your posts. Thank you so much for following my blog and being such amazing friends. Truly thank you

  5. Hi there Juli! I came across this blog post via CrossFit Evolve's webstie. Girl, now MY tears are going to start flowing! Thank you for being so open and honest about your feelings and stuggles. As a "former" figure competitor, I understand the shift in mentality from "looking" a certain way to being strong and fit (and how it can really mess with your head!). I never felt like a true athlete when I was competing. I have contemplated giving Crossfit a try for a while, I think I would really dig it! Keep up the amazing work girl!

  6. Thank you so much Jacqui! You definitely should try out crossfit! It has done amazing things for me mentally. It made me concentrate on strength instead of the mirror for once in my life. And made me concentrate on my lifts instead of the scale. Definitely a freeing feeling

  7. WOW! I have never related to an blog post so much! I understand where you are coming from!!! I needed to read that this morning!!

  8. AMAZING! I stumbled across your blog today and have literally been glued to reading some of your posts, absolutely love them, especially how honest you are about the whole "paleo psycho/nazi/crazed" thing. I too am a clean eating crossfitter and find that some people get too bogged down with the paleo label!

    I really enjoyed this post as since getting into crossfit and eating more fat and protein (mmm meat) my body has changed alot and I sometimes struggle with my confidence just like you mention. Last year I went rather "skinny" with too much endurance training and more controlled portions of protein and veg (mainly chicken and nuts). I love being stronger and getting stronger with cf but have found that not being able to fit into many clothes (damn thighs) has been a bit of a shocker. If only them darn abs would come through then I would be box jumping with joy! Thank you for reminding me that there are others out there feeling the same and I look forward to reading more of your awesome blogs!!

  9. I am so happy I just found this post!!! As Katie Mac mentioned, when you would show up to the gym before you officially became a LoDo-er, other girls would say things like "that girl is way to hot to be in our gym" LOL. You are amazing. And EVERY girl struggles with something. Trust me. Love you and now go book your Costa Rica trip 🙂

  10. Juli –

    I just found your blog and have just spent the better part of an hour (at work!) reading through your posts. I love your wit and humor, but it was this post that brought tears to my eyes.

    I have been doing Crossfit for about a year, and like you am constantly struggling with ever-changing body image. I went from distance running 4x/week with light weights to Crossfit 5-6x/week. I have had so many moments where I get so frustrated because I know I am gaining muscle and I know I look and feel better than I EVER have before, but it is still challenging when certain clothes dont fit.

    You took the words out of my mouth when you said you have to remind yourself that I this I should look when deadlifting your body weight or doing 10 HSPUs.

    Slowly but surely I am getting to that point where strength supersedes my desire to be stick thin. I know I am healthy and strong and that is sexy!

    Thank you so much for blogging about this!

  11. Thank you so much for your post Monica. I still feel frustrated so it really is nice to hear other people are thinking the same thoughts. Keep on CrossFitting and kick some butt!!!

  12. I found your blog this week and I think you’re amazing. I’ve been reading everything you’ve written all week and printing recipes for this weekend.
    You’re very wise for a 23 year old. You seem like you’ve got your s together in that head of yours, well as much as anyone can.
    You’ve made me laugh and now you’ve come close to making me cry.
    I’m completely hooked on your blog. Thanks for being so honest with your readers.

  13. I’m 160lbs and embarking on a lifestyle change. I found your blog a couple weeks back while looking for information on Paleo. I’ve been reading bits and pieces of it every day. Most of what I’ve read makes me laugh so hard I cry, but this post just brought tears. You’re totally inspiring and what you’ve written here is so motivational. Thanks for that.

  14. Julie! I just discovered your blog today and I’m hooked. Your honesty, your no-bullshit style of writing, and your love for chocolate are exactly what I need. Reading this post, I think we can all relate. I just started CrossFit 3 weeks ago and I look at women like you as an inspiration. I love CrossFit for the fact that it’s revolutionizing and reinforcing the idea that strong is sexy! Keep on keeping on and know that there are plenty of us who look at your body and think it’s amazing and beautiful. Can’t wait to try out some of your recipes!

  15. I have read this post several times now because it speaks volumes to what I’m going through. A few years ago I lost 40 pounds due to dieting (weightwatchers). I had never felt better. Once I began CF almost a year ago, 10 of it I’ve put back on. I’ve dabbled in Paleo, but I don’t think long enough to see results.I CF 6 days a week, and do CF Endurance 3 days a week. I’m ready to get back into paleo full swing. Yet, I panic. Almost every day. My sister and boyfriend have been listening to me stress about my weight gain, until the other day, he went WAIT, you can’t deadlift 180lbs only weighing 140 dummy… quit freaking out, you look great. (Of course, I think he’s supposed to tell me this anyways..LOL). But, they are right and thankfully, he CF’s too. The number on the scale will ALWAYS freak me out. From being the fat kid to the strong, defined woman has been a tough transition. Knowing other people struggle helps me realize, it’s who just who I am turning in to. Thank you 🙂

  16. Juli – I am so so so so glad I came across this post just now! I’ve read it a billion times in the last hour or so now purely because I am going through those emotions just this past week!! I got dressed for my WOD yesterday and it was a struggle to get my ass into my favorite working out pants! I felt totally deflated, I didn’t want to go and do the wod, I just wanted to sit on the floor and eat choc cashew nut butter. But I didn’t. I went. And I smashed the wod out. After reading this blog it now makes sense to me, I’m stronger in strength than I have ever been, so it’s no wonder I’ve got muscles now – and it’s no wonder in can’t fit into my small pants!! Time to upgrade my wardrobe and see it as a positive improvement 🙂 thanks Juli 🙂

  17. I’m stalking again, go figure, and this just brought me to tears. I get emotional a lot. Thank you so much for posting this, albeit a while ago. I’ve already shared your AgainFaster thighs article to my whole uninterested facebook network and this one hits the same issue right on the head. I’ve struggled with my body for. so. long. First I wanted to be skinny fat. Then hardcore muscles ripped. Now, I just want to be the best I can be. Why? Skinny fat sucks. Plain and simple. Hardcore muscles ripped (think fake boobies and orange tans) isn’t practical. And me at the best I can be is beautiful. Even if I’m alone in that opinion. Thank you so so so much for being an inspiration to women (and men) everywhere. Signed, your creepy blog stalker Emily

  18. Thank you for this post, after bodybuilding in a gym of all guys for the last 3 years I am strong and have a lot of muscle but tried to stay lean (ie figure competitors..) then I got very bored and didnt ever feel satisfied like i had given my all after workouts. Last year i switched completely to crossfit…i fell in love, its now my life! At home I was sad that my thighs now rubbed together and i was just bulkier in general, but there is no way i can stop crossfit. I have no other girls in my town even to connect w/ on fitness. I WOD w my husband and another guy friend, which is awesome and I love it, but they dont understand why in the world these things would bother me. Anyways your post made me tear up and i love it! You are awesome and an inspiration, and paleomg is the first blog i fell in love with back when i began paleo! Tree trunk legs FTW!

  19. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy all your posts, but especially this one. This post really spoke to me on many levels. I am an ROTC cadet and will be an officer in May. I am currently ranked as one of the top cadets in the nation, based on leadership, grades, and (yay!) fitness. Although I can hold my own, and stand up to any guy who doesn’t think I can hang with them or be in the Army, one person I can never stand up to is myself. While I have been told by many evaluators that I exude confidence, I have always been extremely insecure about my weight and definition. Thanks for reminding me that having a body that can do 75 push ups in 2 minutes, do a 12 mile ruck in under 3 hours with 45 lbs, and get to jump out of planes is nothing to be ashamed of, I really needed this post today!

  20. So, I realize that this is quite some time after your original post. However. after reading it, I felt like I wrote it. I am 5’3″, weighing about 125-130lbs (Ioving that it is mostly muscle these days) doing crossfit for about two years, I have been a tomboy all my life and have learned that I will never have skinny legs, butt or thighs.
    I went through a divorce a few years ago, before CF, and got down to about 118 lbs and l looked ripped but knew I was not strong or healthy. YEAH, I could fit into a size 2 pants but I could not do much athletically compared to what I can do now. I love walking into the box and seeing women that are strong and healthy and beautiful, no matter what the shape or size. I love that we are redefining beautiful. You are pretty, funny and talented and I love that CF and paleo allows us to put that out there. I am at my heaviest weight ever and I feel stronger and healthier than I have ever been in my whole life. BOOOYAH!!!

  21. Phew! I’m so relieved. I thought I was the only one having these problems. I too did the whole “get a bit pudgy, get really skinny, now CrossFitting 6 days/week” And I struggle with the same body issues. I know I’m strong and will continue getting stronger but when I look in the mirror all I see is BIG. I can’t fit into any of my jeans anymore and it can at times bring me to tears in fear that I’m getting fat again. I never want to express my insecurities with anyone because I know their response “Shut your filthy mouth Linds, you have a 6 pack!” I almost wish I could see my body through someone else’s eyes. Needless to say, I’m so thankful I can across this post. You encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing and be happy that now I have the body to beat boys up! 😀

  22. Thank you for candidly sharing your feelings both in this post and in your blog in general. I have only recently found your blog and have been inspired by your determination, sense of humour, inner and outer strength and confidence (at least outwardly). My story is too long, and probably boring, for this little comment box but to sum up the low point, I got so thin my body cannibalised my heart and eventually I was told the damage was irreprable and I was going to die (thankfully, not so, apparently). That was 13 years ago now and in that time I have gained so much strength physically and mentally. But still, there have been times when I have relished these changes rationally whilst still struggling with them on some other emotional level. Thank you again, Alex

  23. Just came back to this post . . . I definitely needed the reminder that this happens to other women!!! It’s been so strange to see my body getting stronger and more toned and then not being able to fit into my old jeans! I pretty much want to live in spandex and sundresses for ever and ever. CrossFit = worth it, though. Times a million and two.

  24. 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!!!

  25. Juli,

    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 =).

  26. 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!!!!!

  27. 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 😀

  28. 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 😉

  29. 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. 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!

  30. 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!

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