Ten years ago, I joined a cult, I mean I started going to CrossFit. I am joking about the cult part of course, but that is how I viewed my friends that had dived in with more enthusiasm than I thought was warranted. I thought they were crazy for actually looking forward to working out. I was also very intimidated. I have never been very athletic or even a coordinated person. My friends seemed to be enjoying themselves so much that curiosity reeled me in. I was “all in” after my first workout, even though I couldn’t sit down on the toilet without holding on to the walls afterwards. I learned how to lift heavy things and that was very empowering for me. I was obsessed and was soon consuming everything I could about the CrossFit world. The Paleo diet was really huge at the time and I read all the books and threw out all of our bread and cheese. I lost weight and I was getting stronger. It was all I talked about – Crossfit this, paleo that. I was absolutely obnoxious.
I do not regret starting CrossFit, not one bit. CrossFit has empowered many people, especially women, to do things they thought (and were taught) that they couldn’t. Lifting weights is so beneficial for our bone density, especially for those of us that are likely to develop osteoporosis. CrossFit helped me change my mindset about what I am capable of doing. What I do regret is my attitude. I am embarrassed about how obnoxious I was. But what I feel apologetic about is how I judged people for not living the lifestyle. I thought they should. I had fallen for all of the unscientific “research” about the paleo diet and how basically people only needed to eat correctly to cure all of their ails. I know I made people feel bad with my lectures. I didn’t see it back then because I thought I was being helpful, but I realize now, how damaging it had to have been.
10 years ago my dream was that by this point in my life, I would be an elite athlete and/or coach with 6 pack abs, with a 300 pound deadlift. Here I am, 10 years later- I’ve gained the “Covid 15” and I work out sporadically at best. I am embarrassed, but not because I feel out shape. I am embarrassed at my arrogance. Not to mention I was flaunting my own privilege when I said things like people just need to stop eating junk and they won’t get sick. I was willfully ignorant of the fact that not everyone has to same access to a healthier lifestyle, among other obstacles. Lastly, I am embarrassed for falling for diet trends with little scientific backing.
I never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings or make anyone feel bad. I sincerely apologize to anyone and everyone that I might have hurt in my fitness and nutrition “journey”.
Apologies and regrets are for nothing if we don’t grow from the experience. The latest trends in body positivity and awareness of eating disorders have led me to much introspection. Most importantly, it has changed my mindset once again. Do I still think good nutrition and exercise are important? I most definitely do. I no longer think it is the be all, end all to life. I would rather people remember me as someone who made them feel good about themselves than someone who was really good at working out (which I am not at the moment anyway, haha).
There will always be new trends in diet and exercise. Intuitive eating is big now, and I am sure it has helped a lot of people with eating disorders to learn their body’s hunger cues. And while it sounds like a healthy lifestyle, it still doesn’t give anyone the right to tell people that any other kind of eating (read diet), is disordered eating. We can’t make those kinds of assumptions. Body positivity does not mean we don’t get to have body autonomy. Whether we want to change our body shape or not, it is nobody’s business. That is what we have professionals for. When I say professionals, I mean actual doctors, registered dietitians and licensed personal trainers. I do not mean self-appointed “coaches” that can be found on social media and MLM’s (sorry not sorry).
Food does not have morals. (Please note- I completely respect people who follow dietary restrictions due to their religious beliefs and traditions). Not eating gluten, sugar or even meat does not make anyone a better person. It might make them feel better, and that is great! I know for me avoiding carbs definitely does NOT make me a better person, but rather a very angry person. But if someone swears by their keto diet, I won’t tell them they are wrong.
And the same goes for exercise. I am still shocked to hear people degrade newcomers to the gym that they deem to be overweight and/or out of shape. I mean, good for you that you haven’t missed a workout in ten years or that you have a 600-day run streak going. Not everyone has the same opportunities, genes, health, family life, and/or circumstances. To be honest I have a lot more respect and admiration for people who overcome big obstacles like health and difficult family situations that go on to run their first 5K, then I do for Olympic gold medalists (though I think they are pretty cool too). It really is all relative, isn’t it?
I still struggle with my own body image. Being aware of the pain others are going through doesn’t cancel out nor minimize my own pain. It is such a fine balance between accepting my body with all the flaws I deem it to have and wanting to be the healthiest I can be. Nutrition and fitness are important to me, but I will not let my quest to improve myself to keep me from enjoying and living my life. That is the only kind of advice I will give to anyone without being asked- don’t wait to live your life. Life really is too short to say no to birthday cake, or to avoid the beach with friends or family because we don’t want to put on a swimsuit.
On a side note- I’m not putting down the paleo diet. I know people have great success with it. I know I ate way too much fat (my cholesterol could attest to that). And I cannot prove it, but I do believe it (eating an excess of fat) caused my gallstones, or at least contributed. I have since learned that diets that omit entire food groups or macronutrients (specifically without the supervision of a medical professional), can be detrimental to one’s health. I also learned what orthorexia is and how restrictive diets contribute to orthorexia and other eating disorders. So just do your research, consider the cost versus benefits. And for the love of all things holy, don’t be an a-hole like I was. Again, I’m sorry for what I said when I was Paleo.
Hi! I’m an American girl from everywhere and nowhere, currently living in Tennessee. Navy wife and Navy mom, I have two beautiful children that are “adults” but I still call them my babies. I’m also mom to 4 dogs, 3 cats, 7 goats, 2 turkeys and 70 chickens (I think, they keep multiplying and I’ve lost count). When I’m not tending to my animals I’m running, reading, lifting weights, cooking or crafting. Some weeks I do them all and some weeks I only manage to binge watch a new show on Netflix. They call that balance right? I was a practicing massage therapist until the Covid pandemic halted my business. Now I’m considering new career options as I feel this was a sign to reevaluate my goals. When I run I have discussions in my head that I always think I should write down. Here’s my chance to do just that. I hope you enjoy. IG: @love.run.lift
Nancy – I loved this. We’ve all been there, where we get so passionate about our newest ‘discoveries’ that we can’t shut up about them and I appreciate that you have grown from the experience. It did make me laugh, because every Crossfitter I know has gone through this phase, but it didn’t last too long. I also appreciate your acknowledgement that life circumstance is often a reason. I know it’s an excuse, but it’s also a valid one – families like mine have next to zero opportunity to be active outside the home due to safety UNLESS I have the money to pay for either childcare, or an aide to do the workout with all 3 of us. Any workouts, runs, walks, have to be figured out in the home and the opportunities for free time are pretty slim to get it done. HOWEVER, if it’s a priority, every little bit counts and it can be done. But the extreme of getting to a gym, or running outdoors, or being able to always afford the fresh produce for paleo is not always an option for everyone.