How CrossFit Is Helping Me Embrace My Body Image

Sara’s Story January 17th 2016

 Sara

Through both primary and high school, I was never overweight. In fact, I think I always had a good figure growing up. I was always active and whether it was through school activities or extracurricular sports I don’t ever recall having body issues.

Fast forward to university, turning 18 and I’d started to indulge a bit more. This was also the start of drinking alcohol and going out more often. I tried to stay active, attended gym classes regularly but once I turned 19 and my clothes weren’t fitting as well, I became so humiliated and angry at myself. During this time, I had started a new degree, was under a lot of stress in my personal life. I felt totally out of control and found the only think I could control was what I ate and how much I exercised. This was the start of my disorder.

 I weighed 56kg when this began and I thought this was too big. In just over a month I dropped down to 45kg (I’m 5ft 6) eating between 700-900 calories a day, spending hours at the gym daily and making sure I was going for an hour walk twice a day after each “big’ meal to ensure I had burnt it all off. I lost any shape that made me a woman, my hormones were all over the place and I was diagnosed with severe anaemia. I was told that if I didn’t get my iron levels up and put on weight immediately I would have to be hospitalised.

During this time, I probably needed help and support from everyone around me. Instead I was skinny shamed by some and bullied to the point I didn’t want to get help because I was so angry at everyone for commenting on my body. They would tell me my hips were sticking out and that I looked like a boy. I would sit in my room and cry and tell myself that I couldn’t eat dinner so that I would be “winning” against those that judged me. It was definitely a VERY dark period of my life but with the intervention and help from my family and close friends, I was able to eat more and increase my weight. I spent 2015 at a much more comfortable 56kg (which funnily enough was my starting weight anyway)

Can you tell us why you decided to join Raw Irons 6 Week Challenge?

Although I finally became a healthy size, I was still unhappy with the way I looked. I know that I’m no longer considered too skinny, nor am I by any means fat. I also know I am not as healthy as I could be.

Instead of cutting out food, I have begun to swing the other way. I eat more bad food and drink more alcohol than I ever have before. I think it’s a comfort thing. At first I was proud of myself for beginning to enjoy food again and indulge in treats, but it’s become a lifestyle and not a healthy one at all. An entire bottle of wine and a tub of ben and Jerry’s could easily be downed in one go (I’m shaking my head furiously as I write this as I’m such an idiot) My biggest FEAR beginning this challenge is either reverting back to my old habits and cutting out food or being so hard on myself that I found some sort of way to damage my body further.

After starting CrossFit last July, I have never felt more empowered or strong with so much support around me. I’m going to have to trust the process and know that I have a great support system. This 6-week challenge is going to be a massive learning curve and I hope I learn to treat my body the way it deserves to be treated: AMAZINGLY! Because who wants to feel sluggish and gross at only 21 years of age? It’s time to grow some muscle, be my absolute BEST self-inside the gym but importantly get myself in the right mind-set to live a long healthy life.

Fast Forward 6 Weeks…Feb 27th 2016

These last 6 weeks has been an incredible opportunity to evaluate and correct the terrible eating habits I had created. Although I did have some low points (first week back at Uni hit me had) I continued to remind myself why I was doing this challenge. Not to suddenly drop 2 dresses and magically make all my problems go away, but to get myself into good habits with my food and exercise. To feel good about myself.

I have had tonnes of energy from eating more, and have never felt starved or malnourished because I have eaten less crap and lots more fresh foods. I’m starting to realise why I loved eating all these great things!

My skin, my gut and my training were the biggest changes I have noticed in myself. I admit I didn’t think at first that my body was changing (how could it be when you are eating more...?) but then I got my bio scan results back and I was AMAZED! My goal was to build muscle and lose fat…and I have achieved just that!! My weight went down, my muscle went up and my body fat went down – all in just 6 weeks!! Imagine what I can do in a year of CrossFit !!

This challenge was the best way to start 2016 and I am so excited to continue these healthy, sustainable habits for the rest of my life. Thank you Rowena and Aaron for organising this for us! You both put in so much time and effort to make sure everyone can be their best selves and I cannot thank you enough for the support in this challenge and every time I train with you. Thank you for that extra push when I’m so tired and want to give up, I definitely know where that extra 1kg of muscle came from!