I guess I’ve been an athlete since I was little, and my fitness journey really started when I was in elementary school. My parents’ rule was that my brother Breck and I always needed to participate in a sport. But despite having played in eight different sports, I never felt like I belonged in any of them. I often felt left out because all of my friends seemed to have a special sport they were passionate about, but I didn’t. The feeling of being left out was emphasized even more in junior high when I played basketball (I was the skinny white girl point guard) and I hit a growth spurt, so I was tall and awkward and lanky. My friends would always give me the hardest time and pick on me about how tiny I was, saying stuff like “I could just break you in half." After a while, comments like those start to wear on my self-esteem, and of course, being in junior high and going through an awkward stage, it was already pretty low.
In retrospect, I realize that it wasn’t necessarily the fact that my friends were calling me skinny that offended me, but perhaps that they were alluding to my being weak. After about two and a half years of hearing comments about being skinny, and struggling to lift girls over my head for stunts at cheer practice, I resolved that I wasn’t going to be weak anymore: I was going to be the strongest girl on the cheer squad, and have muscles. My dad had recently started CrossFit, and always talked about how awesome it was, so I decided to start as soon as my competition cheer season ended in January of my freshman year (2013).
The first day I walked into CrossFit Ruston, I was terrified. Everyone was lifting, doing pull-ups, and sweating their butts off and this big bowed-up dude named Evan introduced me to it all. I did the intro session and got my butt handed to me in the WOD, and I loved it. Nothing ever challenged me like CrossFit. Even though I knew I had a long way to go, I knew nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy. Soon I was going every day to the 4 pm class and making friends with all the adults (lol). I started feeling myself get stronger, and I no longer had to work out with just the barbell. After about a month, my arms actually had muscles, and cheer practice started getting easier. I loved CrossFit, but I thought I didn’t really have any potential to compete in it until my first CrossFit total. When I back squatted 135 pounds (a lot for me at the time) one of my coaches encouraged me and helped me realize how much I had improved, and told me that I could get really good at CrossFit. So, it became my main focus.
I started training hard, and with the encouragement of my CrossFit Ruston family and coaches, a few months down the road I was back squatting 200 pounds. It was amazing to see the direct correlation between hard work and achievement, and even more amazing to be surrounded by people who cheered me on (and still do) and had faith in me even when I didn’t have faith in myself. My attitude about myself changed dramatically: I became confident because of how my body performed, instead of focusing on how it looked, and I realized that I liked all the curves, muscles, and calluses that came along with CrossFitting. My peers no longer called me skinny; instead they complimented me on how muscular and strong I was. Everyone at cheer practice suddenly wanted me to be in their stunt group, because they knew I was strong enough to support the weight of the flyer almost all by myself.
One of the most important things I’ve learned through CrossFit is that even if you have a setback, you can still improve. I injured my back last year, and I couldn’t lift, so I started working on body weight exercises. I wanted to do a muscle up, and after a lot of encouragement from my coaches and CrossFit friends (as well as a ton of missed attempts) I finally got one. I realized that if you work really hard and pour yourself completely into what you love, you can achieve any goal you set.
I think one of the primary reasons I’ve been able to constantly improve over the last two years is my faith and my reliance on God to give me strength. In addition, it is a blessing to be surrounded by so many loving, supportive, wonderful people who are like an anchor amidst the rollercoaster that is high school. My ultimate goal is to compete at an elite level, and through CrossFit, be a witness for Christ. I also want to inspire girls to be confident in their bodies and show them they can do anything. After all, doing something for a purpose greater than yourself is more fulfilling than any personal achievement.