Editor’s Note: I am so excited for Jessie to kick us off into what is going to be an amazing week of guest posts. Jessie started CrossFit a few months before I did at CrossFit Jai, and as I slowly got to know her I became more and more impressed by her determination and amazing sense of humor. She has undergone an incredible transformation since starting CrossFit–not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, which she describes here. A few months ago we were chatting about her weight loss, and I said, “Wow! To put that into perspective, you basically used to be carrying the equivalent of ME around on your back all the time!” to which she replied, “Yes… And to give a little more perspective… I can push press you.”
Don’t think, do: these are the words I’ve started trying to live by over the past year. I started CrossFit the day before Thanksgiving, 2011 at 378 pounds and wearing a size 32. I grew up in an environment where putting on weight served a purpose. The thing most people don’t always comprehend about the morbidly obese is that it often isn’t caused by day to day choices. If you’re thirty pounds overweight it might be that you are making poor eating decisions. If you are 200 pounds overweight the issue is probably something deeply rooted.
I always resented people who would say to me, ‘Oh, if you just restrict your calories and work out more-you’ll lose weight’…especially as I sat there eating my salad and they sat there eating carb heavy dishes drowning in heavy cream. I never ate badly…I did eat too infrequently. I would eat one meal a day at 9PM and couldn’t figure out why I was fat. However, that meal was usually a fairly, ‘healthy’ meal.
I grew up in a volatile household. I gained weight as a kid because it became harder for my father to throw me around the larger I became. My weight served as a protection mechanism. But, as I aged it also became the thing I hid behind, the thing that led me to not learn how to be vulnerable with others, and the thing that defined me…good or bad, it was defining.
In November of 2011 I made the decision that I was tired of carrying my father around with me. I was tired of being afraid. Now, to those who knew me they’d be shocked to read that I was living in fear. I was one of those girls who subscribed to the, ‘eff you’ model of being big. I am funny. I am awesome. I am popular. I never had an issue getting a man…I was also admittedly broken but refused to share or show that to people-stuff those feelings down and watch the weight pack on.
I had cleverly crafted a life of doing only what I was good at. I never engaged in things that didn’t come naturally…and then I found CrossFit. I chose to begin participating in something that I wasn’t necessarily always excelling at. At this point, it shouldn’t be a shock to read that I was certifiably NOT an athlete growing up. I also am gracefully clumsy (I fall over a lot…but do it with pointed toes and ballet fingers). I kept going back to the box because I began forging relationships with the people at the gym. I felt loved and supported doing something that terrified me. This had never happened before. I think it’s also the importance of finding the right gym for you.
I have chosen to not pay attention to the scale as I’ve lost weight. I’ve weighed myself five times since November of 2011. At last weigh in I’ve lost 115 pounds, and wear a size 18. But, really, the best gift CrossFit has given me is putting down the thing that was holding me back from living. Happiness and wholeness may be a difficult choice, but they can be a choice.
This year will mark my first 5k, my first bikini (plus size and all), and something that resembles my first cartwheel.
Don’t think, do.