CrossFit has made me a better person.

Let me give you the context: I was a “mean girl” most of my life.

My mom always taught me to treat people nicely, I was raised in the Catholic Church, I participated in community service… but I was kind of a mean girl. If you ask my grade school friends, they would probably agree – I made many a person cry on the playground. In high school, I was slightly nicer if only because the population was larger and I was outnumbered. Behind my sweet smile was a piece of gossip or a sideways compliment that my friends and I would laugh about later.

Don’t hate me yet.

There was always a part of me that guarded itself through being the mean girl. Pretty typical for an adolescent or teenaged girl. Even in college and my early twenties, I found myself making the mistake of being hurtful or mean, if only to make myself feel slightly better. Something existed in me that never allowed me feel comfortable enough in my own skin to keep me from making people feel uncomfortable in theirs.

In my mid-twenties, after gaining almost 70 lbs. since starting college, I looked in the mirror and realized that I needed to make a change.

I walked into my first CrossFit class reluctantly for a variety of reasons. Specifically, I wanted to change WHO I saw when I looked in the mirror. I would take hours to get ready for work, for dinner, for a night out with friends, but no matter how many tweaks I made to my hair or my outfit, none of them made me happy enough with what I saw to resist detracting attention from myself by poking fun at others.

I needed to change my view. I needed to be a nice girl.

I had heard a lot about CrossFit, specifically how it got a friend aesthetic results. So, off I went to my intro class, pit in my stomach in tow. Now, you have to understand, at my globo-gym I had spent most of the time looking around and either self-loathing or trying to cheer myself up by making fun of the girls with the tiny outfits and too much make-up. Rarely, did I do much beyond that (including getting a good workout).

When I walked into CrossFit, all I thought was “WOW!”

For the first time in my life, I had nothing to say about anyone else. It was humbling and exciting. When I walked in, Kenny (yes, my husband) ran me through my intro workout. I did pull-ups with a BLACK band, barely squatted to parallel, flopped on the ground like a beached whale during push-ups, and rowed as if I was going to die at any moment.

It took me forever to finish… but, when I did, these people at this CrossFit gym cheered for me, said “good job”, and gave me a high-five. They were all sweaty, dirty from their workout, and although they were all much fitter than I was, no one gave me a sideways glance or a suspicious smile.

They were nice people. I wanted to be like them.

I don’t understand? I did a pull-up that day – albeit with a black band – while everyone else could do them effortlessly in 5’s and 10’s. I did a push-up that day – albeit scaled and messy – while everyone else could hit their chest to the ground and pushed themselves back up with ease. I squatted that day – albeit unsteady with caving knees – while everyone else could string them together with chests held high. In spite of all of the scaling and difficulty I faced with these movements, for the first time in my life I felt good enough about myself to realize that others around me were really awesome too. No judgment, just support.

Now, when I look at the people surrounding me, I find the positive things in them.

When I see people coming into the box their first time, scared and nervous, I am inspired by them. They are so brave. When people perform better than I do, it motivates me and makes me excited for their accomplishments.

CrossFit taught me how to see the good in others, to tell them when they do well, and to also give myself credit for small victories. Now, I’m able to feel validated in my own skin. I’m able to see how truly amazing others are, no matter what they look like or what kind of push-ups they need to do.

I’m different now… not perfect, but nice and evolving every day.

When I smile at people, there’s no longer a joke behind it. It’s genuine every single time. It feels good.

My husband calls me a bleeding heart all the time, and it’s the best compliment he could ever give me. Weight loss and gaining strength are a nice side effect, but nothing has been a bigger life change for me than the shift in mindset that I’ve had over these past 4 years of CrossFit. Special thank you to my CrossFit Off the Grid family for welcoming us with open arms and continuing to amaze me daily…

…you are all outstanding and I love you guys.

For anyone experiencing the same feelings of self-doubt, or being the “mean” person… try a CrossFit class. It’s truly good for your soul. No one will judge you, make fun of you, or look at you funny. They will support you, uplift you, and make you feel like you belong. They are nice.

…and to my friend Katie, sorry about that thing in the 5th grade. You know what I’m talking about. 😉