Talking Body Image & The 2017 CrossFit Open

Real talk: Despite being a dietitian who focuses on intuitive eating and body acceptance, I still struggle with my own body image issues. I think there’s a myth out there that we (professionals) have to have everything 100% figured out if we’re going to work with other people on the same issues. I’d argue that my own issues have benefited me in my work. They’re actually part of the reason I’m so passionate about body positivity with my nutrition coaching clients. We’ve become accustomed to the messages from the media about what a “perfect” or “healthy” body is supposed to look like. Often it’s an unrealistic ideal that doesn’t tell the whole story.

With my clients, I talk a lot about learning to love food (all food), but also about why it’s important to learn to love yourself and your body. I’m talking about accepting and loving your body right now. Exactly as it is. Because hating yourself into a smaller/bigger/different shape or size doesn’t work. My RD pal Kylie has a great post on why hating yourself doesn’t make you thin, just like loving yourself doesn’t make you fat. Read it!

The reality is we don’t have all that much control over what our bodies look like. Genetics play a huge role in determining body shape and size, so it’s not as simple as calories in, calories out. Sure, we can try to force our bodies into an idealized body shape through restrictive eating, overexercising or some combination of the two. But where does that get us? With poor body images and disordered thinking and eating behaviors. 

It’s interesting to note that body image issues are not limited to just those in larger bodies.  In fact, people with smaller figures can struggle just as much.  So can athletes, it turns out. People living in a whole range of body shapes and sizes fall victim to negative self-talk. Check out this recent Instagram post from Brooke Ence, a CrossFit Games athlete:


would you believe me if I told you that I almost canceled this shoot because at the time I didn’t feel confident enough about my physique? Looking back on photos I can now see how ridiculous I was. Haha Truth is, I work really hard to keep my thoughts on a short leash when it comes to my self image etc. Growing up, I got a lot of grief about my strong physique from the boys ( they were flirting right 😉) and in dance I had a long list of dance companies I could never dance for and a short list of companies that would accept my body type. Let’s just say, I didn’t exactly see my strong physique as the gift that it is until a couple years ago. Even then,I still had to remind myself that it was ok to look strong. I am inspiring women to accept themselves today, love who they are and not be afraid to show the world all their amazing qualities. Don’t wait til you’re looking back on old photos to realize it, life is so much more fun when you’re happy 😊. #mindfulness #bulletproofmind #itmakesence #bevulnerable #bedaring Magazine: @sweatrxmag Photographer: @dave_laus Hair/makeup: @twochicksandsomelipstick Styling: @milayudinadesign

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Brooke’s body is often a topic of conversation in the CrossFit world and I think it would surprise many people to learn that she too struggles with body acceptance. She works out a ton and is strong as heck, but having that physique does not define her. I love her vulnerability and the reminder that whatever your body type (strong, thin, big, small), it should be appreciated and loved for its capabilities.

For me and my clients (and perhaps YOU), the goal is to focus on what our bodies are capable of as opposed to what it looks like. To the moms out there, that might be growing a small human. It might mean being able to stand in front of a group of people and give presentations. It might mean running your first (or fifteenth) marathon. Let’s start by thanking our bodies for being the vessel by which we experience the joys of life.

Now I’m no Brooke Ence, but looking at this photo I feel proud of MY strong body. In the past, the first thing I would have picked out is the skin rolling over the squeeze of that weight belt. In the video version of this squat I could focus on the jiggle in my butt and legs. I’d be lying if I said these things are completely out of my mind, but today I look at this photo and think DAYUM! Homegirl is squatting 200 pounds, which is a 35 pound PR! I’m proud of the body that I see here and more importantly of the person in the photo. The girl who is dedicated and hardworking and always looking to improve. I’m strong and capable and it has nothing to do with the size or shape of my physical being.

Speaking of loving our bodies for what they can DO instead of what they look like, tonight kicks off the 2017 CrossFit Open. For non-crossfitters, the Open is an annual 5-week online competition that ranks the “average Joe” against the top athletes. It’s a fun way to test your skills and see improvement year to year. The workouts definitely get more difficult as the years progress, but there are scaled divisions and absolutely anyone can take part! The first WOD is announced tonight and I’m excited to see what my strong body is capable of this year. Stay tuned!

As a wrap up, if you find yourself struggling with body image issues (CrossFit induced or not), you are not alone! If you’re looking for some body positive messaging and resources, here are some of my faves:

The Food Psych Podcast by Christy Harrison

Intuitive Eating 

ImmaEatThat blog and How to Eat Course

Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield 

The Hungry Clementine

Megan at BodyPosiPanda

What’s New on the Fitness Front

TGIF, y’all! I figured it’s time to share what’s new and exciting on the fitness front, since I’ve mostly been posting recipes and nutrition tidbits. If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ve probably seen some of my recent activity, but let’s recap anyway.   

First, I’m so excited to share that you can find me on today’s episode of I’ll Have Another with Lindsey Hein!

I’ve written about the podcast on the blog before because I’m such a big fan.  Lindsey brings on awesome and inspiring women to have real conversations about all sorts of stuff–running, current events, body image, parenting, nutrition and more.  I have to admit I was nervous at first because I wasn’t sure what I could possibly bring to the table for her listeners, but it was such a blast chatting with her anyway.  I hope our conversation gave some truth and insight into my life as an everyday person/partner/friend/runner/Crossfitter and my career as a nutrition coach. Definitely go check out today’s episode (and subscribe to get all of the other episodes!) and let me know what you think!  

For the rest of my fitness fun update, let’s talk CrossFit.  I recently bought the new Nike Metcon 3 shoes and have to say I love them! I’m usually Team Reebok, but have heard such good things that I decided to give these a shot. Normally, I’d wait for the older version to be on sale, but I used gift cards from Christmas and didn’t end up spending that much for the latest version. #trendy

So far I’ve worn the Metcons a few times. The heel is pretty stable and solid and the toe area is wider than I was expecting, but they’re comfortable for sure.  I also wore them to squat once and they were a million times better than the nanos for that.  I still wear my Reebok lifters for most weightlifting stuff, but it’s good to know the Metcons will hold up for barbell work in the middle of a WOD.

Speaking of squatting, I’m finishing up Week 5 of a 6-week squat program.  I started the Russian Squat Program with the goal of increasing my back squat and making all of my other lifts stronger.  It’s 3 days a week, working off of at least 80% of my current one-rep maximum and it seems to be working beautifully.  I feel stronger and more confident each time I squat, so I’m excited to retest at the end of the program.

Last but not least, the CrossFit Open is just under a month away! My gym has been programming more open-style workouts (read: long, ugly, kick-your-butt style WODs), but if I’m being honest, I’m struggling to get excited for the Open. Maybe it’s because I’ve been loving this squat program and focusing on olympic lifting and strength, but I’m not all that nervous or pumped for what is to come this year. That being said, I did already register and I’ll be awaiting the announcement of 17.1, so hopefully the excitement will follow.  Stay tuned and for now…have a great, sweaty weekend!

What’s your current fitness routine looking like? Have you listened to I’ll Have Another? I’d love your thoughts on my episode!