CrossFit makes you stronger. Obviously. But a lot of us are so focused on achieving PRs and upping those AMRAP numbers, that we don’t take the time to truly appreciate all the OTHER ways CrossFit makes us stronger.
Don’t kill me for saying this, but… it doesn’t actually matter if I can back squat 300 pounds (well, sure it matters, cuz hell, yeah! But it’s not what matters the most). CrossFit isn’t just about brute physical strength. It’s about becoming a stronger human… in every single way: stronger physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I get a little sappy — I LOVE YOU GUYS! But seriously, as I reflect on what I’m most grateful for at this moment, there are five ways I’ve become stronger this year thanks to CrossFit.
1. Strong Body
This is the obvious one. Yes, I’ve gotten stronger shoulders, stronger legs, stronger muscles I didn’t even know existed. But the benefits aren’t only surface deep. Ever since I started doing CrossFit, I’m a lot more mindful of my health across the board. I think about nutrition and fitness from a totally different perspective: it’s not just about the way I look, now it’s about the way I perform. I want to be doing this for a long, long time. I want to be ready to conquer any adventure that comes my way. I never want to have to turn down an awesome opportunity because of physical limitations.
This also means I’m incredibly conscious now, more than ever before, about what I put in my body. I’m not “dieting,” I’m “fueling.” I’m eating toward goals, not toward an aesthetic. CrossFit is about owning your body, your power, your choices, so I’ve also taken control of my nutrition, adjusting macronutrient levels up and down based on the limits I’m trying to overcome, and the types of nutrients my body needs. I’ve got my tools for the box, and my tools for the body: an arsenal of protein powders (like the delicious Peanut Butter one from Quest), carb powders, and fat powders (MCT oil powder is a game changer) that let me keep my nutrition delicious.
2. Strong Buddies
This might actually be my favorite part about CrossFit: the bonds that we form. For me, life is about meaningful relationships. It’s about propping each other up and pushing each other forward.
I’ve never experienced a community that empowers quite like CrossFit does. Wherever you are in the world, you can just drop into a CrossFit Box and feel like you’re at home. My dad’s a retired firefighter, and growing up, wherever we’d travel, we’d stop into the local fire station to say hello. We’d always be welcome with open arms. It seemed totally normal to me at the time, but now I realize how special that was. I hadn’t had a community quite like that until getting involved with CrossFit.
Whenever people come to the CrossFit games, they come from all over, and they do drop-ins at local boxes. It really does feel like one intimate (but global) community. It makes you feel stronger because you’re part of something larger than yourself.
I just got my first bar muscle-up (finally), and I accomplished it mainly because there were people egging me on. It wasn’t pretty. I was totally chicken-winging, and I got stuck halfway up, but as I was hanging there like a limp leftover piece of KFC, about to drop down, I heard a chorus of about a dozen people cheering me on: “Get it! Don’t drop! It’s yours!” And with all those people, watching, supporting, believing in me, I pulled, kicked, and clucked my damn self up over the bar.
3. Strong Beauty
Beauty is achievement, not just an aesthetic. Everyone’s talking about how “strong is the new skinny,” but it goes beyond that for me. CrossFit makes me more confident. When I set clear, measurable goals, and then go about demolishing them week after week, that bleeds into my life outside The Box. I know I can conquer, and that makes me dream bigger, better and bad-asser. After I got that first muscle-up last week, a whole new world of possibility opened up in front of me. I still can’t do double-unders after three damn years… but their days are numbered.
I used to idolize Kate Moss as my body type ideal (I still do if I’m 100% honest). That long, lean feminine look… but I’ve started seeing beauty in other body types. Now I’m way more impressed by feats than by features. There’s incredible beauty in women encouraging other women to push their boundaries and break their limits.
4. Strong Belief
CrossFit has taught me how to believe in myself, but also when to put my ego aside and believe my coaches when they tell me I’m capable of more (or less). You have to believe what your body is telling you, listen to it when your muscles aren’t failing but your willpower is (or vice versa).
I’ve been very fortunate to have had skilled, passionate coaches believe in me enough to push me past my own personal stumbling blocks. Do yourself a favor and surround yourself with people who are better at this than you (and willing to share their expertise). Most of us owe our progress to someone who believed in us more than we believed in ourselves. ’Tis this season, bitches: Tag a coach or a friend that you’re thankful for in the comments below, someone who helped you get in touch with your gut instincts or pushed you past your personal best.
5. And Strong Burpees