Crossed the Line

I have been mulling over The Box Magazine December issue since it came out over a week ago.

This is the cover page…

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Yes, this is our “Fittest Woman on Earth,” Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, and she’s worked really, really, REALLY hard to earn that title!!  She’s been fighting for that title for the past 5 years!  The countless hours upon hours upon hours of training she’s put in, the nutrition and discipline, and overall dedication are just sheer displays of awesome! Camille has earned that title in every way, and I am among the rest of the thousands of fans who are extremely proud of her!

This cover, and the article inside, though, really disappointed me…Right to the core.  The article itself is great – It’s the pictures that piss me off, though.

Photoshopped pictures.

Here’s what she really looks like in all her glory and awesome fitness…

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I’d like to think that Camille had absolutely nothing to do with that decision, and even had no idea that they were going to do that to her body.

However, The Box Magazine, a magazine for CrossFitters, and created by CrossFitters, should know better.

Now, before you try to tell me that that’s just the way it is in the beauty industry, all magazines do it, it’s just the nature of the beast, blah blah blah, I’m just going to start by saying that CrossFit is NOT the beauty industry, nor do we ever advocate for superficiality.

We are the HEALTH & FITNESS industry, and our whole movement is about focusing on performance, not appearance, and telling young girls that “Strong is the New Skinny,” and that it’s about how you feel, not how you look, and being FIT is what is beautiful/handsome.  We embrace our shapes and sizes.  We value ourselves by good character and self-improvement.

Aren’t we the ones who constantly defend each other when haters bad-mouth our “huge thighs” or “bulky arms?!”

Aren’t we the ones who are trying to redefine beauty?!

So, why the f*** would a CrossFit magazine Photoshop THE FITTEST WOMAN ON EARTH?!

It’s like taking 10 steps back…

I’ve been debating on whether or not to post about this, and trying to convince myself that I’m just over-reacting, but I think I am not alone on this one.

If we have to Photoshop the Fittest Woman on Earth, then what are we really saying to all of the girls and women out there who bought into our whole “Strong is the New Skinny” movement?!

The Box Magazine has just re-affirmed every girl’s fear – You’re not good enough.  Because, even Camille Leblanc-Bazinet isn’t good enough for a magazine cover, and she’s #1 in the CrossFit world!

I can accept Photoshopped pictures in Cosmopolitan and Vogue, and yes, even in Teen Vogue (Even though that still makes me a little sick inside).  Majority of that stuff IS artificial, superficial, and complete marketing gimmicks, sooo…It is what it is.  I just choose to not buy and read any of those magazines.

I do draw the line in our CrossFit Community, though.  CrossFit has made huge strides in the fitness world, and the impact it’s made in so many lives is incredible!

I’ve seen so many women and girls find their self-esteem here.  Women and girls who once valued themselves based on pant size and hair color, are now based on their front squat PR and “Fran” time, and finishing their first half marathon.

Women secure in their own skin.

The CrossFit Games athletes have been amazing role models for so many, as well.  But, especially the women!  The CF women have completely broken through the stereotypes and myths, and have made muscles beautiful and acceptable.  What was once avoided at all costs and feared, is now actively and eagerly sought out for in the gym.  Women WANT to lift heavy weights and get stronger.  Women WANT to have muscles.  Women want to be strong, and are finding that they CAN do a lot more than they ever imagined before.

Women are actually PROUD of their bodies and what they can do with them!

Girls are actually being empowered!

And, then…The cover of The Box Magazine comes out, with our fearless leader and champion, an icon and role model, and her awesome abs that show all of her hard work are f***ing airbrushed and trimmed to a smaller size!!!

As a coach, I feel like this is telling all of my clients that even thousands of hours of training just isn’t good enough, and in the end, appearance really does matter more than everything else, even in CrossFit.

Everything I tell my clients, especially the women, has been completely obliterated by these damn pictures – All Photoshopped in a CrossFit magazine…A magazine that’s supposed to promote health and fitness…Not a cookie-cutter, fake imitation…They’ve turned her into a “Buff Barbie.”

ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!

Do you see why this frustrates me?!  I know it’s “just a picture,” but really and truly, this is so much more than that.

There is something twisted and disturbing about it to me.  How would I explain this to my daughter if she was a teenager?  I imagine the conversation going something like this…

BAILEY: Mom, how come her stomach looks weird?

ME: Because they Photoshopped it to look like that, honey.

BAILEY: Why?  Doesn’t she already have a six-pack because she works out so much?

ME: Yes…I guess they just wanted to trim her waist down to make her look curvier in a bikini.

BAILEY:  But, isn’t she like the CrossFit winner?  Doesn’t she work out like alllllllll the time?  I thought she was already hella fit.

ME: Yes…I don’t know what to tell you, honey.  She is extremely fit and strong, and she’s perfectly fine just the way she really is.  I don’t know why they changed her stomach to look like that.

BAILEY: Ummm…So, having muscles really isn’t a good thing, then?

ME: No, having muscles is great, and being fit and strong is great.  Camille works really hard, and she did a lot to win the CF Games.

BAILEY: But, they narrowed her waist down and made her look skinnier.  So, obviously, having a six-pack isn’t sexy on a woman, then.

ME: No, that’s not it at all.  There is no one “right” way to look, honey.  We all come in different shapes and sizes.  Being healthy and fit is what is important!

BAILEY: Well, clearly, it’s not, because they just corrected her shape into what they think it should be!  Sooo, if they have to correct the Fittest Woman on Earth, then obviously there’s something wrong!

ME: *Sigh* Yes, I understand, and I wish I could explain why they Photoshopped her body, but all I can tell you is that Camille is an amazing athlete, she’s healthy and strong, she works really hard, and her body, regardless of it’s shape and size, can do amazing things!  Ignore the picture, and focus on her accomplishments.

BAILEY: Okay…Whatever, Mom.

It’s a sobering reminder of how easy it is to fall prey to the distorted and messed up beauty industry, and even CrossFit celebrities can be victims of it.

Strong IS the new skinny.  Even if a stupid magazine cover tries to tell us otherwise by slimming down our Fittest girl.

She didn’t need it.  She is amazing just the way she is, and that body got her to the very top of that podium amongst many other equally amazing women of all shapes and sizes!

We ARE good enough.  And, if a magazine can’t see that, even if it’s one of our own, well then let’s remind of them who we are and why we’re here, and maybe they just need a little re-direction.

We all lose footing at one time or another.  Let’s hope that this was just a little mishap, and they’ll snap out of the superficial beauty trap, and back into kick ass beast-mode!

Onward and upward.

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You Really Don’t Know Until…

10721247_10204806766311983_856712680_nThis past weekend, my partner, Alan, and I competed together at a local CrossFit competition.  It was an awesome day, with really awesome workouts that challenged not only our physical capacities, but our ability to work well together, too!  There were even Regionals athletes at the competition, which added to the intensity and nerves that day.

Alan and I were like two peas in a pod – We were seamless and smooth in every workout, and made our way into the Finals!!!  A moment that almost didn’t happen…

After WOD #1, we were sitting pretty in 5th place.  After WOD #2, we remained in 5th, and knew we had to do something great in WOD #3 to make it to the Finals, because only the top 4 teams made it.

Well…We did it! 🙂

Honestly, it was a surprise to us both, and I suddenly felt a feeling that I have never felt before.

Before I continue, let me rewind a bit…

I’ve always “wanted” to qualify for Regionals, and I’ve even toyed with the idea of maybe one day making it to the Games.  But, the farther I get in my journey, the more I realize that in the past, I really loved the IDEA of it more than actually doing it.

I said I “wanted” it, but I don’t think I really knew what that meant until now.

I thought that I wanted it.  I really did.  And, at the time, it seemed like I was giving 100%.  In hindsight, though, I was giving what I felt like I was good enough for.  Meaning – I always had “low expectations” at competitions and shot for the top half of the bunch…I was too afraid to go for top 5, or even top 10.  So, I performed that way – I competed at “top half” effort with “top half” desire and determination.  At the time, I thought that was “wanting” it.

And then…I felt it, for real, this weekend, when Alan and I made it to the Finals.  We were 4th overall, and we were up against Regionals athletes.  But, we also beat other Regionals athletes to get there!

In that moment, I FINALLY felt what it truly feels like to REALLY WANT IT!!!  And, it’s a feeling you really can’t understand or explain until you’ve felt it for yourself.

The Finals WOD was an Every Minute On The Minute Death By: 7 Thrusters (75/55), 7 Pull ups, and 7 Burpees.  Each teammate had to complete their own reps.  If one partner “died” than it was over for both.

During that workout, I experienced a burning desire that I haven’t felt before in a WOD.

I wanted to win more than I wanted to breath.  

So many times, I have pushed so hard, and then suddenly in the end I would wave the white flag.  The pain outweighed the want. That is what separates the champions from everyone else.  Champions are able to push through that pain.  They can go in to that deep, dark, horrible place, and charge through it like bulldozer without a second thought.  There’s no hesitation.  No doubt.

I’ve always written about it, and have always known about it, and have sort of felt it…But, this time I was truly in it.

I literally had no doubts, no hesitations, and no fear.

10645160_10204838109535544_6079600414418778716_nI often see the quote, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, then you’ll be successful.”  During the Final WOD, I finally experienced that for myself.

I wanted it SO bad, that the pain and lack of air honestly didn’t even register in my brain.

It was awesome.  I actually felt unstoppable.  I felt like a champion.

It was a huge turning point for me.  All this time, I thought I knew how badly I wanted it.  I really did.  Until I was finally put into a position to PROVE how badly I wanted it.

It was very much like the saying, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”  

I’ve been on a competitive-high this week, and I even find myself pushing harder in the workouts at my box.  Suddenly, I’ve realized that I really do have more to give, and I really am capable of making that podium! 😉

As I coach, I have been thinking about this whole experience a lot.  One of the most difficult things as a coach is letting my athletes experience things for themselves, learning from their own mistakes, and taking their own path. But, I also know that it will be much more valuable and life-changing that way.

I can talk and write until I am blue in the face, but until they experience it for themselves, it really isn’t going to have the same impact, nor will anything change until it is their OWN journey.

It’s just not the same talking about.  EXPERIENCE is the teacher.  Words are great, and can be very powerful, but until you have actually FELT it for yourself, you really don’t know.

I have been comparing it to my husband, Spencer.  I always thought I knew what being in love was.  I thought I loved before, and maybe I did, sort of, but then when Spencer came into my life, I suddenly realized what love was actually supposed to be.  I settled a lot, and thought I was only good enough for a certain level of men.  So, the crappy men in my life is what I thought love was.

Thanks goodness for Spencer!  Now, in hindsight, I am horrified at the thought of who I could have married instead.  But, I also needed to experience all of those sh***y relationships in order to appreciate Spencer.  I wouldn’t have been ready for him any other time in my life.  Those past relationships prepared me for him, and the timing was just right!  🙂

I think all of my competitions are very similar to my love life.  I wouldn’t have been ready earlier in my CrossFit career for that Final WOD.  I don’t think I would have pushed as hard.  I think just making it would have been good enough for me, and I would have thrown in the towel after 2 rounds.  And, while I wish I had given more in my past competitions and had different outcomes, they have still helped build me to this moment.  I think I finally snapped and got fed up with always being in the middle.

You see, just as I needed to experience crappy relationships in order to appreciate Spencer, so too did I need to experience my average performances in competitions in order to finally appreciate being at the top, and almost getting a taste at victory.

Experience.  Life’s teacher.

Bottom line – Don’t be afraid of experiences, and don’t regret any of them, good and bad, because even the bad ones serve a greater purpose in life! 🙂