Do Clothes Make the (Wo) Man?

This past weekend I went to Scottsdale, Arizona to visit two of my best girlfriends. We met through mutual friends three years ago when I first moved to West LA . We hadn’t all been together in over a year and I had been looking forward to this trip for months. These girls have been there through ups and downs, late night phone calls, road tripping adventures and the likes. They also just get me. They not only tolerate, but encourage all my quirky behaviors. Remember that whole planking trend?

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yea, I was into that, and they were right there with me. Humiliating ourselves in public settings for the sake of our amusement?

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We had that covered.

So this weekend we reconvened to stir up some trouble in the desert. Saturday night we decided to go out to some clubs. I hadn’t been to a club in almost a year and a half, so I was excited to go and dance and have fun with my friends.

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If you know me, you know that if I am not at work I am most likely in work out clothes. Since I work out every day, usually at night, I rarely find the point in spending time to look nice when I’m rushing to and from class.

When we got to the club I slowly found myself becoming critical of how I looked and comparing myself to girls around me who fit the societal image of what ‘pretty’ is. First I didn’t like how the dress made my waist look, then I didn’t like how my hair was hanging. All the old insecurities that I had worked so hard to conquer by focusing on my ability instead of my physical self had re-emerged. Soon I felt so insecure and out of place that I found myself wishing I could have come out to the bar in spandex and a sports bra. It was then I realized that those clothes were like my safety blanket. Although I am sure to any outsider I look far better in a dress and makeup then in sweaty gym clothes, the pride I felt in what I did in the gym made me feel so powerful and proud that it made me feel beautiful.

I always preach that it’s important to focus more on what your body can achieve instead of how it looks, and I believe that to the fullest extent. Your body may not be physically capable of looking like your “dream body” due to bone structure, skin type, metabolism etc. But most goals you can achieve if you put in the effort. I think I learned this weekend that while I may have that confidence in the gym, and when I’m going about my daily life in my safety blanket, those insecurities can still emerge when I step outside that comfort zone.

Insecurities aside I still had an amazing time and danced my face off with the help of some glow sticks and smoke machines. I’m so sad that I won’t be able to see them for a while, but I’m already excited for the next visit.

Are there any situations that trigger that insecure/out of place feeling in you?

How do you go about trying to conquer it?

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Why I’m Excited to Try CrossFit

I am fortunate to have a father who raised me as a strong confident woman. Who would tell me daily I was beautiful, but remind me that “pretty is as pretty does” and that true beauty was on the inside. A father who supported my time consuming  USS swimming career, didn’t tolerate whining and who actually chose to watch WNBA games.

Because of this, I never thought I was growing up in a “man’s world”. It never crossed my mind there were things that were for “men only”.  I always viewed the sky as my limit.

Except when it came to my body. Unfortunately, our society often chooses to focus on an unrealistic image ideal driven in part by a $40 billion dollar diet industry.

The number one wish for girls 11-17 is to be thinner[1]. 80% of 10-year-old girls have dieted[2]. Although most girls have a 1% chance of being as thin as a runway model, 69% of girls admit that fashion models influence their idea of an “ideal body.”[3]

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Like the majority of “healthy living bloggers”, I’ve had my struggles with body image and disordered eating and blog to try to pass on what I’ve learned from my struggles.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is to take pride not in how your body looks, but the amazing things it is capable of doing.  If your only goal is to “look skinny and hot” you will never be happy, as you can always find flaws no matter who you are.

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I grew up swimming on a USS Team and playing water polo. I’ve run half marathons and 5ks.  But the idea of fueling my body properly to perform, not to look skinny, never struck home until I started lifting.

I set goals for myself (be able to do wide grip pull ups, squat my body weight, etc) and I found that on days when I hadn’t eaten properly, I simply could not perform at the level I wanted to.  In order to gain the muscle I needed to, I had to eat more and couldn’t be dieting or restricting.  The sense of pride I got in achieving my goals took control of my desire to be thin and I began loving my body for its accomplishments.

The idea that your body is not your enemy seems like a simple concept, but for millions of women it’s an incredibly hard concept to grasp.

So by now you’re probably saying: Fiona, I thought this post was going to be about CrossFit? And first, I’ll thank you for reading this far. And then, I’ll show you that it is.

I decided to give CrossFit a one month try starting the second week of February. First, because a new Box (that’s CrossFit speak for gym) opened up in my town so they are offering a discounted month (hello, I do live on a student budget). Second, because it’s something I’ve been curious about for a long time.

I’ve been curious to try CrossFit not because of the workouts themselves. I do plenty of cleans, and squats, and kettle bell swings on my own. That’s not something unique only to CrossFit.

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I’m joining because I want to be a part of the community.

I want to be surrounded by men and women who support strong bodies to fuel strong minds.

I’ve had a lot of arguments with people I know about CrossFit. They argue that it’s a cult, that the instructors aren’t well trained, that people are bound to hurt themselves. I respond by saying that yes, it’s possible to have an instructor who doesn’t know the proper form. Yes, the culture of doing AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) can encourage people to get lazy with their form. But this is the case if you go to the gym as well. You need to be careful and knowledgeable about the physical activity you are doing no matter what it is.

I know so many girls who are scared to enter a weight room because they don’t know where to start and are scared of being judged. I applaud CrossFit for being a place for those women to go to start their fitness journey.

I’m excited to be surrounded by supportive people who have taken the same commitment to improving their quality of life through fitness as I have.

I’m excited to be surrounded by women who view their bodies, no matter the size, as something to be proud of and something to admire.

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So, I’ll let you guys know how it goes 🙂


[1] Facts on Body and Image,” compiled by Jean Holzgang. Just Think Foundation web site. [Online: http://www.justthink.org/bipfact.html . Last retrieved April 14, 2000]

[2] Kilbourne, J., “Slim Hopes,” video, Media Education Foundation, 1995.

[3] “Magazine Models Impact Girls’ Desire to Lose Weight, Press Release.” (1999). American Academy of Pedia