Strong is the new skinny – Love to the ladies who CrossFit


Since this past week included International Women’s Day , this blog is for the ladies.

The world we live in is a vain one. It’s the year 2014 , yet somehow we are still struggling to conform to ideals that aren’t necessarily logical for most of us. We stare at airbrushed bodies on magazine covers while we color our hair. Our high school aged girls plan their futures, many of which include the acquisition of breast implants. We feel our worth as a human being is truly dependent upon the size of our jeans, the number of creases on our faces, and saddest of all…our attractiveness towards men.

Due to these society-conditioned thoughts, we enter activities like Pilates, yoga, and in recent years Crossfit, in order to reach these ideals of ‘skinny’, ‘fit’ and ‘sexy’. Unfortunately, we often quit because Pilates didn’t make us Kate Moss….Yoga didn’t turn us into Jennifer Aniston. …and Crossfit is making us big.

You’re right. Yoga will not make you look like Jennifer Aniston. However…you’re also very wrong. Crossfit won’t make you ‘Big’. Cupcakes make women big.

As a professional ballet dancer for 11 years I hear you ladies loud and clear. I too have measured my worth by the ribs I could count or how many months in a row I could keep my pant size at 0. I’ve worked in an industry where I’ve lost job opportunities for being too big, too small, too Caucasian, too cute, too sexy, not sexy enough, too tall, too short, too pretty, not pretty enough etc. I can guarantee you of all the strong women at my Box I worry about my physical image the most. However….

As someone well versed in fitness and nutrition let me tell you how wrong the notion that Crossfit makes you bulky is. Yes, when you started Crossfit you probably felt yourself get slimmer for a few weeks. After the initial slim down, you probably became hyper sensitive to the muscles growing (aka- getting bigger) in your legs. (I DID!!!) You may have kept pushing to the point where you started to feel boxy or thick. It’s entirely possible that at this point you started to cut back on how many times a week you workout…maybe you even quit. If this hypothetical woman I speak of is you ….listen up.

80% of what we look like is diet related. Yup. 80%. The 20% left over is the activity our body receives. So logic loudly states: A)If you didn’t change your diet when you started to train…
B)If you aren’t eating enough food…
C)If you’re over indulging on certain foods…

YES!! Crossfit will make you bigger!!!

So let’s tackle these three points.

A)You didn’t change your diet:

This is probably the most common problem people have when it comes to expected outcome vs. results. Sure, the surge of fitness your body received when you started Crossfit made you lose a few pounds. However, your body is a very intelligent machine. It adapts to workload very quickly. As you started to adapt to the cardio in the wods and the weights you were lifting, your body started to put on muscle. By continuing to eat without mindfulness, the fat loss stalled. Eventually, your body figures out you aren’t eating enough protein to sustain the muscle so it uses what you’ve gained for workout fuel and the food you eat gets stored as fat. That easy. This can result in number on the scale going up as well as your body fat percentage.

Clean up your diet game! Removing processed foods, foods high in sugar and saturated fat , and monitoring your alcohol consumption is a great first step. By eating more vegetables, lean meats and fruit, your body will function better, retain less water, and use more of it’s own fat for fuel. Make sure to increase your water intake daily as well. This helps to combat water retention in your muscles as well.

B)You aren’t eating enough food.

This is so common amongst new crossfitters . Especially the ladies. The calories you burn doing SWODs (strength/skill workouts of the day) and WODs (workout of the day) is much much higher than what you’re used to burning in a regular gym workout or long cardio session. When your output changes you need to adjust your input. When the body is stressed and does not receive enough calories to function it aggressively stores every little thing you eat. Couple that with going too many hours in between meals and your body learns it just can’t trust you. It has little faith you’ll feed it again soon so it stores your healthy, low calorie meals, as fat. This is starvation mode. I understand this goes against what Cosmo magazine told you to do (1200 calories for weight loss is soooo stupidly low…) but this is what is happening. You’ll get softer, and that’s a promise.

You can wear a heart rate or body temperature band during your workouts to accurately know how many calories you’re burning. ( Then figure out your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure) based on your height and weight. EAT TO PERFORM has a TDEE calculator app for both IPhone and Droid. Couldn’t get easier. Once you have your information straight you can adjust your macros around whichever diet plan you choose to follow. I covered that in my first few blogs. Remember ladies…protein is your friend. Aim to get 1g per lb of body weight.

C)Dreaded overindulgence.

This is when you over estimate your calorie burn and basically allow yourself too many calories outside of your diet. For example:
One glass of wine is approximately 125 empty calories. If you have one glass every night that’s 125×7=875 calories a week. 4 weeks in a month….that’s 3500 calories. That’s almost a pound gained per month. Factor in those “I’ll just have 1” moments…. you’re looking at gaining lbs of fat while gaining muscle before you know it. Sneaky right?!

Allow yourself a cheat day within your week. Don’t go crazy!! Keep your portions reasonable, but don’t deprive yourself. You’ll see progress so much faster this way! Also, try and schedule your cheat day on a day you workout. That way you’re feeding a depleted body and less likely to store those french fries.

I truly believe we are entering a new era where strong and athletic women are beautiful. Skinny and hungry is slowly becoming a thing of the past. I still struggle with my ever-changing Crossfit physique, but look at all the amazing things I can do!! We still have the mainstream fashion industry to fight against but what we embrace about ourselves is sure to transcend into a new definition of beauty. Men think breast implants are sexy because we were willing to get them. If we decide biceps and quads are hot I bet they won’t argue. It’s already happening. Strong and beautiful female athletes like Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Ashley Horner are showing us that being a bad ass is super sexy. So grab that protein shake, add more weight to the squat rack and smile ladies. We’re beasts!! Thin girls look good in clothes… girls look good naked!.

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