Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Lift Heavy S*&$

Around October of last year, I started to get really worried about Eli. He was doing homeschool and wrestling was shut down. He was spending all day, every day, in his bedroom under his LED lights and the impact on his mental health was starting to concern me. I was also feeling the impact on my own mental health. I knew I wanted to get him moving, but wasn't sure how to do it. A good friend of mine is big into CrossFit and she suggested that it might be a good option. Eli and I visited a gym and signed up for the intro class. If you want a cool way to hang out with your teenage son, Olympic weightlifting is a good way to break the ice. Both of us really liked it and though we've switched to a more COVID cautious/training focused gym, we've been going consistently for the last six months. About a month ago C signed up too, so we roll into classes deep. 

I'm not trying to be dramatic when I say that it has been life-changing. I haven't been shy about my issues with body image and weight. The older I get, the more I realize that I move in and out of true body dysmorphia pretty regularly and that so much of my self-worth has been tied to my size for nearly all of my life. Which, from a logical perspective, I understand is ridiculous but from an emotional perspective, has been so difficult to navigate. I won't lie. I joined this gym fully anticipating to drop weight. I was going to get small. Tiny even! When that didn't happen, I went to my doctor and got my thyroid checked with the sole purpose of getting a prescription that would make the pounds melt off. 

It turns out that my thyroid did need a little help, and with the meds on board I started seeing improvement in symptoms I didn't even know that I had. My hair stopped falling out in clumps and I no longer felt the need to either take a nap or rage scream at 3:00 each afternoon. But the weight stubbornly stuck around. I was working my ass off (not literally) at the gym, eating right, and taking thyroid meds and yet I didn't lose a single pound. Literally, not a single ounce. And everyone says, "But your measurements!" I have been religiously taking my measurements for the last eight years and I can say confidently that my measurements haven't changed either. 

But here's the interesting part. I don't care. I truly don't give it a second thought. My goal has changed from an arbitrary weight I temporarily claimed two babies ago to "Lift Heavy Shit." In the olden days, this lack of weight loss would have derailed me entirely and sent me into a downward spiral of self-hatred and some really f-ed up internal dialogue. But it didn't. In fact, I forget to weigh myself on a regular basis. I ordered a bunch of shorts for the summer and without hesitation sized up because I was tired of wearing uncomfortable pants when it's hot out. I think that there are visual changes in how I look, but it hasn't been in the size of any of my body parts. I think I stand taller. My muscles are more defined. There's a fold in my back that disappeared (you're welcome for that uncensored visual). These are all things that I'm happy with, but even more, I went from lifting a PVC pipe to now getting into the #100+ range. I split jerked #85 OVER MY HEAD! I know what a split jerk is! C told me the other day in class, "You look really strong" and I'm not sure I've ever been more smitten with a compliment. 

The impact that this funny hobby has had on my mental health and on my family is so phenomenal. I'm sleeping better and my mood is so much more stable. Eli, it turns out, is a great gym buddy. He's supportive and encouraging and, much like his dad, everyone loves him. When wrestling started, he was way ahead of the rest of the team because he'd been so active in the downtime. C is starting to love it (parts of it, at least) and it's such a cool way to spend time together. And the girls love to go hang out in the kids' area and are really hoping that they'll offer classes for them soon. We are literally happier, healthier, and better adjusted. I'm so grateful for it and in retrospect, it was an excellent use of our interaction budget. 

I joke that it makes my brain stupid though, so occasionally I have to write the WOD on my arm :) 


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