I will never forget the day I jogged over to my doctor’s office for a check-up, proudly got up on the scale, and weighed in at 113lbs. Up until this point I weighed around 130lbs. Stepping off the scaled my Nurse Practitioner sat me down and diagnosed me with anorexia. I was fifteen and had just taken up eating “healthy” foods and running. I was obsessed with being thin and becoming thinner.
I am a pretty logical person (and was even at fifteen), and after hearing the news I immediately made adjustments. I never again was obsessed with food and my body image to the point the of drastically compromising my health, but my desire and ongoing effort to be thin continued for years.
When you have an eating disorder you are obsessed with food. At times this leads to binging, followed by guilt. In my case, I would come home, eat too many rice cakes (probably equivalent to 3 bowls of pasta), feel guilty and try to run it off. I told myself I loved to run, but still needed to talk myself out of the door.
High School lunch was always an experience. All of my friends would make fun of me, I would have a banana, yogurt, and Kashi cereal everyday while my friends ate pb&j and Fritos. Most of the girls were the same size or smaller than me and I would just laugh with them when they would tease me about my food choices. I would end up going home and binging on rice cakes or cereal because I was starving. I would eat anything that was fat-free in excess. Fat-free is what makes you thin, right?
College was better, although I will never forget as a freshman hearing the senior girls in my sorority chanting “eat less and drink more”. James Madison University was 70% women, and there was a statistic that said about 80% of the female population had eating disorders.
One of my roommates would hide away in her room and come out a few times a day to grab one of her hundred-calorie packs. It was no secret most girls were hopped up on Adderall. (Not only did it help you study, it also made you skinny by suppressing your appetite.)
At our recreation center, every elliptical was occupied by skinny girls moving at 100 revolutions a minute. Very few people were there for fitness reasons, only image reasons, which made it uninviting for those who just wanted to break a sweat.
I danced, ran, cheer-leaded, was chairman of prom committee, student council VP, and a Delta-Delta-Delta. I never went anywhere without my hair done nicely, make-up, and rarely without heals. Before CrossFit, my dad referred to me as twinkle toes, and would have never consider me an athlete. I loved fitness, or at least my idea of being fit.
CrossFit has given me guidance on how to eat correctly. Paleo/Zone allows balances in my diet in a way that feeds my body the right amount of protein, greens, and healthy fats that will help my performance and keep me lean. No more binging on cardboard.
CrossFit has changed me from an image obsessed hungry person, to an athlete finally comfortable in her own skin. I will be a CrossFitter for life, and when I want to put the heels back on, do my make-up, get my hair did, and strut my stuff, I will do so feeling confident that I am not just a pretty face....but that I can also kick your ass.
Amy Ferro is the co-owner of CrossFit Southie. Photograph from the Hardn'up Challenge courtesy of Patrick Cummings.