Preventing Future Massacres

I saw my first live concert in 1996. It was the Spice Girls at Jones Beach on Long Island and it’s an experience I’ll never forget; one of my earliest true, complete memories. I have been a regular attendee of concerts and, for the sake of argument, Sporting Events, ever since. Some (my boyfriend) might argue that I see more live events per year than any average person does or should. My concert-ticket spending problem is real. And, like any addiction, the reason is simply because I need it.

Some people have drugs or alcohol, some people have church. Live music brings ease to my soul, however fleeting.

I’ve seen the Spice Girls. I’ve seen Justin Timberlake. I’ve seen Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park and Korn. I’ve seen Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg, Blake Shelton, Dead and Company, Billy Joel and Paul McCartney. Taking Back Sunday and Rick Ross. The Dropckick Murphys and Jason Derulo. Antiflag and also The Charlie Daniels Band. I’ve attended CMA Fest in Nashville. I’ve seen Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Jake Owen and Cole Swindell more times than I can keep track of. I’ve been to seven separate Zac Brown Band Concerts over the past 5 summers. Seven.

As I said, I’ve been attending concerts religiously for more than 20 years. That’s longer than I’ve ever done anything consistently aside from eat, breathe and shit. My mind, regularly riddled with anxiety, has never once stopped to consider that I might not be safe in this crowd of like-minded fans, swaying singing and screaming – filled with unabashed joy. On the train to and from events? Terrified. In the event of a drunken fisticuffs nearby? Uncomfortable.  But within the concert venue, never uneasy or unsafe. It’s a post-9/11 world – I’ve been metal detected and scanned 3 separate times. I had to throw my vodka water bottle out at the gate. I’ve got no worries.

Until May of 2017.

Shortly after the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, my cousin approached me and asked me if I thought his newly-teenage daughter was old enough to see Fall Out Boy at Madison Square Garden with a group of friends. I saw my first Fall Out Boy show with my friends when I was 14. I attended my first Rangers game at The Garden even earlier. This new teenager is a city native and, on paper, nowhere in the world should be safer than Madison Square Garden. Her parents would undoubtedly be waiting at the doors following the concert, guiding her lovingly back to Brooklyn. But, my heart ached as I hesitated.

Could a parent save her if some psychopath decided to repeat the Manchester attack on US Soil? No, probably not. But I know at 14 (and even now at 26) having my parent present during a moment of chaos and abject terror would provide some small level of comfort.

“Eh, I would wait a few more years, probably” I told him.

And then, what felt like moments later, some insane human being opened fire in Las Vegas on a crowd of Country Music Fans, much like myself. A crowd of my peers: my friends and family, just there to see a show; to sing and sway and scream and let go of this living nightmare of a world for a few days. As a result, 59 people are gone forever and hundreds, if not thousands of lives are permanently different than they were before.

I moped through the day after Las Vegas with sadness and fear. How does this keep happening? My thoughts have been echoed over and over again within my own social media bubble, but I would keep quiet this time, I thought. I’m 26 years old and I’ve lived through 3 separate “Deadliest shootings in US History”: Virginia Tech, Orlando and now, Las Vegas. The death toll just keeps increasing and nothing happens. This is, apparently, just our new normal.  I’m so tired of thinking and praying and sending love to cities and victims and families. Why isn’t someone doing more? Why can’t we stop them from dying senselessly?

If Sandy Hook didn’t change anything, why would Las Vegas? Patton Oswalt begged of twitter.

“Now’s not the time to talk about Gun control”
“Don’t politicize this tragedy!” They cried from The Right.

But, if not now, when? What is the suitable amount of time after a tragedy to address the solution? Because we don’t go more than a few weeks between anymore.

Speaking up is hopeless. 

I went about the next day as normal. I dragged myself out of bed and gazed upon the face of Michael Strahan on Good Morning America as I drank my coffee and got ready to leave for work. Business as usual.

And then, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, two of my favorite morning people, launched into a segment about the challenges of “Preventing Future Massacres”. It sounded just like the conversation we’ve been having for years. In the wake of tragedies like Manchester and Las Vegas, what are the extra steps Police and security can take to make sure citizens are safe? Dump trucks full of sand to stop cars from plowing into crowds? Snipers on roofs of nearby buildings to take out the shooter before they cause maximum damage? Guns in classrooms?  How can we police these “soft targets”?

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Do you know what would not make me feel less anxious while gathered en masse? Visible snipers.

Well, I thought sarcastically to myself, Concerts aren’t guaranteed by the constitution so to save lives, maybe we should just stop having concerts. Because we’re sure as shit not going to stop selling guns that can kill 59 people in the matter of minutes, apparently.

Then I realized I had no audience to my witty observation. And I was infuriated. My blood began to boil. Why does utter failure by Congress to do their job result in more work for first responders, who are already risking their lives every day and continued danger every single day for the American people? Nowadays, you’re almost as likely to be killed by gun violence as you are by a traffic accident. Why isn’t the only reasonable solution left to take away the fucking guns?

Calm down, BillyJoe. You want to go hunting on the weekends with your bros? I won’t be joining you but I respect your right to do so. However, if you need an AK47 to put down that 9 point buck for your creepy trophy wall, you suck at hunting and (I don’t like using this word as an insult but it’s the only one that fits) you’re a pussy. Also, just FYI if you don’t eat what you kill, you’re a garbage human.

You feel the need to protect your home? Yep, I’m with you. My dad has protected our family home for as long as we’ve been there with a single rifle that’s safely tucked away in a gun safe where, honestly, I couldn’t find it if I was literally under attack. I am 26 and I’ve seen it fewer than five times in my life.

If you feel like you need an M16 to protect your home, I advise you move. Or build a moat. What kind of threat are you under?

If you really, really want one M16 because you think it’s cool – I have a lot of questions, but ya know what? If you can answer all my questions reasonably, pass a thorough background check regardless of where you’re purchasing it and prove you’re not violent or mentally ill, ok. But I’m gonna say you definitely don’t need more than one.

If you’re legally not allowed to fly or vote (looking at you, convicted Felons), you probably also shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun.

When the founders of our Country wrote the 2nd amendment, Guns fired one round at a time. You had to lug your cannon and musket to war by foot. Up hill. Both ways. They could not have foreseen this. This is not an original argument, I know you’ve heard it before.

There will still be illegal guns, you say? Gun control isn’t the answer? Why not knife control? Lots of people are stabbed to death, you say? 

  1. I’ve never seen a knife take down 59 people from across the street in the matter of minutes.  If that comes up, we can definitely talk about regulating knives, as well.
  2. I don’t know if you guys remember a time before we legislated the amount of toothpaste that could be brought on an airplane, but we’re doing our damnedest to police that, aren’t we? And, by that argument, why even have any laws? People are always going to break laws. Yes. That’s why we have a judicial system and prison. But why are we just not making any attempt when it comes to firearms regulation?

This is not a planned out, organized and researched proposal for a solution. It’s a lot of feelings and a lot of sound logic.  It’s just a call to someone to do anything. And, if you think owning these guns are your God given right but healthcare is a privilege, please open your eyes. What are we doing?

 

 

 

 

PS That constitution you care so deeply about protecting the sanctity of, apparently, was written in protest. When our Founding Fathers disavowed a flag and a government that had kept them opressed politically, socially and financially. Just a reminder.

 

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Words for When I’m At A Loss

When I was a freshman in college,  I was having a hard time adjusting. My once stellar academic record was circling the drain. My aunt invited me over for dinner. My older cousin had gone through a similar experience, as I know now, most High School Over Achievers do, his first semester and she just wanted to chat and touch base. During conversation, I mentioned off handedly that when I had kids, I hoped I didn’t have girls. I found girls mean, catty and I wasn’t confident that as an adult-parent I would be able to lead a female through the hellish adolescence I experienced. I don’t remember how the conversation led there, but I do know this wasn’t the first time I’d said or thought that. In fact, I felt strongly that I would only birth boys someday. Girls were too hard.

My aunt, the mother of two men, considered what I said and replied with the following:

“I think it’s harder to raise boys. As a mom, it’s my job to make sure they grow up to respect and value women and fully understand the ideas of consent and equality. Those things are a lot harder to teach.”

At 18, this went over my head. I spent very little time thinking about consent or equality. I grew up as the only girl in a family of what seemed like hundreds of boy cousins. I was never undervalued or treated as less than equal. I was supported and encouraged to pursue my dreams in sports and later, in the male-centric fields of film and broadcasting and media. I had full autonomy over my own body. I’m almost ashamed to admit it now, but I even thought of feminism as unnecessary; an idea that brought us important things like suffrage and Title IX, but now something society had outgrown a need for.  Surely, the ideas of consent, equality and respect were no longer things we had to teach our boys, they were innate in the society we lived in.

I have long since left my precious, private, liberal arts bubble where I was so equally valued. I’ve been grabbed by strange men in dark bars and honked and whistled at on the short walk from my car to my office. Strangers demand I smile, as if they have any authority over my feelings or face.  This has all been written off as “things men do” and I’m told I should be flattered. I’m too familiar with the feeling of darting to my parked car at night, keys firmly gripped between my third and forth finger, ‘just in case’.  I’ve been made to feel unsafe by the very idea of walking anywhere alone. I question what I wear before I leave for a night out, because God forbid I look like I’m “asking for it”.  I hold my hand over my drink and always carry it to the bathroom with me. ‘Pretty’ is my rent to pay for existing. My thighs are too large and I feel guilty for eating foods I love.  I know my male peers will earn more money than I do over a lifetime and eventually, I’ll be expected to make a choice between a family and a career because it’s only the exception to be able to truly have the best of both worlds.

I know the consuming fear and worry of maybe, possibly, accidentally conceiving a child with an exclusive, loving and committed partner that we have no means of supporting; the idea that taking a pill a little late one time could derail my entire, carefully planned life. I’m lucky enough to know the immense relief of finding out there was no fetus in me – that I wouldn’t have to navigate a complicated bureaucracy to facilitate a medical decision concerning my life, my family and my body. I know the shame that comes from having to look a parent in their face and tell them you made a mistake that could potentially ruin everything we’ve worked so hard for.

I know now that I am lucky my cousins were taught about consent and respect and equality, because as it turns out, that’s not innate and some of our men think they can digitally penetrate unconscious women behind dumpsters and get away with a slap on the wrist. It turns out, they’re right. Other’s think they can grab us by the pussy without consent and they can still be elected President of the United States. Turns out, they’re also right.

The gravity of what my aunt said to me that evening at dinner never really weighed on me until we were deep into this election cycle. And now, I get it. White American Men are so uncomfortable with the ideas she and my uncle worked so hard to instill in their boys, that they will elect any alternative.

I am lucky. I am a white, suburban middle class Natural Born American citizen. I will continue to have less than because I was born with a vagina, but hey. That’s standard, as we can plainly see. I am afraid for my friends. I’m afraid for my friends who don’t meet the heteronormative standard. I am afraid for my friends who worship the Koran. I am afraid for my friends whose parents did what they needed to do to get to America and support their families. I am afraid for the world who have previously seen America as a place of hope and refuge. I am afraid because a nation who elected our first Black President is now voting at a majority percentage in line with the KKK. I’m afraid that we’ve made it OK for people to hate openly.  I’m afraid because this all seems eerily familiar to a story about a girl hidden away in an attic in Amsterdam that I read in 4th grade.

I have never been sadder and I have never been more hopeful that I am wrong.

Food, Commitment and Me

I have always been a big kid, literally. Since day 1. I essentially came walking out of my mother fully grown. My dad infamously tells the story of how the day after I was born, laying down I reached from the crook of his elbow to his finger tips. He carried me around the hospital like a football until warned several times by a nurse that he shouldn’t be holding me that way.

I was just a big child. I was a big child who was brought home to a family where, simply put, food meant love. As the first grandchild, I was and am very well loved.

I was big, but I was never fat. As a person who has had genetics working against her and who values sleep above all else (except food), I was always a fairly active kid. I am a person who hates running but really loves a runners high. While I never really excelled in any one athletic pursuit, almost all of my childhood to early-teen memories involve me, outside, doing something. I played Softball avidly for most of my young life and loved basketball from the time I was seven until seventeen, when real life responsibilities intervened. I dabbled in team sports in college – holding brief stints on both crew and rugby, but my academic and professional obligations took precedent in my schedule and cut my careers short.

The amount of time I spent running around as kid made it OK that my family never ordered for me off of the children’s menu. I liked food, and even though I was a big kid, I was healthy. I remember more than one time where my tears over one thing or another were tempered by a rice ball or a trip to taco bell; a trip to taco bell where I, as a 10 year old, ordered and consumed all of a taco salad and a burrito supreme which combines for 1,180 calories and 55g of fat. This, of course, was combined with an adult sized mountain dew. This doesn’t make my mom a bad mom. She loved me and nutritional awareness was much less of a thing 25 years ago. She was feeding her hungry child her very favorite food – no more than once or twice a month.

It wasn’t until 9th or 10th grade that my growth was finally outpaced by my male peers. I topped out around 5’9″ and about 170lbs. Even my pediatrician was amazed to hear how much I weighed, because I simply didn’t look it. I was on the upper end of healthy weight but he said all of my numbers were perfect and I had no reason to worry as long as I stayed active.

And then college happened. I stopped playing basketball and softball and lived in a dorm where Subway and french fries and all of the caramel lattes were less than 100 yards away at all times, where naps and alcohol were plentiful and traveling cross campus in the rain to the gym seemed equidistant to climbing Kilimanjaro. I gained around 20lbs Freshman year purely by accident. I went from being someone who rarely worried about her weight to someone who obsessed over it. I had been the same size since 7th grade and then suddenly my pants didn’t fit me anymore.

Early in college, I joined the past generations of women in my family who spent their Saturday mornings at Weight Watchers meetings, listening to other women sob about how the simply didn’t have time in their day for the gym that week or they added extra water to their diet by watering down their coffee (that’s a real thing I heard once). I deprived myself and took diet pills that made my anxiety so bad I once literally lost sleep worrying about a New York Rangers regular season game that hadn’t happened yet. I can’t even think about the irreparable damage I’ve done to myself trying to shed a few pounds. Then The Day happened. I sat through a Weight Watchers meeting with my aunt on a day my string-bean-little-cousin was out of school and attended the meeting with her. At only 10 years old, she was wondering if she needed to diet to lose weight. Why was she here?! She doesn’t need this! I was suddenly so scared for her and her tiny, impressionable brain. On this day, I realized this was the same environment I grew up in and I was severely damaged.

My whole life, every female role model I ever had was always trying to lose 15 lbs. And yeah, I lost 15 Lbs on Weight Watchers and then it got boring and tedious and I gained 20. So now what I know is they were simply doing it wrong. They would weigh in at Weight Watchers on Friday and proceed to binge all weekend only to have to start over on Monday. It is a temporary solution for a permanent challenge. My mom, a diabetic and one of my heroes in life, is an amazing person and literally gives everything and every minute to our family. When I look at her schedule, I genuinely understand her when she says she doesn’t have time to exercise. My greatest wish is she would sacrifice some of what she does for us to make time for herself in a meaningful way.  My mom has never eaten *bad* foods. However, she and for that matter, my whole family, has always simply eaten too much and indulged too often. I watched my mom find herself in a place in life where bariatric surgery was her only real option and suddenly, I was on the same path – too busy to make time to take care of myself and just eating too much too often. I was 20. I knew this would only get worse with age. This is what every woman in my family has ever, ever done as far as I can see.

I sat down and evaluated – I have quit softball, quit lacrosse (after 2 weeks), quit basketball, quit dance, quit crew, quit rugby, quit kickboxing, quit my gym membership – all because other things had taken precedent. I spent years crying because I was always too big for bikinis or I need to buy “plus sized” Halloween costumes. I hated not being able to shop with my friends because stores didn’t carry my size. I hated feeling “big”. I hated the fact that I’d grown to a 200lb 21 year old. I needed to commit to something and I needed to learn to love my body enough to take care of it.

I then tapped in to some insane part of my brain and found CrossFit and my Jetty family. I loved it and I was more committed to anything I’d ever done before. I wasn’t excelling but it was challenging and the people around me inspired me to do more…until I was almost a year in and was seeing no real results. I was more confident and happier in my skin, but I wasn’t losing the weight my peers were losing and I couldn’t figure out why.

I went to my coach to complain and he looked at me and said “Maybe stop fucking eating tacos and drinking beer.”

And he was right. It hurt a lot, but he was right.

I was working my ass off and every night I was ruining my results by indulging constantly. Because in my life and my family, food means love and my parents love me and my boyfriend loves me and I was eating shit non-stop. I was working out harder than I ever had in my life and I was still gaining weight. In summer of 2015, I reached my heaviest ever weight.

So then I realized I needed to make another commitment, break my cycle of quitting again and this time, it was going to be much harder than exercising, a thing I’d always liked to do. I needed to change my almost 25 year long relationship with food and the things I was putting in my body.

So now, I have a fractured thumb so I’m benched from the gym for an undetermined amount of time but I’m preparing to start on a journey to learn how to take care of my body with what’s on my plate. My hopes are that Whole30 teaches me what bad foods and sugar cravings are doing to my body and my mind. I hope it eases my chronic heart burn and anxiety. I hope it will give me the self-efficacy to help me to commit to things for me and my health rather than prioritizing the feelings of others, always.

I hope I can count on the support of my family and friends but I’m ready to take this on mostly alone because it is a change I need and one I deserve.

Start Date: Oct 26, 2015

Why I Stand with Brian Moore and the Police

I acknowledge that the circumstances into which I happened to have been born afford me a tremendous privilege. I’ve grown up in a middle class suburb in Nassau County, Long Island. It is not mostly white, but it is mostly safe. It’s a very well mixed and diverse community and I grew up surrounded by friends and classmates who looked differently than I did and I never thought of them as anything less than my friends. My parents and family never regarded them as less. I am a white female whose upper-middle class family, provided for consistently by her ever-present blue-collar father, has always been there to support her financially and in all other ways throughout growing up. They’ve provided a stable home for all 24.5 years of my life, which gave me the ability to make the most of the A-class public education I was given in Valley Stream schools and throughout my private college education, which I paid for myself with the help of many banks and my Dad’s good name. (I will likely be paying until it’s time for my grandchildren to start thinking about college.) I work every day of my life to be a person worthy of this privilege because I know not many people in the world have it better than I do. Aside from the “female” part of my situation, I have it, basically, the best there is. I want to deserve everything I’m lucky enough to have in life.

I acknowledge that when I’m pulled over for blowing a stop sign in my suburban neighborhood at 2AM in my black SUV with dark windows, I am probably regarded differently than would be my best friend’s boyfriend, who is an amazing person and treats my friend with respect and kindness and loves her, who we share a neighborhood with, who I adore, but who happens to be a black 6’4″-ish male in his mid-twenties. This is very obviously not fair and a problem that needs to be addressed. I don’t have the answer, but I do acknowledge that there is a problem.

I acknowledge that the number of police officers and retired police officers that comprise my circle of friends and my family gives me a tremendous bias on this issue.

I acknowledge that the position I happened upon in life doesn’t give me a great deal of credibility when dealing with issues such as these; ones that concern race and economic class.

I acknowledge that the senseless loss of Black Lives in America is tragic and disgusting and I wish I knew a solution for it.

I acknowledge that, sadly, racism and hate will likely always exist in the world, inside and out of the police force, because we are all people and people are flawed.

However,

I believe that the media is fueling the fire.

I believe that it’s not fair to hold an entire group of people responsible for the actions of one. “The Police” didn’t kill anyone, however, A Police Officer did and the officers responsible should be held accountable, ideally to a higher degree than would be a civilian. On the same token, I don’t believe that all black people are criminals nor are all white people or police officers innocent of undue violence. I, personally, don’t really care what color you are. I understand that others might, and for that, I’m sorry. I do care if you act in a law abiding manner and approach tenuous situations in a smart way that doesn’t put yourself or others in danger. I care if you respect your home city and the property of others. No, a broken window is not nearly as tragic as the loss of an innocent life but breaking windows won’t bring lives back and it won’t get the kind of attention necessary to address and start discussing the root of the problem on a national level.

I believe more cops are doing their jobs for the right reasons than the media and press would lead you to believe. I also believe there are cops out there who aren’t. I wish there was a better way or any way to differentiate.

I believe my cousin and uncle and friends and Officer Brian Moore, who do accept an inherent risk when taking their position, still deserve the right to walk down the street or go to work without the risk of violence incited solely by the badge they wear for their job.

I believe that Black Lives Matter. I believe Police Lives Matter. I believe that the two are not mutually exclusive.

I believe there is an urgent and important series of conversations that need to be had regarding violence in this country in general.

I hope, above all, that things get better.

How CrossFit Continues to Change my Life: progress in a new year

[WARNING: CrossFit Cult Propaganda ahead] 

First, I can’t say how flattered I am that people have asked when my next blog was coming. That’s so awesome and I appreciate it more than I can say. I’ve been super busy [taking naps] lately but I’m back for now!

Second, I will admit that maybe not all of the changes that I’m talking about here are totally attributed to CrossFit. Some of it may simply be me growing up and figuring shit out for myself, but what the sport has given me shouldn’t be discounted.

Next Friday will be 7 months from the day I started at CrossFit Jetty. In that time, I’ve lost anywhere from 10-15lbs depending on my consistency in training at the moment. For the sake of my own sanity, I don’t weigh or measure myself often so I truly couldn’t give you a super accurate number. Others are definitely seeing more progress faster than I am, but that’s only due to my own choices. It can be frustrating sometimes but I’m not being cheated out of anything here. I struggled to get to the box 3 times a week during the cold months. I knew late winter would be the hardest for me. I still struggle at times with my nutrition choices but that’s life. I like food. It is what it is. It’ll never go away. I can only do the best that I can do. I’m not going to make myself crazy over the occassional French Fry. I applaud my paleo friends. I wish I had that in me. Maybe someday.

Anyway, while my progress on the scale in seven months may not be considered by many as tremendous, I can’t speak highly enough of what I’ve gained so far. (#Gainz)

First, I have to talk about our little family. It’s worth mentioning that CrossFit is not a cheap fitness solution. I hear often from ‘outsiders’ about how much money I would save if I’d just go to a “regular” gym. “You can do all the same things there on your own” they all tell me. Perhaps that’s true. But I won’t because I know myself. The 7:30AM text on a Thursday from Pooch asking me where the hell I am is what keeps me accountable. Having to get my ass up because Nicole’s waiting for me. When I walk in after an extended absence and I hear Dennis call out “Oh look who decided to show up”, Facebook posts from Ashley or Jackie asking where I am when I fail to wake up; It’s all the little things that keep me coming back and 100% make the added expense worth it. But more than anything, and this makes me a little sad to admit, because of the nature of my job and the crazy ass hours I work, I don’t have much of a social life these days. My daily journey to Jetty is the closest thing to a social activity that I get on a daily basis. I’m sure most of them don’t know this, but without these people I sweat next to 3-5 times a week, I surely would’ve totally lost my mind sometime late January.  (Thanks, everyone.)

I am by no means excelling in this sport. My progress is slow and my inconsistency lately certainly doesn’t help. I barely pass as decent on a good day. But, I keep showing up because I love our community. I don’t know if boxes are like this everywhere or if I just lucked out, honestly. I never thought I’d be a person with “gym friends” who enjoyed being there but here I am, sadder that I’m working during a Friday night Open WOD than I was when I had to work on Thanksgiving.

Next, the confidence. I have never been a person who was content working with what I had. The grass was always, always greener. I’ve always wanted thinner legs, clearer skin and fuller hair but at some point, it comes time to accept that there’s only so much you can do. This sport has made me feel better about myself and my abilities than I ever have in my life.  My body amazes me on a daily basis. Every morning I show up exhausted and I think the WOD will definitely kill me and then I inevitably survive and that’s so awesome. As I’ve said earlier, I have never been really truly ok with my body and what I look like but who cares what I look like when I can do such cool shit?! Never in a million years did I think I’d ever lift 115lbs over my head but ya know what? I can. Like, multiple times. I’m not going to lose 30 lbs in 2 months. But I’m not looking for quick results here. I’m slowly getting stronger and I see that and that’s way cooler than it would be to have skinny legs or Kardashian hair, none of which I really worked for.  But that’s just one girl’s opinion, I guess.

Today I cut off a bunch of hair because no matter how many vitamins and garbage I take, I am never going to have big, voluminous Kardashian/Carrie Underwood hair – it’s simply not in the cards for me. So, I can keep growing my hair and wishing it was something it just isn’t, or I can cut it and do my own thing. Being more at peace and accepting of what and who I am has put me in the best place I think I’ve ever been mentally. I’m learning to work with what I have rather than wishing away all the stuff I don’t like and being down on myself constantly about stuff that doesn’t really matter.

And what have all these good vibez and confidence bubbles gotten me, you ask? Besides a better attitude on a daily basis – a wonderful, wonderful boyfriend whom I’m quite fond of. CrossFit did not give me DJ but it did give me the kick in the ass necessary to stop being so hard on myself constantly.  Turns out, if you’re out there in the world hating on yourself all the time, it’ll be pretty difficult for others to see how cool you are deep down inside. You get what you give. I sound like a fortune cookie, you say? Yep. I do. Except it’s all true and I’m walking proof.

If you asked me last March if I would ever be with such a kind, truly great guy I would’ve called you a crazy person.  I never saw it prior, but it’s really hard to demand what you deserve from people when you don’t actually believe you deserve it. There are some people who I allowed to be pretty shitty to me, in retrospect. I never felt good enough. I always correlated my weight or my perception of myself to my value as a human, which is crazy. When I started to see value in myself is when, I guess, others were able to see it as well since I’d known Deej for like 5 years and it took him this long to figure it out.

Anyway, I’m super happy. That’s really the short version, I guess. I’ll let you know when I nail that handstand.

My Very First Progress Update

Now that it’s public knowledge that I struggle with body image and my weight, I’m allowed to do this. What I look like is my achilles heel of my otherwise exceptional [and humble] persona.

I spent the better part of my summer crying and starving and stressed over this dress:

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I bought it on clearance around Christmas of last year to wear to a friend’s wedding. I was absolutely in love with it and its 70% off price-tag.  When it came in the mail, it ran about a size too small, but it was December and I had til late July to fit into it so I made it my priority.

Fast forward to late June and I still couldn’t get the zipper all the way up without help and small war. I was crushed and stressed and miserable.  By some small miracle, on July 25 I was able to get the zipper up (with the help of a friend) but I was not comfortable. I barely squeezed in and the cut outs on the back made me super self conscious of my “back fat”. I spent the whole night of my friends’ beautiful wedding worried about my back fat. In what insane world is that acceptable? There are no good pictures of me in this dress the day of the wedding because until I was at least 6 drinks in, I avoided the cameras unless I was sitting down, so here ya go. This is me in the dress, late July:

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I was bulgy and not happy.

The next day, I realized this was crazy. This was the day I really came to terms with how severe my body image issues were.  First of all, I could’ve had a wonderful (probably better) time in any dress that fit me. I had made such an ordeal out of “THE dress” and it totally wasn’t worth the stress.  Had I just picked another one, my back fat wouldn’t have been a concern and I would’ve felt better. My friends had a beautiful wedding and instead of exclusively celebrating them, I was worried about what I was wearing. That’s certifiable.

Second of all, I was never putting myself through that again.  It was time to make changes.  Not any one size is better than any other and I’ve always said as long as you’re happy and healthy at the size you are, then bully for you.  But I clearly was not. I signed up for crossfit shortly after and my transformation began, as previously discussed.

I’m not one for bragging about small milestones. I’m very much of the all-or-nothing mindset. But, today, I am exactly 1 week short of 3 months at CrossFit Jetty. Today is also the first time I’ve stepped on a scale in over a month, as the numbers early on grew to be frustrating and I felt weren’t totally representative of my progress.  Also, yesterday, Pooch called me “Skinny-face” and got me wondering. This morning, out of curiosity of how much damage my recent vacation had done and curious what the hell Pooch was seeing that I wasn’t, I stepped on the scale in my kitchen and learned I was down a full 10lbs from my heaviest weight, 203lbs (A number only my doctor, family and very few friends have been privy to until right now).

Being a third of the way to my goal weight loss (30lbs) was pretty exciting but also still not representative of the inches I’ve lost since I’ve started lifting. Since I never took my official starting measurements, I figured just for fun/masochism, I’d track down this stupid dress and give it a shot.

IMG_2162The zipper went up without any help or struggle and there are no back bulges to be seen and I am over the moon. I hate this dress for what it did to me. I never want to wear it again but also I want to wear it everywhere because I beat it without depriving myself or making myself miserable.  I’m [slowly] winning and it’s so cool.

But, it wouldn’t be possible without the Jetty family. I’d be remiss to not thank Dennis and Pooch and Mike and everyone I work out with every day (I haven’t had the chance to meet Ryan yet, but I’m sure you’re also a wonderful coach).  Especially Nicole for getting me out of bed when I’m extra sleepy or it’s cold. Thank you all for pushing me and inspiring me to keep coming back.  I never thought I’d be a person with “gym friends” who missed it while I was away and was genuinely excited to come back and work off all my Mickey-Mouse waffles and soft pretzels, but here I am, in this stupid dress.

How Crossfit Is Gradually Changing My Life

[I don’t like to talk publicly about my body and food issues because it’s probably the most difficult thing I deal with day-to-day. I’ve never had the best relationship with myself and fitness but recently things are a bit different and I’m excited to talk about all the changes I’ve been making. So, sorry for my Crossfit Cult rant, but you don’t have to read it if you don’t wanna]

I’m tired of eating for the bikini that never comes. It never comes because 2 months into my New-Year-New-Me-Diet, I’m frustrated and emotional from depriving myself and I slide not gradually but immediately back into laziness and back into the Taco Bell Drive Thru.

I’m tired of working out for 6 months and feeling generally okay by the time it’s almost warm out and then giving up and letting celebratory beers rob me of my progress.

I’m tired of running like a hamster on a wheel to inevitably end up crying in a dressing room because I’m unhappy and mentally punishing myself for everything I’ve ever put in my mouth. This has been a guarantee in my life at least twice a year since I’m thirteen years old. I’m tired of feeling like the outside has some direct correlation to the inside; unworthy, not good enough, unspecial.  I’m tired of wondering if maybe if I were 20lbs lighter, he’d like me more.

I’m tired of dodging cameras and “misplacing” bathing suits when it’s time to go to the beach.  I’m tired of hiding bumps and bulges because my clothes don’t fit. I’m tired of Spanx. I’m tired of dieting. I’m tired of depravation.  I’m tired of forcing myself to be committed to a routine I’m pretending to like because maybe, someday, I’ll see some results. I’m tired of skinny being the ultimate, unattainable goal.

I’m tired of progress exclusively being measured by numbers on a scale.

I’m tired of having to start over. And I have been tired for a really long time. And then one morning, I found an ounce of insane courage to try this thing that seemed totally undoable, so unlike me and nothing I would ever even remotely enjoy. And I almost immediately fell in love.

I remember laying in my bed, absolutely terrified.  I had already rescheduled once. I had to get up and go. There was no escaping it. Worse comes to worse, I’m terrible and I never go back. So I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed and went.

I was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of rubber.  ‘I will never get used to this’ I thought. I since have.  This place was unlike anywhere I’d ever worked out. And, I was the only one there. Just me and the coach.

“Ok, so we’re going to do pull-ups”

I laughed.

He looked at me.

On my first day, I could do 1 pull up with two resistance bands, kind of.  On Monday, 6 weeks later, I did 10 sets of 10 with the help of a band.  Next week, I’ll work with a band with less resistance and make my arms work harder. Every night I go to bed terrified and convinced that I could never complete tomorrow’s WOD and every morning I walk out of the box so proud that I did and hungry to do more tomorrow.

Last week, I put a power drop snatch up over my head – a movement I’d had a really hard time with since day one. I fell three times.

The first time I fell, Pooch told me what I did wrong.
The second time I fell, he laughed. He told me to adjust my feet.
Time three: “Stop fucking around and stick it, Jess. You got it.”

And, then I did.  65lbs up over my head. I wanted nothing more than to stay there and throw them up all day. It was the best I felt all week. It wasn’t a ton of weight but it was more than I’d ever done. And that’s what it’s about: your own personal best, being better than yesterday.

There are no mirrors in the box so when I wander in after my five hours of sleep, I’m less concerned with the fact that I look miserable and exhausted than I am with the challenge that’s in front of me.  I can’t see the sweat pouring down my face until it hits the mat. Only then do I know how terrible I must really look. But no one else cares. So I don’t either.  And without that distraction, I can power through it.

The people there know me and they push me to be better.  I am much quicker to think that I can’t do it than they are. The time will pass whether you’re working or not, so you might as well keep going. The last one going is always the one with the most support.  And, while it’s never an outwardly competitive environment, I always want to be as good as they are.  I am inspired by them every day.  And they are moms, dads, kids, ex-military, ex-fat-kids-turned-elite-athletes. Each and every one of them amazes me.

And slowly, I see changes happening. Small, gradual ones in my body, but bigger ones to my life.  I’m no longer eating to squeeze into my dress. I’m eating to fuel my body. I don’t want Taco Bell because it will slow me down. I won’t surrender all my hard work to a couple of extra beers. I don’t cry in fitting rooms, but I am shopping for a smaller jean size. I feel my outside starting to reflect who I am – strong, willful and very special.  My weight is not correlated to my worth by any means.  I don’t have the opportunity to slide back into lazy because for the first time, I love what I’m doing. Waking up still is pretty terrible but I’m addicted to being there and getting through it and proving that I can. I love seeing the weight on the bar go up. Those are the pounds that matter. I’m getting stronger every day and I’m not running to nowhere anymore.  Skinny isn’t the goal because I look at the other girls there – real girls, who are there, who are younger than me and not some far away picture of a model who may or not be real – and they’re ripped and it’s amazing and that’s what I want.  They use their body to its full potential and that’s beautiful.

It’s been less than two months, but I drank the koolaid. I’m all in.  I can’t wait to see where this takes me.  I’ll let you know.