Saved by the Barbell

By Emily Beers

In Athletes

January 16, 2012

PDF Article

A group of women find strength of body and mind in CrossFit, giving writer Emily Beers the courage to tell her own story of self-doubt.

“The Flower that Blooms in Adversity is the most Rare and Beautiful of all…” was written by Chris Schaalo of CrossFit Taranis, and it told the story of two-time individual CrossFit Games competitor Alicia Connors.

In the post on the Old Country Strong blog, Schaalo went on to reveal that Connors attempted suicide a few years ago after a long battle with depression, anxiety and eating disorders. When I read Connors’ story, I subconsciously found myself back in that place—to a day I had blocked out for years.

All of a sudden, I am 10 again and at gymnastics practice. I see the scale under the coach’s arm; I know what it’s for. I rush to the bathroom, panicked. Then I decide to try it: I cautiously stick my finger down my throat for the first time. To my surprise, it works. I throw up.

I don’t feel any better. I know that I’m still about to be exposed on the scale as the heaviest girl there. There’s no way out of this. I leave the bathroom shaking and join my training mates in a line.

One by one, girls step onto the scale. Finally, it’s my turn. Heart pounding, red-faced, I cautiously mount the scale. It spits out a number. I weigh 96 lb., a solid 30 lb. more than the others

I am horrified.

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9 Comments on “Saved by the Barbell”


wrote …

Hi Emily,
Thanks for a wonderful article. Both my daughter's are good athletes in their own areas and neither fits the mold of fitness (read skinny fat) or the "right" body type that is marketed by the fitness/model industry. They are both exceptionally strong and mentally tough with "big engines". Still, they struggle with looking a certain way. I am glad you have gotten over gives me hope for them! Squats and milk,b___es (although I'm a paleo guy myself!)


wrote …

I loved this article and it goes to the heart of what I've seen happen with my family, all of whom are significantly overweight, and a road I was travelling down very quickly, until I was introduced to CrossFit. I have recently made a major lifestyle change in terms of my eating habits and along with continuing my CrossFit training it has been a miracle. The lifestyle change that I made was to become a vegan, and because of this and the strides I have made I've actually gotten my family to start their own vegetarian diet, although they are taking smaller steps. This leads to the only problem that I had with the article which is the implication that a vegan lifestyle is obsessive or ineffective. Like any eating habit, when it's done incorrectly or unnaturally it will not work; however, when done properly it can be most effective. I realize that the article does not say this outright and I just wanted to point out that for anyone considering a vegan diet it can be extremely effective in terms of healthy weight loss and increased energy levels, along with muscle gains. Otherwise, it was a phenomenal article and thank you Ms. Breer for writing it.


wrote …

Yeah Kelsey!!!!!!!!! Not only is she beautiful she is one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with, she is rad!!!


wrote …

I thank God for all these beautiful, strong Crossfit women forged her image.


wrote …

I'm just gonna say it. Women with muscles are sexy. Plain and simple! Posterior Chain!? Yes please! Obliques!? Damn right! Delts!? You bet! I could go on, but I'm preaching to the choir.


wrote …

Such a great article! I have struggled with body issues my entire life and CrossFit has taught me to embrace my body and the strength and power it gives me. I literally laughed out loud when I read the part about Plenty of Fish! I have received many of the same types of comments because I have a picture of myself doing Grace at Barbells for Boobs and have also had one person tell me I should take my picture down. Usually it's they typical "you could crush me" or "remind me not to arm wrestle you." Thanks so much for writing this article!


wrote …

Here is my story. This article is a true inspiration. AWESOME!!! Thanks for writing

2 years ago I was in intensive outpatient treatment for an eating disorder, 14 months ago I made the decision to stop drinking, and a year ago I fell into crossfit. I had no clue what crossfit was, I loved to work out and was always up for a new good work out.
I was introduced to my trainer and coach James Massa through a friend. I thought I would try working out with him for a month or so, to switch up my workouts a little. Before my first week of working with James was over, I was hooked to Crossfit, and have been working out at Crossfit X factor in NW Portland for about a year now.
When I started, I was doing pull ups with a band, didnt have a clue what a snatch was, and needed a good amount of work on my gymnastics skills. Today I can do a muscle up, working toward snatching more weight frequently, and increased my deadlift by 55lbs to 275lbs.
Crossfit has changed my life.It has made me truly believe that Strong is Beautiful. I've always been athletic, but never able to embrace and appreciate my athletic build. Crossfit has helped me to own that and embrace my athletic body. Today I can finally say "I love my body."
After crossfitting for about 4 months, and watching the crossfit games, someone made a comment to me about competing. I began thinking about it, and decided that was exactly what I wanted to do. I talked to James about it, and he told me that anything is possible. I kept that mentality in my head as I continued to train and get better.
I began to increase my training, getting in strength workouts and WOD work. I have visited different boxes when im on vacation. I try to take in everything and all the material I learn from others.
Currently I am working so hard to be the best I can be. I do day's of double workouts and days of working only on my weaknesses. I am working toward the Crossfit games 6 days a week at X Factor. If thats strength, mobility, cardio, or WOD work. I am willing and ready to do what it takes to make it to the crossfit games, and put my strength, disipline, drive, and competitiveness to the test!
Carleen Lessard


replied to comment from Carleen Lessard

Carleen, good for you and "Strong is Beautiful" , never let some skinny, bony model type from the cover of some magazine dictate to you what is beautiful. Strong is Beautiful!!


wrote …

First off, what a great article. I truly enjoy reading Emily Beers' writing. Second off as a guy, it is my opinion (and I am sure many will agree with me) crossfit women are probably some of the best looking women on earth period. I have always been a huge fan of crossfit women, both for their strength and their beauty, and I am glad that it is helping women realize the connection between being fit and healthy and being confident and sexy.
During my current deployment I often look around the crossfit website and read articles in the journal, and without even noticing, I will often have a group of guys around me asking me to click on that picture or, download that video. Of course all of these pictures and videos are of our very own sexy crossfit women. I will usually do them one better and show them a video of these women doing something that these guys couldn't even dream of doing. With mouths agape, they often ask me to start showing them how to crossfit so they don't look like idiots when they get back home, join a box and start trying to get dates with crossfit women. Funny how that works.
On a personal note, I thank the current crossfit women for blazing the path that now allows me to knock out butterfly kipping pullups and snatches better since some of those crossfit women were the ones who showed me how to do those exercises properly. Thanks again.


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