17.1

17.1 is done and dusted…at least for me it is.

Don’t believe me?

I’ve already submitted my score, but before you go search for my name, let’s finish  this fantastic blogpost okay!

Confession, I was not going to do the Open. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love CrossFit. I mean why else would I put up with toes to bar if I didn’t love it? However there is something about competition that makes me sick, sick, sick to my stomach. Sweaty palms, butterflies karate punching me in the stomach, you name it, I have  all the symptoms of a very nervous competitor. In the past year training at Fit 5ive, I slowly learnt to harness that fear & nervousness and turn it into positive energy. Nevertheless I still didn’t feel that I was ready enough for the Open. Hadn’t done a muscle up in ages (4 months to be precise,) and oh dear LORD, let’s not talk about toes to bar. If I’m being completely honest, it was the thought of having to potentially do toes to bar and double swinging there like a monkey, that was keeping me from signing up. I managed to avoid all conversations pertaining to registering for the Open and then the day that 17.1 was released, blackmailed by my box and my athlete* I, Aurélie Ariel, registered for my second Open. On paper 17.1 looked like a dream, I love snatches and surprise I am actually one of the crazies who loves burpees (just don’t make me do them for time okay!)
I go through my first round of snatches and I think to myself:

wow this is beautiful, I’m sweaty but beautiful. Thank goodness I listened to Beyoncé before getting here. I am Beyoncé. I’m representing Africa at regionals aren’t I?

And then came the burpees!!! Oh my goodness, the burpees. I completely gassed myself out, each jump up that wretched box felt like I had already done 71.5 million burpee box jumps before that. I managed to get 185 reps which I must be honest I’m not too proud of but after having attempted 17.1 again this morning,  that’s a score that I will take. Somewhere in between the pain of Saturday and Monday, I finally broke through a wall that I haven’t been able to get past in ages. I competed against myself, for myself and for fun. I can’t remember the last time I truly enjoyed CrossFit. I got so caught up in chasing PR’s, ticking training off my to do list, that I forgot to just enjoy the sport. There’s a lot of talking that I’ve had to do with myself, a lot of behind the scenes work that I’ve had to do and still have to do but I’m listening to my bestie Givs when she told me to slow down and just enjoy the journey.  The journey isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it is DISGUSTINGLY ugly but it ends up being worth it. So I’ve removed my eyes from looking at the end goal and now I focus on being present in every moment, in every wod, in every single rep.

My MVP always? It has to be my LORD and Saviour Jesus. He literally smacks negativity out of my head every single second. On Saturday when I was nervous, He came in with just the right sprinkling of peace to remind me to meditate on all things lovely, honourable and pure (Philippians 4:8) and I read quite a cheeky verse before heading out. It made me chuckle at how witty our God can be and also backs up my theory that CrossFit is biblical and God wants everyone to do CrossFit haha:

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Hebrews 12:12 (NLT)

I had this verse scrawled on my left arm because that’s the side that I usually complain about. Through each rep whenever I felt like my lungs were on fire and I couldn’t squeeze a rep out, I could hear God telling me to take a new grip with my tired hands and to strengthen those weak knees. And do you know what? It totally works listening to God. I don’t know why we don’t do it more often. There is so much foolishness and injury (since we’re talking CrossFit here,) that I could’ve kept myself from if I listened to His voice in those moments where I get carried away by my own foolishness. I had such a blast on Saturday and I cannot wait for 17.2. Whatever it is, I know that I’ll be ready for it.

In this Open, for me it’s not about the leaderboard.  The fact is that it isn’t always about the leaderboard, sometimes it’s about refining and honing the athlete that you are, into the athlete that you want to be.

So let’s goooooooooooo!!! Take a new grip, strengthen those knees, you’ve got it.

I’ve got it!

Oh and here’s some Beyoncé to make your day!

*to find out who my top athlete is, you’ll just have to come visit my box CrossFit 4E

#Goals

I love the word goals.

Last night as I watched Beyoncé’s Grammy performance, I thought #pregnancygoals. Her dance moves…#goals, her body pre-pregnancy, you guessed it…#goals! A couple of weeks ago at the box, I was admiring Andreia’s butt! If you have been lucky enough to see her butt then you’ll understand why; #buttgoals. A few moments later I was on instagram, mildly stalking Sam Briggs, going through a heavy bout of muscle up envy, and as soon as I saw her abs, do you want to know what I thought…#goals, #goals, #goals. And then I thought about how much cardio (which is hardio,) that I’d have to do in order to have abs visible through whatever I’m wearing…one day! This is where the part of me that is a little bit wiser stopped me in my tracks and asked me a question that I’m gonna unpack with you today: what if you were your goals? What if (if you’re pregnant,) you were your pregnancy goals? What if your body was your dream body? What if your life was your #goals? What would happen then? Would you have to take some time to truly work on yourself and the things that you can change in order to put that hashtag on your life? What if  instead of dissecting your life, and thinking about how far you still have to go, you used that time to celebrate your achievements, and if we’re still talking about CrossFit, what about celebrating the body you’ve worked so hard for and are still working hard for?

 

Because of the nature of my relationship with God, 9 times out of 10 when He knows I need to be corrected, it’ll be through something that happens at the box. Well yesterday after the WOD, I was talking to my coach and he asked me if I would be entering the Open. For those of you not into CrossFit (not judging you…a lot) the CrossFit Open is a five week competion, five workouts, one released each week, and it is without a doubt, the highlight of the CrossFit calendar. I said to my coach how I didn’t feel ready and how I just knew that I would suck, I would not be entering the Open because in my mind, I had already decided that I would bomb out. My toes to bar, they aren’t anybody’s goals, my deadlifts…maybe on a good day. I bet he didn’t know I could see that far into the future. Naturally I got a bit cocky and thought “well that settles it, I have presented valid points as to why I should not do the Open. I win.” Now if you have a great coach, you will NEVER EVER win any argument like that where you belittle yourself, highlight all your weaknesses and throw yourself under the bus. For the sake of not making this post too long, I will share one thing that my coach said that I’ve been mulling on for the past 24 hours and what my plan of action is. He told me to stop being so hard on myself, to stop thinking that everyone is judging me. To stop thinking that everyone is judging my failures as harshly as I do. Did I mention how much I hate my coach sometimes?  This morning when I got to work, I started a devotional by Craig Groeschel entitled ‘Words to Live By,’ and as I watched the video (which you can do by clicking on this link,) it is as though God crept into my mind to remind me how my stinking thinking was keeping me far from living a life that I could be proud of calling my own, and placing that goals hashtag in front of it. This is but one of the things the stuck out:

Our lives move on in the direction of our strongest thoughts. Your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Are you excited about the direction your thoughts are taking you?

I just about started to cry as I thought about the HONEST answer to that question. There is not a part of me that is excited about the direction my thoughts are taking me. For the purpose of this article, let’s keep it as CrossFit related as we can. If I think about the athlete I am right now and my current thought process, nowhere in the picture that I paint or have painted in my mind, is there an emotionally sound athlete. Nowhere in this negative picture driven by my thoughts, is there an athlete who does not easily get rattled. Nowhere in this picture is there an athlete who I would place the hashtag, goals in front of a picture of her. This is the reality. I would do the work but in the midst of buckling down and working, I would berate myself for not going fast enough, for not being strong enough, for not being good enough. And you know what, even though no one else can hear your thoughts audibly, (that would suck,) your body can! It begins to behave in the direction that your thoughts are telling you it’s going to behave. It’s great to be aware of my stinking thinking, to a certain  extent I’ve always known how detrimental I am to myself, it’s so much more easier for me to believe in others, see the good in them and celebrate their successes, than it is to celebrate (humbly,) my achievements. This awareness is great BUT what is the solution? Well after watching Pastor Groeschel’s message, I finally know what to do. Positive affirmations said aloud, each and every single morning until my words match God’s words about my life. This is one that I will be repeating for however long it takes for me to get it through my thick skull that I am enough.

My words, thoughts and imagination are under the power of Christ. I take all thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

 

It lines up to Romans 12:2,

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

My prayer for you and for me especially today, is that God would renew your mind, renew your thinking, especially if it has been stinky like mine, and for Him to show you just how strong, beautiful AND capable you are. YES YOU ARE! 

In the words of Barack Obama; YES I CAN! YES YOU CAN! YES WE CAN!!! 

Skinny vegan

Very early on, at the start of my vegan journey, I remember someone asking me how come I wasn’t a skinny vegan…almost three years down the line, I still haven’t figured out how all this kale and broccoli can be so disrespectful to me, and hasn’t yet caused my butt to whittle down at least a size down. I must be honest, one of the (very selfish,) motivating factors for me about becoming vegan was the success stories I had read about people who had lost a ton of weight simply by cutting out animal products, and if you read my previous post (barbells & eating disorders,) you’ll know that for the bulimic girl that I was, to lose weight while embarking on a path that would reduce cruelty to animals and to the environment, was one that I was more than ready for! I’ll admit that it wasn’t the healthiest start. I was more fixated on being skinny than any other factor. A skinny me, imagine that! A me that would be able to find jeans that would finally get over my thunder thighs, and my butt. Imagine that; a me that would wear jeans, that was completely unheard of! 

In my first year of veganism, I dropped 4kg (my cheeks held all my chubbyness,) and I started to feel a lot more confident and comfortable in my body, I started to run more. I started to run in shorts. I bought crop tops. I wore crop tops… I was obsessed with crop tops. I became a lot more body confident and wanted to get stronger. 
Enter the beautiful sport of CrossFit. In September of 2014, when I started CrossFit, I felt that this (CrossFit,) would galvanize me to the pulpit where I would gain the title of hottest vegan the world had ever seen, and the bonus… my butt would shrink. My butt goal was Kylie Minogue in “spinning around.” I may or may not have wanted to buy myself a pair of gold hot pants…

Well a month or so later, my arms getting a lot more defined, my stomach even flatter; during a session of back squats, I decide to do as Beyoncé tells you to do in “get me bodied,” drop down almost hit the floor with it (aka ass to grass,) and my body naturally being too bootylicious for the world, I hear a rip. Yup, I had just ripped my tights, I had to think of very strategic ways to squat without exposing anything. Let’s just say that on that day, I did not break 90 😂 It was on that day that I realized that I would never be a skinny vegan. To be fair I still have days where I’m convinced that if I just eat a little bit less, I’ll drop more weight, but then I get hungry and forget that resolution. This plantbased diet of mine has allowed to put on weight when I feel like I look too lean, which by normal definition of the word, isn’t even what a true lean looks like…whatever a true lean is anyway. This plant based diet has also allowed me to lose weight when I feel like I look too heavy; that’s when I cut down on pasta, bread and potatoes. 

I have to be honest, I was mildly devastated when 1 year later I was still the same size I was when I first became a vegan. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that God obviously wants me to have a booty and that no matter how hard I pray, my weight gain will always be booty first before it travels up to my pancake chest. I have had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you’re just always going to be that girl with the “big, big booty, what you got a big booty” 🎶 and that’s okay, because let’s face it, and we know this; no one ever writes songs about small bottoms. I’ve had to choose strength over aesthetics every single day because 9 times out of 10, when you have suffered with an eating disorder, you battle body dysmorphia every single day. You have to choose to see your body differently, see yourself as a racehorse, not just looking like one but being one. This has meant that I have had to learn to prioritize my body performing well, over aesthetics. I will be honest, there are days when I want to cry at how my body looks like. Crying is next level isn’t it haha, but on some days, particularly my hot pink shorts days that I do love so much, I look at my bum and I feel like a pink elephant and I adore elephants 🐘 but on some days you do wish that you were a lithe gazelle. It’s not gonna happen for me though and I think I’m FINALLY truly okay with that. My goal is strength, speed and better gymnastic ability. My goal is no longer a size that has been stitched on a label. There are days when I try on clothing and I have to do some deep belly breathing to not go into a panic attack about now having to try size L. Once I get over that I am able to appreciate how strong and ready for life my body looks. I look rock steady and even if I have my emotionally charged days where I feel like the wheels are coming off my train; at least my body fools people into thinking “hey this girl has it together!” It must also be the highlighter that I apply, it makes me look alive even on my insanely dead feeling days. 

I thought I’d end this post with an example of what I eat in a daily basis. As much as I adore my doughnuts and French fries, 🍟 I am 9 times out of 10; a very healthy eating vegan. I love my kale smoothies, my freshly pressed green apple and pepper juices (try it, it’s yum!) I don’t believe in the starving vegan misconception. There is so much to eat and I eat a lot of it. The only supplement I have to take is a vitamin B complex, other than that, my iron levels are normal (even donate blood regularly,) I’m as fit as a fiddle and my blood pressure is also within the healthy range. Eating vegan helps with my depression too but we’ll talk about that in another post. 
Breakfast: massive bowl of oats, I’m assuming that I measure out roughly 500g. I’m a little bit of a 🐷 To my oats I add cocoa powder, a vegan protein powder (currently using the vanilla ice cream flavored one by Biogen,) chia seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds. I sometimes add brown sugar if I have a sweet craving. Sugar is probably my biggest weakness.
Snacks throughout the day: fruit (apples are my faves,) and grapes. 
Lunch: I usually have a sandwich with a stir fry mix inside,( peppers, kale & Frys chunky strips.) Depending on what I made for meal prep, I have that too. Usually pasta with a tomato based sauce. 

Dinner: this also depends on what I’ve made for the week. Sometimes I’m not even that hungry to have a full meal. What I have noticed though is that I am always hungry. Sometimes that’s the biggest struggle as a vegan; always being hungry but having to travel 6 million kilometers to find a place that hasn’t caused harm to animals in order to feed you. 
What saves me is meal prepping, in my early and inexperienced days as a vegan, I would be lazy with my meal prep and I would not only starve, but my energy levels were deathly low. When life gets busy, I sometimes forget this and then I have to give myself a swift kick in the booty and prep. 
The point that I am trying to make through this post is that being vegan (especially if you’re an athlete,) will not result in you losing your gains. Look at my butt and arms for proof. It is possible to be ripped and shredded even more than a grater, without causing harm to animals. Being vegan is one of the best decisions I could have ever made not just for myself, but for the animals too. I do not at all see myself ever turning back because that to me would be a massive step backwards. I proudly wear my vegan badge and will ensure all the vegan jokes, I’ll endure my bum seemingly getting bigger because it isn’t about the size of the vegan, but the size of the heart in the vegan and while I will never be that girl who picks up worms and takes them home 😂 I just can’t stand slimy creatures, they scare me 🙈 I am however that girl who wants to see the end of animal cruelty. Vegan and proud of it! 

You’re Gonna Be Ok

Initially when I was thinking about my next post, I considered writing about how much I hated Tuesday’s wod…maybe not the wod, but one movement in particular…toes to bar.

6 Rounds For Time (why!!!)

7 x Burpee Box jump over

14 x T2B<—evil!!!

21 x SDHP (50/35kg)

15 min time cap

WOD 2 (just to ruin your grip a little bit further…)

15 Min EMOM

1st – Dead Hold (80/60)

2nd – 15 x Snatch (35/20)

3rd – Max reps pull ups
Woke up the next day and my hand was throbbing! Spicy, spicy!

Toes to bar are my arch nemesis, truth be told, I don’t spend enough time working on trying to string them together, but we’ll talk about  my laziness in another post ok!

In the Uber yesterday, and this morning on the way to work, as I dissected that wod (I am an overthinker and I analyse absolutely everything, gift and sometimes it’s a curse!) and how much better I could have done if I didn’t allow my general dislike of TTB to consume me, I came to the realization that it wasn’t just knowing that there were TTB in the wod that had ruined my day, dramatic sounding I know…but it was mainly because yesterday was one of those days where the mean reds got me. If you don’t know what the mean reds are, I suggest you stop what you’re doing right now and go watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

Here’s a snippet of that scene:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?

HG: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

PV: Sure.

HG: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

The mean reds are what people who suffer or who have suffered with depression, are all too familiar with. It’s those days when the darkness inside you makes you feel a lot more despondent about a situation, whether big or small. The mean reds, as HG stated is not the same as being sad. I think of sadness as something that is largely circumstantial. The mean reds, or depression is different. When you suffer with depression, everything around you could be going great but in your eyes, you’re sinking in a dark hole, and if I’m being honest, there are days when you would love for nothing more than to be swallowed by that dark hole. Disappear.

As my beautiful friend Vanessa put it, depression is like dipping your feet into tar only you never quite get rid of that stickiness, you never quite get rid of the black mark that it leaves on you. At the same time, if you’re intentional about it, there are places that exist like Tiffany’s, that can calm you down and stop those mean reds from controlling you…except I’d buy a dog instead of a cat, dogs are the best!

My first bout of depression was triggered off in 2013, that incident is too lengthy to put it in here, maybe it deserves a separate post. During that period of my life, it felt as though the life was being sucked out of my soul. I felt battered and bruised. And then you go for therapy, and you think you’re okay. This was also when my walk with God became a lot stronger because oftentimes I felt as though no one else understood what was going on inside, and the great thing about venting to God is that in those moments, (and even today,) I never feel judged by Him. I never feel as though He sees me as weak or unable to cope. In Him I found a strong tower and refuge, my confidante from whom I never hear any of those labels or stigma attached to people who suffer with depression. So you might be wondering, ‘if you have found this strong tower and refuge in the LORD, why did the mean reds get you yesterday?’ My reason: getting so wrapped up, perhaps too wrapped up in work and rescuing other people that I began to neglect time for myself with God.

CrossFit, fitness in general has always been how I personally connect best with God, but the past few months, this busyness of life and trying to rescue others when you’re running on empty, has left me on the verge of depletion, on the verge of breaking down and all the more easily controlled by the mean reds. It took a  crying session with one of my closest friends (Sherine,) and the day before a chat with my other darling (Monica,) and then yesterday’s chat with my beautiful Vanessa, and then later in the evening, being pulled out from under the bus by my sissy and bestie (Givs,) for me to realise that I absolutely cannot keep neglecting my mental health. This is something that I forget. When things are going well, I forget that I need a daily tune up. If the Word and Jesus is truly my life then that means that everyday I should be running to Him, being molded and transformed into His likeness. His peace and His rhythms of grace challenging and conquering all that I face.

This morning I woke up feeling a little bit better, that’s the thing about suffering with depression, it can sometimes feel like you’re constantly on an emotional roller coaster. It can also make you one really tough cookie to love. Sometimes I feel incredibly emotionally unstable, those are the days when the reds probably consume me the most because I try to hide it from everyone, but that’s okay because now and then, thank the Holy Spirit, He reminds me that I don’t fight alone and that he loves me. Do you know what a challenge it can be to remember that daily? It’s hard, but another darling friend, (Ashleigh) reminded me that it isn’t impossible.

I truly love my girlfriends, incredibly blessed with them, and do you know  what, in spite of sometimes feeling like a failure, I know that I truly do love God. I am very much aware of how much worse I could be if I didn’t have Him. In Him, I have found a place better than Tiffany’s.  I’m not always the easiest to love…heck, not even the easiest to like because there is a part of me that has become calloused because of having suffered with depression, but as Ness put it yesterday, you sit in the sun (or with the Son,) and He thaws you out, but you have to be intentional about sitting with Him, and this sitting is anything but passive. It’s uncomfortable and will expose you for who you and who you’re not .

Mental health is important. It’s something that we neglect. It’s something that we don’t like dealing with, and in a ways perhaps we are even ashamed of saying that we suffer with mental illness, but the only way to confront any illness, physical or mental is to confront it and keep working (preferably with God,) to get better and healthier. Mental health is just as important, if not more important than physical health for out of your soul, out of your spirit, is where life flows from.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

One of the ways that I cope is through writing, running and CrossFit. All of these done with God. My challenge is to remember to keep coping and keep fighting with God. I need to remember that it’s okay to not be okay but that I will be okay.
To illustrate this example, let’s go back to my toes to bar. Obviously I will never be able to cope with a high volume of toes to bar in a WOD, if I don’t work on them (I don’t really want to work on them though…) and if I don’t listen to my coach, or ask for help in mastering that stupid move…okay from now on, no longer calling them stupid haha, then I will never learn how to cope and excel with TTB!

It’s a similar thing with depression, I have to keep going to my Creator who has mastered living life, to learn from Him, how to do life without letting the reds control me. I cannot neglect this. It doesn’t mean everyday is going to be fantastic, but it does mean that he makes me stronger each day. Yesterday I listened to this anointed song by Jenn Johnson and started crying at work haha, luckily I didn’t have any make up on and no one had arrived yet. I pray that it will bless you and that God would cover you with His spirit to remind you that you, yes you! You’re gonna be ok.

Barbells & Eating Disorders

Here’s the thing; I’m like Taylor Swift…well minus the lying about the conversations we’ve had. So maybe I’m more like 2014 Taylor Swift. If you ever cross me, I will write about you in my blog 😂 we can all be grateful to God that He’s peppered in a little bit of wisdom, so I don’t always name and shame people who I believe have crossed mehaha, as fun as it can sometimes be to be petty (I’m admitting it!), it’s never the right way to go.

A couple of weeks ago, a work colleague told me about this guy who said to her that my muscles are off putting, his reason ‘no man wants a girl with biceps.’ LORD knows I wanted to march up to him, punch him in the face, maybe even in the nether regions… LORD also knows that I wanted say in a little bit of a psycho voice;  “are you mad because I’m the man you wish you could be but obviously you aren’t?” Guys, God really has His work cut out with me because I have a mouuuuuth!!! Somehow the angels sealed my lips and none of that nastiness seeped out, but hearing that comment about my body, brought me back to a time when I was incredibly obsessed with my weight. I thought about how if this comment was said to me a couple of years earlier, it would have completely derailed me, and would have been enough to have just one more trip to the toilet. And again this morning after the WOD, I looked at my thighs and almost had a breakdown… maybe breakdown is a bit extreme. First thing I thought was “eew you look like a masssssive pink elephant, you better stay off sugar forever and run 600 kilometres! Start now fatty!” Did I mention that I can be overly dramatic?

There was a time when I would have felt such shame and embarrassment in saying that I used to suffer from an eating disorder. Around Christian circles, shame seems so BC (before Christ) right? Having Jesus makes things better, but I’m still on a journey of transparency where I’m learning to allow God to have full access in shining His light into my deepest and darkest situations but also tackling those issues head on and calling me out on my (for lack of a better word,) crap.

Eating disorders are uncomfortable to talk about, in fact sometimes when I find myself telling someone that I used to be bulimic, I immediately think about whether I’m being judged by that person, and God literally has to tell me to get over myself. The more aware we are of the demons that people are battling with, the more it should encourage us to be kinder and more passionate. I have since learnt that compassion prompted by Christ leads to action, so for as long as Christ permits me to, I will keep talking about eating disorders. Can you imagine waking up to a day when eating disorders no longer exist? I believe that’s a dream worth fighting for!

There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made. Michelle Obama

What is bulimia?
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by bingeing followed by self-induced vomiting. Eating disorders are complex in their causes, it is multifactorial and 99% of the time, can be linked to your self-esteem and the environment you find yourself in. In my case it definitely was.

THE FACTS:

* Bulimia nervosa affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women.

* Approximately 80% of bulimia nervosa patients are female.

* People struggling with bulimia nervosa usually appear to be of average body weight.

* Many people struggling with bulimia nervosa recognize that their behaviors are unusual and perhaps dangerous to their health.

* Bulimia nervosa is frequently associated with symptoms of depression and changes in social adjustment.

* Risk of death from suicide or medical complications is markedly increased for eating disorders

I spent my high school career very easily hiding this disorder from friends and family. The fact that I was introverted worked in my favour. If I disappeared from the table straight after eating, no questions were asked. I worked hard at school so if I needed an excuse to leave the dinner table, I’d just say it was because I needed to study. It was a vicious rollercoaster, you’re always calorie counting and when you aren’t, you’re planning your next trip to the toilet. It was destructive, I knew that, but I enjoyed being in control, no matter how twisted it was. I knew it was dangerous (hello I have a Biomedical Science degree,) but whenever I looked in the mirror I saw a whale. I was obsessed with exercising. Those were the days of Tae-Bo, Billy Blanks was my best friend. I’d do a session in the morning and one in the evening. Coupled with the fact that I was starving myself and then bingeing, my body was exhausted. I was always tired but I’d blame that on my anaemia.

In grade 10 (3 long years,) I had a breakthrough, and slowly started to decrease the amount of times I threw up. I thought about how my stomach acid was burning my oesophagus and how I was gradually destroying the enamel on my teeth. I wanted to have teeth well into my forties haha, such a silly, silly reason but it helped. I also found a lot of courage and inspiration in Princess Diana sharing her story of struggling with bulimia. I loved her! She was classy, elegant, beautiful inside and out. Everything that I felt a woman should be. Her substance was not merely in her looks. She had heart too!

My first year at uni in the U.K., the first time I was in a position where I was in control of the person I was and would be, I decided to see a psychologist. I was able to confront some of the issues that were at the core of my eating disorder. The biggest thing that helped me, and still does help me today, is my relationship with God. The thing that I used to binge the most on was sugar. I was beyond addicted. If I had a bad day, and in those days, my bad days were everyday; I would turn to sugar. I remember distinctly hearing God telling me to stop using sugar as a remedy. I needed to find a more holistic approach. One that would not cause harm to the body God had entrusted me with. It was not only reckless but irresponsible too.

Fast forward to when I first started CrossFit in 2014 and for the first time, I stopped worrying too much about how I looked. I noticed a shift in how I saw myself and became more focused on being stronger and what my body could do. There are days like today, where I would prefer to be less butt, more abs and more legs but I suppose I can’t be physically perfect on top of everything else haha! If I think about the 17 year old me. She would never be able to lift or move the way this *cringe* almost 27 year can. Ten years bulimia free!!! Hello can we celebrate and praise the LORD for that! I have no doubt that had I continued down that spiral, I would have ended up gravely ill and as is the case in the large majority of eating disorders, ended up suicidal or even dead! The thing about CrossFit is that you don’t get the results without doing the work, and you can’t do the work if you’re not fueling yourself correctly. Your muscles need nutrient dense foods…that includes doughnuts 🍩 right? Instead of using food as a reward, I’ve learnt to use food to fuel my body. It’s a much more kinder relationship where I no longer obsess about how much I’ve had and instead think about whether what I’m eating right now will serve me well in the long run and how I’ll feel later. Will I regret having had those 5 doughnuts, sure they may be vegan but should I really be having them everyday? And kale… potato fries taste better but do I get the same organic kick in energy and performance when I’m eating fries? Nope! These are practices that I have had to apply and constantly remind myself of especially when I think about the much better CrossFitter that I would like to be in the future.

The thing that’s great about being a female CrossFitter is that you’re surrounded by so many strong women, all different shapes and sizes, you slowly begin a re-education on what it means to be a woman. You redefine what it means to look like a woman. Muscles and all, you begin to find peace in your body. I say begin because I still have days when I have to give myself a good talking to about not getting obsessed over how I look. How I look is a very small percentage of who I am, and isn’t it so ridiculous that we base the entirety of who we are on our physical appearance? There’s more to life than the size of our bums. I look at some of my favourite CrossFitters; Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Annie Thorisdottir, Katrin- Tanja Davidsdottir, Sara Sigmundsdottir (oh my gosssshhhhh!!!) and their body’s are strong. Their bodies are beautiful, their body’s are also functional. Have you ever thought of describing your body as functional? In my opinion, that’s probably the most important thing to focus on.

This is what I strive towards.

This is what the barbell teaches you to strive towards; being functional, hardworking and to leave your excuses at the door. The barbell exposes your weaknesses, but it also teaches you about the strength that lies in you. The beauty that lies in you. You learn to focus not just on your physical strength, but the spiritual and mental strength that lies in you.

A woman’s beauty is revealed in her strength. It is captured in what her body can actually do, not merely in how it looks. Lisa Bevere

Going It Alone 

There’s a saying that goes “if you want to go further, go together…” hang on while I get the correct quote from google…

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

I find that this quote is applicable in all areas of life; whether in fitness, your professional life or your personal life. In general, I am very much okay with being an island. I don’t like the thought of having to inconvenience anyone because of something I can’t solve or do. Self sufficiency is something that I used to strive for; to the point where I would be physically and emotionally exhausted from trying to do everything on my own. In those moments of complete exhaustion, ego and pride worn out, only then as a last resort would I seek help or advice. 

Praise be to God for real that as I get older, He is adding wisdom to this vessel and I have finally gotten to a stage in my life where I make a conscious effort in reminding myself that it’s okay to need people. It’s okay to not be a self-sufficient island. It’s okay to be the island that sometimes needs to get more supplies from a neighboring island, just to make it through the month. It’s okay to get by with a little help from your friends. The problem with wanting to go it alone all the time is that you miss out on having access to the knowledge present in other people about how they’ve made it, and sometimes even how they’ve navigated situations where they were in the same place that you’re in right now. 

The biggest thing that keeps us from seeking help or advice from others, is shame. It’s the culture we live in; we worry about what people would say, whether we’d still be accepted; seen as less; seen as weak. To worry about all of these things is human nature but it’s possible to change that! A mantra that I repeat to myself is “screw what people think.” What matters is whether you’re being true to yourself. What matters is whether you’re being true to the person God wants you to be. It’s what I think of more and more each day; am I the Aurélie that Jesus wants me to be? Am I being true to that image that He has of me? 

I don’t always get it right, but the more I meditate on doing my utmost for His highest, the more I enjoy the journey of life. The more He awakens my spirit to knowing when I should be asking for help, and when He would rather for me to walk that road with Him. The interesting part of all this is that even when physically you’re walking through a difficult period alone; you never really are alone. 

We are so wired for connection that in those moments of what feels like separation from everyone else, if we would allow for Christ’s Nutella like sweet tenderness to sweep over our hearts, we will realize that we never walk alone. We will realize that for every season in our lives, we are never forgotten or alone. 

What God Teaches Me Through My Shoes

On the 1st of January, as the majority of the world does, I thought about the things that I want to improve this year; personally and professionally. I love to dedicate a bit of time on the 1st to sit with God and pause, ponder and reflect on all of the things that He has done and what I want to achieve in the coming year. This year before my quiet time with my daddy God, I was in the kitchen talking to my sissy sharing some of my frustrations about work and she said to me something that caused a shift in perspective and the approach that I would have brought to God. She said to me before you go to God and ask Him to change your life; pause and just say thank you. Everything else seems to fall into place sooo much better when we’re in a CONSTANT state of gratitude.

I went into my special time with God void of a prayer list of things I wanted Him to change and instead all I could write in my journal was Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

That’s all I want to achieve this year, a life where everything I do, ABSOLUTELY everything represents Christ.

A couple of days later, I went back to work very grateful that I could afford the metcons that I wanted, I call them my rose gold babies, and just like me they’re also black and beautiful haha! All jokes aside, as I revelled in that moment of having shoes that would hopefully help me with my toes to bar, God reminded me of a beautiful ritual that the two of us have. On all of my training or running shoes, I have these four verses scrawled on them: Hebrews‬ ‭12:11;Romans 1:16; Philippians 4:13 and my absolute favorite Colossians 3:23!

I must be honest, as I held the permanent marker in my hand I was a bit shaky about writing on my new rose gold babies. As quickly as that thought had entered, the Holy Spirit came in to convict me and to remind me of how my abilities are all due to Him. He reminded me of times when I truly did wake up on the grumpy side of bed, and would walk into the box with THE stinkiest attitude (hey, I can’t be perfect all the time!) and how through a quick glance at the verses scrawled on my shoes, I was able to check myself before I wrecked myself and was able to be a little bit more of a nicer human than I would be if I didn’t have those verses on my shoes. He reminded me of all the times I wanted to quit during a WOD and the reminder of Philippians 4:13 was enough to carry me through 1 more rep!

The first part sounds really lovely doesn’t it? Just before I gave myself a pat on the back for being a good Christian athlete, who is so ‘easily’ corrected, He reminded me of the flip side days. Those are the days when I am determined to let my feelings rule the day. The days where as much as Jesus would try, that stinky attitude would prevail and come out whether through my demeanor or through the thoughts swimming in my head. Through my shoes, He has been able to convict, correct and humble me. I think most of us, myself definitely included, are prone to occasionally getting on our high horse and thinking we’re amazing humans, so to have God humble us once in a while…every day perhaps, is truly what keeps and will keep us growing. Through my shoes I have learnt (and I am still learning,) to walk humbly, to stand strong on solid ground (the words that my Jesus speaks,) to walk in anywhere with feet that bring good news and refreshment wherever they go and to keep moving one foot at a time.

As I finish off this post, sitting on the floor, listening to “thank you” by Jonathan David Helser. In this moment God is taking me through all the other moments in my life where He didn’t have to come and yet He still did. As I dwell on those moments, a lump starts to develop in my throat and I am ever so grateful that this great Lover of my soul ransomed my heart, walked through all my walls and conquered my shame! How ridiculously good is His love???

From the outset I had already decided that 2017 would be amazing and it already is! My prayer for you today and for your 2017 is that God would pull you closer into Him, no matter what you have been through, I pray that He would restore joy, internal and external peace, as well as a heart of gratitude; whether that be through you hitting numerous clean & jerk PR’s (I’m hinting for myself to God here,) or through new promotions at work, may His love usher in so much goodness that it absolutely takes your breath away and all you’ll be able to say is “thank you, God that was totally you!”