Inspiration of the Fathlete

I received inspiration to start this blog from a my first ever Crossfit Competition. That’s right, I’m one of those annoying Crossfitters who talks about Crossfit because, of course, the first rule of Crossfit is you must tell everyone you Crossfit. But that is irrelevant to this post. I competed in my first ever Crossfit competition, the 5th Annual Crossfit Believe Summer Throwdown, in the women’s scaled division.

Now, a bit of background on my Crossfit experience. I’ve been doing Crossfit for a little over a year and a half so ideally you’d think I’d be good at it. But for me, that is definitely not the case. While I have improved in strength and stamina, I have improved very little. What are the things that people expect to happen when they start working out? Lose weight, be able to actually run a mile, lift heavier objects with greater ease. All of those things happened. My weight varies. I’ve stayed constant between 18-30 lbs lost but I’m still 130-150 lbs more than the average female Crossfitter and hold steady at around 45 percent body fat. I can run further and last longer in metabolic conditioning exercises but not by much and my strength has increased, but that in itself is a slow process.  (As a side note, I’ve only ever run a mile once in my life without stopping. I’m convinced I have the capacity to do it, I just lack the discipline. Running is so boring for me!)

So I went to this competition on Saturday and for those of you who don’t know how Crossfit competitions work they go something like this. You have between 4 & 5 short, miserable workouts that you compete in. Based on when you finish and your times you are given a point score. The person with the most points at the end of the day is in first place, the person with the least points is in last place. (I’m purposely not differentiating between winners and losers because if you have any idea on how much work these competitions are you know that no one really loses).

Working up to this competition I’m fully convinced that with no reasonable metabolic stamina I would surely come in last place. I was fine with that until Saturday. I arrived at the competition and low and behold I was by far the fattest competitor. Knowing how preconceived notions work and that the stereotypes with body fat are generally rather negative, I knew every single person watching this competition expected me to be last, including myself and . probably even including the trainer who attended from my own gym.

The first event definitely reinforced my demise as it was cardio intense and 10 minutes long. I barely made it into the third round while every other girl in my heat, including the ones with abs had either finished or almost finished the workout by the 10 minute time cap. It was frustrating. I wanted to prove people wrong about fat people. I wanted the people in that gym to know that body fat does not equate to athletic ability, but in the cardio department I’m failing miserably.

As the day went on I took last in another event, 800 m run with a 20 lb ball. No surprise there, I am world’s slowest runner and again running is relatively boring to me, so I lack discipline in that area. I took 2nd to last in the Air Force WOD which was definitely disappointing as I had an advantage that the weight was low. So, in total 3/5 events I ranked 12th and 13th out of 13.

However, there was some saving grace. A strength workout! I can lift some shit so I figured this would be my area to shine. I knew I likely wouldn’t take first, but it was something I knew I wouldn’t come last or 2nd to last in. Low and behold I took 4th. Then, a short sprint workout. I have power and in some cases can have speed (running excluded), but no stamina. My power and speed is short lived. Apparently short lived to 3:05 for a 6th place finished and with that I did not take last place in the competition, I finished 11/13.

I don’t want you all to think I’m a sore loser (but if you do, oh well I probably won’t change your mind). I have no problem with finishing last or coming in last place. As I said before, everyone who finished won. They burned a ton of calories, had fun, supported each other, made connections. But I really wanted to show people that fat people can be athletes. We can compete. Because even in a community as supportive as Crossfit there are stereotypes from small athletic people, but also from fat people themselves regarding their strength and capabilities.

Crossfit is scary for normal people, but extremely intimidating when you have been made to feel fat, lazy and useless all your life. I want to show fat people, hey you can do this and you can be good at it, even if you’re 150 lbs overweight. I want to show elite athletes that maybe I’m not at your level now, but I can get there and this is where I’m starting. I love it when new people, especially women, at my gym come and ask how long I’ve been doing Crossfit and respond, “So if I keep at this I can be as good at this as you are?”

I respond “Yes” while thinking to myself, you can surpass me.

After the Crossfit competition I got home and looked at my Eat To Perform Facebook group to find a post from a woman who does Crossfit and weighs 350 lbs, 200 lbs more than the average Crossfit athlete. She spoke with the trainer at her box earlier that day who reassured her, through her frustration, that she was doing great. He told her that she needed to remember that she is essentially doing the same movements as a lot of the 150 lb athletes with a 200lb weight vest on. If you put a 200 lb weight vest on 150lb Crossfit athlete (or any athlete for that matter), that person probably wouldn’t be able to perform as well as they’d like either.

So that is why I created this blog. To help challenge the stereotypes that body fat=lazy and unable. These stereotypes held by athletes, trainers and most importantly fathletes (fat athletes) themselves. You are far more capable than you think you are. I will show you, just keep reading.