March 3, 2014
Beauties & Beasts: Find the ‘beast’ within and discover real beauty
By Lauryn Lax
April 15, 2014
She’s a beast!
Ever heard this phrase before?
While the word “beast” is meant as a compliment within the CrossFit-arena for many (“she’s a beast!”= “she’s amazing”), it can be a scary word to those who hate the idea of muscular thighs or defined shoulders in a tank-top.
Many women echo:
I don’t want to get bulky.
I want to tone up.
Some CrossFit girls look so manly.
I don’t want to look like a body builder.
I am scared of getting big shoulders, or big thighs.
Perhaps you’ve had friends, colleagues, even strangers say this to you when you tell them you do CrossFit—or invite them to join.
Perhaps, you too have felt this way at one time or another, based on the perception that CrossFit women = beasts = not pretty.
However, what if, maybe, just maybe this whole CrossFit thing is more than just physical—looking good and being healthy?
And what if our idea of beauty and a ‘hot bod’ are a bit skewed?
Perhaps by discovering the beast within, one may actually find the definition of true beauty.
Second place 2013 CrossFit Games athlete Lindsey Valenzuela says that is exactly what she’s found through her experience doing CrossFit—and she hopes to inspire others to do the same.
Valenzuela has heard the term ‘beast’ more than a handful of times, and says while at one time she might have taken exception to it, now she takes it as a compliment.
An athlete all her life, Valenzuela (who deadlifts 405 lbs., back squats 300 lbs. and snatches 200 lbs.—more than many guys, by the way) says she never felt like she fit the ‘mold’ growing up.
“I always felt bigger, and bulkier. I never fit in those skinny jeans when I was in high school and I used to be self-conscious about it,” she says.
However, one day, something in her mind switched.
“I just decided to embrace who I was and what I looked like. I think there are so many magazines and images out there that just project false, airbrushed images, and so many women can get caught up in wanting to look like this or that. How about just being yourself—the healthiest woman you can be?” Valenzuela says.
Here Valenzuela shares her insights into becoming comfortable in your own skin—and learning to see your true beauty.
While CrossFit women—particularly Games competitors—may get a ‘bad rap’ from other women caught up in the whole ‘bulky’ stereotype, Valenzuela expresses the opposite: CrossFit has helped her even more with improving her self-acceptance all around.
“When I first started CrossFit, I’ll admit, I thought about wanting to look good, get toned, and lean…but the more I began to get into the sport, and focusing more on performance—getting stronger, snatching more—I really started to care less about what I thought I looked like in the mirror—and in return, I actually became fitter and more leaned out than I had ever been. It’s about just being proud of who you are,” Valenzuela says.
Bottom line? Shift your focus.
That might be easier said than done, but a secret to being happy with yourself is to shift your focus: learning to just accept who you are, what your body can do, and the strength, fitness and health you are gaining everyday.
And for crying out loud, think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance.
While you’re at it, here’s a challenge for you.
Grab a pen and two pieces of paper.
Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.
Next, make a list of 5 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance.
Hey, you. Yes, you. You are pretty awesome.
Valenzuela is a coach at Dogtown CrossFit and says she has encountered numerous female clients who are on the fence as to whether or not the whole ‘CrossFit look’ is for them.
“Some women come in and say, ‘You look bulky.’ I don’t think I look bulky, but I say, alright…Are you training like I do? Probably not. I train for hours and hours every day for this sport. I think it’s a silly fear—and many women actually end up discovering that, no, they aren’t going to look like a Games athlete. And if anything, what are you looking at? Is it a realistic image of your body type? Is it a realistic image of a woman on a magazine? Probably not.”
In reality, women do not have the testosterone needed to ‘bulk up’ when lifting heavier weights. If it seems like YOU are the EXCEPTION (gaining ‘size’ or ‘mass’ from lifting weights), talk to a professional coach or holistic nutritionist about nutrition and do a little digging into the balance of protein, carbs and fats that are right for your goals.
And, if your sights are truly set on being ‘more toned’ or shedding some pounds, the age-old solutions of chronic cardio (hours on a treadmill, pavement or elliptical), living off dry chicken breasts and steamed broccoli, avoiding anything with fat like the plague, quenching your thirst with Diet Coke, swearing off all carbs, or strapping on a pedometer or heart-rate monitor will only leave you spinning your wheels.
Try this instead:
-Eating enough food to give you energy for activity, but not promote body fat
-Drinking lots of water
-Eat real food (lean protein, quality carbs and fats, such as oils, nuts and seeds) usually found on the outer aisles of the grocery store
-Cutting out sugar (real and fake)
-Avoiding packaged bars and foods as much as possible
– Doing your “Cardio” as sprints, sled drags and quick bursts of energy instead of treadmilling your heart away
-Perfecting simple-yet challenging bodyweight movements (squat, pushup, pullups, etc.)
-Lifting real weights to promote change to your muscles (no 5lb dumbbells for 20
reps here, lifting heavier=muscles that want to be femininely toned and muscular)
Valenzuela says her self-confidence stems from one motto:
“Believe’ has been my motto since I played volleyball in college—and that’s what’s driven me from 34th place at the Games to 2nd place three years later.”
How do you believe?
“Think what it is you want in life—and think about how good it’s going to feel to accomplish that,” she says.
Want to get pull-ups?
Stronger on overhead movements?
Handstand pushups or double-unders?
Find more meaningful work?
More financially secure?
Have meaningful relationships?
“Envision the sights, the smells, the sounds—BELIEVING you actually can and will achieve your goal is half the battle. It may not happen exactly when you want it—but if you believe, it will happen, hands down, it will happen,” Valenzuela says.
Try this simple exercise:
Imagine yourself in 10 years…what do you want your life to look like?
See yourself living out your wildest dreams—nothing is out of reach, really.
Are you on a beach? Doing your dream job? Married with kids? Stronger and fitter than ever?
How can you make that 10-year vision a reality?
Focus on the things that drive you, the places you want to go, and you get to be the CAPTAIN of your own ship.
Evaluate your life in the areas of:
Make at least one goal in at least one, if not all of these.
A long-term goal (that 10-year vision), and a short-term goal (something you can do TODAY/this week to get closer to that vision).
Continually go back to your goals, and make those short-term steps that propel you towards your long-term visions.
The more you begin to move closer…the more you will believe in yourself.
Being a ‘beast’ is more than just about appearance or killing a WOD—its about being strong and confident from the inside out. In turn, your true beauty will shine through.