Photo by: Hannah Hayworth
Crossfit – Being a Big Girl
Written by Camzin Martin
A few years ago now, my husband and I were sitting down to dinner with some work colleagues from within the CrossFit world when I noticed one of my esteemed coworkers looking at me with brow furrowed and deep concentration lurking behind his eyes. Because I’m the straightforward type, that type of look evokes a rather blunt, “what?” from me. He began to form his question and then paused awkwardly a few times before finally asking, “Have you always been a… bigger, girl?”
The answer is yes. I come from a family of solidly built, really tall people. I’m actually the shortest person in my family by quite a margin, but am taller than the average female by a few inches and certainly outweigh the majority of women who are trying to be fit or have the appearance of being fit. When I played sports as a child I was always the bigger kid, and when I did acro yoga in college I was always the base (typically the male role) and not the flier. I’m not petite, and I don’t think I’ve ever been described as delicate. I was actually overweight for a few years across high school and college, but was rather lean at the time the question was posed.
Fortunately, the time when that questioned was asked, I was already at a place in my life where I wasn’t bothered by how big or how small I am. I answered affirmatively, laughed, and the conversation moved on. I had found CrossFit and loved that my self-image was increasingly shaped by what my body could do rather than how it looked or how much it weighed.
That being said, in CrossFit our bodyweight certainly affects our performance in our sport, and in the sport of weightlifting or powerlifting it determines the category we compete in. Considering these are three sports I participate in, knowing and managing my bodyweight has become important as it relates to my performance in my sports of choice. Today, 14 months after the birth of my wonderful daughter, I got my weight and body fat tested in one of those water immersion tanks. I was a little nervous. I weigh five pounds more day-to-day now than I did before I got pregnant and going into the Open (where typically being light is an advantage) I was concerned that this may not be productive weight. I was pleased to find that at 165lbs I have 147lbs of lean mass which puts me at 10.8% body fat, aka, the vast majority of the weight on my frame is productive. I may be going into the Open heavy, but I’m going in strong.
Of course, diet and exercise play a huge role in keeping me lean. My genetics predispose me to be otherwise, so I’m very careful about what I eat. Don’t get me wrong, fantastic cheat meals are part of my diet, but my staple day-in-day-out diet is very meticulous. I work closely with a nutritionist and I am very careful with supplementation and actually supplement very little. I take magnesium before bed, fish oil twice a day, and an American Gainz – Tactical Recovery shake with some creatine mixed in. Before using American Gainz protein I had to take vegan protein powder to maintain my weight, which if you aren’t actually vegan, tastes horribly (I can only imagine vegans find it more palatable). It is my hope that someday being a “big girl” might not be considered a bad thing at all, and that my colleague asking that question wouldn’t have to be considered insensitive. I think of the Olympic Lifter affectionately known as the “Pocket Hercules”, Naim Süleymanoğlu. Naim measured up at 4 foot 10 inches and weighed in at a colossal 137lbs. Despite being small Naim clean and jerked 190kgs, which in ‘Merica totals up to 419lbs. “Have you always been a small guy?” Yes, but apparently freakishly strong.
It is my hope in that pursuing the limits of my capacities I set an example for my daughter that it’s not how you look, what you weigh, how close to normal you appear, it’s about what you can do – about challenging yourself and striving to be better. I hope if she, or her peers, ever gets asked a question like the one that opened this blog, they might be able to answer proudly. She is rather petite now, so her answer might be, “No, but thank you for noticing my gainz!”