‘I Swapped Cardio For CrossFit And Finally Learned How To Love My Body’

Growing up, I was always outside, riding my bike, and playing volleyball, softball, and soccer. Fitness and sports were an enjoyable activity for me—until high school.

That’s when I started to feel pressure to be thin. So I started binging and purging, and obsessively doing cardio. I became fixated on calorie burn, because if I worked out harder, I could eat a little more. I started running four, then 10 kilometres a day. Fitness became both the answer to my dreams as well as something I dreaded doing. It became a chore—and an unhealthy obsession.

Thankfully, in my early twenties, I started seeing an eating disorder therapist and nutritionist who helped in my recovery. I started working through all my baggage, figuring out why I felt the way I did and why I hated my body. I had to learn to change my thoughts and relearn how to have a relationship with both food and fitness that was healthy.

Then, I started dating someone who was a CrossFit coach. He wanted me to come check out a class, but I resisted going for a while, since my relationship with fitness had been so rocky. But eventually, I agreed to go see what it was all about.


// “Losing weight is not your life’s work, and counting calories is not the call of your soul. You surely are destined for something much greater, much bigger, than shedding 20 pounds or tallying calories. What would happen if, instead of worrying about what you had for breakfast, you focused instead on becoming exquisitely comfortable with who you are as a person? Instead of scrutinizing yourself in the mirror, looking for every bump and bulge, you turned your gaze inward?” – Lisa Turner ≫ Your recovery is your own. You’re not doing it for anyone but yourself. Trust that the feeling of loving your own reflection wins over the affection of materialist humans who don’t know you’re worth. Do it so you can enjoy food. So you can enjoy friends. So you can enjoy life. Do it so you can not only love your body, but love who you are as a person. Find what truly lights your soul on fire and run with it! You are worth more than spending your days trying to become perfect. Because guess what, you already are! ???❤️ #FitFatAndAllThat #EatingDisorderRecovery #HealthyAndHappy

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I was so intimidated. But the community at my local box (the name for CrossFit gyms) was so welcoming. All around me, I saw these positive, intense, strong, supportive women. The music was loud, as were the banging barbells, and grunts coming from everywhere. But mostly, what I noticed was how different everyone looked. There were moms, teens, women in their twenties, thirties—all of whom wanted nothing more than to be strong. I loved that women wore short spandex and had big, muscular thighs.

Everything about the environment drew me in. I was quickly hooked.

I had always been scared of bulking up, but being surrounded by these women who were so strong took the worry right out of my head. I saw how badass they were and realized if lifting more and more weights is what got them there, I was in.

And after a few workouts, my body felt so good. I started building muscle, building strength. I felt like my body was made for heavy lifting and my personality fit with this crew. I stopped worrying about how I looked while working out, which had never happened before. You can’t make deadlifting 115 kilograms look pretty, so I said screw it and lifted!

I started going to classes as a form of therapy. While cardio was once a chore, CrossFit helped me sweat out my stress and feel so confident.

I loved waking up energised and sore. I loved the feeling of going to class and being able to do something I couldn’t before. I loved feeling my muscles shaking and growing and progressing. These became the things I started looking for in my workouts—taking the focus off how my body looks, and putting it on how it feels.


Now, I get up at 5 a.m. to exercise before work, which is hard, but it’s so nice being able to come home and just relax after a long day. I usually work out three to six times a week, depending on my energy levels. I stuck to CrossFit for a while, but because of my history with fitness, I try to change things up a lot to make sure I’m still enjoying my workouts. Now, I do cycling, HIIT, Flow (a dance-yoga type class), and Pilates on a reformer machine.


I don’t have a meal plan. I don’t log my meals, calorie count, or follow any diet. I intuitively eat and listen to my body and what it needs. Sometimes that means a big green salad for lunch and other times it means a burger or pizza! After recovering from my eating disorder, I make sure that I allow myself to actually enjoy food. I believe that all food can fit into your life.


It's National Mental Health Day! Today is not just about destigmatizing mental health issues — it's also about taking steps to make sure that those who suffer have access to the care they need. Just know you are not alone and always ask for help. Our mental health is incredibly important, but we often forget to take care of ourselves when life gets hectic. This is a reminder to make sure you do lots of self-care when life gets stressful and make your mental health a priority. So many of us silently suffer, but know it's okay to ask for help. Reach out to a friend, family, a therapist and talk it out. My favorite form of self-care is talking with my family and enjoying a bubble bath with relaxing music. What's your favorite form of self-care? ✨ #NationalMentalHealthDay #SelfCare #MentalHealthAwareness #teamself

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I used to have my “dream body” but my mind and soul were miserable. I was probably 9 kilograms lighter, but I didn’t feel good in my skin and I wasn’t enjoying life. Now, I love working out because I love my body! I’ve learned that a healthy life means that you actually enjoy it. What’s the point of a “perfect” body if you’re miserable? Fitness and food are a part of my life, but they don’t rule it anymore.

Now, my wellness is about my mind, body, and soul. It took me a long time to find balance in my routine. Anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder knows there’s a balance between using fitness in a healthy way and falling back into unhealthy habits. But I constantly keep an eye out for old markers—like feeling guilty if I miss a workout or losing joy in fitness—and make sure that I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. I still push myself, but it’s not a punishment for how my body looks. I don’t focus on weight-loss goals, but rather focus on using fitness in a healthy way.


Make sure you’re working out for you and you alone, and that you’re loving your body throughout the process. You can’t hate your way to a body you’ll love. Your body is always going to be changing, that’s just the reality. But loving yourself should be the top priority.

Follow Julia’s fitness journey @fitfatandallthat

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This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US

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