Going Unbroken

In two days, I am moving.

170 Front Street is the first house I bought with my husband and we have been there seven years. We’ve hosted holidays, housed friends, and even my own mother when she divorced my dad and had to sell her house. I learned to cook in that house. My husband learned a lot about plumbing. We’ve watched a thousand movies in it, danced in it, solved problems in it, screamed at each other in it then spent whole days in its bedrooms. We’ve been glad to leave it for New York or San Francisco or Florida, and so glad to come back to it. It’s protected us from rain, feet upon feet of snow, almost-hurricanes, ice and the occasional creep. We’ve shoveled every blizzard; no snowblower here! We’ve painted it, loved it, hated it. There are a lot of memories there to be sure, but I am not sad about leaving it. It’s my house. I am sad about leaving my home, which is about a quarter mile up the road at CrossFit Synergistics.

In the Fall of 2012, after completing 2 half-marathons back to back, I arrived at CFS as a last-ditch effort to overcome a lifetime of being fat. Scared to death and at least 40 pounds overweight, I wasn’t so much afraid of the work as the fact that everyone there already knew each other. I have two major fears; going somewhere, alone, that I’ve never been, and large social situations. And here I was, standing in a gym, by myself, where there was nowhere to really stand without being in the way of the workout or stepping on someone stretching and I didn’t know a soul. I was out of place in every possible way. That’s when Linda came to say hi.

From her outstretched hand that day, to my first 6:30 AM class with Coach John, to my move to the 5:30 AM class who are tighter than Spanx on a bridesmaid, I have never felt more included and more welcome anywhere in my life. These people are more like family than…my family. At CFS, I became part of my first real Girl Gang. In school I was never popular. Fat girls almost never are. Here, I fell in with a group of ladies who compete with each other, as well as encourage each other. In one breath they will brag about their deadlift PR and in the next, challenge someone else to beat it.

I used to ditch gym whenever I could with whatever phantom malady I could fabricate. I was a Sorceress of Stomachaches. Queen of Cramps! The EMPRESS OF EXCUSES! When my husband and I decided our move destination, the first thing I did was figure out where I could work out. What have you people done to me? What have you done to the girl who faked sick almost every gym class? Now she whines when she misses a workout! The girl who only joined the high school volleyball team because she thought it was mandatory and the second she found it wasn’t, she quit? Now she loves team workout days when she can kill a huge set of cleans with a friend.

The other day I was driving to work and worrying about what I would do at my new gym, which is not a CrossFit box. It’s just plain, old, regular gym. With no one to program my workouts, I will be on my own. I was scared. For three years I had someone tell me what I should be doing and I got the results I wanted. What should I do, now? What lifts should I work on? How many? At what weight? What if nothing there is tough as a CrossFit class? What if I don’t go hard enough?

What if I get fat again?

In CrossFit, you are always encouraged to go unbroken with your sets. Choose a weight or a scale that allows you to keep your hands on the bar, the medicine ball in the air, or the kettlebell moving for the whole set and not break up your reps. “Go unbroken” is a phrase that has come to mean a lot more to me than that. When I first started CrossFit, I asked my coach if he had ever seen anyone “like me get thin.” I needed something to latch onto when I thought I was hopeless. I needed to hear that it was possible. He thought for a moment and said, “I have seen people do amazing things. There’s no reason you can’t have everything you want.” He said I just needed to keep coming in the door and put in the work.

Now I can’t go in the door anymore. I need go, unbroken, to my next challenge. Going unbroken somewhere new, somewhere I’ve never been, without fear. Going unbroken into a place that will probably give me side-eye because I’m there to get muscles instead of a thigh gap. I came to CFS broken by dislike for my body, broken by lack of confidence, broken thinking I wasn’t good enough, cool enough…or just enough. I go, unbroken, with not just knowledge of proper form and some idea of how to improve my lifting, but strength. Not just the kind that gets 165 pounds over my head (ahem) but the kind that reassures me I can do this on my own.

That day I was lamenting on the way to the office about my new gym I realized I was annoying myself. My heart hurts when I think about how I won’t see my 5:30 crew every day anymore, but if I go to my new gym on my first day and don’t feel like I worked very hard, then I’ll work harder the next day. I was texting with another one of my coaches and I told him I was kind of pumped to have more time to work on my weights. If I get there at 5 AM, I can lift for almost an hour before the 6 AM classes start. I am excited to be able to work out LONGER.

What have you people done to this girl?

I’ll show you.


This girl who used to hide is not afraid anymore. This girl gets bored shopping and buys stuff to wear at the gym instead. She breathes in the smell of rubber mats and steel and feels refreshed. She loves when waiters notice she and her friends are talking about deadlifts and not men or shoes. This girl is proud, not ashamed, of her body. Really.

This girl is unbroken.