I want to be strong

In January of 2013 I started cross-fitting and I documented some of the things I learned those first few weeks in a post entitled, A Fat Girl’s Confession on Starting CrossFit. But despite the popularity of that post and my frequent sharing of CrossFit photos on Instagram and Facebook, I haven’t written much about my experience. It’s time to share again.

Stacy CrossFit at PaleoParents

CrossFit is individualized.

I worry that what I mean by I want to be strong might intimidate some people from trying the sport. So I want to take a moment to be very clear here, your goals and personalization with CrossFit are just that –  yours. You goal can be to lean out, your goal can be to gain stamina, your goal could be to meet and hang with like-minded paleo people, or any other variety of things.

For me, from the day I could leg-press as much as the boys in high school gym class, I’ve wanted to be strong, but never had the courage to actually put myself out there and try. Please do not interpret this post to be the results of what will happen to you if you begin to CrossFit, because this is what I want.

Stacy Snatch at PaleoParents

I’ve come to a pretty enlightening realization.

It wasn’t until the last couple weeks that getting strong actually started to be something I thought about taking more seriously. Specifically, I was complaining to Matt that after training for a 5K I wasn’t getting any faster and that I would likely never run a mile under 10 minutes yet my buddy Monica completed a triathlon and wrote about it like it was NBD. And my dear, awesome, insightful husband I’m so lucky to have on my side said, “Stacy, some people are built to go fast. Some people are built to go far. And some people are built to pick those other people up.”

And for some reason, it finally clicked. All those times I’d heard about how quickly my squat was improving, all the times I’d heard about the good mobility and flexibility I have, all the times I’d heard how strong I was or well I was doing with lifting finally clicked. I’m likely never going to be a great sprinter, but I can often make-up that time in WODs when we’re picking up heavy things and putting them back down – which I love to do and often perform the women’s prescribed weight with relative ease.

Matt once said to me that if we could just get ahold of our bigger girls at an early age and teach them not that they are fat and ugly, but instead that they are strong and strong is beautiful, too, that the world would be a better, happier place. Instead, we fill them with self-loathing and never let them accept that they were not born to be bikini models. They were born to be something much more impressive.

Stacy Lifts at PaleoParentsStacy BackSquat on PaleoParents

Here’s the thing: I want to be strong.

I have always known that I’ll never be an “elite athlete” or rank in the CrossFit Games Open. And that’s absolutely fine because it’s not something I really aim to do, either. But as a freakishly competitive person, I do want to be good at something. Not just that, I want to be better than other people at something. I may have finally found that.

Lucky for me, my CrossFit box actually originated as a strength & conditioning gym with a focus on Olympic Lifting. Today they remain a S&C gym that also hosts Strongman training as well as lifting. I love that we incorporate these strength-based activities into our CrossFit movements too.

Stacy StrongWoman at PaleoParents

After flipping tires one evening, I had that same feeling I had in high school, where I had accomplished something that made me not only proud of myself, but also gave me a skip to my step because I’d done something the same as the men in class. Only, instead of avoiding the weight lifting room like I did in high school for fear of embarrassment, I actually did something about it.

I started Strong(wo)man.

Yesterday was my first official session doing some “Strongman” activities. Yes, I mean that strongman. I lifted heavy things, I put heavy things down. Sometimes I did a squat while holding heavy things. And after 2 hours I was sweaty, feeling myself getting stronger, and only half-way done. Lifting heavy things requires your body to rest in between so that your muscles can do it again without fatiguing; it takes quite a bit of time.

 Stacy Bench Press at PaleoParents Stacy BackSquat at PaleoParents

Because I am constantly over-committing myself, I left the training early for the boys and I to go pick peaches and berries at a farm in the afternoon. And on that hour long car ride to the farm, I was thinking about how I wanted to try to find time in my life to train more. Do more. Lift heavier. Be better. Get stronger.

A lightbulb went off in my head and I’m sharing that with you all before I share it with anyone else (except Matt, who can pretty much read my mind at this point).

Yesterday I started Training

Tracking my personal records and tracking against weight lifting standards for my weight drives me to want to improve, I hadn’t really had this strong motivation when I was just CrossFitting – since (understandably) that is mostly about getting better against your own personal standards overall. CrossFit is the sport of overall physical fitness and I have no intentions of stopping, since it only aids in any other training I will do.

However, I am going to try to add 1-2 days/week to my current routine for Strong(wo)man training. I’m going to say it out loud and then it’s going to be real and there won’t be anything I can do about it…

I want to compete.

I want to be strong enough to hold my own in a competition of some kind. Because I haven’t even discussed this with my coaches I don’t even know what kind of competitions there are… but my new goal is to compete for something strength-based in 2014. And to that end, I’m going to try to focus on getting more lean. I want to get under 200lbs so that I can have a better chance against competitors.

Now, before you say, “But Stacy you’ve been preaching that health is more important than weight loss!” let me say YES, IT IS. Therefore, I will NOT be dieting. But, remember this post where I said I knew exactly what I needed to do to lose weight but couldn’t because I was too preoccupied with this blog, book writing and all the other stress factors in my life?

Guess what? It’s time to focus on me. And therefore, I’m going to get a whole lot less preoccupied with this pretty quickly. I’m not going to quit running PaleoParents entirely, but it’s going to have to go on auto-pilot for a while. I want to spend more time with my kids, I want to get caught up on important things like documenting baby pictures in the family records and I want to train.

Stacy Iversion at PaleoParents

Here’s my plan to get into competition shape for 2014

  1. Quit treats. A sugar-detox is way over-due… those sweets sneak into your life quickly and that has been the case for us! Matt and I both are committing to no longer eating paleo(ish) treats or drinking alcohol. Fresh fruit is in season, there’s just no reason not to enjoy it fresh without having to bake it into a cookie.
  2. Ensure I’m getting my supplements and super foods (bone broth and organ meats) each and every day. I know for a fact that my body LOVES these foods, and if I want to gain muscle and lose fat this will be the easiest way to train my hormones and build that healthy body I want. And I have to focus and remember to take my gallbladder supplements so that I am able to actually absorb the nutrients – which helps me not crave food I’m not hungry for. With Celiac, this has always been a problem for me and a big contributing factor to my obesity pre-paleo.
  3. Eat when I’m hungry. This is driven by cravings (above) and by emotions. With stress I emotionally eat, so part of this effort is to de-stress. I will find ways to comfort myself (snuggling the boys, doing yoga, taking a nap, etc.) rather than finding food. Before each bite I will ask myself, “Am I hungry for this, or does it just taste good?”
  4. Sleep. Wow, this is a biggie for me. I’m often asked, “How do you have time for all the stuff you do?!” and the answer is… I only sleep about 6 hours a night. And being that I KNOW how detrimental this is to health I’m committing to getting at least 8 hours of sleep a day. This means I have to be in bed by 11pm, which is usually when I start blogging. So, you can see how that will affect what you see here on the site…
  5. Continue to CrossFit Mon/Wed/Sat and add in Strong(wo)man training on Friday and/or Sundays. I’m going to try to also train for the 5k I signed up for in the fall (more info on that coming soon) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but if my body is tired and needs to recover I’m not going to worry about that.

I have no idea how long this plan is for. I have a feeling I’ll be very strict for about a month in order to develop new habits, and then hopefully incorporate it back into a healthy lifestyle that will help me lose weight. If, after doing this for a month, I’m not leaning out I will be seeing a specialist to see what I might need to do differently because after eating so cleanly for so long I should be able to lose fat with just the above. It’s my strong belief that calorie counting and carbohydrate restriction isn’t necessary if the body’s hormones are regulated – which they should if I do the above.

So, please, support me on this mission: keep in touch with us on social media where I’ll stay active and understand that site posts are going to be drastically cut back… we’re just working on practicing what we preach ♥


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  • Nasreen Hosein

    Very inspiring 🙂 Thank you for sharing. I also want to focus on getting strong!!

  • Gabriella

    Well you already ARE better than most people at some things – your journey, your accomplishments and your success with your blog/cookbooks/marriage, etc. makes you unique and in the minority! 🙂 I’m starting Crossfit this week and really really appreciate you being so open and frank about your journey. Please remember that downtime, relaxation and rest (not just sleep) are an important part of healthy living too. I feel that some Paleo/Crossfit bloggers are so busy (just cooking healthy food and doing Crossfit are huge time commitments in themselves) that they are overlooking the time to just rest, meditate, pray, read for pleasure, whatever. Please be careful!

    • Thanks Gabriella, so true! That’s what I mean by time with my boys… that’s the time I enjoy. I also make time for GNO and getting my nails done and the idea of reading is just dreamy 😉

  • blersian1980

    Omg I love this. I too fell in love with cf and decided I want to compete. I will never be a contender for the games but I love to lift heavy so my goal is powerlifting so I am looking at working my way towards there!

  • Tears… I am pretty sure you just crawled into my head, and pulled it all out and spread it our for the world to see, except for a couple small things.. this is what I tell my self, but I have a block I was/am pretty sure I was too heavy or too old to start trying finally after find thing the thing that seems to work with me again my PCOS and other body war stuff.

    • It’s never too late! In fact, if you’re nearing “masters” division you might have a better chance at doing better 😉 I’d love to still be doing this in a few years and rank in Masters!

      • not even close 😉 , only about 5 years older then you, I think, but I have been beating myself up about it being too late for about 10 years… but yesterday I did it (not going to join a box, yet too much money and I live in an very athletic area, that’s not a battle I want to fight just yet) so I added to my kettlebell collection and got some pushup bars and a heavy bag and gloves for stress release. Next week I am getting a pull up bar and ab straps. I just turned 38 and I will be in better shape by Christmas!

        It’s frustrating at times, I read all these blog posts about people that went paleo and initially all this weight seemed to just fall off them, and yeah I lost about 25 lbs in about a month, kinda quickly but then totally just stopped. It’s hard not to get discouraged.

        Ever since Jill Mills won the first strong woman comp. it’s what I have wanted to do, but the fight between wanting to be healthy and LIVE and being beat down by my battles is hard won… but I am working on it.

  • Thanks for the reminders of the things that I should be doing to keep myself on the paleo path. Sleep is a challenge for me for sure. Best of luck!

  • Jennifer

    I love what Matt said about teaching “big girls” to be strong, and that strong is beautiful. I have an 11-yr-old girl who will never be some little-bitty thing (already 5’3″ and not skinny…literally stands head and shoulders above most of her classmates)…already she has been teased at school, is showing dislike for her body, etc. She’s on swim team and likes it, but is not that competitive (likes practices better than meets). I wonder if strength training would help on the confidence front? Mulling it over…thanks for the inspiration.

    • LynnKelly

      I think it would help her! I was 5’2″ at 11 and I never grew again. I am petite but I have a butt for DAYS which I’ve learned allows me to lift really awesome heavy things, and I walk with a bit more swagger in my step then most. I say go for it! I bet she’ll really enjoy it. I quit gymnastics because I felt weird about my body at that age, and I think weight lifting would have helped me get over that.

  • The Paleos

    Stacy, you are seriously the strongest woman I have ever met, both physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. I can’t even begin to tell you how insanely inspiring you are.

    Matt’s line regarding strong being beautiful is such an empowering one. I don’t know if I can ever hear those words enough for them to truly sink in. Society has made me believe something much crueler for too long.

    It will be amazing to follow your journey to Strong (Wo)man competitions. Your goals are so inspiring! Keep up your awesomeness!

    • Well your training helped to inspire me, too! <3

  • Hayley Mason

    YOU CAN DO IT!!! But can your sugar detox skip August 31st? 🙂

    • By then I’ll have a habit and should be able to enjoy a SPECIAL occasion I plan on attending! <3

  • Katherine M

    You go woman!!

  • Catherine Cousineau

    This is wonderful!! I think it’s human nature to always try to compare ourselves to each other and try to find someone similar to us. Well, I just found YOU!! I’ve been training in a similar type of gym (although we don’t do CF anymore) since 15 months now and my new goals are pretty similar to yours! I want to get stronger and I’m working on doing a handstand… and I’m still 220something lbs. And. I. Don’t. Care.
    I had my body composition measured a couple weeks ago and it confirmed without a doubt that I will never be a bikini model and it’s okay! My body is still able to do amazing things and that should be all that counts – and that’s what I want to transmit to my daughter too.
    The world needs female role models like you, Stacey and I’m working to become one too.

  • Kate C

    Awesome post! One of the best ways to achieve goals is to put them out for the world to see. You gain support and your own accountability! I love seeing somebody publicly pronounce “Strong is beautiful” for everybody to see. I grew up dancing ballet and developed some terrible body-image and eating problems as a teen. As and adult, Crossfit has really helped me see that strong and useful are much better ideals. I think if they let girls in the weight lifting gym at my high school, things might have turned out very differently. I’ve seen this quote floating around, and I think it should apply to women as well as men: ”
    Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.
    Strong women are much more useful, in general.

  • Mallory

    You are amazing!

  • Aleen

    “…[S]ome people are built to go fast. Some people are built to go far. And some people are built to pick those other people up.”

    Big puffy heart that quote–it needs to be on a magnet or bumper sticker.

    • Perhaps a new tshirt design!

      • Kristen

        I’d buy that shirt. I LOVE it! I cant like this post enough, and I can’t like strongwomen enough as role models for women and young girls. Kristin Rhodes is not a small woman- and she is super, super badass. We’re taking our toddler to see her first strongwoman competition next month. If you can do a “Future strongwoman” t-shirt in toddler size, we’d buy that too 🙂

      • Elizabeth Harvey Mayo

        I’d buy t-shirts, bumper stickers, magnets … I LOVE that quote. It’s been in my head since I read this blog post yesterday. I wish somebody had pointed that out to me 35 years ago…

      • SFSpotless

        PLEASE make that t-shirt! I would buy it because I am one of those people! Fortunately I worked around horses throughout high school so it was helpful to be strong, but it was still difficult to be accepting of my build. Now I am a middle school teacher and I would love to wear that shirt and spread the sentiment to kids at a very fragile age.

      • Heather

        I would buy that!

  • Brent Schrader

    This is beyond awesome! Picking up and putting down heavy things was one of the things that kept me in the gym 15+ hours a week in college back during pre-paleo, protein shake filled days. I’m a bit jealous you’re making the time to make it happen, which will be a lot of fun. Matt’s quote is also brilliant. Some people are meant to pick up those other people–it’s really fun to do. 🙂

  • Jennifer Jackson Bloom

    Awesome! So very awesome! I almost never comment on your page (maybe this is the first time), but I love, love, love that you’re accepting your body in all it’s strengths and building on what you’re made for!

  • Tracy

    Love Matt’s comment about the 3 types of people, fast, far and pick em’ up. Want to let you know, girl, I’m 3/4 of your size and I can’t stand on my head. You go. It’s to be healthy and strong. so proud of you!

  • LynnKelly

    “Stacy, some people are built to go fast. Some people are built to go far. And some people are built to pick those other people up.” Super profound Matt! And Stacy, take all the time you need and kick butt! There’s no time like the present so hop to it and show us how it’s done. 🙂

  • Sharon Williams Cathey

    You write so well, and cut right ‘to the chase’. Go, you! Wishing you GREAT success at what you start. I will enjoy watching your progress, and hoping that there are no major health setbacks. Rock on!

  • Elise

    Stacy, you inspire me so much! I love what Matt said about carrying people, because it seems like we are both built the same way. 🙂 Keep doing what is best for you! And those who say mean things, they are just stupid, so ignore them. The blog, whatever is written will be the better for you doing what is best for you! 🙂

  • Donna Adams

    Thank you. I want to be strong, too. Now I have to find my motivation as you have. Good luck.

  • Heather Mayer

    Kick some butt, mama! I LOVE this blog entry. 😀

  • Suzanne Christian

    Support and encouragement from me to you.

  • tee_w

    Matt is very smart! 🙂 and holy cats you are strong! I love your handstand, I now need to work on that. If you can do it then I should be able to too! 🙂 thanks!

  • Carmen

    Good for you, Stacy. So proud of you and Matt. No one ever wished that they had spent less time with their kids when they were growing up. Keep us posted on your progress <3

  • Jessica

    That quote about some people being built to pick those people up has got to be a bumper sticker!! I would totally buy that!

  • Good luck Stacy! So true that everyone has a different strength and I’m glad that you found yours. Enjoy your time away and I can’t wait to see you reach your goals!

  • Erin Weitzel

    I love your posts, Stacy, and I will miss them, but YOU are more important than this blog! Will definitely keep up with you, especially on instagram 🙂

  • “Matt once said to me that if we could just get ahold of our bigger girls at an early age and teach them not that they are fat and ugly, but instead that they are strong and strong is beautiful, too, that the world would be a better, happier place. Instead, we fill them with self-loathing and never let them accept that they were not born to be bikini models. They were born to be something much more impressive.”

    Hi, I love this. Can we go back in time and tell 9-year-old me that? Because we could have avoided a lot of unnecessary self-hate and tears.

  • Rebecca

    Paleo or not, Crossfit or not, what a fantastic post for women everywhere. It’s what I love about being part of this community – finding the best version of you as defined by you. Thanks, Stacy. You rock.

  • Kelly Schaefer

    Wow! I am so completely impressed with both you and Matt. Firstly, Matt’s comments are profound. Secondly, the leadership you both live and display in SO many areas, it is just so uplifting. I commend you for posting your goals. Whilst this may mean less posts, yay for you for prioritizing you and your goals! Wahoo! I hope you will post some updates to your training, your accomplishments, what made you skip and dance for joy! Well done and I cheer you on!

  • DeliciousObsessions

    Love, love, LOVE this post Stacy! Thank you! You’re an inspiration and it’s posts like these that remind me that I do not need to focus on my weight, I need to focus on my strength and overall health. My ultimate goal is to start doing Crossfit once my adrenals are to a place where I can handle more intense exercise. I totally support your mission and will be following along, as well as implementing some of the elements from your plan into my own life! You. Are. Awesome.

  • PrimalPoise

    Stacy, you’re awesome!

  • Cindy

    I am soo inspired. You go girl!

  • munzine

    Thank you for this post! I’m just starting my own health journey as well and I love reading fitspiration that doesn’t always involve six pack abs. I’ve always been a heavier lady, and being small and fast may just not work with my body type. I think I’m still early on in my journey so I’m not sure where the future will lead me. But I’m keeping an open mind that healthy can mean a billion different body types 🙂 Thanks for being awesome!

  • Janelle Seymour

    w0000000000t! This is awesome! And very inspiring. Go get ’em! 🙂

  • Heather Dodge

    LOOK AT YOU DOING THAT HANDSTAND!! I am in awe of what you can do, seriously. So jealous of that handstand!! 🙂 I blew out my shoulder Cross-fitting (aggravated an old injury) and have had to take a break to heal. As a woman, I’m so proud to hear you say that you want to get strong and compete in that. SO COOL!!!!!

  • Aimee

    Stacy this is awesome. I got goosebumps reading it!!! A few months ago a small group of at the CrossFit gym I go to started a powerlifting program. 4 of us (all women) competed in our first REAL powerlifting meet last weekend and kicked butt! We had a great time, met wonderful people, and came home with 3 first place finishes, one 4th place (to be fair, she was 13 years old and ended up competing against adults; when she turns 14 she’ll compete against teens and KILL it), and one best-overall within the masters category. I totally understand the weight class thing, too. Getting under 200 will make you a lot more competitive, and it’s totally do-able.
    Anways, my friends and I cannot WAIT to compete again. Strongwoman is soooo exciting (I haven’t gone there yet); I hope you continue to post about it because I really look forward to following your journey!!

  • Janet

    Stacy, can I please be you when I grow up?!! 🙂

  • Pi

    Amazing post and inspiring goals. Best of luck on this part of the journey

  • Annette Whitwam Johnson

    Love that quote too! And love being told that strong IS beautiful!!! At 22 weeks pregnant, I PRed my deadlift at #325 and my back squat at #230 last week. Sometimes, I find myself embarresed by my stregnth-as if there is something inherintly “unfeminie” about it. I am learning to be proud of myself when I throw those numbers up on the record board!

  • Anna

    This is so so awesome Stacy! I love it! You are my role model. I can’t wait to get kids because I’m so inspired of your parenthood. You both must be the best parents ever!

  • Cortney Harding

    Love this post. I’m actually very much in the “run far” category — I’m small and lean and can go for long distances (marathons, ultras) without a lot of trouble. But I’m also a crossfitter and so jealous of the women in my classes who kill it with the barbell while I struggle to even come close to doing workouts RX. Thanks for the reminder that there are many paths to fitness and strength.

  • Camilla

    Good Luck!! All the best to ya! Will be exiting to follow you:)

  • therealjeaniebeanie

    I also realized lately (probably after listening to The Paleo View) that my fitness goal is to be strong. Not thinner, just freakin’ strong. I’ve only taken baby steps so far, but I’m on the way. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Pixiwoo

    Thank you for this post, I have finally realised that I am also a woman who is built to be strong and have just started weight training with that in mind, Heres to achieving great things for ourselves . x

  • The Paleo Mom

    You are an inspiration. Truly. Completely. Absolutely inspiring. Thank you for showing the world what healthy looks like. <3

  • Lisa Rizzi

    What a strong woman! Physically and mentally.