I’ll start this off by sharing that my journey of overcoming disordered eating is not yet over. It started when I was around 10 years old, and was heavily influenced by my mother, who was obsessed with dieting, and constantly enrolled her five children into whatever diet she tried. Low-fat, low calorie, plant-based, the organic movement, colon cleanses, mineral and vitamin regiments, aloe juice fasts… Many people grow up eating a variety of foods, but no matter the diet she would constantly ask the me the same question, “Do you think I’m getting fat?!” This would be followed by crying and pleading with me to let her know immediately if she was.
My eating disorder kicked off officially at age 14 with counting calories. I decided 1000 a day was all I was “allowed” to eat. In my mind going over translated into being weak non-committal. What was I committed to though? I wasn’t certain. I don’t remember a defining moment or goal with my starvation methods, I just felt strongly that I had to do it and failing at it was a choice. I would be stronger than any craving, no matter what. I would not let “fat” happen to me.
Through the years I found a variety of ways to keep myself “motivated” and “on track” with my disordered eating. I was raised in a religious household and “fasting” was an acceptable form of starvation, so I used that frequently, going 40 days without food once during an internship at a church. I was praised for my discipline and profound spirituality.
Another place where disordered eating is easily disguised and curated is within the fitness industry. Calorie and macronutrient counting is used almost exclusively. I should know, I am a Sports Nutritionist. Meal plans are designed around weight loss and caloric restriction, not on density of nutrients in the food you consume. The fitness industry has made billions of dollars off ineffective weight loss programs, supplements, skinny teas and keeping the bar for instructors incredibly low.
In 2013 all of that started to change. I found CrossFit. I was 25 and yearning for something to motivate me and help me achieve a better body. I had gone through a myriad of fitness and diet plans, searching for the “thing” that would finally give me the body I had always wanted. After spending 15 years of my young life killing myself for that ideal body, had I finally found the way?
It was instantaneous. After one workout, I was in love with CrossFit. The workout was unlike anything I had ever done and was also the hardest thing I had ever done (and I was a 5 days a week Bikram yogi who ran marathons for fun; I thought I was super fit going into it!) I knew immediately I wanted to be good (having no idea at the time what that meant) at CrossFit. I wanted move heavy weight that girls aren’t “supposed” to lift. I wanted to do a pull up on my own. I watched women fly gracefully through air during muscle ups and was completely amazed at the possibility that women could be so strong and do things that even Olympic level female gymnasts don’t compete at. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to have the bulging muscles I saw on women and realized they didn’t look like men, they looked like warriors.
I used to seek out fitness programs based around how many calories I could drain from my body and now I wanted to build myself up. I was introduced to a world where quick fixes didn’t exist. This was not a fad or a pill or something to dabble in. In order to become good at CrossFit, I was going to have to feed my body to get the results I wanted, not starve myself for it.
Another variable that helped me is the unique community that CrossFit creates. Undeniably one of the biggest reasons the methodology is successful. Suffering together builds incredibly strong bonds between people and nowhere is that truer than in your local CrossFit gym. Having That community there to support you and cheer you on is something you’ll never experience at Planet Fitness. It’s an environment that promotes and supports growth by physiological and psychological adaptation.
There are many things unique to CrossFit, outside of its extensive variability (Jillian Michaels knows about as much about CrossFit as Jon Snow knows about anything) but buy its own published hierarchy of priority, nutrition is the foundation of the methodology. “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and no sugar.” – Greg Glassman the Founder of CrossFit; a quote from his “Fitness in 100 words” article. Not only does it make nutrition the foundation of the methodology, but then also gives you the prescription for what to eat. Nowhere does it say count calories, stay under 2000 a day, divide your macros up like this, time your meals to fit this window… Just eat real food!
My coaches told me that in order to maximize my fitness, this was the way to eat. SO I did. The shift went from how little I could eat and “survive” to how much I needed to in order to be healthy and properly fuel my body, a novel concept! I never had a “ta da” moment in realizing I had shifted in my disordered eating mindset, and like I said at the start of this story, I am not beyond the psychosis of restrictive eating and labeling myself as bad when I eat things I “shouldn’t.” But, I would not be where I am today if I wasn’t introduced to true health and fitness and I wouldn’t have the support required to overcome an eating disorder. My community stands behind me, cheers me on, pushes me to do what I think I cannot. We are truly in this together.
Fast forward a few years and you get a better picture of what CrossFit and health have done for me. In 2014 my husband I opened our own CrossFit Affiliate, CrossFit 513 United. It has become my mission, my calling, to facilitate and provide a space in which such life changing experiences can happen to and for others. Last year, I tool that even a step further by starting my own personal training studio and nutrition business to help others navigate their way to their own food freedom and develop a meaningful lifestyle focused on health and wellness.
My credentials are:
CrossFit Level 1 Certified (Level 2 happens in June 2019)
Yoga Teacher Training 500 hours
Certified Personal Trainer NASM
Master of Nutrition, Sports Nutritionist
You can follow me on the Gram @thesarahjenkins or ompersonaltraining.com