Hey guys!  Kelsey here!  I’m sooooo excited for the post today- my good friend Alexis has graciously agreed to share her journey with all of you.  Alexis is from Effingham, IL and is a Biological Sciences major with a double minor in Chemistry and Theatre/Dance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.  She is on track to graduate in 2016 and plans to go on to dental school.  She loves deadlifts, coffee, musical theater, and Harry Potter.   

I met Alexis about a year ago.  Watching her journey has been nothing short of inspiring.  I do want to call out that this is Alexis’s journey using CrossFit as her starting point.  Your journey may start from running, walking, powerlifting, yoga, or even playing with your kids on the beach.  And that is all totally cool!  

Alexis- thanks.  You are beautiful inside and out.  I’m grateful to call you my friend.

I’m falling in love… No, not with a man.  Half of the time I’m still in the boys-are-gross camp.  What I’m falling in love with is myself, all thanks to whole-foods and fitness.  Now I know what you’re thinking, isn’t twenty years of living a blessed and fun life enough to love yourself?  However, it wasn’t enough for me, and it was not until I discovered CrossFit and all that comes with a healthier lifestyle that I truly began loving myself and appreciating my body.
Rewind to about a year ago, when I first stumbled into a CrossFit box for the first time with no prior fitness or nutrition regimen, a very poor body-image, and low self-esteem. I thought I was fat, unattractive, and had no appreciation for my body.  I vividly remember not even being able to run a half-mile in high school, but here I was committing to daily challenging workouts.
My mantra through many of those first workouts ran along the lines of “Don’t you want to be skinnier?”“Remember what you looked like in a bikini last year.”“Think of all the tiny girls you go to school with!” and so on.  Honestly, that was not a very fun or successful way to motivate myself to continue working out.  It definitely didn’t improve my self-esteem.  Instead of celebrating my body and the many ways it was changing that I was blind to at the time, I was diminishing its worth by comparing it to others’ bodies.  I was taking its’ value to be only what I saw in the mirror.
However, great changes were happening that I at first did not appreciate.  Pull-ups stopped being a thing that just the guys could do to something I could do as well.  Squats and deadlifts gave my naturally thick thighs a purpose when I realized these were movements I was not half-bad at.  It was in these things that I found my motivation to exercise and take care of myself.  I started caring less and less about what I looked like standing next to other people and more and more about the things my body could do.  And this was when I started loving myself.  
Because how cool was it that I could climb a fifteen foot rope and run a mile without stopping?  That was me doing those things and so much more.  
Me and my incredible body. 
 A body that through fitness, I finally could love.
I’m still on this journey of loving myself but I know I can accredit fitness and nutrition for what I think of as my biggest success of all: finally seeing my body as beautiful.  Once I started loving my body, I realized how truly beautiful it was.  
We live in a culture where we are constantly bombarded with what the idea of beauty is and constantly.  We are racing out to access products to achieve that standard of beauty.  But that isn’t real beauty.  I believe beauty is a very personal and individualized thing that manifests itself uniquely in every person.  
I can’t hold myself up to a standard of beauty, because no other individual is like me and has my body.  My idea of beauty probably looks very different than some of yours, but here is why I believe I am beautiful….
My body is beautiful because it is strong, it can handle heavy weights, do handstands, pullups, one-legged squats, and so many other awesome things. My body is beautiful because it can rock a pair of jeans, because fitness and nutrition have give my body beautiful curves that I can show-off with pride. My body is beautiful because it has muscle, can carry me through any tough task, and because it never quits on me. 
My body is beautiful because I finally love it. 

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