I have been overweight ALL of my life. I was the chubby baby who turned into the chubby girl in elementary school. I carried that weight into junior high school where I discovered what being picked on was.  When I got to high school I found the tribe of misfits, the not popular but not totally despised kids who accepted me for who I was, no matter my weight. I did get asked by some of the cute, athletic boys if I was sure I could fit into the desk. Some of the popular girls made sure to get into the lunch line before me so there was enough food for them to eat.  It was pretty awful. I decided to become the funny fat girl. It was easier to cope if I was a comedian.

I graduated and left that stuff behind me.  I don’t remember much from high school. I remember being picked on for my weight but I also just remember having fun with my friends. Singing in the choir, being in musicals, loving how it felt when my parents and my brothers were in the audience claiming they could only hear me singing.

When I walked into 13 Stripes for the very first time I saw my old high school gym class. Young, fit, muscular cute guys and gorgeous, athletic, modelesque girls. I was IMMEDIATELY taken back to those old high school days….  transported back to that time when I prayed the gym teacher just stuck me in the back field during gym class so I wouldn’t have to try and catch a ball or, worse yet, run to tag someone out at first base.

It didn’t stop me, though. The above story brings me to this one.

In November of 2018, just 3 months after I started at 13 Stripes, I agreed to sign up for the very first athletic competition I have ever done in my life. 13 Stripes Annual Holiday Throwdown. I stressed about it from the time I signed up to the MOMENT my heat started. My team was 3 amazing athetes (Tyler, Amanda, and Eli) and me. I had options here. I could tell Joleen that I wasn’t feeling well and I’d better back out OR I could just go through with it and apologize to my teammates profusely for being slow or not good enough. Since I was already committed I decided I could just do my best and apologize later.

During the last heat I was starting to gas out. It included rowing then med ball cleans then wall balls. A 21-15-9 complex. I was the last one to go and I knew I was tired.  After I finished my 15 wall balls I needed to jump on the rower for 9 calories. I was tired, I was slow and I was feeling discouraged.

As I was walking over to the rower, rushing to get into it and start rowing Tyler and Eli knelt down on either side of me to cheer me on. Tyler, who had been coaching me since I started,  said “Come on, Elena. 9 calories. You’e got this.” and I said “But Tyler, it hurts.”  Then he said the most amazing thing.

“I know it hurts but you can do this. Push off with them heels, use those legs, strong pulls. YOU CAN DO THIS.”

Tyler probably doesn’t know the impact that one simple act of empathy, kindess, coaching and belief in me had but I will never forget it. He doesn’t know that with every encouraging word he pushed me to do my best and to not give up. Tyler also doesn’t know that guys that look like him picked on me in high school. Which means he doesn’t know what crap i carry around in my head.

We all carry crap around in our heads. We all have little voices telling us what we can and can’t do. We all have memories of our past that haunt us occasionally.  When we gather at 13 Stripes none of that matters.  We’re all equal. We’re all here for the same reason. We can all be a Tyler. We have a chance to make a difference in our own lives and the lives of the people around us.

Imagine, if you will, an hour of your day filled with positivity.

If you meet me at the box you won’t have to use your imagination.  We’re waiting for you!

#fromcouchtocrossfit #mystandardsmyway #beliketyler #youcandothis