This week I quit Cross Fit

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This week I quit Cross Fit.


I have been pretending to be an Olympian for the past three years. I strapped on a black weightlifting belt with a hot pink “Tough Girl” embroidered on the side. Those words were written there to taunt me and squeeze every weak cell out of my body. While the frailty left, I also hoped I would finally achieve the persona of a 21st century Barbie--curvy, yet trim and strong; smart enough to build my own empire.


Let's be honest. I’ve never been like a Barbie. I have never owned a real three-story dream house complete with elevator. I never look out my balcony window to see a Barbie-sized pool filled with half-naked Kens, waiting their turn on the steep yellow plastic water slide.

This is what sat on my bedroom floor in the 1980s--next to my pink Barbie dream house.

This is what sat on my bedroom floor in the 1980s--next to my pink Barbie dream house.

In the past, I did manage to have a few things in common with the icon. In high school, I drove my own personal “Barbie Malibu Tracker.” However, when my dad occasionally drove that car around my hometown in Missouri, shirtless on a warm day, it was as if a middle-aged G.I. Joe highjacked my pink, palm tree-filled dreams.

This car is exactly like my high school ride.

This car is exactly like my high school ride.


Like a good Barbie, I pursued multiple careers. I never became a rockstar, astronaut and doctor in stiletto heels, but I tried my very best.


Piano and voice teacher, English professor, Armenian Bible College Dean, group fitness/spinning instructor, Bible translation director, women’s ministry coordinator, performance musician, worship leader, writer, mother, pastor, missionary and wife. 


I’ve done a lot. It is obvious to me now, as I begin my 40th year of life, that I was searching for my distinct place. In a world filled with plastic-perfect Barbies and Kens (men who never have receding hairlines, or beer bellies, or a mid-life crisis), we begin to believe that we were created weak.


Of course, I always knew I was fragile.


I cried easily. When I lost my elementary school’s spelling bee, a room full of students and parents could hear my sobs echo against the wooden gym floors as I left the stage.

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I was slow. Putzy runner. Weakest athlete. Last one to be picked for our playground's foursquare, kickball, baseball….anything team.


I was quiet. At age 18, my youth group leader looked at me across the kitchen, and said, “Olivia. You need to accept that you will never be a leader. You are just too quiet.”


I was ugly. Growing up, my parents always reminded me that my bright greenish grey eyes were pretty. To every one else, however, they were unrecognizable under a cloud of huge glasses and belly fat.


There were things I was good at too.


I was determined. My parents say that if I wanted to do something, I had no need for a cheering squad or pep talk. NO ONE could stop me until I accomplished it.


Determination is a good thing UNTIL you become determined to become everything you are not.


Quiet? Those who observe me leading on stage now are surprised when they find out I am an introvert who needs few friends and requires hours of alone time to function.


Ugly? Anorexia as a teen finally got me to an acceptable size. Laser eye surgery forever removed my dependency on thick-lensed glasses.


Weak? In 2008 I became a certified group fitness spinning instructor. I watched my high school’s former Barbies and Kens nearly collapse in a pool of their own sweat on spin bikes during my classes. But who was I fooling?


Last week, I stood in front of my husband, my children, and a few friends to blow out 39 candles on a red velvet birthday cake.  I have 39 years of trying to be strong. 39 years of overlooking my strengths while trying to improve my weaknesses. Countless years of worrying about how many calories are in a piece of cake and if my belly with exponentially grow by morning.


39 years old and red velvet cake!

39 years old and red velvet cake!

So, this week I quit Crossfit. I joined it three years ago because I needed to try one of the hardest workouts out there to, once again, prove my strength. Although I did well, I could not keep up with those designed from birth to be elite athletes.


I admired their physical power so much that I ignored my own voice. I often dreaded going, hated the handstand push-ups, never mastered the rope climb and, after a bad injury, feared jumping repeatedly on to a sharply-cornered wooden box. 


In the last few weeks, I finally asked myself the question: am I weak or was I NOT created for this?


I wrote the painful email to my Cross Fit gym that, in many ways, accepted me into their family and trained me with excellence. It was time to quit for two good reasons:

#1. I have an expensive dream—one that costs $35,000 to be exact. My husband and I need to make sacrifices in our spending to accomplish that dream. Although I still value exercising four to five times a week, I have found a more affordable venue.

Saving to start this program in January 2019!

Saving to start this program in January 2019!


#2. I was created for something different.


What if I was never designed to impress people with my front squat max? Never created to reach the stars as an astronaut? What if a position that allowed me to lead a great company from a huge corner office {with a great, breath-taking view} left me completely unfulfilled?


Since the time I was a child, I learned to silence a different purpose that repeatedly arose. Taking my strengths for granted, I tried every possible angle to squeeze my incredibly flat feet into someone else's high heels.


Sometimes things that are perceived as weaknesses are strengths in super-hero disguises.




I cried easily because I was made a storyteller.  The emotions I feel deeply allow me to sing, write and speak of the one great story we all experience in life.


I was quiet so that I could listen to the whispers of the world. When my voice finally did ring out on a public stage, people were so surprised; they listened.


I was slow because I was never meant to hurriedly run from accomplishment to accomplishment. I was designed to walk and gain energy by observing ocean waves, autumn leaves and to listen to the greatest Muse of all stories.


The world called me ugly so that I could discover where genuine beauty comes from. 



Unlike those elite heroes of the Cross Fit world, I was never created to be the physical defender of a nation or to show God’s magnificence through my Olympic strength. Many of my fellow Cross Fitters were. They have found a place that feels like home to them.


I exist for something else. Possibly, YOU exist for something else.

One of my greatest take-aways after completing a two day Paterson Life Plan last week. "I exist to..."

One of my greatest take-aways after completing a two day Paterson Life Plan last week. "I exist to..."


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