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Meet Member of the Month: Karolyn!

Like so many of us, the relationship with my body has been a complicated one. In my very early teens, I was sexually abused and groomed by a parent-figure. I was lucky I was able to get out of that situation but it’s impact led me down a path of self-hatred and shame. I remember when I was 15 and after I came out about the abuse, I hated my body and wished there was someway to escape it. Since the abuse had happened by a close relative, coming forward about it caused even more chaos and pain. I blamed myself for tearing my family apart, when in reality, the adults in my life who were supposed to be protecting me were the ones who were neglecting me. Later on in my life, I became a mother at 19. After some more chaos unfolded, I wanted to do everything I could to be the mother I never had. I went back to school and tried to be a social worker, but even after all of that, the self-hatred continued. People told me they were proud of me, and I was doing a good job, but the reality is I truly felt like a failure and a monster. I felt anxious and on edge everywhere I went. I would have these emotional breakdowns to and from work. When I came home, I would feel overwhelmed by every little task I had to do.

Then COVID hit and took the world by storm. I consider myself really lucky because we made it through, but it was at that point, I would see my daughter going through her own struggles, on top of growing up in a global pandemic. Because I was so reactive instead of responsive to her needs, I could see her pulling away. Her reactions were just reflections of my negative energy that were a result of my own unresolved trauma.

This is when I decided I needed to commit getting help. In order to be there for my daughter, I had to start being there for myself. I went back to therapy and started taking medication for my anxiety. It was hard to adjust to at first, but after some time, i started feeling better. Before the medication, it felt like my nervous system was on fire, but after it started working, it felt like I could see myself again. No longer was my mind bombarded with the constant fear that something bad was going to happen. The best parts of it all were that I could start doing the work to take care of myself and be present for my daughter.

Fast forward to this year, I started working out consistently for the first time and started listening to podcasts. That is how I first came across Empowered RX. I found the Empowered RX podcast and was inspired by the stories people would share on there. Stories of people overcoming trauma and recovering from eating disorders and how CrossFit healed their relationship with their bodies, food, and exercise. At that point, I didn’t know what Crossfit was but the stories people shared motivated me to look at my own fitness journey as a source of empowerment instead of punishment. This was timely because by the time I actually joined Empowered RX, I thought I was embarking on a journey of weight loss.

When I had finally joined Empowered RX, I lost a moderate amount of weight and I genuinely was ready to lose much more, but I was so painfully wrong about that. Leah, who has been my recovery coach, introduced me to Health at Every Size.

As it turns out, all of the body shame and anti fat bias I’ve internalized over the years has been based off of debatable research and myths. What angers me the most is that I grew up watching some of the strongest women in my life make all the right choices for their health only to still struggle with society’s perception of their weight. It’s been a hard pill to swallow, but this is the harm diet culture causes for us all. It makes us want to change our bodies instead of just doing what we need to do to take care of ourselves and each other.

Empowered RX has been helping me navigate diet culture and ultimately inspired me to take my power back. When I think about all the things my body has been through, on top of the ways in which politics and diet culture treat my body, now more than ever, I need to treat it well. In one of our group sessions, I remember us discussing how the relationship with your body is the longest one you will ever have. I would much rather feel at peace with my body instead of feeling at war with myself in a battle that I will never win.

I’m still a work in progress, but Empowered RX taught me that I don’t need to work out for weight loss. Rather, I can workout because it helps me manage my anxiety and rebuild boundaries for my body that were once destroyed from childhood sexual abuse. My body survived some truly messed up things, and now here it is, stronger than ever, working with me to reclaim my power in my own way. Each time I lift a weight or even attempt to do a push-up, I feel like I am rebuilding my relationship with my body by making it stronger, instead of focusing on “calories in, calories out.” Working out reminds me that I get to define how I move and nourish my body.

I choose to eat more nutrient dense foods, so I can go out and do the things I enjoy, not because I need to work towards impossible and unsustainable beauty standards. Even though I’m not at my lightest weight, I am most definitely at my happiest self, and I honestly feel stronger than ever.

I’m so thankful i get to be apart of Empowered RX. I know I would not be this far along in my healing without the mentorship and peer-support Empowered RX provides, and now I am about to start a new adventure and try CrossFit out for myself!

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