How the Barbell Saved Me from Myself

How the Barbell Saved Me from Myself

This guest post was written by Brooke Rockefeller and was first posted on her blog, Love Defies.

All women have been there, that emotional battle of trying to become what our culture wants you to be: the perfect size.

I had weight loss pills shoved in my drawers, shakes under my bed, and a constantly anxious voice in my head. Writing this now, I am absolutely horrified of the person I once was.

As a culture, we act like it is so shocking for women to become “sick” because of their obsession with physical appearance, but we have done it to ourselves. We are constantly swimming amongst a toxic environment of “look like this”, but “not like that.”

At the age of 15, I begun my descent into the toxic pool of an obsession with my appearance and it was a very long journey until I found my way out. I was consumed with filling the role of being the popular guy’s girlfriend. But instead, anxiety was eating me from the inside out.

From this time forward I was angry and unhappy. I took it out on my family and found myself trying to constantly fill this role of being “perfect.” Looking back, it all seems to be this complicated mess of growing up that led me down the path I followed, but it kind of goes like this:

All I have ever known is what it is like to be compared to others; I was born that way. I am blessed with a twin sister. Through thick and thin she will always be my best friend, but it isn’t easy to have grown up constantly chasing one another’s shadows. Every kid experiences that, whether they’re a twin or not.

From this frustration and confusion with self-identity, I was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD at the age of 16. I still hate those labels of having a disease. They always show up in big bold red letters on the top of every single one of my hospital records. Now I just remind myself that normal is boring anyways. In the midst of my diagnosis I developed an eating disorder. It was the only thing I could control.

Sleep was almost completely out of the question for me at the time, as my mind was constantly running. So, I let my body do the same. I would wake up every morning before high school to visit the gym, constantly counting calories burned to “earn my food for the day.” I’m not talking anything outside of usual meals. I literally wanted to burn enough calories to eat just barely enough to get by. Trying to plan my next diet item to buy was my obsession and it didn’t stop.

I went back and forth until the age of 20. Everyone just learned to call me that girl who is always at the gym, but it was still a control thing for me. I wanted to be perfect, but instead, I found myself perfectly miserable. There was something in me screaming to be let out but I was too concerned about my appearance.

Over the last two years, I can happily say I am no where near the person I once was and this all came from a 45-pound barbell.

I was first introduced to Olympic weightlifting through an athletics class for women in high school. I loved it. Moving weight around was so empowering, but I wasn’t so sure about the whole muscular stature thing back in the day.

While I can’t stamp a perfect time and date, I can tell you that what I have found has truly changed my perspective not only on myself, but life. Somewhere in the midst of my sophomore year of college when I was first introduced to CrossFit I found myself. No, I am not going to go on some rant about how CrossFit is the ultimate solution, but for me putting my hands on a barbell was.

I have learned how eating clean makes me feel good. Screw any concern with how much I am eating, I am all about fueling my body to perform. Well isn’t that a much different thought process, but getting stronger is empowering. Learning new movements is humbling and takes patience; they teach you dedication. Celebrating the dedication to these movements when you finally succeed is uplifting. Being apart of a group of people who believe you can do anything is like having a second family. And what I love most is the little girl who hated herself is gone.

Sure, I’m not perfect. But I am strong. My body is capable of moving things, supporting me, and letting me be healthy. A muscular stature for a woman isn’t manly; it’s the sign of dedication to becoming a better version of myself. A version of myself that no longer cares about what size I am or finding clothes that fit. I am a far better person dressed in the happiness I have found and I am so grateful to share it with others. So if you ever wonder where all my enthusiasm comes from, you have a barbell to thank for that one.


Brooke Rockefeller is a 22-year-old who is in love with love; but every form of love in this life. She believes in making mistakes and taking risks. She is an all or nothing kind of person. She has a passion for fitness, an obsession with coffee, and a taste for wine. She wants to see and experience the world.

Follow Brooke on Instagram @brookierock

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