The Uncomfortable Truth

Photographer: Sweat RX
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“It is extremely important that we as women model empowering behaviour for our younger generation. We need to teach our children, both boys and girls, that a woman being fit means far more than how she looks in a bikini. It’s about mental and physical strength, goal-setting, enjoying life, and having fun.”
– CrossFit Games Competitor Becki Couling

When it comes to being a positive role model for our next generation, single mom Becki Couling nails it. This CrossFit Games competitor is not only an inspiration for other women working to stay fit while balancing countless responsibilities, she’s blazing a trail for what we show our kiddos about fitness and health. And she looks damn good doing it.

In fact, Couling’s at the top of her game and that’s largely because she spends most of her time out allowing herself to be uncomfortable. She manages a fitness regimen so hardcore it enables her, at 38, to compete against women a decade or more younger–and win. Couling took home 34th place overall at the 2013 CrossFit Games, sandwiched among countless uber-fit 20-somethings. And somehow, amidst what has to be a gruelling training schedule, this single mom works a full-time job and devotes herself fully to her son, Taj.

For Couling, focusing on her health is essential to being a positive role model for her son. She says, “I make being healthy a priority in my life because I believe that being a fit mom means being a happy mom. I have always been active, but since having a child I find it extremely important to make time for keeping healthy. See, being active is something I look forward to, not something I dread. CrossFit has always been, and remains, really fun for me. I think finding something you enjoy is the key to a life of fitness and health. I love being able to include Taj in my time at the gym. It has become our normal.”

Clearly it’s a normal that works for her. But this lifestyle hasn’t always come easy. Like anyone, Couling has struggled to find a healthy balance between work, home, and fitness. Is there one thing she credits to helping her stay on a healthy, positive track that her son can model? It’s allowing others to help her make health a priority. Couling explains, “Shortly after I separated from my ex-husband, he suffered a serious accident and was hospitalized for many months. I went into pure mommy mode where Taj was my number one priority. I finally realized I needed to keep my health intact, or I couldn’t be the mom Taj needed me to be. So after a CrossFit hiatus, I went back as often as my hectic schedule would allow. I leaned on family and friends so I could make some time for me. Looking back now, I was conflicted to be away from Taj, but I realized I needed that time for myself to be a better mother. It was the most tumultuous time in my life to date, but my CrossFit family helped me out a ton, in ways they probably don’t even realize.”

Essentially, Couling’s wonderfully empowering take-home message is this: “Although you may feel guilty at first, you’ll be a better parent for it [being fit and healthy]. Making time for yourself not only makes you a more patient and happy mom, but it teaches your children that you have a life that matters, too. I am proud that my son has a well-developed notion that it’s not only normal for a woman to be strong and fit, it’s also pretty cool.”

Couling’s words will hit home for many moms. And what she says holds a lot of truth–allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable with taking time for your own health is essential. Strong, positive women lead by example, showing our mini CrossFitters that health and fitness—and above all, confidence and self-love—are critical for longevity and quality of life. And there’s another awesome mommy blazing the way: the woman behind Couling and Taj’s beautiful photographs. In a Facebook post that prompted this article, 47-years-young CrossFitter Francy Forte eloquently wrote:

“The truth is, I feel I should apologize to those who have been subjected to my rapid fire of CrossFit postings, musings, and daily updates on what physical challenges I endeavour to take on. So here I go. Sorry for shoving my calloused hands in your face, but I work hard for those. Sorry that I actually love the feel of my aching legs and shoulders at the end of the day. Sorry to the aesthetician who scrapes my hardened heels and tries to polish my pathetic toe nails. Sorry if at 40-something years old I can compete with athletes half my age. Sorry that I push myself beyond comfort zones and into venues that challenge my every fibre, both physical and mental.

“What I am not sorry for is growing into a healthy mother, living long enough to watch my children grow and have children of their own and, by the grace of God and fitness, not become a burden to them.”

Like so many moms today, Couling and Forte have allowed themselves to “get uncomfortable” so they can be there for their kids in the long run. In doing this, they demonstrate what it means to live a healthy life. If it’s true that life’s most important lessons begin at home, then CrossFit moms are taking that even and you can be sure we’ll have a healthier next generation to show for it.

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