Statistics about the prevalence of obesity in America and the associated costs and health risks are everywhere. It’s no wonder losing weight continues to be the No. 1 New Year’s resolution.
And along with the remorse of holiday overeating, January brings the promise of a new year — and a plethora of advertisements selling exercise equipment and area gyms offering membership specials.
But weight issues are personal, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
And people battling poor body image aren’t always overweight.
Kisa Newman isn’t the type you’d typically think has problems with her weight.
At 5-foot-2, Newman weighs 105 pounds. But her petite size has caused just as much heartache and loss of confidence as if she weighed twice that.
“I am one of the lucky ones whose metabolism is through the roof and I don’t gain weight, ever,” Newman says. But because of that body chemistry, Newman has heard a lot of snide remarks about her build — including speculation that she must have an eating disorder. “I was always the really skinny girl and was always made fun of.”
Seven months ago, Newman entered a new phase in her health and self-confidence: She joined Yakima CrossFit, and it changed everything.
“I was really, really intimidated,” Newman says about joining the latest workout craze, during which members compete against each other in a series of intense exercises to see who can complete them the fastest. “But once I dipped my toe in the water and went one time ... everybody was amazing. Everybody was very welcome.”
“It’s changed my life a lot. It’s given me self-confidence. There’s plenty of times I walk out of there and think, ‘Wow. Did I just do that?’”
While Newman didn’t join CrossFit to lose weight, plenty of people do. The local box — that’s what CrossFitters call their gym — sees a wide range of members of all genders and body compositions. Each works at his or her own pace and with the support of the CrossFit team.
“Everybody is at a different level,” Newman says, and for the person who is last to finish the daily workout, “everybody is around them cheering them on, pushing them through it, coaching them through it.”
That team spirit and friendly competition appealed to Newman, who now coaches at Yakima CrossFit and this year will participate in her first CrossFit competition.
And her size has never once come up.
“Nobody once said anything to me about (my weight). They just kind of accepted me for me,” she says. “It’s just so different than a normal gym. It’s a big family. You get a new person to come in, and we just bring them in” to the family.
Yakima CrossFit was started by Lori Kline in October 2010. For more information about Yakima CrossFit, 720 N. 16th Ave., No. 4, go to yakimacrossfit.wordpress.com or call 509-895-0021.
CrossFit classes are also offered at a variety of gyms and at CrossFit Reformation, 3806 W. Nob Hill Blvd., No. 106.
Dieting for decades
“I think I started to realize I was heavy in the sixth grade — I think I was about 12 when I started to diet,” says Claire. “I was a yo-yo dieter — up and down, up and down. I had three sizes in the closet.”
Originally from Iowa, it took Claire almost three decades of trying different diet programs to finally take control over her compulsive eating habits and weight issues.
In 1975, she joined Overeaters Anonymous, a 12-step program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous.
(Claire isn’t her real name — it’s a pseudonym she uses because confidentiality is an important part of the program.)
Almost four decades later, Claire has been able to maintain her 50-pound weight loss and become a healthier person, both physically and emotionally.
Overeaters Anonymous — or OA — helps members discover what is behind their weight issues and deal with their emotional life in a healthy way.
For Claire, she had to learn to acknowledge feelings she was used to eating away.
“With this program, it’s the first time it addressed more than just my physical problem with weight,” she says. “I didn’t know how to talk about my feelings, so I would kind of push them down with food.”
She also learned how to identify her trigger foods, and cut them out of her life. Claire no longer eats refined carbohydrates — such as white flour and white sugar — because they trigger her compulsive eating habits.
Before joining OA, Claire says she would just “graze all day.”
“From the time I got up to the time I went to bed, I was eating,” she says.
OA offered tips to eat more healthfully, and to address the feelings that were behind her cravings. The program released her from the dieting cycle, she says.
“It helped me find a peace and happiness that I never knew when I was into my compulsive eating,” she says. “It used to be so important how I looked, and now it’s more important how I feel inside.”
The program has changed other aspects of her life, too.
“It’s helped me have better relationships with people,” she says. “When you’re really focused on foods, you’re not really present to the person that you’re with. Now, I want to be healthy. It’s a slightly different slant on weight loss.”
OA is suitable for people in a wide range of situations, from those dealing with eating disorders to people who have struggled to find success on other diet plans. Each person follows the plan in their own way, though Claire admits many people who turn to OA feel like they’ve exhausted other options.
“There is a certain desperation,” she says. “Most people have tried everything they know how to before they come to OA — the ones who stay find something different. They really want for it to be different.
“Things don’t really change if we don’t change on the inside. This program is kind of an inside job. It means looking at myself and taking responsibility and being accountable to myself.”
OA meetings are free and open to the public. While the groups meet at churches and talk about spirituality, they are not affiliated with any religion or denomination.
There are three meetings in the Valley: Noon Mondays at Grace of Christ Presbyterian Church (formerly First Presbyterian), 9 S. Eighth Ave.; 6 p.m. Wednesdays at Summit View Church of Christ, 100 N. 72nd Ave.; and 9 a.m. Saturdays at Our Lady of Lourdes, 1107 W. Fremont Ave. in Selah. For more information about the program, go to www.oa.org.