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Fat, Female and 30?

Emily Cooper and family

Emily Cooper with her two kids and husband — Photo by Joel Vogler

I remember being about 29, I just had my second baby and I was sitting in the globo gym assessment room (I was lucky enough to frequent one that gave you free yearly assessment). Standing there being fat tested by a waif 19-year-old “expert” was a little intimidating. Remember I had just had my second baby and, lets face it, I was a little on the chubbier side. And having a post baby body isn’t something I ever sat very comfortably with.

I remember her words very clearly, “So you’ve had 2 kids and you’re almost 30. Whatever muscle you have before 30 is pretty much all that you’ll ever have. Your body just can’t build muscle after 30 and it will actually start breaking it down”.

Great. I was 29 and fat! And this perky, skinny, fitness-magazine-covergirl, and in all honesty, child – just punched me in my big-fat-post-baby face.

This news depressed me. After all, for years I had been obsessed with aesthetics, I mean that’s what we are spoon fed by society – skinny is healthy right – if you’re physically attractive (thin and size 8) then you’re fine. And here I was. Staring down the barrel of 30, and there was very little I could do about the fact that, based on my globo assessment, I wasn’t ever going to get back to “skinny” or “fit” (because at the time in my mindset those two words were interchangeable).

About a month or two after that (a month or two, spending all my gym sessions on a treadmill watching the same bloody film clips on the same bloody TV, or episode after episode of Deal or No Deal) my husband introduced me to CrossFit.

Emily Cooper at CrossFit Marrickville

Emily competiting at the Trident Games — Photo by Chris Kim

It’s been 2.5 years since and here’s what I have learnt. The “perky, skinny, fitness-magazine-covergirl,” was wrong.

I am now 32 (and a half), and while I think my time to shoot for the big leagues is well beyond me, here’s what I do know. I have gained over 5-6 kilos of muscle mass in those 2.5 years, that’s more than I gained in my entire 20’s. My body fat has dropped from 23% (on the day of my globo assessment) to sitting around 16-17%. I never had abs pre babies. Post babies, I’m rocking a baby version of a 6-pack.

But more importantly, the goal has changed. My mindset has shifted. I am stronger than I have ever been in my life and am capable of things that were once, never even a possibility in my eyes. The way I view food has been turned on its head and my circle of close friends has expanded 3-fold.

Most of my over-30’s-non-crossfitting friends, think I am “crazy”, “mental” and that “that CrossFit shit’ll kill you,” but you know what, all it’s done is given me hope. Yes, I am getting older everyday. But I am also getting much stronger (mentally, spiritually and physically) everyday too. I’m pretty stoked my back squat is hitting triple figures (in kgs) and that I can Clean and Jerk 75kg. Two years ago, my max back squat was the 20kg maximum allowed in Pump class.

Emily Cooper at CrossFit Marrickville Olympic Lift

Emily at CrossFit Marrickville’s Barbell Club — Photo by Chris Kim

I am still getting healthier, fitter and most importantly, I continue to be happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I never look at my body in the mirror and judge it for what it looks like, I save that for in the box and judge it for what it can do (and I mentally high five myself when I do something that’s just a little bad ass).

So what’s the lesson here. We’re all getting older, there’s no stopping that. But I’m not going to let age (or someone else’s view of my age) stop me from living, stop me from setting goals and smashing them, and never will anyone stop me achieving what I set out to.

Without CrossFit, I’d still be at 23% body fat, have gained no muscle, still eating 1500 calories of all the wrong food, guilting myself if I went over that magical number. And I’d still be on the same bloody treadmill watching the same bloody filmclips.

Thank you CrossFit for helping achieve what I was told is impossible at my age.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.