When Trish and I first started dating, she wanted to go to the Air Force Academy. You have to be at least passably athletic to get into any of the service academies, and virtually everyone who successfully obtains a congressional appointment is a multi-sport high school athlete. Trish had always played soccer and volleyball, but she added swimming because she felt she needed three sports to round out her athletic resume.

I’ll admit, I loved it when she was swimming. Those muscled shoulders looked quite hot on her. She disagreed. We had differing opinions of what made her look the best naked. Her clothes were tight and the scale hated her. The heaviest I’ve ever seen Trish was when she was a high school swimmer, at ~145 pounds, I think. Though she was very lean and had abs to go with the swimmer’s shoulders, she was heavier and as a high school girl, heavy was inherently wrong and embarrassing.

This isn’t one of those Crossfit success stories where she used to be obese or anorexic.

She chose not to pursue an appointment to the Air Force Academy.

After high school, we both continued to work out extensively. We would go to the gym, though she would head toward the cardio area and hop on a machine — for many years she was the crown princess of the elliptical striders, while I would go hang out in the free weights for far too long. During the cardio bunny years, I don’t know Trish, did you ever get down to 120?

It seems like <120 was defined as success for at least some period of time. Though I think she’s spent most of her adult years within a pound or two either side of 130. She’s always eaten well. She’s always worked out. She’s always been in very good cardiorespiratory fitness. She’s always been lean.

She hasn’t always viewed herself as favorably as I’ve viewed her. Like damned near every woman I’ve ever met, she’s applied the lens of pop culture to herself, the reflection in the mirror not looking the way People magazine or some stupid infomercial tells her she should. Even the models in the magazines don’t look the way they do in the magazines. Hello airbrush. Hello photoshop.

Not seeing the person in the mirror that a magazine has contorted her opinion into viewing as “attractive”, “ideal” or “appealing”, she would live her days beautiful, but the only person who didn’t know it.

I began Crossfit and caught a pretty enormous amount of crap for it. For a year or so, I would go to the box and Trish would run and tease me about Crossfit and Kool Aid. Finally tiring of her misplaced judgment, and knowing that she’s such a tight ass that she couldn’t waste the membership fees, I paid for a single month so she’d have to come with me. My friend Steve, the former owner of Rimrock Crossfit, thought I was crazy when I absolutely insisted on paying him the money whether she came or not.

I told him that she was a miser and would have to view it as a financial loss not to come for at least that month. He shook his head like I was a crazy person, but took the cash. That was 3 years ago.

Since that time, we’ve settled into Beartooth Crossfit as a huge, crazy, extended family. These are people we work out with, but they are friends, too. These are women and men who get together for their physical, yes — obviously, but also psychological and social well-being. My wife drank the Kool Aid. She is probably more into Crossfit than I am.

What a turn of events.

This is where this becomes a success story.

The people in the gym are so supportive of one another! Trish has slowly crept toward her high school swimming weight, but her body is hard as a rock. Her bodyfat is easily below where it was at any other point in life. She pushes herself at the gym, and she pushes the girls she works out with. If the scale says she’s getting heavier, she shrugs it off, not just convincing herself — but really KNOWING the number is of no true consequence, and BELIEVING her worth to be much greater than gravity’s affinity for her well-toned body.

In days of yore, Trish would be extremely lean, running many miles per week but have no positive impression of what she saw in the mirror, the scale or her physical abilities. She’d run or go to the gym because she felt like she had to. I wasn’t allowed to try to talk to her at the gym. She hated being there. She would work out — like a monster, and be pissed off about it the entire time. There was a period, extending for years, where we would be on treadmills beside each other, headphones firmly in place, and with me forbidden — either explicitly, or implicitly for fear of my own safety, from speaking to her.

Then, I forced Crossfit on her fiscally-responsible sensibilities.

That is the success story. A woman who has been in shape her entire life, a woman who has always been beautiful, finally sees herself the way I do.

Almost.

If she gets heavier, it is because she has gone from being unable to do a single pullup, to doing weighted repetitions and she developed new muscles in the acquisition of this ability. If her pants get tight in the thighs, it’s because her squat has gotten heavier and it took bigger muscles for that to happen. She laughs and smiles about these things now.

Women are mean and judgmental to their core, but I see none of that at BTCF. The girls are infinitely supportive of each other. They congratulate each other on their muscles. They cheer each other when one can do something today they were unable to do yesterday. My partner of 21 years has the best, healthiest view of herself that I’ve ever seen. She’s the strongest, fittest and fastest I’ve ever seen her.

That is the success story. She is faster than when she would have been described as a runner. She is stronger than she’s ever been. She does Crossfit competitions with people far junior, and with far more Crossfit experience. She does obstacle and mud runs like a boss. She’s tough as hell, and she’s finally turning into a believer in herself.

That is the success story.