The two-time CrossFit Games champion shared why "peak performance is meant for one time of year."

December 04, 2019

Katrín Davíðsdóttir is the Fittest Woman on Earth. No, seriously. The Iceland native was crowned with the title not once but twice at the CrossFit Games (in 2015 and 2016).

The badass 5-foot-5 competitor is a sponsored athlete for Ascent Protein, No Bull, and Rogue Fitness (among others), and has also won two East Regional CrossFit Championships and graced the 2019 cover of ESPN's Body Issue. The woman is a beast in the CrossFit box and has proved that the female body is capable of incredible strength and power—but that doesn't mean she hasn't had her fair share of issues when it comes to feeling comfortable in her skin.

"As much as I can talk about being proud of my body, it’s not always like that," Davíðsdóttir tells Shape. "I go through the same struggles with my body as anyone else does."

The 26-year-old spent her childhood devoted to competitive gymnastics, and that's where the struggles with her body truly began. "Being a gymnast, I was really tall," she said. "I always wanted to be smaller, I wanted to weigh less, I wanted to be skinnier."

Davíðsdóttir explained how her Romanian coaches constantly pushed her to weigh less and be lighter instead of focusing on her strength and power. "In that sense, [they thought] gymnastics would become easier for me," she said.

It wasn't until Davíðsdóttir found her true calling—CrossFit—that she says she finally saw a shift in her mindset. "I went through years and years of wanting to be smaller than who I was," she says. "In school, I was always the muscular one. It wasn’t until I started CrossFit that I was really able to tap into that." (Related: 15 Health and Fitness Benefits of CrossFit)

CrossFit empowered Davíðsdóttir to embrace her strength, she says—something she's opened up about before. "When I started CrossFit, it went from being so much about my appearance to focusing on all of the amazing things my body could do," she told Shape while talking about her involvement in Reebok's "Be More Human" campaign. "The more I worked on lifting, the stronger I got. The more I ran, the faster I got. I was so amazed by the things my body could do and at the same time so proud. I worked hard for it and I have now learned to love it for what it is."

But despite winning countless CrossFit championships and wowing the world with her incredible strength, there are still moments when Davíðsdóttir worries about how others perceive her body. "After winning the CrossFit Games, I had a lot of media on me and it was really hard because I felt like if I gained weight, that’s not what the Fittest Woman on Earth is supposed to look like," she says now. "I was afraid that they’d seen pictures of me at the CrossFit Games where I was super fit and had a six-pack and then see a picture of me in a magazine and new videos and say I didn’t look like that." (Related: Everything You Need to Know About the CrossFit Open)

Despite those pressures, Davíðsdóttir says she tries to continuously remind herself that she can't be her strongest all the time. It simply isn't realistic. “Peak performance is meant for one time a year," she said. "It’s meant for that one time of the year where I’m trying to be the best in the world. If you try to sustain that, you’re going to burn out and have more injuries." (Related: My Neck Injury Was the Self-Care Wake-Up Call I Didn't Know I Needed)

At the end of the day, Davíðsdóttir says she realizes that other people's judgments and opinions don't matter as long as she's happy with where she is mentally and physically. "Some people are going to think I’m too big...too lean...have too much muscle, be too skinny," she says. "I just want to be healthy and fit and have goals. And as long as I know I’m doing the right thing and working towards the right thing, it’s something I’ve learned to brush off."

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