As a CrossFit athlete, I can reflect on the changes that I have made in my lifestyle and admire the progress that has been made; but as a CrossFit athlete, I must continue to look forward, constantly moving in the direction of my next goal, my next challenge, my next victory! My chosen lifestyle is not a destination, but a journey. If I ever choose to stop moving forward in my journey, I will end up back where I was, wishing I could be back where I am now. In fitness, you are never static, you are either moving forward toward your next goal, or you are falling backward to where you once were.
September of 2014, I made up my mind to get healthy and fit. I joined Gymbox for $20 per month and started lifting weights, running on the treadmill, eating better. I was doing what I thought would get me to my goal and I was working “hard” both in the gym and in my nutrition. My recipe: Lots of isolated movements, lots of cardio, and consuming as little fat as possible. This is what we have all been told: “fat is bad, and building muscle burns fat”. I had to get in shape and get healthy with that recipe right? Well, after 4 months and a lot of “effort”, I had lost 9 pounds and was so discouraged that I quit. I ran through the gamut of excuses, which at the time seemed true to me: “Something is wrong with my metabolism, something is wrong with me, I can’t lose weight because of my age, my testosterone is too low”, and on and on and on. I was convinced that for some reason unknown, I just could not do it. I even told my wife that I was just destined to be a “fat guy”. In reality, I had set out on my journey, attempting to reach my destination with bad information and misguided effort. It wasn’t a lack of desire or effort, it was just ineffective direction.
Most of us have taken a road trip across some region of the country, a journey of sorts. Before we set out on that trip, we have to plan, prepare, pack and map out our route. Once we get in the car and take off, we just drive right? We just keep heading in the direction of our destination. We never check our GPS, consult our map, ask for directions, we just drive with the hope that as long as we are heading in the general direction of where we set out to go, we will eventually get there, right??? Of course not! So why do we do that on our fitness journey???
Sometime in the middle of August 2016 I saw a Facebook ad for people who are serious about getting in shape and healthy. I answered it. August 29th, 2016, I walked into my first CrossFit boot camp class at 226lbs, wearing 2XL shirts, 38” jeans and couldn’t exercise more than 2 minutes without being out of breath, feeling like I was going to die of a heart attack. I was afraid and unsure, but ready to make a life change. It was so much harder than I could ever have imagined and I remember checking my heart rate on my Apple watch during a few workouts to see if I was about to die! I didn’t! All of the coaching, teaching, nutrition training and accountability kick started my journey and set me out on the right path to reach my goals. I was following the details of the program, and for 6 weeks, I had zero sugar, zero wheat, drank lot of water and worked very hard at the gym. Sounds easy right? I was a sugar addict and didn’t realize it until I stopped eating it. I began looking at labels and thinking “wow, milk has 12g of sugar in it”? I was shocked by how every food item I normally consumed was loaded with sugar. No wonder I had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few years ago. No wonder my last lab report showed an 8.7 A1C with medication.
Even though my body was addicted to sugar, I was committed to the Citadel program because I was committed to me. If I cheated on my nutrition plan, I was not cheating on the program, I was cheating on myself. I was taking myself further away from my goal and I was adding to the work I would have to do in order to reach my goal. Any deviation from the Citadel plan caused more pain, more burpees, more rowing, less breath, so I followed the plan to the letter. 6 weeks later, on October 10th, I graduated the Citadel boot camp, cutting almost 2 minutes off my benchmark WOD, losing 23lbs of fat, and 5 inches off my waist! So why could I lose so much in 6 weeks when I had worked out for 4 months, only losing 9lbs before? It was because my effort was not misguided. My effort was guided by the Citadel program, by my coaches, by the nutrition plan and I followed the directions to the letter.
I have now been involved in regular CrossFit Citadel classes since finishing boot camp and the transformation has been incredible. I am an athlete again! I can do things that I have never been able to do (pull ups) as well as things I haven’t been able to do in years. I am in better shape at 45 years old than when I was 30. Although my journey is still in the beginning stages, the progress, milestones, PRs, and physical changes are all motivation for me to not ever stop. I crave my workouts, I look forward to the next WOD and I continue to follow the nutrition plan. Getting fit and healthy is a recipe of sorts and as with any recipe, if you leave any component out, you are not going to end up with what you set out to make. FOLLOW THE RECIPE AND YOU WILL GET THE DESIRED RESULT! I cannot imagine doing all of the work and short cutting the nutrition plan, yet I see a lot of people who do that and wonder why!
As I move forward in my journey- my recipe, my WODs, my nutrition will continue to adjust as my needs will change and my body adjusts. I count on my Citadel Team of coaches to help me make those adjustments and keep me on track and provide my recipe for reaching my short term goals on my long term journey. I will NEVER give up or stop, because like I said earlier, if I stop I will end up back where I was wishing I could be back where I am now. Where am I now? 193lbs, wearing a large shirt, styling 31” jeans and recently completed the “12 days of Christmas” WOD in 41 minutes with minimal rest and the thought of dying never crossed my mind. As for my A1C? 4.2, without medication!
In 2017, as you move forward in your journey, set some short term goals that will drive your motivation. Consistently get small victories under your belt and then raise the bar on yourself. That is the beauty of CrossFit, you will never reach a destination. There will always be another level, another step, another goal, another PR and another achievement. No matter what your level, physically and mentally, go to the next level! Meet with your coaches to develop your plan. Push yourself further than you think you can go and accept the challenge of being the best you that you can be.
CrossFit Citadel is a family of fitness minded people, working together, with each person embracing their role to help the collective group individually reach heights of health and fitness otherwise unattainable. To each member of the family, you have helped me in some way to be where I am now and where I will be a year from now. Your performance, presence and encouraging words are all part of what drives me to be the best me that I can be, and I thank you for that! Here’s to 2017 and all the PRs it will bring!