The problem with weight gain is you don’t notice it happen until it’s too late.
Shortly after University, I found myself sitting at 266lbs, out-of-shape and unhappy. A routine physical illustrated just how bad things had gotten. Pretty much anything that could be high, was high. My doctor called for an immediate change before it was too late. I tried dieting, I tried running, I even tried hitting the gym, but nothing seemed to work. I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth, running was hard when you’re that heavy, and I had no clue what to do at the gym. It was at this point that I stumbled upon obstacle racing. After completing my first race in Dallas (Muddy Buddy), I was hooked. I began doing as many as I could, as often as I could. During one of the races, I overheard people talking about CrossFit and how awesome it was. I did a bit of research, however felt a little overwhelmed at how intense it appeared. It wasn’t until I received an email for a Groupon for CrossFit Select that things began to change. The deal looked fantastic, so I figured why not!
I remember showing up my first day feeling totally out of my element and nervous. The coaching staff quickly turned these feelings around with how knowledgeable and friendly they were. During my fundamentals class, Coach Tommy went through, and had me try each and every lift, pull, or exercise in the gym. He was gaining an understand of my strengths and weaknesses, which would later be useful in tailoring my workouts going forward. After completing my Fundamentals classes, I was ready to begin attending regular WOD classes. Believe it or not the most intimidating thing about CrossFit isn’t the weights, or the workouts… it’s the people. Imagine showing up for your first class, not knowing a soul and seeing everyone deeply immersed in conversations about each other’s lives. Everyone seemed to be friends with everyone, and yet there I was, “the new guy”, awkwardly standing off to the side trying to look busy so as not to look like the only person not chatting with someone. This all changed the second the coach walked in the room. Coach Holly instantly made me feel at home and welcome. We went around the room introducing ourselves and I was surprised with how helpful everyone was. People offering assistance in finding things, showing me where to go, asking how my day was…. It was amazing. Everything was going great until people around me started to finish the workout. I began to panic; “should I cheat? This is so embarrassing! I’m the last one done! Everyone’s waiting on me!”. it was at this point that the true sense of community emerged. Instead of people staring and waiting for me to finish, the entire class gathered around me and began shouting words of encouragement; “Keep going! Don’t stop! 2 more reps! You’ve got this!” I gained an instant boost in confidence and powered through the workout. Upon completion I had to ice my hand from the amount of high-fives I had to give out haha. CrossFit is the only sport I can think of where the person in last place gets the loudest cheers.
After my first class I was hooked. I began increasing my workouts to twice a week. Weeks past and my confidence levels grew. I knew what I was doing and having fun while doing so. I was feeling stronger but still felt “fat” (even though it had only been 3.5 months, I was eager to see better results). That’s when I heard about the Paleo Challenge. I had tried dieting in the past without success. This was different, this wasn’t so much a “diet” as it was a challenge of mental determination. The idea is simple. Eat clean, see results. I decided to give it a shot and off I went. Let me tell you, if you think CrossFit support is huge, try the Paleo Challenge. The support and tips and ideas from friends and strangers alike blew me away. It was tough, but worth it. I instantly began seeing results and by the end of the 8 week challenge, I saw myself go from 210lbs to 188lbs. Not since before university did I see my health and weight at this level. I felt great, and looked it too! Not only did I prove myself wrong about “dieting”, but I showed myself what was truly possible if I put my mind to it.
Not long after starting the Paleo Challenge, word spread around the gym about “The Open”. What was this thing everyone was talking about? And why was it so important. Turns out the Open is a world-wide competition where any and all CrossFitters can complete set workouts, submit their scores and see where they ranked on a world scale. Considering it, I figured that since I was new to CrossFit, and I was doing Paleo, that this would be an excellent “benchmark” to see where I started. At the end of the Open, I was happy with my results. I finished somewhere around the middle of pack for my age group and for my box. More importantly, I gained an understand of what my weaknesses were. I began upping my workouts to 5-6 days a week which in turn also began upping my results. I began hitting PR’s more frequently, which in turn upped my spirits. The thing that is so awesome about CrossFit Select is not only the people, but the coaches. Each one brings something different to the table. It’s that variety that keeps things interesting and keeps me wanting to come back for more. I started this journey overweight, out of shape and unhappy. I am proud to say that after one year, 2 Paleo challenges, The Open, and some amazing support, and dedication, I’ve lost over 65lbs, put on muscle, and made life-long friendships. You know how at the end of those diet/exercise infomercials they say “results not typical”? these results ARE typical…. If you’re willing to work for it!