|Mmmm.... nom nom nom. Sta-puft marshmallow man lurvs ice-cream cake!|
Out of college, responsible for my own shopping and food intake, I ballooned up to 230+ pounds. The one upshot was that I was still pretty strong, especially through the legs. Need someone to lug the drummer's bin of hardware into the club? I got it. Need someone to dance and jump around playing bari sax? I got it. At least for one song... However, I was even MORE unhappy with how my body looked and felt.
My first attempt at fixing the mistakes of the past was to go on Weight Watchers. In fairly rapid order, I dropped about 40, maybe 50 pounds (from 230+ to 180+), but again, without doing any work in the gym (or at home). I shed fat, and for damn sure I shed muscle. By the time I was done, if I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a while, the question I was asked was "Wow, have you been ill?" Yeah, that was the goal... The weight went right back on when I fell off the wagon.
|Skinny sax man. Strong? Kinda. But not as strong as yesterday...|
After a stressful move to Connecticut, which involved LOTS of time in the car on weekends, time away from my family during the week, the utter inability to find a move-in-ready house in a good school district (with one daughter prone to allergen-triggered asthma-like symptoms, and another little one on the way, there was NO thought of a fixer-upper)... I joined Elm City CrossFit, and have never looked back. Suddenly I had coaches fixing all my self-taught stupidities. Suddenly I had a given WoD to do, and couldn't pick what I wanted from the past week or so. Suddenly, I started seeing real improvements in my strength and endurance. Both are still completely shot from the Weight Watchers era, but they're coming along...
Along the way, my wife has joined the box and fallen in love with CrossFit, both with the exertion AND the community; my daughter is a constant at the Elm City CrossFit Kids classes, which I co-run and co-coach; and the littlest one, now nearly 2 years old, runs around the gym with a 1# dumbbell throwing down squats like a champ. I've started trying to shed my multiple layers of accrued insulation, and trying to regain the strength I so casually took for granted in my youth.
In the run up to the 2014 CrossFit Open, ECC provided programming specifically designed to make us bigger, stronger, and faster. Opting into the program meant I was at the gym nearly twice as much for my own workouts, not even including coaching the Kids classes. Instead of a few hours a week dedicated to my own fitness, it was nearer to 10+ hours a week. More strength work, more olympic lifting, more endurance, more of everything. I tried to maximize rest time as well, but that part was harder with the kids and work schedule to work around. No child cares how much time you put into the gym that day, or how much rest you need, when they wake up from a nightmare at 3am. And neither do you... until the real alarm clock goes off, and its back to the gym, this time on 3-4 hours of sleep, rather than the intended 6-7 (which would still not be enough...)
The Open came, and for each workout I tried to map out a goal (with good, better, and best outcomes included) for each. I surpassed many of my own goals, got crushed on at least one workout, and in general felt better than I have in years. I certainly look better than I EVER have. Its nice to finally have pecs, rather than moobs (man-boobs), pushing out my shirts. I very nearly have abs showing, so THAT'S exciting. I don't think I've ever had visible abs! The weights are still going up, the cardio/endurance capacity is still inching up little by little. All in all, its been a good ride.
Additionally, the gym also hosted a Paleo eating experiment: three months of strict paleo, requiring food logs, before and after pics, benchmark WoDs, the whole nine. While I most likely would have fallen off the wagon pretty quickly left to my own devices, I managed to sign the wife up for the challenge, too. She was absolutely my salvation. When the smoke had cleared and the final scores were tallied, we had tied with another couple in a four-way tie for 2nd place! I can't speak for too many other Epic Eating Experiment participants, but we've kept our diets as clean as possible, and are continuing to see Epic results. I just recently bought a few new pairs of shorts, as the potato sacks I *had* been wearing were getting to the point of looking ridiculous. With a waistline reduced by three inches, and still setting PRs in all the major lifts, and just getting stronger and healthier, I'm in better shape in my late 30s than I was in my teens and 20s!
The upshot of the early part of that story is this: I own every part of my fitness now. The coach isn't responsible for my gains or struggles, I am. The person doing the programming is doing it for the entire gym population, not just for me. If I have a weak-point (goat), its up to me to address it. The complaints about CrossFit are myriad, and some actually carry a fair amount of water...if you're lazy and just do what you're told to and don't bother to take responsibility for your own goals and performance. You have to take responsibility for your own rest and recovery. You have to make sure YOU'RE feeding you enough calories so that you're building (or at least preserving) muscle while burning the fat. It all comes down to you. The best program in the world won't work for someone who doesn't OWN the process... and someone who
OWNS even the worst program will probably still get solid results out of it. Its all down to you, just as its all down to me.
No one can make you do it, and no one should waste their breath trying to make you. Either you're happy with your life, or you need to work to improve it. Everything else is inertia, self-deception, and laziness.
|What's it gonna be, punk. Do you feel lucky?|
- CrossFit's What Is Fitness? - Greg Glassman
- Strong Enough? - Mark Rippetoe (This may be the greatest fitness article ever written. EVER. You might need to "subscribe" to the Journal to read it, but its free now, so no worries there.)
- Be Alive. Be VERY Alive. - Mark Rippetoe (yes, I man-heart Rip.)
- A Letter to Young Jim Wendler - Jim Wendler
- A Way of Life - Dave Tate
- Armor Building - Dan John