How old are you? What is your occupation?
I am 36. I work in the pharmaceutical industry. Specifically, my title is Associate Director of Global Oncology Competitive Intelligence.
What month and year did you start CrossFit?
I started at CrossFit The Swamp in February 2017 – this was my first experience with CrossFit.
What made you Join CrossFit?
When I joined crossfit the Swamp, I had recently completed a dieting program that allowed me to lose around 80 lbs. Much of the initial weight I dropped quickly came back even though I was eating healthy – or what I thought to be healthy.
I wanted to maintain the weight loss, and my brother in law who loves crossfit encouraged me to come to a couple classes and give it a try.
What were your original goals?
My goal was seemingly simple – maintain the weight I lost. That’s it – even though I was at an unhealthy weight, I just wanted to maintain for a long period of time to gain some stability to the weight loss, and then worry about further weight loss at a future date.
What is it about CrossFit (vs. other fitness alternatives) that has made you successful?
This is easy – community and accountability. The community at Crossfit the Swamp has been 1000% supportive of me in everything I do. The 5am class has been my rock always supporting me and pushing me beyond what I think I am capable of. (pic below of these guys – you are the best and keep me coming back!)
Each time I walk in, I know they will cheer me on and make sure I am giving it everything I have. Also, there is a huge amount of accountability – if I don’t show up for a week, coaches ask where I have been, how things are going, etc. This simple check in makes me feel like the coaches genuinely care about my health and want me to reach my goals.
What is the biggest factor in your success, and how do you maintain it?
One of the biggest factors has been the support of my family – I am lucky that my wife has joined me in eating mostly paleo and is extremely supportive of everything I do.
In addition, I stopped assigning timelines to my weight loss. I started believing that this was the way I wanted to live my life, and when you are in it for the long haul, there is no date by which I have to lose weight. This change in mindset helps to maintain success, and in the long run, I know I can go out and indulge in a great meal because I will go right back to my healthy lifestyle.
How many classes do you attend each month?
Typically I go 5x / week – 3 on 1 off, 2 on, 1 off.
Has nutrition played a role in your success? If so, how? Be specific.
Yes, absolutely – nutrition in my mind is the most important piece. I watched a few crossfit videos showing how nutrition is really the bottom of the pyramid off which everything else is based. I have significantly changed my diet, and just follow the basic principles of real food, eating clean, meat and vegetables, some nuts and some fruit. I avoid anything with added sugar. I would say I am ~80% paleo (add cream to my coffee and cheese with my salad). Importantly, this has helped with attain significant weight loss, but also I strongly believe this has had an impact on my general well-being and my mood.
How much weight have you lost since you joined The Swamp? Any other significant physical transformations?
I have lost 86 pounds since joining the Swamp and a total of 166 pounds over the last 2 years.
2016: 360lbs - pant size 48x30 - shirt 3XL - HbA1c 6.0 (pre-diabetic)
2017: Start at The Swamp: 280lbs
September 2018: 194lbs - pant size: 32x30 - shirt Medium - HbA1c 5.0 (normal)
Mobility has significantly increased, but I still have some work to do here. I am able to run which I wasn’t before. I always give an example of how about 100 yards away from my house I had to take a break when walking my dog. I remember my back hurting and just needing to sit down. I now run 3 miles every Sunday and I pass this spot every time – it is a reminder to me of how far I have come and how much further I would like to go.
What has been your biggest hurdle and how did you overcome it?
General fitness and mobility have been my biggest hurdles. I have significant mobility restrictions that have limited my ability to squat in a safe manner. Specifically, my heels lift off the ground transferring the weight into my knees making squatting unsafe. I haven’t overcome this restriction completely, but I am getting closer everyday. In addition, when I began at crossfit the swamp, I was only able to squat to a bench. Reaching the appropriate depth of the squat was a major hurdle, but I am now able to reach the standards of hip crease below parallel. Coaches have provided me with appropriate scales and tools to increase mobility. I arrive early to each class and work on mobility. This has been frustrating, because improvement comes very slowly. However, once I stopped assigning a time frame to things – i.e., I need to get appropriate ankle mobility by a certain date or lose this amount of weight by this month – I have been much happier. I look at this as my life now. I love coming to crossfit and eating healthy. I really do – I feel better and have so much more energy – thus, there is no timeline – this is just my life and whatever happens will happen – I will lose weight but I no longer have a clear target in mind. I will get the appropriate mobility, but I have no specific target date to achieve this.
What is your most memorable Crossfit moment?
There are so many memorable moments from my 1+ years at the Swamp. 2 specific moments come to mind as the most memorable: (1) one of my first 10 or so workouts at the Swamp required running. I was the last person leaving to go for my run, and the entire class came out and ran with me. (2) Similar to the above, I was the last to finish, and the entire class completed around 30 abmat situps with me after they already finished their workout. These 2 instances are perfect examples of the family of the Swamp and the support that I received.
How has this experience enriched other areas of your life?
In so many ways. I have so much more energy. I am constantly getting up and down off the ground to play with my 1 year old son, so I see direct impact of my weight loss just on that. I take my son out for walks, I couldn’t do that before. I used to get anxious every time my wife asked if I wanted to go for a walk because I knew my back would hurt, I would sweat, and it would be generally uncomfortable. My weight limited me from doing the things I wanted to do.
For example, my wife would want to go see the fireworks. But I knew there wouldn’t be parking near by and we would have to walk. I would always find excuses and ways to get out of going to these things – so ultimately, I was too scared / too anxious to do the things that I wanted to do. Now, all of that anxiety and stress is gone, I am free to participate in a variety of activities
If you could send yourself advice 10 years ago what would you say?
I would tell myself to think about the long run – to understand that eating and drinking whatever I wanted was going to have consequences. I would have educated myself on the dangers of obesity and the many diseases that are associated with obesity.
Accomplishment(s) you are most proud of since joining?
Getting my first wall walk was pretty cool – it was a funny experience – I kept moving up the wall and I was able to do it, so I kept going – each time I got closer to the wall, I said “holy #$@!!” I got up there and was ecstatic that I actually did it.
My first 5k was a huge accomplishment as well – I was never able to run that far and I was really pumped I could accomplish that.
What are your current goals?
So many – I want to attain a number of new movements (pull ups, handstand push ups etc..)> I want to eat clean and maintain a positive attitude. One thing I am working on is not beating myself up – even during a workout. Strength between the ears is something that I lack, and I want to get stronger here and tell myself that I can push myself.
What advice would you give someone thinking of starting CrossFit?
Be patient, listen to the coaches and ditch the ego. Patience is key – you may lose weight right off the bat you may not. It actually took me over a year for my weight to start to drop – some of it due to adjusting my nutrition but also because my body was so out of shape it took some time to adjust.
Listen to the coaches – they are the experts! They want to teach you! They know what is best to keep you safe and continuing to come back each and every day for the long haul. If they tell you to bring down the weight, - listen! They have your best interest at heart, and when you can safely lift that weight, they will push you to challenge yourself.
Ditch the ego – don’t get caught up in what others are doing. Do what is right for you. You will get a great workout, don’t worry if everyone else is doing one thing, and you are scaling based on your skill set. Don’t worry about it! Keep at it, and you will be doing those same movements soon enough.
What would you hope your CrossFit Future holds?
I hope I continue to reach and exceed my goals. I hope to live a healthy life and strive to be better each time I walk into the gym. I know that if I continue the path I am currently on, I will exceed all my expectations.