Before photo: February 2018; now photo: July 2018

How old are you? What is your occupation?

31 years old. I am a mechanical engineer.

What month and year did you start CrossFit?

January 2018

What made you join CrossFit?

A friend of mine, Jared Crafton, raved about the atmosphere and the results he had seen since joining.  I had been “going” to the Y and running on my own without much success, so I figured why not give it a shot.

What were your original goals?

My ultimate goal was to increase my energy level and get stronger.  I have a 3.5 year old boy right now, with another son on the way at the end of September.  I also wanted to break out of the rut I had fallen into with working and eating poorly.

What is it about CrossFit (vs. other fitness alternatives) that has made you successful?

This is an easy one, it is the collective group suffering that goes on each day that brings me back.  When I was at the gym or running on the street, no one was around to push me, or check to see if I had done what I had set out to do that day.  This is something that I missed from my days in rowing.  When you are in the boat, you know each guy in there is going as hard as he can, not for himself, but for the other guys struggling alongside him.  Yes the workouts can be hard, but having a group of like-minded savages gutting it out with you is an element that cannot be understated.

What is the biggest factor in your success, and how do you maintain it?

Consistency.  CrossFit has become an important part of my life that I plan a lot of my schedule around.  The results that I have seen thus far are the positive feedback I need in order to justify the sacrifices I make.  Every time I step on the scale, lift a heavier weight, or look in the mirror, it is a small victory and reminder that what I am doing is working.  The small victories I see on a daily basis build upon one another and drive me to keep going.  

How many classes do you attend each month?

In a perfect world I am able to make it to 4-5 classes a week.  My wife works in consulting and with her travel schedule, this can be a challenge sometimes.  The limiting factor is definitely my daily life.  Even when I was starting out, I was not missing long stretches of days due to soreness or fear of injury.  The scaled movements, in-class training on barbell technique, and focus on stretching kept my body in a place where I felt comfortable coming in that often.

Has nutrition played a role in your success?  If so, how? Be specific.

Nutrition and accountability has played the biggest role in my success.  I say accountability, because prior to CrossFit, there was no incentive to prevent me from making poor nutrition choices.  Now it is much easier for me to opt for the healthier choice, because what would be the point of going in and pushing myself if I am just going to negate that hard work a couple of hours later?  Engaging in some combo of running, rowing, burpees, and wall balls all before 6am puts a humbling perspective on the choices I make in my diet.  It has a snowball effect too, where I am now prepping meals and researching what types of foods work well for cutting or maintaining weight.  Silly to put in the work on the front end and not optimize all of the possible rewards.

How much weight have you lost since you joined The Swamp? Any other significant physical transformations?

I started CrossFit on January 18th, 2018.  Thus far I have lost 60lbs.  I did not start out with a target weight in mind, only the desire to look and feel better.  The physical transformation is a byproduct of the hard work, but it is the mental transformation that has been most profound.  I had reached a point in my life where I was very unhappy with the way that I felt about myself.  Being in social settings with friends or family was torture at times because I had so much anxiety built up and centered on how I felt about myself.  I can remember times where I would be standing around at a party or barbeque and start sweating from all of the negative thoughts in my head about how people perceived me.  CrossFit has given me my confidence and real personality back.  I now look forward to getting together with huge groups of friends and family because ultimately that is the stuff that makes life worth living.  I cannot truly put into words the impact this mindset shift has had on me.

What has been your biggest hurdle and how did you overcome it?

Walking in the door was the biggest hurdle for me.  I still remember sitting in my car in the parking lot before my first class, trying to come up with any reasonable excuse to text Jared on why I could not make it.  Finally I just said, what do you want in life?  Do you want to continue on the trajectory you are on or do you want to give something new a shot, which has a real chance of making you a better person.  Man am I glad I walked through that door. 

What is your most memorable CrossFit moment?

Thus far the most memorable experience I have is competing in my first Open workout.  The 18.1 workout from this year had me very excited after watching the unveiling online.  Rowing is a strength of mine and that was a huge part of the workout.  More than that though, the atmosphere the Open creates is truly unique to CrossFit.  Being judged by one of your peers while a bunch of other classmates are doing the same workout around you is really cool.  Hearing words of encouragement yelled at you and around you is very uplifting.  I look forward to the Open next year to see how far I have come.

How has this experience enriched other areas of your life?

It would be easier to make a list of areas in my life NOT enriched by CrossFit, thus far CrossFit has:

-       given me my confidence back

-       increased my energy level

-       made me more productive at work

-       made me a better father, where I am playing more with my son as opposed to taking the lazy way out and throwing on a movie

-       made me a better husband, where I am engaging more with my wife instead of falling asleep 4 minutes after the little guy goes to bed

-       made me a better golfer where I am stronger, more flexible, and able to focus better on the course (this is definitely the most important one)

-       made me take my health and diet more seriously

-       the list could go on and on and on

If you could send yourself advice 10 years ago what would you say?

Never stop being active.  It is far easier to maintain a decent level of fitness as opposed to falling completely off the wagon and having to start from ground zero.  Be consistent, you are not going to see the results you want in a week and it will be VERY hard at times.  Just keep making all of those little decisions on a daily basis and you will get there in the long run.  The results and the lifestyle following that code will afford you is so worth it, do not give up.

Accomplishment(s) you are most proud of since joining?

The accomplishment I am most proud of would be the 1k time trial I did on the rower.  It came at the tail end of a workout centered on deadlifting, but it was a time that qualified me for 3rd on The Swamp wall.  Being able to see my name up there is cool and a point of pride for me, but it also makes me hungry to see where else I may be able to sneak my name in down the road.

What are your current goals?

The majority of my goals right now at CrossFit are movement related.  I can remember being able to write Rx next to the first complete workout I did, and the proud feeling it gave me (crazy what 2 letters can do to you!).  The movements I am most eager to bring under my belt are pull-ups and toes-to-bar.  I would also like to have my name up on the board in each of the rowing distance categories.

What advice would you give someone thinking of starting CrossFit?

Just Show Up!  CrossFit gets a bad rap sometimes and is very often misunderstood.  I say that because I used to be one of those people.  My perception of CrossFit before joining was a bunch of meatheads throwing dumbbells around, doing some weird looking pull-ups (butterfly, as I would come to realize).  In reality it is a group of good people that immediately have your back and want to see you succeed.  I was way out of shape when I started and was really nervous about not being able to do any of the exercises.  There are scaled movements for everything and the coaching staff goes out of their way to make sure you find the right workout and feel safe.

What would you hope your CrossFit future holds?

I want CrossFit to fill the void that opened up when I stopped rowing in college.  I am not talking the same level of fitness or scores that I saw on the rower.  I mean the daily struggle to improve mentally and physically at something, and the ability to rise to the occasion.   There were countless times out on the water at the midway point or at some milestone during a piece when a decision would have to be made.  Am I going to continue at this pace, am I going to ease off, or am I going to get faster and push the envelope?  Right now I am missing the mental and physical gear that allows me to push the envelope.  That power train is not something that is built overnight; it takes an accumulation of seemingly insignificant decisions during workouts and a familiarity with the movements and technique.  There is no better feeling after a workout when you know you made a decision during it to push the envelope and go a little deeper into that well.  The things you learn about yourself in those moments are both powerful and undeniable.