A Fat Year in Review 2011-2012
On March 20th 2011, I started a personal evolution that feels as if it was a part of another life, or a foggy moment in your memory which you can feel yet can’t place. I was angry, miserable, and quite possibly moments away from ending my own life, in fact I’d spent quite a few nights looking up painless ways to kill myself online, it’s incredible the number of websites that exist on suicide.
I think I found more websites which provided me ways to kill myself, than of ways to reach out and avoid suicide. It was a dark existence, somehow through all of this pain; I ended up in a relationship with a woman who truly loves me for me. She loved when I couldn’t love myself.
She is probably the reason that I didn’t kill myself.
However I swing it, something happened in the weeks leading up to my trip where I had just had enough, I had reached my proverbial bottom, like an alcoholic who passes out in front of his lawn naked only to have his 4 year old daughter find him.
If I was an addict of any kind something in this week caused what would be my moment of catharsis.
There was no one particular moment which caused a switch to turn on, or off, it was the culmination of almost ten years of bitterness that was either going to cause me to literally whither and die, or take steps towards something different.
I have to thank Marc Deluca, who is a customer of mine at the Car Wash. He was the person who told me about Fitness Ridge, and the person who gave me an emotional lifeline. I had seen a few times over the course of about 3 months, and he got thinner and thinner as time went on, then he reached this point that I think everyone who is rapidly losing weight reaches, where you look sick. His eyes had sunken in, he had bags under his eyes, and he started to look emaciated.
I therefore assumed, he was ill, only to see him 2 weeks later looking super healthy and vibrant. He is probably in his 40’s but this week he looked like he was barely 30, so I went up and asked him how he lost weight.
Needless to say his story was the reason I chose to go to Fitness Ridge now known as the Biggest Loser Resort.
Before I got on the plane to Malibu, I told myself if this doesn’t work, then I’m going to have lapband surgery. The thought of having someone tie your stomach wasn’t appealing, especially when all this will do is decrease your food intake temporarily, because in the end bariatric surgery isn’t the answer.
Even if you have a procedure for weight loss, you still have to do the work. This is one test in life that you just can’t cheat. It’s the reason why so many people regain the weight they’ve lost after surgery because they never make those necessary lifestyle changes that make the weight loss permanent.
The procedure itself only serves as a tool, but it can’t change your lifestyle.
I’ve written quite a bit about my time at the resort, I chronicled just about each day that I spent there, so rehashing that isn’t what I want to do here, but I do want to write about what I took away from the time I spent in Malibu.
I was given three weeks of time that were all about me. I had no job to go to, no personal responsibilities to attend to, and commitments outside of making myself better. I was sick with the worst possible kind of controllable sickness, self hate.
I probably lost 5 lbs that first week just from the lower stress levels; it was refreshing to not only focus solely on me, but to reengage new people. I had spent so much time hating myself, and being unhappy that I had stop making new connections in my life.
I met some great people at the resort, good trainers, and great guests. I am hoping to see a bunch of them in May in Minneapolis for a Tough Mudder. The two trainers that left the largest impact on me were Michael C, and Sam P. I got two completely different things from them, but each one of them taught me something which has helped me through this entire evolution.
From Michael C, I learned two things. First, how to do a kettlebell swing, I’d been doing them with other trainers before my time here, but he showed me the proper technique which still helps me today with CrossFit. The second thing I learned from him was that being rounded in fitness was important. He is a strong guy, really fucking strong. I don’t know many people who can clean and jerk 135 lbs one handed then windmill and touch the ground while holding the 135 lbs, yet he is trained in yoga, a master at Bosu training, and helpful in building mobility. He’s like a fitness jedi.
Sam on the other hand taught me about intensity, heart, and commitment. These are all qualities that I once had in the days before my rapid again, but like a skill they can be lost. I had found a way to take determination, desire, passion, and ambition, and then turn them into hate, self pity, self-destruction, and a desire to die.
Sam is the person who made my time at the resort worthwhile. Maybe it was the fact that he had been on the same road I was traveling that made me buy in, but I think it had more to do with his determination to see a person succeed. He is charismatic, charming in a California way, and fierce when it comes to driving intensity.
I almost feel like all the other workouts, and hikes I participated in were a preparation for my 1 hour 3-4 times a week with Sam.
It’s easier to put things into context with the video:
Intensity is the most important factor in any workout, but this intensity can come in two forms. The first directly related to how a workout is programmed, and the second is how you chose to approach a workout. This approach stems from your attitude, and no one can determine this for you, it’s your decision to either show up ready to work, or show up and act like a bitch.
Sam showed me it’s better to show up, ready to work, it’s going to suck either way, so why not do it with everything you have, so when it’s over you can walk away realizing that you did something today to the best of your ability.
With an ever changing spectrum of what your best “is”, it’s just better and easier showing up to a workout committed to giving everything you have without reservation.
When I got home I was both scared shitless, and excited to see if I could continue my evolution. My favorite moment of my return from Malibu was going to Whole Foods, and putting my cart aside to go grab some other items, and then losing my cart, only to realize that it was right in front of me. My shopping habits had changed so much that I didn’t recognize whose cart I was standing next to, it was one of those moments in your life where you realize that a habit you are desperately trying to improve is taking hold.
I spent the next few months continuing on a low calorie, high cardio diet. It was working because I was losing weight, but I was getting sick, and exhausted. I was working out 3-4 times a day, 5-6 days a week.
I was spending anywhere from $1000-$2000 a month on gym memberships and personal training. It was an expensive venture, you add the cost plus the amount of effort being put forth, and any plateau I hit was like being kicked in the balls.
It got me through milestones, including getting down to 300 lbs. It was a rough stretch, and when I started to do personal sessions with Liz in CrossFit along with my regular workouts it was tough.
I discovered PCF a year before I went to Malibu. I started to workout at Clarendon Fitness which was across the street from Potomac Crossfit. I remember asking the trainers about Crossfit, and they all said the same bullshit, it’s good but too many people get hurt, and it’s not for you.
So I spent quite a bit of time on the PCF website, and checking out other CrossFit boxes, watching youtube videos, and made a decision almost a year and half before I started at PCF that one day I would do CrossFit. There was something really cool about watching Erika, and Liz on the WoD demos and Throwndown videos just destroying various workouts.
To some degree if you’ve seen one meathead guy and you’ve seen them all, but it’s something quite extraordinary when you see women maintain femininity and destroy a workout. I am not emasculated at all that Liz and Erika and probably have a higher CFT number than me, they are two of the people who were pivotal to me making the decision to start Crossfit.
It was clear from watching the videos that at a weight of more than 350 lbs, I would not be able to do many of the maneuvers, because of mobility. At that weight you can’t even sit up straight on the floor because your gut pushes you backwards.
When I started with personal sessions with Liz in June of 2011, I was right around 300 lbs. I questioned whether or not CrossFit was for me, or even helping my weightloss. It took months of listening to Rybear tell me I’m fat and stupid, and months of frustration to realize how poor my diet was, especially a diet which is low calorie intake, when coupled with high physical output, I was working out 7-10 a week. If I hadn’t been to the gym at least 8 times I felt like I was slacking.
As my nutrition changed so did my body, and as time went on, I started to adapt my diet for the workload. Ultimately it wasn’t until January of this year things started to really change. After the Paleo Challenge, I made some changes to my lifestyles which are sustainable, and now complimentary to my work as opposed to being counterproductive.
CrossFit is now my sole method of working out, I am going to make additions to my routine, which will be more specific to my goals, but I’m choosing a lifestyle which involves high intensity shorter workouts over, spending 20-25 hours of my life in Cardio hell.
I weighed myself last week and realized that I was 245 lbs. I passed the 250 lbs threshold without realizing it. The adjustments to my diet, and the addition of CrossFit Endurance have accelerate my goals in the month of March.
I am now 1 lb away from having lost 200 lbs. I won’t weigh myself for another couple of days, but when I reach this milestone, I think I can take a small bit of pride with me to sleep that night.
The future of my life is now livable. I’m not going to drop dead next week of heart failure.
After years of frustrated work, I was able to accomplish in 1 year, what I couldn’t do at all the previous 6 years. I have one last weight goal, and that’s to be less than 200 lbs, but I can live with myself even if I’m above 200 lbs and can fit into a 32-pant size.
The rest of my fitness goals are all specific, and geared towards performance. It’s incredible how much you can change your life in a year, if you are committed to a plan or an idea.
As I enter the next step in my evolution, I am encouraged at the fact that there is always room for growth, and that tackling those things which I suck at will always lead me down a path of success.
Thanks to everyone who has helped or encouraged me through this year, I look forward to shocking the shit out of all of you this next year.