Crossfit 6 week challenge ended – what’s it done?

I knew going into it that I was getting in over my head. 53 years old and over 300 pounds needing desperately to change to diet and exercise habits.

You show up that first day, and it’s a WTF am I doing. They other people are in phenomenal shape and you are not. Far from it. Though I try not to look it, and I hate to admit it, but it’s a kind of slovenly look. Going from 2XL for most of your life to 3XL over the past maybe 12-24 months. Then actually buying 3XLs but not wearing them because they are too tight, so you stick to the 3XLs that have been “properly” stretched out. Nothing really fit right. The only thing I still really wear are the 3XLBG shirts from Polo. And, I don’t tuck them it because it accentuates the stomach. I don’t know if other overweight people think like me, but I don’t want to be noticed (but then you have those situations on planes that you can’t help but be noticed.

So, you are intimidated, but you try. Every exercise needs an “accommodation” because I can’t do it properly. But, you keep going. You show up that second day, and are kind of surprised that you made it back. And, you think that others are too.

After the 5th or 6th class with most of the same people, you feel a little less uncomfortable. The people know your name and are, sincerely I think, encouraging. And, then a couple new people show up in the class, and that uncomfortable feeling starts again. Why? Because you have been going for two weeks. You should be able to do things that they can’t. But they do more. They are not nearly 300 pounds. They are healthy, getting healthier. A couple of classes later, they too are encouraging you.

Then you show up at a Saturday class where it’s 40+ people, and you don’t know anyone and they, too, are all in phenomenal shape. And, you get that WTF am I doing here again. But you persevere.

While this is all going on, you are going cold turkey to 50 grams of protein, a cup of veggies and 8 grams of fat 3 times a day, plus two between meals protein shakes. Agter workout meals switch the veggies with 50 grams of carbs. Gung ho at first, then bored with the food, then meal prep gets you going again. Trying to figure out how restaurant meals fit in. Being disappointed in yourself when you f up because you thought you had a handle on nutrition facts and then you realize you really screwed up after the fact. Then getting right back on track.

It’s been 6 weeks of this. It has been so far out of my comfort zone. Except for intentionally drinking margaritas on Cinco de Mayo, I have not intentionally cheated (f’d up, but not cheated). I have stuck to the nutrition plan, with my daily errors being much more likely on the low side than the high side. I haven’t been hungry (for the most part). I have wanted a celebratory slice of cake or drink, but I have gotten past the moments of weakness.

And, I have made it to Crossfit three days a week every week (four one week, and five this week). Fort the most part, I really have looked forward to going each time – knowing the feeling of accomplishment I’d have when I was done each class.

I am still morbidly obese, but less than I was 6 weeks ago. Down from 302.1 at the start on the morning of 4/11/18 to today’s after workout weight of 277.6. That’s 24.5 pounds. Even 3.4 from my previous all-time high. I feel a hell of a lot better.

I would still be almost embarrassed to tell anyone I was doing Crossfit because I do not fit the mold – that healthy, athletic look. But, this is just a start. Part of me is thinking that “I have a long way to go.” But, that implies a final destination. I think what I am starting to see is that there is no end goal. One day I do want to get to a sub 200 weight, but that’s not the end. At that point, and all along the way, I think it is about getting better and healthier continuously, and being better than you were the day before.

There’s a great Proclaimers’ song that was actually used in Shrek. It works for this neverending journey that I am beginning. “I’m on my way, from misery to happiness today.”

Uh huh! Uh huh! Uh huh! Uh huh!

This shortened version of the song with Laurel and Hardy dancing to it is pretty appropriate (with me being the Oliver Hardy character)!


Moving on – finishing the six week challenge

This Friday, I will be finishing up my “6 weeks challenge.” That’s what I signed up for. That’s what I paid for. It was Crossfit three days a week, plus nutritional guidance for the same period. And, it is time to decide how to move on.

I have made it to classes three times a week, every week, and had one week where I got in four because my wife was going for a trial class. But, I was limited to three times per week. Many times I wanted to go on additional days.

I have had “homework” every week. This weeks if to take after pictures on Friday, and make it to class 4-5 days this week (it’s the only time I have been allowed to go more than 3). I have made it all three days so far this week. I am wiped, but feel good.

In trying to decide how to move forward, I am trying to figure out my own warped sense of motivation. My options are to sign up for 3 classes per week, or unlimited. The incremental cost is $30 per month. It seems like the unlimited would be the no-brainer. But, I am afraid that it’s the “only three” that have kept me on track – that if I do the unlimited, I might not even make three. I know, it’s f’d up, but you don’t get to 302 without being a little screwed up.

Finally hit the starting point

I have been working my butt off for the past 5 weeks and I have finally gotten to my previous all time high weight – 281 pounds. Now, psychologically, I feel like I can say I am starting.

That 302 that I saw on the scale at the beginning of April, that wasn’t me.  It had to have been temporary. I could never allow myself to hit 300+. But, I f@#$in did! I don’t think I took anything but face pictures (and my mirror selfies to track the start which there is no way I am posting), but this is from 10/26/17. We had just moved into a new office and I had to send a picture to our home office. I am at about 295 here – so not even at that temporary high.

Office Jack

But, in any event, I am starting at this previous all time high. And, I have to say, I feel like I have some momentum. 28 box jumps this morning (yes, on the low side of the small box, but without too much of a mental block).

You can track me from here. Hopefully, over the next few years, you are going to see a guy who has really been fat all his life transform into someone fit. Something that I would never have even considered aspiring to before in my life.

There’s a saying from a Far Side Comic that has been a rallying cry for my family. If my kids were up at bat, or had a big test, or if there was a herculean task ahead of us – anything big. It works at this starting point today. “Nuts! Nuts! Get ’em!”


Badluck Schleprock


The Pebbles and Bam Bam show was a spinoff of the Flintstones. Pebbles and Bam Bam were teenagers, and one of the characters on the show was Badluck Schleprock – a true pessimist that constantly had a storm cloud following him around, whining “Wowzy wowzy woo woo.”

I am feeling a bit like him today after the workout this morning. I did it, but at weights so far less than everyone else in the class, it is really discouraging me. It’s that friggin “Comparison is the thief of joy issue.”

I am working my butt off, but progress is horrendously slow.

One meal

For the past four weeks, I have been good about sticking to my nutrition plan. I am sure it is a combination of nutrition and exercise (and no alcohol), but, physically, I have been feeling much better.

Prior to starting on 4/11, I would regularly (5-7 days per week) wake up feeling like s%$t and most often throw up. (You would think something like that would have triggered me to get healthy sooner, but I had just accepted it.)

I really hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t waking up like that until an hour ago when I did wake up feeling like that.

I have someone in from our Philly office, so that means my regular routine of being able to really control my food is off. He wanted to go to Chuy’s (Tex Mex) last night, and I figured I could just get grilled chicken or something like that. I ordered a steak burrito bowl – no cheese, no guac, no sour cream. Pretty plain – I figured lettuce, pico, steak and maybe some beans. It came out as a burrito. I’m not a food send back guy. So I scraped the insides of the burrito and it was mostly just steak – probably 6-8 oz (and I am supposed to be eating 8 oz of protein and a cup of veggies).

I was pretty happy with my choice until I got home and entered it into the Sparkpeople food diary where I am tracking all of my food. When I know where I am going in advance, I plan. I go through the nutrition in advance and really do make good choices. But, I didn’t know in advance. So, I made what I thought was the best choice.

I don’t know what the hell they cook their food in, but that 6-8 oz of steak – friggin 1010 calories. And, the sodium was absolutely through the roof. As a result of that meal alone, I ended the day at over 5,500 mg of sodium!

I truly never understood (seriously never) the impact of one meal on my health until this morning. Feeling like s$%t, I now know. Yes – Thanksgiving and other holiday meals – I have felt like crap, but that would have been overeating. This was trying to do what was right with the quantity right on target – and I really effed up. And, I am paying for it.

I am blindly following a nutrition plan, and it has been working. But, I think I have got to work to get a better understanding of nutrition so I can guide myself better in the future.

Box jumps? No way!


That GIF is a pretty accurate reflection of me thinking about and then failing at box jumps.

When you have never really been fit. When you have zero core. When you have no balance. Basically, every exercise is a challenge. But, box jumps see impossible.

Getting over the embarrassment of being the least fit person in a class – it really is tough. I don’t know that I ever will.

Saturdays at Crossfit are completely different than class during the week. At 5:30 am Monday – Friday, there are usually 3-7 other people. Though I am still incredibly self-conscious (especially when my shirt is too short for a move), I feel like, for the most part, these people have accepted that I am there and trying. I have started to know them, and, honestly, they are all incredibly encouraging. (I’d be lying if I said these Saturday people weren’t encouraging, because they are. But, it is still a different story.)

But Saturdays (and this is only my second), there are maybe 30-40 people or more. And, they are all incredibly fit. A few you wouldn’t be surprised to see on a fitness or muscle magazine. Today, we had warm ups, then a weight thing where you have a dumbell in one hand, and you go down in front with a leg counterbalancing in back. Balancing – which I have none of. I did it – poorly. But, making strides.

Then we were supposed to get in groups of three to do a series of five exercises “waterfall” style (I think that’s it). One person does the first exercise, finishes, moves to the second, and then the second does the first and so on. You can’t start until the person in front of you finishes. And, one of the exercises it the box jump.

I’m doing some of that cat math above thinking I am going to be the weakest link, I can’t do the same weights, and I certainly can’t do the box jump. Everyone starts grouping up. And, this really fit woman addresses me and another guy and says do you guys need partners.

I have to be honest. I acted as if I was sure she was not addressing me. I absolutely did not want to be part of a group. I am embarrassed enough doing it on my own. I did not want people to be forced to watch my pathetic performance.

So I did it on my own. And, while everyone grabbed the 2′ x 3′ boxes and put them up at the 3′ jump level, on my own, I grabbed a little box 1′ x 2′ and put it on the 1′ size knowing I’d have to use it as a step, not a jump.

As we started, today’s coach, Dan, saw me doing the cat math – thinking in front of the box and encouraged me to try. After considering whether my weight might actually break the box if I tried, I did try it. A few times. Over the course of 4 sets, I had 20 opportunities. And, though I had to do the cat math each time, I managed to jump on, both feet at the same time, probably 10 times.

There was no way in hell I was ever going to be able to do it. And, I did!

Pathetic – a little 1′ jump – I know. But, I have to say, I am still a bit proud.

I am glad that the coach had a little more faith in me than I did myself.




The very long term perspective

I want immediate results. Don’t we all. But, I have been a very heavy guy all of my life. And, though I have been a “healthy fat” a few times in my life, I have never been truly fit.

So, for me, the long term perspective means swallowing my pride and recognizing that I cannot keep up – yet. Not getting so disappointed that I give up.

Today, we had to do lunges with a kettlebell in one arm kind of up at your shoulder. I already had to swallow some pride because I was using the lightest kettlebell. Look around and everyone is using far heavier weights. But, part of the way into my first set, the coach had to stop me. I have s&%t for balance and he tells me that I have to work on my form, and that I should work on it with no weight. Swallow your pride.

But, even still, with no weight, I couldn’t get to that 90 degrees that they want out of me. So he grabs a band, throws it over a pull up bar, and tells me to use that to get the motion down right. Swallow your pride. After moving my hand positions further and further up the band for more leverage, I was starting to get the motion.

I am trying to tell myself that a 180 pound person using a 50 pound kettlebell for lunges may have a total load less than a 285 pound guy just lifting his own body weight. That’s my lame attempt at retaining some pride. But, unfortunately, I have to use that band.

So, I am trying to take the very long term perspective that I will get there some day. For now, I’ll aim for no weights and no bands and try to ignore the fact that I will be the weakest, least balanced, most out of shape person. For now.

(I did survive a dinner at Fogo de Chao without screwing up too bad and had a great time at one of our City’s best events last night – Taste of Alpharetta – and just ate healthy foods in the right proportions. It’s slowly (very slowly) becoming less about food being the main focus for me, but I feel like I am making the right decisions.)