My CrossFit Story
Growing up in athletics from a very early age, 5 years old, I’ve had a good strength and conditioning foundation for most of my life. I’ve worked out, off and on, for 50 years. There was a time just after college, between ages of 24 and 34 when I did not. During this time, I gained 40 to 45 lbs and found myself with little muscle and a lot of fat, reaching about 230 lbs. My doctor told me I needed to start losing weight and get in shape because my blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels were very bad. I started working out in our office gym and placed myself on a low-calorie diet, about 1800 calories per day. The workouts were your basic bodybuilding workouts with some cardio. Doing basic squats, bench, deadlifts, and auxiliary movements like curls, triceps extensions and calf raises. This worked for a while, I lost about 20 lbs, getting down to 210 lbs and my doctor was pleased. Once I dropped weight I started eating more trying to eat between 3000 and 3500 calories per day. This is what I estimated I was burning and through I need a little more to gain muscle.
This lasted for about 6 or 7 years and then I had to move office locations. The new office did not have a gym and I stopped working out again. This lasted for 4 or 5 years. I gained weight and my doctor told me again I needed to lose weight and get myself in shape. About this time, we moved offices again to a new facility. This facility had a gym. I started working out again, however this time I studied. I had spent some time working out a CATZ where I learned a lot about athletic training and I started studying for my National Academy of Sport Medicine certification. I did this because I was coaching workouts for my fellow Emerson workout enthusiasts and I coached baseball and wanted to be able to provide my players good conditioning, instruction, and advice. I went back on a low-calorie diet, about 1800 cals a day because it seemed to have worked in the past. Over the next year or so, I lost the 25 lbs and got below 200 lbs, to about 190 lbs. I decided to stay on the 1800 per day calorie diet because it seems to be working.
Flash forward to 2012, about 8 years later. I was weighing around 200 lbs. I was working out 4 days a week in our gym (think of CFRR’s Strength Agility Classes), having baseball practice Tuesday and Thursdays and coaching games most weekends. During these practices and before games I was throwing batting practice for about an hour each session. This is an hour of non-stop, 200 plus pitches per session. Your heart rate gets up and it is a very cardio intensive workout. However, with all this activity I noticed I was putting on belly fat. I couldn’t believe it, but over time I kept putting on more and more body fat.
In 2012, we moved offices again. We moved to our current facility just off highway 45 in Round Rock. When moving buildings, they did not have our gym finished out. Our facilities personnel said it would be about 6 months before it opened. Most of our Emerson team did not want to wait 6 months so I recommended that we look for a local gym to work out in. I had been studying and reading about CrossFit and liked their programming. From my training and studying for my certification, I had developed my own beliefs on conditioning. I believed that high-intensity circuit training that combined weights and cardio with a much-varied programing plan was the best for a truly functional overall condition plan for life. With that knowledge and my beliefs (born through a lot of study and coaching of my own), I recommended to our Emerson workout crew, that we consider joining a CrossFit gym and I explained to them why.
I walked into CrossFit Round Rock in February of 2012, during one of their coach’s workouts, for a visit. Adrien stopped her workout to meet with me. I told her what we were looking for and I was bringing a team of 10 with me, many are still with us today. She explained CrossFit, however, I was already sold on the idea and knew I wanted to try it. I just need to make sure the coaches were sound and they could teach us good technique while providing good programming and safety. Safety is something I think a lot of people underestimate in their workout journey. If you are injured, you will go backward in conditioning and reaching your goals.
After our elements classes, Adrien and Landon started the 4:30 M, W, F class for us, the same one many of you are in today. Coach V was our coach at the time, I’ve provided a picture for your amusement.
Coach V and Adrien started consulting with me on my diet and activity level, also doing body comps. At the time, I was about 205 lbs and had 23% body fat. They asked how many calories I estimated eating per day. I told them 1800. They were shocked. Then they asked how long I had been eating 1800 calories per day. I told them for about 7 or 8 years. Then they were afraid for me. I could see it in their face. The shock and disbelief that I could be on such a low-calorie diet for so many years. They then explained to me that a man (this is true for most men about my size) will burn roughly a minimum of 2000 calories per day at rest. That’s if we did nothing but lay on the couch with a remote in our hand and watch television all day. Then they explained since I was on a diet that was under that 2000 calories per day, I was starving myself, I was malnourished. My body had gone into starvation mode and was trying to hold onto body fat. My body had started breaking down muscle to feed itself, which meant I had less muscle and more body fat. That’s why I was getting more and more belly fat.
The solution: Since I had been working out four days a week and coaching 2 to 4 days a week they estimated my total calorie burn at 3000 calories per day. They formatted a diet plan (mostly a Paleo menu) for me to eat up to 2500 calories per day, roughly 500 calories less than my maximum estimated daily calorie burn. Then they ask me not to work out on the same day I was coaching. So basically, they told me if I wanted to lose body fat and some weight to workout less and eat more. MIND BLOWING! All this time I thought I needed to eat less and move more. NO, THEY ARE TELLING ME TO EAT MORE AND MOVE LESS. Crazy! It took a while to wrap my mind around this.
I took their advice, went by their plan and I started losing weight, about 1 lbs. per week. I lost 22 lbs., I got down to 183 and had 17% body fat. After 22 weeks, I needed to stop losing weight. They then communicated a plan for me to gain muscle and to continue to lose body fat, I needed to eat between 2800 and 3000 calories per day. I did this for the next 2 years and got back up to 205 lbs. and dropped down to 11.9% body fat.
Within three short years, the team at CFRR totally transformed my body, conditioning, strength, and knowledge of diet. I started CFRR squatting 240#, now 355#. I was deadlifting about 300#, now 400#. I couldn’t even do a snatch because of flexibility and mobility, now I can. My overall movement skill, regarding Olympic lifting, was pretty much nonexistence and now they are some of my favorite movements. My knowledge of diet that CFRR has taught me over the years has changed my life and my families. It encouraged my daughter to major in nutrition at the University of Arkansas. She wants to be a registered clinical dietician and help girls with eating disorders.
Flash forward to 2015, this was a rough year for me. In February, I had a seizure which sent me to the hospital. During testing, they performed a CT Scan of my stomach and found a golf ball size tumor on my kidney. They also found two kidney stones the size of marbles, one in each kidney. They were too big to pass so they required surgery. My Urologist diagnosed the tumor and said based on its size and composition there was a 90% chance it was cancer. He recommended removing it immediately.
God bless me in two ways, he allowed me to find one of the two or three Urologist in Austin that can perform a partial Laparoscopic Nephrectomy with the robotic da Vinci machine, see image below. He also blessed me with a seizure so this tumor could be found. Most kidney tumors go undetected because they do not have any symptoms until the cancer metastasizes and spreads to other parts of the body.
In preparations for the surgery to remove the tumor and kidney stones, the doctor told me I should breeze through the operations because I was so healthy. He told me he rarely sees a man my age in his office that is in as good of shape as I’m was in. THANKS AGAIN CFRR!
In April of 2015, I went into surgery and removed the tumor. It went very well, they did not have to take the kidney, only about 10% of it and I’ve remained cancer-free since. Later in the year, I had the two kidney stones removed. After the last surgery, I developed Sepsis and was in the hospital for another week. This was a very physically challenging year and much of the success is accredited to my Lord, my wife, my family for never leaving my side, and to CFRR for helping me to be in the best shape of my life before having to enter this very challenging year.
What a blessing the coaches and the entire community at CFRR have been to me and my family.