- Started with CrossFit Cedar Park July 2014
- Went from 41 minute 5K to 26 minutes
- Runs a sub 7 mile
- Bodyfat from 30% to 14%
- Weight dropped from 235 to 185
- Snatches #145
- Deadlifts #385
- Clean is #205
READ Aaron’s Story below and SCROLL Down to see his AFTER Picture!
A couple of years ago, I was in a pretty rough place. I felt like I had never been working harder – giving my job everything I had, trying to take care of our three young boys, working through grad school, attempting to go on a date night once in a while with my wife. It was a lot of work. And the result was that no one was satisfied. My wife didn’t get enough attention, my kids weren’t getting everything they needed, balls were getting dropped at work, and all the other aspects of my life were still demanding more of me. I was failing to keep up with our bills and paperwork. My parents wondered why I never called. And, worst of all, I wasn’t getting the attention I myself needed, leaving me at 235+ pounds, 30% bodyfat, stage 1 hypertensive, and as a person who was not fun to be around as I griped all the time from the stress, trying to fend off more demands on my attention. Eventually I ended up bedridden, knocked out of commission by a bout of pancreatitis. This was my life at 33, and my only strategy for improvement was to hope – to patiently wait for my kids to get older or for others to lower their expectations of me.
Through a series of coincidental articles I read, Facebook posts I saw, and a lot of thought, I came to realize that the only way things change is if you do something differently. And if you’re going to do something differently, you have to focus on those things within your control. Focus on what you can do to be better, and the rest, with faith, will be taken care of. Inspired by the transformation of guys like Rich Roll and Josh LaJaunie, I decided that the first place I could take control was in what I was putting on my plate. The top causes of death – heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes – are all preventable in large part by lifestyle choices. I shifted my diet and started focusing on eating whole plant foods. I lost about 15 pounds, but more importantly I started to gain confidence and my outlook started to shift.
With all the healthy food making its way onto my plate, I started to move “beyond the kale” – realizing that I wouldn’t be happy with just losing some weight. I wanted to be an athlete – to be able to enjoy all aspects of life like playing with my kids, getting outside, playing sports, and doing more of the things I loved in life.
I knew that nutrition was an important part of a healthy lifestyle (we have all heard that “you can’t out work a bad diet”), so I assumed that all the veggies would make me a superathlete. I decided I would be a runner. And I went out and ran. And it was terrible. I decided to test myself with a 5k, and finished in just over 41 minutes, feeling like I may never even walk again, much less run.
By then my wife was starting to become more interested in health and nutrition as well. She had started working out at Crossfit Cedar Park some. Her sister had recommended Crossfit, it was right by our house, and they had an area for the kids to hang out during the workouts. My wife tried for weeks to get me to go with her, but I was stuck on the idea of becoming a runner. Looking back, I was more afraid of Crossfit than anything. Like many others, I knew the sterotypes. I had seen the “Crossfit fail” YouTube videos. I was scared that I would get injured. I didn’t understand the lingo. I didn’t think that all the Paleo dieters would accept a plant-based guy like me.
But if my wife is anything, she is convincing. I agreed to give Crossfit a shot. I went in for my elements classes and I remember getting sweaty and winded from doing Olympic lifts with a PVC pipe. I remember falling over sideways while trying to learn split jerk technique. I confirmed with my coach that I would be able to put my membership on hold in the inevitable case that I hurt myself. I realized later that the truth was that I had nothing to worry about. The coaches directed me every step of the way – scaling the weight and the movements to ensure that I built up the muscle memory and the core and joint strength necessary before advancing.
My first WOD was with Coach Carson and involved light thrusters and jumping pull-ups. I couldn’t complete it. The (partial) workout destroyed me. I remember leaving Crossfit feeling like a failure. My ego was bruised because I couldn’t waltz in and perform the workout. I wasn’t as great as I thought I was. My wife smiled. This was something we could work through together.
At work I was going through some leadership training and one of the tasks was to lay out a goal that we had, what we felt the odds were of achieving it, and what could possibly prevent us from getting to the goal. I had fitness as my goal – to complete 8 months of Crossfit going at least 2 times per week. I gave myself about a 30% chance. I had never stuck with an exercise program that long before.
In the months that would pass, my ego was bruised again and again. A lot of evenings saw me laying on the floor by my bed, too sweaty to get in bed but too tired to shower. Gradually I saw progress. Crossfit let me track my weights, times, and rounds. Maybe I was last in the class still, but I could tell that I was better than myself a few months prior. That progress and the feeling of doing the functional movements of life to the absolute best of your ability was addictive. My wife and I – who used to struggle to find time to communicate – now planned our weeks around our workouts, spoke to each other in Crossfit lingo, and compared our progress, strategies, and goals on an almost daily basis. Our kids stopped just playing iPad during the workouts and began playing at the park outside, working on pull-ups and racing each other to get stronger and faster. Eventually they would join the Crossfit kids class – once or twice a week working with a coach on their fitness (and loving it). Our family planned meals together, with all of us (except the littlest) digging in on sweet potatoes, zucchini pasta, and veggies grown in our backyard garden.
Now, at 35, I am in the best shape of my life. My wife and I share common goals, I am more physically able to do more things (like play with my kids, run random 5ks, climb up mountains, etc), and I am happy. I started playing soccer again for the first time in over 15 years, no longer afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. We have made lots of friends, and we have found plenty of new ways to truly live life instead of just hoping for a better situation.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Crossfit Cedar Park changed my life. I’m not an Olympic athlete, but I can do so much more than I thought was possible already. A highlight came recently when a fellow dad (and my partner in the WOD) described me as a “Navy Seal” because of the relentless way that we pushed through the workout. That 41+ minute 5k is now down around 26 minutes. I’m faster than I was in high school with a sub-7 minute mile. My lifts are all getting heavier over time – I’m stronger than ever before. My snatch is around 145, my clean is around 205, and my deadlift is around 385. I can do lots of pull-ups and chest to bar pull-ups. I can do double unders, rope climbs, hand stand push-ups, and all kids of movements that I didn’t think I could do. This summer I will take part in my first competition. My body fat went from 30% down to 14%, and my weight went from over 235 to 185. I was able to do all of that without ever getting injured and while on a plant-based diet. We have had so much fun as a family working together, growing closer and enjoying all the workouts and community events at CFCP. The coaches have been great all the way through the journey. No matter what your situation is, I would encourage you to focus on what you can control – what you put in your mouth and what you do with your body. Give Crossfit Cedar Park a try, and join us on our journey to get better at life together.