Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Barbells For Boobs

A little background. I have participated in and donated money to Barbells For Boobs events over the past two years. I strongly believe this charity is one of the best ones around. I had the opportunity to do Grace for B4B at the CrossFit Games this summer in LA.

Dat pale skin doe.

Kevin approached me about setting up a formal event at our gym. I decided to throw caution, and at times judgment, to the wind and lead the charge. Weeks of planning lead to the following. On October 24th our gym looked like this:

On October 25th 2014 our gym looked like this...

Our gym after...

We had over 80 athletes participate, and you can see some of the glory in the video below

At the last minute, my dumb ass decided to jump in and do the workout.

I finished in 2:59. Far from a PR, but not bad for no warm-up and about :30 notice.

Booby cupcakes.  Part of our hugely successful bake sale.

I cannot say enough good things about these people. These three coaches busted their asses every day to make this event and campaign a huge success. It showed in the turnout, the money raised and the fun had. I am eternally grateful to Stacey, Rob and Suzy.

Me, Sean, Nichole, Jenny and my mother Cathy. It was amazing to have my family work so hard on the event from judging to donating.

My 7:30 classers! They all did amazing and PR'd their Grace times. Their accomplishments almost overshadowed the rest of the event. I am beyond proud of all these fantastic athletes.

$4,649. We raised over $4600 dollars! 

Here are all the people I need to thank:
  • Volunteers - to all those who stayed late on a Friday night to tape bumper plates, clean, move equipment, judged athletes, hang streamers, etc... Your work is appreciated and every bit helped make the event a success
  • My team - Rob, Suzy, Kevin and Stacey, you guys were the heart and soul of this event and this success lies with you. I had a crazy idea that ended up being far better than I could have ever hoped and you all deserve a round of applause
  • Bakers - to those who made baked goods and those who sold them, you helped us get our sweet fix after a workout and helped us raise over $200 just on cookies and pies. A truly remarkable effort. 
  • Kevin - for trusting me to see this through and all your help and guidance
  • Athletes - To everyone who walked through that door and hoisted a barbell over head 30 times, you are heroes. You did something that is hard, and you did it for a great cause. It was inspiring to watch many of you hit PRs and push yourselves past your limits.
  • Donors - to those who gave any amount of money, I am forever in your debt. Your contributions are helping almost 60 men and women receive free breast cancer screenings. This is a very real community effort that you are responsible for.
Thank you again to everyone. I had an absolute blast, and here's hoping we can do far better next year!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

CrossFit Mt. Lebanon 1 year anniversary

On August 17 2013 I walked into CrossFit Mt. Lebanon for a drop in. I had been in touch with the owner Kevin Beamon for a month or two prior to that. After some brief and awkward small talk, Kevin gave me the rundown about the gym and his vision for the community. Coach Brad saw us talking and approached. The first thing that he did after introducing himself was to ask me what my goals for CrossFit were. I was honestly blown away that he wanted to know my aspirations and how he and CFMTL could help me achieve them. 40 minutes later I found myself getting my ass kicked by this gem:

12:00 AMRAP
7 Squat Cleans 135#
14 Pull ups
21 Walking Lunges

Kevin catching me breaking the 135# cleans early...

After the workout I was taken aback by a few things:

1. How big the gym was
2. How dirty the gym was
3. How much they pushed me when they did not even know me

I have overheard Brad tell prospective clients that he doesn't lay into them until around 2 months in. I can easily dispute this as I broke the pull ups on round one and had a bearded face about 6" from mine yelling "get the fuck back on that pull up bar." Holy. Shit. I was not used to that. I did my walking lunges across the room and then recovery walked back to my barbell. Wrong move. Brad greeted me with a "Why the fuck are you walking? Let's go!"

I knew I was experiencing something special, especially when both Brad and Kevin pulled me aside after the workout and asked my opinion and what I want out of a dream box. I relayed my answer: get healthy, compete locally, and continually improve. Most of all, I wanted to belong. I wanted the gym to be the best hour of my day and to call those around me family.

The early days...

One year and hundreds of hours and workouts later, here I am. I have grown exponentially as an athlete. I have lost fat and done incredible feats I would have never thought possible just a year ago (385# front squat, 18+ strict ring dips, 500# deadlift, "Eva" and "Jackie" RX'd etc...) and pushed myself mentally and physically further than I ever thought possible.

I have learned to do some things that once seemed impossible for a beefy heavy lifter. Handstand walks? Check! Thanks Chris Nolan of Metcon Photos for the picture.

I did far better in the open than I ever dreamed of. Surround yourself with excellence and you have no choice but to rise up to that level as well. It certainly was a trial by fire scenario when I got thrown in the same heats as Anna, Max, and Bandito!

Seriously though, did anyone ever think they'd be able to do a 1 mile walking lunge? I know I did not. However, I did it and am better for it.

I got the chance to compete once as an individual and once as a team member. It was incredibly rewarding to hit PRs, push myself and finally realize that sometimes you need others to reach your full potential.

The gang at Patriot Games!

On pace to PR my Snatch at the CrossFit Athletics Winter Chiller. Amazing competition and great going against Duke and Rob P in the heats.

I cannot say enough good things about CFMTL. More importantly, I cannot thank Brad, Anna and Kevin enough for taking a huge chance on me. I had taken multiple trainer's courses and had never been given an opportunity to shadow let alone coach a class in years. I was the world's most qualified non-trainer. I wanted to increase my knowledge base and someday help others. They recognized my enthusiasm and after awkwardly following Ryan, Suzy and Anna around for a few weeks I was turned loose to lead the Teens program and a month later take on the 7:30pm adult classes.

Some of the most talented and passionate individuals I have ever worked with. 
I feel like a little kid who somehow snuck into the major leagues.

CFMTL has also provided me with many opportunities to grow and learn as a coach and athlete through clinics and certifications. For that, I am a lucky lucky man.

Their faith in me has paid off. (I hope). While I am scared to death every day that I am going to fuck up in an epic fashion and hurt or fail my students, I am learning the best life lessons one could ask for. I wrote here before that all I want is to help someone follow in my steps and reclaim their lives or prevent one teen from ending up like I did when I was 300# and depressed to unimaginable points. Seeing the members in both the adult and teens classes push themselves and start to realize their potential far outstrips their imagination is the most rewarding aspect of my gym life.

The coolest moments in the gym used to be when I was hitting a PR. Now the most rewarding and memorable is working with someone, watching that light bulb go off in their head, and then they get their first pull up / ring dip / rope climb or PR their squat.

The single most emotional moment of coaching this year. My mother running an entire mile nonstop for the first time in her life. Having tried to train her before, usually leading to the police almost getting called on us for domestic disturbance at Keystone Oaks track, this was huge. I am beyond proud of her for what she has accomplished.

I am also forever grateful to the community as a whole. I know I am a bit of a dick and can be hard to get along with especially when I have a bad workout. However, you have all welcomed me with open arms and allowed this incredibly awkward and sweaty guy to find a CrossFit home.

Taking the WODs outside of the gym. I had never really had that communal aspect of "let's meet up and work out then grab food / hang out" until I started at Lebo.

I even got to see Brad work out once :)

Probably one of the coolest things from this past year was when I put out a call to the gym before Christmas for the Toys-for-Tots bin. I stated I would do 1 Burpee Pull-up for every toy donated.

We ended up collecting 100 toys, which was 100+ burpee pull ups for a great cause.

Another amazing experience has been dating Jenny. We met prior to CFMTL but began dating while we have both been there and are happily 9 months into our relationship. It has been a sheer joy to find someone who is as enthusiastic about CrossFit as I am. It doesn't hurt that she's drop dead gorgeous, kind and impossibly fun to be around.

As we begin year 2 of hopefully many at CFMTL I have some cool things on deck.

I am raising $1000+ for the Barbells for Boobs charity. I have seen some of the most remarkable generosity from my CrossFit community. I am up over $400 as of writing but need all the help I can get! If you can spare even a few dollars please donate here: donate

Final news is I broke my finger at the gym yesterday. 

I had planned on going to the gym and re-doing my first CFMTL wod to see how I have progressed in a year but that plan got put to bed thanks to the DR.'s this morning.

In short, this has been one of the most rewarding and amazing years of my CrossFit life and I am incredibly blessed to be a part of this family. Thank you all and here's to another amazing year!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sage-ish Wisdom: You want the D!

Has it really been nine months guys? Huh. Time flies when you're pregnant...

I have learned a LOT about myself and CrossFit in the past 3 trimesters and I want to share because I wish I would have known then what I known now. The first topic I want to cover is the dreaded D-word. "Diet."

I am going to blow your mind right now. Here it is: Eat what makes you happy. I follow that rule. However I mean it in a slightly different sense. Some people will read that and go "fuck yeah, cookies and ice cream for every meal!" No. Just... No.

Not the "happy" I was talking about...

What I am getting at is eat whatever makes you holistically happy. Your nutrition should be one that helps you perform as you want in the gym, should make you feel good with what you see in the mirror and you shouldn't dread what you are going to eat or yearn for what you can't. Your nutrition should be flexible.

Your food choices should be akin to you as a CrossFit athlete: well rounded. You shouldn't lack in any area nor should you be overly developed in another.

Flexible / well rounded nutrition: exhibit A.

I ate strict paleo for months. I was that asshole who went to birthday parties and ate carrots and drank bottled water because well... I was a dumbass. Don't ever be the person to pass up on cake.

Paleo made me a skinny bitch. I was incredibly thin but I became weak as shit. My performance in the gym tanked and I was moody and miserable. I then heard about this godsend called "Eat to Perform." ETP promises more balanced food and better performance. I followed that for 6 months and went from 190# to 225# =  made me a fat piece of shit. I followed their plan and got updates from their MODs but honestly it was way too much food volume for me (especially in carbs) and it showed as I looked like I was goddamn pregnant.

I was crushing heavy workouts but took 20 minutes to do 500 double unders because I thought I was having a heart attack. The plan gave me so much food and carbs I turned into the goddamn Hindenburg trying to move around the gym.

In the end I hit a breaking point when I could barely do Pull Ups because I was so heavy which lead Brad to pull me aside and state I needed to lose at least 20 pounds to see any tangible improvements in my CrossFitting. He was correct in that my incessant bitching was not going to fix anything. Real talk: 5'8" and 225# isn't the most efficient frame to be honest.

In December I started working with a nutrition consultant (Kylie Gamelier of who is helping me find the best balance for me. Read that sentence again and notice what I wrote? The best balance FOR ME. I see it every day, everyone jerks themselves off about diet. I see Instagram and Facebook posts where people try to "outclean" each other on their diets, and say shit like "should you be eating that as a CrossFitter?"

What I do is a modified version of If It Fits Your Macros. I have a prescribed # of grams of carbs, fat and protein a day and I spend them how I see fit while making good choices. Most days I spend 30g of carbs on some rice with lunch. However, occasionally I will use it for a Sprecher's Hard Root Beer. However, I walk around knowing if I spent all 250g of carbs on alcohol I would be a blimp again.

Shit is straight cash homie...

The truth is we are all different. I am lactose intolerant. Any dairy turns me into the grumpiest, gassiest human being on earth. So I avoid that kind of stuff and instead eat a balanced diet. I am down to between 200-205# at any given time. I enjoy things like Chipotle, Hard Cider, Pop Tarts, and epic dinners out with Jenny every week. However, I also track what I eat and eat within certain macronutrient levels with lots of rice, chicken, salsa, eggs, spinach, turkey, grass fed beef and Progenex. Hence, balance.

I recently PR'd my deadlift at 500# just a few days after doing 500 double unders in 9:19. I cut my time in half in 6 months while shedding 20#. Have I found the miracle diet? No. I have found the best mix for me right now so I can PR and still lose some weight.

While I (jokingly) hate on Paleo and other stuff, if they work for you that's fantastic. I am not knocking Paleo or ETP. Rather, they did not work for me and my goals. My best advice is keep experimenting.

3 years into CrossFit I am playing with my nutrition constantly to get me the best balance of body composition (so I can some day WOD with my shirt off and not feel shame) and performance (so I can crush those WODs). Track your intake and play with the amounts and you'll be surprised what can happen to your workouts and happiness.

Don't buy into fads, listen to your own body, eat good foods and enjoy yourself (in moderation.) Remember kids, Pop-tarts = PRs!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Come on pookie, let's burn this motherfucker down!

All good things must come to an end. All shitty things must come to an end even sooner.

I am stopping writing / working on this blog. I may pop my head back in every now and then to share an update or something remarkable, but frankly, as of right now, I'm done. I am burnt out. I have so much other shit in my life spiraling out of control, and I don't like the person I have become physically, mentally, or spiritually. I have let myself get to a point that is wholly unacceptable and I need to remove all distractions until I can become a better person in all regards.

As a result, I need to refocus my time and talents elsewhere. It's been a fun ride and a challenge coming up with ideas and then fleshing them out on here. However, not all challenges are worth pursuing. I have been half-assing this for quite a while now and it's time to pull the plug. I will be paring down my social media presence as well. It's time to walk away.

I hope that this newfound time and energy will help me realize my potential. Also, I sincerely hope that each and every single one of you not only reaches but far surpasses every goal you have made in your lives. I wish you the best. If I can help you in your journeys in any way shape or form, you know where to find me.

On that note:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two years gone...

Well bitches, it's that time of year again. It is officially two years since I began my CrossFit journey. I famously chronicled my first year of CrossFit here. If you have never read it, or to refresh your memory go back and read it now. It'll make this post make way more sense. It's fine, I'll wait.

First, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who turned this weird and often inappropriate little journal of my thoughts and workouts into something I could have never imagined. Before last year's 1 year update, I had just broken 2,000 readers, I hit 29,000 this morning. It just blows my mind that people find what I have to say interesting... On that note, let's begin.

It has been another year, and a very different one to be sure. Another 525,600 minutes has passed and they were filled with some of the best and worst times of my life. This year has changed me in innumerable ways and I feel as if I have grown more than in my other 25 years on earth.

I will be blunt. This was the hardest and worst year of my life bar none. I had some good highs both medically induced and bestowed by life, and some crippling lows. There were many days I had zero desire to get out of bed or even go on with life. However, one of the things that kept me going was CrossFit. There's something indescribably therapeutic about slamming bars and setting PRs. For a weird, awkward, lonely kid, having a community to reach out to and fall back upon is something you can never put a price on. So to CrossFit and the community thank you for being life-saving in more ways than you could know.

Let us take a waltz down the ol' memory lane shall we?

First, the picture that generated an unbelievable response. Of all the stuff I have posted, this picture garnered something like 60+ likes and many more comments on Facebook and 40+ on Instagram. I didn't think it was that impressive but the comments and feedback were nothing short of overwhelming. Crossfit constantly changes you, and the proof is in the picture above. A metric shit ton of fat less and following my dreams. 

This year I had to come to grips that aesthetics wasn't the right goal to shoot for, and was in fact hurting my performance. I was this skinny little shit in 2012 having lost close to 100 pounds, weighing in at 184#, sub 12% body fat but couldn't Snatch 125#.  

My lightest, and least functional body composition. Dat Skeletor look.

Medium size T shirts and shorts were hanging off me. I made a conscious decision, one that I am still coming to grips with, that I would gain weight and get stronger, faster and better at CrossFit. I currently sit at 208# (I was actually 212# in the photo doing the sled drag) and much more fit than I was last year. Sure my mile time is much slower and I have love handles again, but every other performance indicator is leaps and bounds better. It takes some mental toughness to realize your self worth is a sum of items greater than a number plastered on a $20 piece of plastic you bought from Target. Wearing size 34" jeans and having my weight start with a 2 is a fair compromise to be able to lift much heavier, and do things like shave two minutes off my Grace time in a year. So sadly, you will NOT be seeing any "fat pants" pictures in this post. 

For anyone who ever doubts the life-changing abilities of Crossfit. Two years ago I could not even pull my body up an inch when asked to do a pull up. I was mortified when Stephen asked to see me try one. A little over one year ago I did Cindy and got 8 rounds with VERY questionable pull ups. Most were no-reps but I didn't see it that way at the time. Just two weeks ago I did Cindy and got 13 rounds + with pristine pull ups. I went from nothing to performing more than I could have ever imagined in just two years. I didn't see the progress as I was on my journey, but reflecting back on these past two years I don't even recognize who I was or where I was when I started I am such a different athlete and man.

CrossFit is always humbling. There is a reason that many boxes have some version of "check your ego at the door" painted or hanging somewhere. Unlike last year, I was able to taste the victory of being the strongest / fastest on workouts for certain days. Other days I was the slowest or weakest by a considerable margin. CrossFit truly instilled the life lesson in me this year, that I have to just keep moving. I got knocked down. I failed. I embarassed myself. I almost killed a high-profile athlete in a freak accident. Yet, at the end of the day I went to sleep, got up and tried again. If nothing else, CrossFit taught me not to quit and success will follow.

Speaking of performance what were some of the highlights of my year?

The top three PRs that made my year:
I set huge PRs and pushed myself farther and harder than I ever have in my life. 

1.) I hit a goal that took me 18 months: I Squat Clean and Jerked 200+ pounds. I had spent countless hours and it finally clicked. Even with a bad back, I can still hit 205 for a Clean on an off day. 215-225# on a good day. This was arguably the most satisfying PR of the year. I also have a filthy mouth if you haven't realized.

2.) The above was the day that made me realize I could do something special if I just worked my ass off. Hard work will always get results. I squatted 385# high bar, pressed 170# with crooked ass shoulders, and deadlifted 435# less than 18 months into CrossFit with ZERO athletic background. This one single day solidified the notion in my mind that hard work and mental fortitude can take you beyond just about any limit.

3.) Fran! For the first time ever. I finally tackled the bitch. The Pull Ups had always scared me, yet I survived. 6:30 RX'd. First attempt, RX, and about 90 seconds faster than my dream goal time. So... That was definitely a highlight to be sure.

3.5) I couldn't count this one out. 260# Split Jerk. Cleaned up some technique with Ms. Andrea Ager and unleashed a 35# PR. Definitely a great way to close out a year of considerable progress.

Not only did I do well on some workouts, I got to experience some new things as well...

I never travel. I certainly never travel alone. I did both this year when I decided on a whim to travel to California and watch the Crossfit Games:

Simply one of the best weeks of my life. Watching the events up close was something I will never forget. People losing their minds when Valerie Voboril destroyed "2007" and the insanity during the Cinco are just two highlights to be sure. I fell in love with the city, the weather, the food, everything while there. I left the venue and that week with an unquenchable thirst to better myself as an athlete and a person. The atmosphere was electric, and I am glad I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it.

While in LA, I also had the chance to train with Andrea Ager. This was bar none the highlight of my year. Living. The. Dream.

In two sessions she taught me so much about myself as an athlete and was cool as hell. An outstanding coach, she schooled me on what it really means to push yourself and adapt to your shortcomings. It didn't hurt that she was super funny, friendly, and gorgeous. I wish I was able to train with her full time. 

I pursued multiple seminars in Crossfit including Crossfit Kids and Crossfit Strongman. In doing so, I had the rare opportunity to meet and train with some of my heroes.

Rob Orlando at Crossfit Strongman (Read about it here)

Rich "Three-peat" Froning at Crossfit Kids (Read about it Part 1 and Part 2)

I learned tons from these fine individuals and it was beyond remarkable to have them fix my movements and be able to go home and PR the shit out of life. The Strongman Seminar was the coolest weekend you can do in Crossfit, and I HIGHLY recommend everyone try it at some point. It's the cheapest cert too!

Samantha Briggs, soon-to-be World's Fittest Woman. She was just randomly walking around at the Central East Regionals

I have never had much self-confidence. CrossFit showed me I can be a better person than I ever imagined and that other people would want to follow my example. I had some individuals reach out to me this year to help them as they begin their fitness journey. I decided to test myself and I began training and serving as an information hub for those who wanted to get in shape.

Pringles doing overhead plate carries. 

I also got countless people involved in doing sled drags. They're great for the ol' posterior chain.

Jenny "Darkness" 


This has been one of the most rewarding experiences watching them get stronger, faster, healthier, and more confident in their daily lives. It's addictive.

I talked my brother into doing Crossfit after almost two years of incessant nagging. His first day went this well:
For the first time ever all four members of my family were pursuing fitness at the same time. My mother is trying CrossFit On-ramp on Monday as well, which is incredibly exciting for me. I know she will be successful!

I also joined a second gym. It's actually been a really cool experience to jump between the two. 
I am now a part of two Crossfit families. Crossfit South Hills and Crossfit Mt. Lebanon. Who knows where I will end up full time, if anywhere in the future.

I learned I am addicted to shoes and have purchased countless pairs of Crossfit Nanos in the past year. It got so bad I now have sneaker collectors following me on Instagram...

I have a problem. I will also probably buy more...

I have always had issues with food. Very, very strong issues. CrossFit and the community are helping me work through them. In fact, I ate Donuts for the first time this year since I started CrossFit. I had one. It was amazing. I got physically ill and spent the rest of the day in the bathroom. Hooray?

Donuts. Apparently Sheetz has pumpkin donuts. I am beyond intrigued... I have not had Doritos though. One thing at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day and shit.

I have stepped outside of my comfort zone and am eating foods like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and even broccoli! I know, who the hell have I become? I have also become addicted to Kombucha which is a fermented fruit tea. I actually barter training with Trish. She gives me tons of Kombucha, I train her.

Mmm Kombucha...

Before CrossFit, I didn't challenge myself. Now I look at every challenge as something I have to try. I have persevered and have been able to add quite a few medals to my ego table:

All of the medals and such are from September 2011 until today. Amazing to see how far I have come. Everything on that table including the Spartan Head signifies a physical challenge I overcame between my humble beginnings and now. That table used to hold my food while I played video games. My VG collection now collects dust while I am out living life and making real, lasting memories.

Ruckus Run with my Dad a.k.a. "Double Nickels"

Tough Mudder with Amanda, my original CrossFit partner. 

The Berisford event where I destroyed double unders for the first time in my life and for a good cause.

The Valentine's Day Sadie Hawkins Mixer thing

RJ's Winter Barn WOD. I was severely under-dressed and pretty sure I caught pneumonia.

5k Gone Bad. Thank God for Burpee Box Jumps, the only reason I was able to climb out of last place to directly in middle of the standings. I love burpee-box jumps!

I limited my competing over the course of the year and instead aspired to get better all around. I spent ages working on weaknesses like getting inverted:

I went from 1 strict Handstand Push Up to being able to do 5 unbroken on a bad day. Small progress is still progress, that's a lesson I learned again and again.

I also decided to plunk down the cash for a rower:

and thereafter have spent ages working on my conditioning and rowing to make it a strength. Instead of spending money on clothes, concert tickets, or the like I made an investment in myself. I spent my hard-earned money on something that'll pay dividends.

 I even stupidly rowed a half-marathon.

Seriously the worst Crossfit workout I have ever done in my life. I will NEVER do this again so long as I live. If you want to read about the terror it induced, click here. This was a wake up call that not every challenge is a good idea.

I got my first muscle up! It was ugly and slow, but I did it. I am working on getting better at them. After almost two years it was so rewarding to finally get one. I watched as countless gym members got theirs months before I did, and it drove me nuts. It created this fire inside of me that I had to get one. I spent countless time before and after class kipping away on the rings like a dumb-ass and then finally it happened. Notice a trend here? I didn't until I sat down for this retrospective, persistence pays off.

Now onto the Bad

You've heard about the good, but I must address that which wasn't so good. In April I hurt my back pretty badly snatching and the following views of Emergency Room suites became the norm:

When I say pretty badly I mean I ruptured and herniated a disc in my back and essentially am injured for the rest of my life. I re-herniated the disc in August as well. It will never heal, but I can work around and work through the pain.

I ended up losing something like 8 weeks of total training time due to this injury spread out over the initial incident and a relapse in August. I also experienced the joy and pain of painkillers. I was only on them briefly but went through incredible withdrawal symptoms. If nothing else, this scares me into wanting to stay away from the ER and stay healthy.

I think at one point I was on Flexerall, Valium, Vicodon, an oral steroid, and was issued emergency dilaudid. In a stoned stupor I wrote one of my most well received blogs ever: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Wedding. I see now why artists write / compose / create under the influence. It is pure genius. I suggest you read it again for old time's sake.

I bemoaned my station in life when this happened. Almost immediately I had incredible support from people in my gym, in the Pittsburgh CrossFit community, the Cincinnati CrossFit community, and even Games Athletes like Jenn Jones and Lindy Wall chimed in on twitter to wish me a speedy recovery and stay strong. It blows my mind and is incredibly humbling to the (former and still somewhat) loner kid, that people would care enough to take the time to see how I was feeling and if I needed anything. I cannot say this enough, every single one of you in the CrossFit community who took the time to send me some form of well wish made those very dark times a lot more manageable. I can say with 100% certainty I could not have done it without your support.

So what has CrossFit changed for me this year?
  • My body - stronger, more muscular, and I am learning to accept it more. I haven't had a 15-year-old-girl-stepping-on-a-scale freakout in quite a while.
  • My self esteem - while I am not "fixed" by any stretch of the imagination, I am starting to realize I am worth more than I used to believe.
  • My bank account - Personal Training, hospital stays, shoes, clothes, the Crossfit Games, seminars, food, gym memberships...
  • I have made it a point to get my roommates parents active
  • I view food as fuel now, and not as a source of pleasure - This tends to happen when you eat 3400 calories a day of clean food.
  • I'm kind of sick of 90's rap and Lil' Wayne after hearing it every goddamn day at the gym. Sorry guys, but you ruined it. 100,000+ channels on Pandora and Tupac everyday makes me want to shoot myself in the face.
  • I started dating - didn't end as well as I would have hoped but I can't complain. I tried something I normally would not have and it went very well while it lasted. Also online dating. Read all about that = online dating and why I am an asshole.
  • I stopped weighing myself every day. Seriously. That shit is toxic. Once a week at most and just to make sure there are no wild fluctuations.
  • I posed nude for a photo shoot. I have an outtake from the shoot that is pretty epic I debated putting up here, but since this isn't Snapchat I realized that shit would be here forever. That's no bueno. I guess if you really want to see it I could Snapchat it to you...
  • People see me as inspirational. I have lost track of how many times someone has sent me a Facebook message, a text, e-mail, tagged me in an Instagram of them working out or sent a carrier pigeon (seriously, carrier pigeons were amazing can we go back to using them?) asking me questions about fitness, telling me I inspired them to get their shit together, or just asking for help and advice in general. It blows me away every time that someone thinks of me as someone they want to emulate. I still haven't gotten used to it and I don't think I ever will. 
Things Crossfit hasn't changed or fixed
  • My body image issues and avoidance of mirrors
  • I still refuse to take my shirt off during workouts
  • Still get depressed and withdraw
  • I still don't own any "real people" clothes - after incredible hulking out of my suit at Christmas thanks to my beastly quads, no more nice things for this guy.
Biggest Progress
  • Everything. This year my proprioception has increased exponentially. I am now more aware of my body and how it moves. I understand bar path, and holding a hollow while doing gymnastic moves. It has been an incredible year to say the least. All of my #s went up, I am moving better than ever, and I feel great all despite my multiple back injuries. I could not snatch 125# last year. I did 155# for multiple reps in a complex a few weeks back and still had gas in the tank.
Weirdest Side Effect
  • Cougars. Seriously. Still. I am invisible to women under 30, but 40+ year old women are creepy as shit to me. The attention is nice, but there comes a point where it's just awkward as hell. Sorry ma'am, you do not need to squeeze my bicep while you ask where Starbucks is or rub my chest and ask where I got my sweater...
  • Women have called me hot. Before this year, only 70+ year olds ever said anything to me and it was along the lines of "my you're handsome." However, this year, girls (multiple) who were born during or never saw the Reagan Presidency told me I was hot. I am still trying to wrap my head around that one...
  • I still feel fat. I don't feel like the body I have. It's hard to describe. People will send me pics of me working out and I don't recognize the person in the photo. Usually it is some sort of "oh shit, I look like that?" response.
Thank you's
  • My Coaches - I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of coaches and seeing what other boxes's coaches do, it makes me appreciate the shit out of the staff at CFSH and CFMTL for the time and effort they dedicate to making me better. I would also like to specifically thank Coach Nate for the countless hours he has put in training me in PT over the last year. It means a lot buddy.
  • The community in general - Some of you are assholes, but I love you all the same. You have brightened many a dark day and have given me the push to break through what I thought I was capable of and pursue excellence not only in Crossfit but in daily life.
  • Trish - For putting her faith in me. 
  • Chris Nolan - for photographing me naked and getting me a Gold ticket to the Crossfit Games.
  • Elite Crossfit Athletes - I have met and communicated with a lot of elite athletes this year and all of them have been awesome. They are all friendly as hell, super helpful, and genuinely want you to succeed. It's refreshing to meet someone you admire and have them not only be kind but offer to fix your squat and talk muscle up tips.
  • Everyone - To all those who sent me well wishes, asked how I was doing, left nice comments on my pics and statuses, cheered me on in competitions and generally supported me in this crazy ass lifestyle I thank you for giving me the push to keep going.
  • Lululemon - For making the damn comfiest underwear to WOD in ever. My crotch area appreciates your efforts. Also, those ridiculously small shorts all the women wear: I thank you for those as well.
  • The Spice Girls - for making the best music ever. If you disagree, you are dead to me.
Verdict: This was the hardest year of my life and changed me in innumerable ways. I became a better athlete and a better person. I found myself giving more of my time and energy to others. I became more spiritual. I started my year on a promising note and had dreams of 2014 / 2015 Regionals in my head. Now I have dreams of being able to compete in a small local competition a year from now without any more set backs from my blown back. My life is forever changed by the events of this year, and I am learning to adapt to these day in and day out. Life is funny in how it changes, but this has been a hell of a year. I guess there is only one thing left to say, and I will let the amazing Robert McDonald (look him up, he's a beast) say it:

Here's to another year. Onwards!

Saturday's Work

“Hotshots 19″


Jesse Steed, Wade Parker, Joe Thurston, William Warneke, John Percin, Clayton Whitted, Scott Norris, Dustin Deford, Sean Misner, Garret Zuppiger, Travis Carter, Grant McKee, Travis Turbyfill, Andrew Ashcraft, Kevin Woyjeck, Anthony Rose, Eric Marsh, Christopher MacKenzie, and Robert Caldwell

Six rounds for time of:
30 Squats
135 pound Power clean, 19 reps
7 Strict Pull-ups
Run 400 meters

A. 3 Rounds in 24:43 before I stopped due to back tightness


U.S. Army Specialist Donald L. Nichols, 21, of Shell Rock, Iowa, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Iowa Army National Guard, based in Waterloo, Iowa, died April 13, 2011, in Laghman province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He is survived by his mother and stepfather, Roger and Becky Poock; his father and stepmother, Jeff and Jeanie Nichols; and his brothers, Nick and Joe.


21-15-9-9-15-21 reps for time of:
- 225 pound Deadlift
- Burpee

A. 19:17 RX'd

Sunday's Work
10:00 AMRAP:
- 7 OHS @ 135#
- 7 Pull ups

A. 5 rounds RX'd

Monday's Work
Power Snatch
3x7 @ 135/95
Buy in: 50 Dubs
5 rounds:
15 OHS 95/65
Buy out: 50 Dubs

A. 95# - 115# - 135# (got all 7)
B. 15:30 Used 25# DB Push Press for HSPU after first 5 reps. 95# OHS

Tuesday's Work
5 min AMRAP
11 Thrusters 95/65
6 Pull ups
--rest 1 min--
4 min AMRAP
11 Pull ups
6 Thrusters 95/65
--rest 1 min--
3 min AMRAP
6 Thrusters 95/65
6 Pull ups

AMRAP 1: 3 rounds + 11 Thrusters + 1 Pull up (44 thrusters / 19 Pull ups)
AMRAP 2: 2 rounds + 1 pull up (12 Thrusters / 23 Pull ups)
AMRAP 3: 2 rounds + 1 Thruster (13 Thrusters / 12 Pull ups)
= 7 rounds +14 reps RX'd or 69 Thrusters and 54 Pull ups 

Pull ups were brutal here. Definitely got smoked by second AMRAP. In 12 minutes I did Fran + 25 Thrusters + 9 pull ups essentially. Kind of embarrassing when you look at it that way.

Wednesday's Work

Buy In-
Beginner: Practice smooth singles and make attempts at stringing double unders together
Intermediate: Work to 25 Unbroken Double Unders
Advanced: Work to 100 Unbroken Double Unders

*10 Minute Time Cap

15 Minutes to build to Max Load:

1 Hang Clean + 5 Front Squats

-Cash Out-
Strength: Back Squat

A. 54 Unbroken
B. 135-155-165-185-195-205-215-225(f)
C. 185 x 3, 225 x 3, 255 x 3, 275 x 3, 305 x 3, 315# x 3. Then 225# x 20