Progress Part 1

This WILL be a multi post topic…so stay tuned!

While traveling a few weeks ago I found myself sitting in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on a layover…no wifi available, and lost in thought.  I was heading to a competition in the USA that I honestly expected to finish last in but had already long realized that I wasn’t going down there to win. I was going for an experience, to say I did it, and to be with friends.

Then my mind wandered and I got to thinking, “what if one day I actually go to one of these competitions with a realistic plan to do well?  I mean in this case, in hindsight, I did better than I thought, but what if in two years I go in wanting to be top 15.  How will I get there?”.

I sat down with a book I recently purchased, “Progress” by Chris Moore (@barbellbuddha on social media)

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Chris has become a bit of a reprieve for me from day to day life.  I work as a police officer and sometimes the days can be weary.  Often, more often that not actually, I find myself listening to his “Get Change” podcast as a way to shift my mind from police work and hyper vigilance while on the way home…I’ve listened to every episode at least twice, some episodes more.  At home I have to be a  husband, brother, uncle, son, and friend…I don’t have to be a cop all the time, I’m more than that. The dude’s done a lot and is far more intelligent than I, but we share many of the same philosophies and his ramblings make me think, ponder, and even sometimes meditate.  It’s quite relaxing.  This book though…read this book…

Click HERE to shop for his books
$10 for an ebook, $15 for paperback.

I had to put the book down about 7 times by my count during my layover in flight to process “mind blasting” moments (as Russell Peters would say!).  There are many dog eared pages and I’ll be reading this one again…I don’t read as much as I should, and I read this cover to cover in one sitting.

Now, even prior to reading a page, I started thinking about goals. I made the conscious decision that I needed to write some things down that I want within my fitness journey and determine a reasonable timeline to make significant change.  So I wrote down the following inside the back cover with a goal of June 2017.

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When you open the book, the first sign that Chris is different is the first three sentences you find:

This content is not under copyright.
Take any idea and share as you see fit.
It’ll make you feel good.

Well, he said so, so as part 1 of this topic, I want to share Chris Moore’s 8 thoughts on goals.  It’s a fluid process but it needs direction.  Take a read, I’ll be back in a few days to delve much much deeper into the topic.

Enjoy, friends.

Taken from “Progress” by Chris Moore.

  1. What’s your commitment?

You can write it down in a notebook, on your phone, or in bright red paint across the back wall of your garage. Anything will do.

The tool doesn’t matter, only your commitment. So, what is your goal? Think carefully. Yes, write it down. Have a scotch and read it aloud. Do it again. Know it well.

Every journey begins by pointing to a desired destination. That comes with some pressure and expectation, but believe me, it really doesn’t matter what you pick. You just need to stop circling and assume a trajectory. Everything else will soon work itself out.

Just pick something to shoot at for now. Start where you stand, with a load that you can lift right now with very good form. Your target can be anything within reason, but a good guide might be a 10% increase in two months.

Is that too much? Too litte? Well, you’ll learn that soon enough.

 

  1. The motive.

Writing down your commitment is a critical first step, but it’s only a temporary sugar rush designed to get you moving.

If you really want to pull that dream down from the clouds and make it real, then you’ll have to work really hard for it, for a really long-time. Let’s embrace that now.

What’s a good reason to train? Well, wanting to be the biggest, strongest, or fastest person in any room is a TERRIBLE one. Really. No matter how much you change, grow and achieve, you will never be satisfied. So do better. Don’t repeat those mistakes. Know exactly what you’re after and WHY.

What is it? To qualify for a competition? Break the record? Catch up with the friend that got a head start? Lose the baby weight and knock them dead in the pink bikini? It can be whatever pleases you, you sexy beast. Just don’t let it be about ego alone. It won’t work.

If you feel nothing now at the start, then you’re sure to get lost when the journey gets tought. Make this count.

 

  1. The art of projection.

You have written down your commitment. You have carefully assessed the motive. Now what?

Try using your imagination. Really.

One of the most useful skills you can cultivate is the ability to visualize yourself in the future. Day to day, week to week, month to month, see yourself calmly achieving your goals just as planned.

See it done. It will bring an immediate benefit.

The practice will reinforce the plan daily. It will anchor you in rough waters. It will reassure when you get cold feet. It will cultivate a familiarity with success and make it much more probable. Believe it’s possible. Change the reality.

I might add, looking back can be just as useful. Every successful day, week and month gives you valuable data. So, pay close attention along the way. Look back on that record and trust it. Utilize it.

When you project back forward you’ll be more confident and ready for ascension.

 

  1. Setting the scope.

Knowing what you’re after is terribly important, but so is knowing what you’re NOT after.

I could provide a scientific, evidence based rationale as to why you should avoid trying to get better at everything all at once. But, I’d rather just share a saying. I was originally told it was of Hungarian origin, but who knows where it came from.

It goes something like this. “If you only have one ass, you cannot ride two horses”. Yeah, I think that does the job just fine.

If more strength is your pressing need, set aside at least a few months to devote your focus to it entirely. Give it everything you’ve got. Pour yourself all over it.

Let’s be clear. You still need to go out and do everything else that’s important to you, but, you have to back off and save the real work for the barbell.

Drive what is needed. Make it happen. Preserve what has been earned before. Rotate in due time. That’s all it takes.

 

  1. Step by Step.

Training is an act of cultivation. It’s like gardening.

You create and maintain the conditions for growth – water and feeding, weeding. Then you let the process unfold as it will. There is no rushing things.

Let’s say that you’re trying to add 50 kilograms on your squat, and you’d like to do that in ten weeks. That means your target is an average increase of five kilos per week across your work sets. Sounds reasonable.

Stick to that plan! Ideally you would hit each weekly increase. If so, congrats! You are a success.

If things come too easily, be more aggressive with your goal next time around. Take advantage of the new data. If progress ever slows and success seems unlikely during the coming weeks, that’s your cue to start building in more rest. Unload for a week, then resume right where you left off. This is how you learn to manage your fatigue and tune your approach.

If you just get crushed and buried under a suspiciously heavy load, you know you began with ego. Try starting over with at least a 10% lower load. Take your time. This in no race.

 

  1. Use what you’ve got.

I don’t know of any writer who wouldn’t love a brand new MacBook Air for work. It’s sexy as hell. But does that matter?

Ultimately, it doesn’t. Success in art starts with the individual and their vision.

Writers write with what they’ve got – computer. Typewriter. Paper and pen. Lump of coal. It could be anything. The art, the vision, the belief will still shine through anything.

Strength is absolutely no different. It starts with you. Not a program. Not a coach. Not a piece of equipment or a pill. It’s YOU.

Do your best to secure a barbell and plenty of weight. For everything else, get creative and use what’s around. Toys at the gym. A log, or stone. Or perhaps just your body! Just do not be discourage with what you lack. Instead focus on all the things you can do now.

Remember, everything starts with you.

 

  1. What’s in the way?

If you really want to be successful during this journey, then work with your limitations. Don’t disregard them. Don’t assume they’re a barrier.

How are things going at work? …Busy? Are you in a sour relationship? Have you been sick lately? Did you recently become a parent, and are you now getting a shaky three hours of sleep per night, maybe?

These are all factors that WILL affect your plan. Don’t push forward blindly in pursuit of the goal. If you do, I can say from experience that you will only wear down and lose interest.

When time is restricted, just focus on reaching your weekly loading target, then lower the load by 20% and do a few sets of 2-5 reps.

Hit the important exercises hard two to three times per week. Only consider adding work when your schedule allows, and progress slows with the current plan.

As always, take your time. You will be fine. Just try and take it easy on yourself when you can.

 

  1. A final note.

A simple and progressive plan is powerful and life changing because it is cumulative. The work adds up, and before you know it, you’re different. You’re stronger, and on to brand new goals.

That’s an exciting thing.

Get lost in the process. Take those first few steps and get your momentum. Check off the milestones. Tailor your approach as you get new data. Rest hard when necessary. Adjust your goal-setting so that it’s more accurate.

If you can get that far, you will start to see why that first goal didn’t matter much at all. It was only the motion that matter. The rhythm.

That’s what changes your reality. That’s what allows this transformation to take place.

Let that be your focus. No matter what happens, find a way to stay in motion. All those results you’re after? Like I said, that will all take care of itself.

For now, the barbell is waiting on you.

 

Leave No Doubt

Rarely have three words dictated so much of my thought process than the words, “leave no doubt”.  Rich Froning said this of his performance in the final workouts of the 2012 CrossFit Games.  He went into the final day with a thought in his head, “I didn’t want anyone leaving the stadium saying, “that Froning shouldn’t have won.” I wanted to leave no doubt”.

For Rich, this saying meant that he knew in his mind that winning by one or two points over Matt Chan wouldn’t be enough. He didn’t want to scrape out a win, he wanted to separate himself by such a margin that everyone would know that he, and he alone, should be on the top step of the podium.

For me, it means something else, and it’s meaning falls within another statement, “Full Effort, Full Victory”.  Back in an early blog post I said that I never wanted to leave the gym feeling like I could have given more.  No matter what the WOD, how difficult, how testing, I would give 100% and leave it all out there.

Leave no doubt; no doubt that 100% effort was given and that my best is my best.

During the CrossFit Open season, this is crucially important.  We take on 5 workouts over 5 weeks, designed and programmed to make the best in the world collapse at Dave Castro’s feet in a sweaty pile of broken human.  But, we do it every week, with a smile.  Maybe some butterflies, and even nausea, but a smile nonetheless.

Some people let the workouts get into their head, I was super guilty of this last year and this mind game becomes all encompassing and results in something I despise: the re-do.

During Open season, a lot of people will do each workout several times, and it bugs me.  Some people have a reason—if I’m in 61st place and an extra 3 reps will put me 60th to get a spot at Regionals, then a re-do makes some sense.  However, if I’m in around 1100th place like I am in reality, what am I gaining?

I go into every Friday knowing that I’m doing the CrossFit Open WOD, and that no matter how hard it is, I’m going to crush it, crush myself, and give it everything. EVERYTHING.  I will leave no doubt that my effort is full, and therefore my victory is full.  I have done what I can do and I know that even if I decide to re-do the workout the next day, the difference (better or worse) will be negligible.  I redid ONE workout in 2014’s Open and I didn’t do it for me.  I went to the gym to work out, and a friend needed some company and competition, so I lined up and repeated the WOD.  I gained 6 reps over my first attempt.  Better yes, but not so amazing that I’m now going to the next stage of competition.  That’s my point…why annihilate my spirit for 6 more reps?  Give it everything you’ve got and move on to the next one.  Don’t beat yourself up.

One of the most victorious performances I’ve ever seen in CrossFit happened last night.  Rich Froning did last night’s workout in 8:26, it took me 21:34.  It took one CrossFit 403 member almost an hour to do it, but dammit if there wasn’t a dry eye in that building when she was done.  Full effort, full victory.  She did the best she could and left no doubt in anyone’s mind that she is a beast and worked her ass off.  It was a proud moment for CrossFit 403–its coaches, and most importantly, its members. This was the theme of the Open, it always is.  This competition is for the everyman, the CrossFit athlete that has to drop their kids off at the pool, the athlete who has a day job, the athlete who does CrossFit to justify eating a donut.  The Open is for the regular people.  It’s not for Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Samantha Briggs, or Elisabeth Akinwale.  It’s for the rest of us—for us to test ourselves and know that we are capable of so much more than we may think, physically and mentally.

My CrossFit Games season is now over, I’m not going to Regionals, I’m not competing at the Games, but I did my absolute best, saw gains I didn’t expect, and put in 100% of myself over 5 weeks.  Full effort, full victory.

Leave no doubt.275 Deadlift chest to bar toes to bar 2 toes to bar

Here We Go Again! 13.1

It’s that time of the year, The CrossFit Games season is upon us!

Yup, today is game day!

Many of us have been waiting for this week like kids waiting for Santa to scurry his butt down the chimney but I’m guessing that there was slightly more moaning around the world when Santa Dave Castro told us what our first workout of this competition season would be–

40 Burpees
30 Snatch 75lbs
30 Burpees
30 Snatch 135lbs
20 Burpees
30 Snatch 165lbs
10 Burpees
AMRAP Snatch 210lbs

This may look familiar—it’s a combination of the first two workouts of the 2012 CrossFit Open.   A lot of people seemed annoyed by this and I heard a lot of folks say “what happened to constantly varied”. To that I say, “MEASURABLE, OBSERVABLE, REPEATABLE”. K-Starr says it in almost every video, “test and retest”.  If you don’t repeat workouts at least once in a while, how do you know where your gains are being made?  It’s why CrossFit has benchmark workouts, and many of them at that.  I for one, while not in love with burpees, enjoy them for one reason–it’s super easy to see gains.

In 2012, in 7 minutes, I did 57 burpees.  About a month ago I did 72 in the same time frame and continued on to finish 150 burpees in just over 15 minutes.  So, I did 15 more reps in a year and then doubled that without stopping.  That, my friends, is a positive burpee experience!

Also in 2012, I could not snatch 135lbs during the second WOD.  I have since retested WOD 12.2 and did 9 reps at 135.  Another positive gain.

Knowing that I’ve worked very hard to improve myself in physical skill, strength, and mental toughness, I feel that I’m ready for this test.  I’m nervous, sure, most will be but I’m also excited to put myself through the ringer and see what’s on the other side.

For those people prepping to do this, take a look at this vid from our Superfriends at San Francisco CrossFit who make up MobilityWOD, GymnasticsWOD, FuBarbell, and CrossFit Endurance.  It’s a well spent 20 minutes!

To all my friends at CrossFit 403, CrossFit Ramsay, and all my CrossFit friends across the country (and around the world for that matter), I say this:

Have fun. Be safe. Don’t back down. Be strong. You may not be there yet, but you’re closer than you were yesterday.

Good luck in the 2013 CrossFit Open!

Make it Happen

After a post that drew a lot of response from a huge variety of people–coaches, icons, fellow CrossFitters, family, and friends–it’s time to get myself (and yourselves) back on track.

By the time I wrote that post, I had already realized what was going on and started fixing my mindset, getting excited again.  I could tell though in looking around CrossFit 403 that I wasn’t the only person who had gotten comfortable with how things were going and thus found myself in a bit of a rut.  It was almost unanimous, people texting, emailing, commenting that they felt similar to me and not many of these admissions surprised me, I had noticed it in them, but not in me.  I have to thank everyone who sent me a message of encouragement, even a few of those “celebs” who I mentioned–Angie Pye, Shana Alverson, and Jason Sadler.  I sincerely appreciate everyone’s words of encouragement, they helped a lot.

I realized after seeing this picture yesterday posted by @NavySEALPTTEST, what maybe my biggest issue was—I had no goals.  I mean, I have goals, but I have nothing at this current moment to SPECIFICALLY reach for.


So 403ers, I have a new challenge for you.  Set a goal.

I’m going to steal a section of the whiteboards at the box and at the top it will say “In 2012 I will” –write down your name, one performance goal, and the date in 2012 you will accomplish this goal by.

I have two and I’ll lay them out right now—
Josh – December 31, I WILL deadlift 400lbs and I WILL clean 200lbs
.

Pick a goal and work on it.  We have open gyms on Sunday mornings from 930-11am, come in and work on accomplishing your goal if we haven’t done much on it that week.  There are always coaches at open gyms, ask us what you can do to make your goal happen, we’ll ALWAYS help.

I don’t care if your goal is to do 10 unbroken wall balls, a double under, a taller box jump, or a pull-up.  SET THE GOAL AND MAKE IT HAPPEN.  I had a great run in 2012, accomplishing goals MONTHS ahead of the schedule I set but once I met those goals, I didn’t know what I wanted next.  I got lost.  I didn’t have anything to work for.

Sure, I want to lose weight but that’s something I need to work on at home and in normal life–the 23 hours a day I’m not at CrossFit 403.  In that 1 hour, what are you going to work towards?  Why are you there?

I’m officially calling out everyone at our box to be accountable to each other.  If I know that R-Star (Ryan Bennett’s nickname by the way, feel free to use that!) wants a clean & jerk PR, or that my mom wants a 60lb front squat, I’ll ask how things are going and what you’re doing to reach your goal.  If you know that I want to PR my clean, make sure I’m working on it…get my drift?  There’s a community ALL around us that we’ve built, use it, it’s the most important piece of CrossFit 403.  Every gym has weights, racks, bands, rowers, and plyo boxes—they don’t all have us.  Set a goal, make it happen.

Try Honesty

I am unmotivated.

There, I said it.

I’ve got about 7 drafts on the go for this blog, things that should have been written days and weeks ago.  Several HUGE milestones that I should be telling everyone about–my first competition, my Level 1 Certification Course (I’m a coach now!), meeting some more of Canada’s CrossFit women in Angie Pye and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, and a few notable PRs.

I interviewed Angie and Camille as well and put the Q&A interview onto paper but haven’t been able to put a decent story together for what could be a great insight into two top level competitors.

I could throw out a tonne of excuses but in the end, it doesn’t matter.  I’m tired, busy, low on energy, and unmotivated.  But why?

I do my damnedest to motivate everyone else around me and I am flattered every time someone texts, messages, emails, calls, or states that they’re at the gym because they feel accountable to me or that I’ve inspired them to do something.  I am surrounded my some extremely motivational and uplifting people at both CrossFit 403 and Reebok CrossFit Ramsay.  Through the wonders of social media I am able to follow and interact with the likes of Lisbeth Darsh, Angie Pye, Web & Lindsey Smith, Jason Sadler, Carl Paoli, Cherie Chan, Shana Alverson, Pat Sherwood, Tony Blauer and a good friend in “D” at Havyk Gear–all people who have said something or posted something that has struck a chord within me.  Their words are not lost on me, and I read everything they write, but I still log-off feeling like I’m missing something. But what?

I have still been going to CrossFit 403, as much or more than usual, and I still bust my ass every time the clock starts, but I feel fried.  Most days I feel stiff and weak when I arrive and it takes me a good 20-30 minutes to get motivated for whatever WOD it might be.  Even at an open gym a couple weeks ago I actually dragged my ass there, did a warm-up, did some mobility, a couple low weight back squat sets, and then I left.  I left! What the hell?! I seriously could not motivate myself to set up plyo boxes or a pull-ups station. That’s not like me in any way.

I need to get myself back on track somehow.  My lack of energy and motivation has led to a regression in my diet—I’m not making “bad” choices, but I’m not doing myself any favors.  I think this is what pisses me off the most.  Not that I’ve been a steady 265lbs for 6 weeks now without wavering more than 2lbs either side of that, but that I’ve let myself slip while still offering congratulatory messages to those around me who are working to succeed at their goals.  I’m become an expert at homeostasis again! Add to the fact that I’m supposed to be on a paleo eating challenge until sometime in December and I’ve all but resigned myself to living with not winning.  Me, seemingly satisfied with not winning at something which I have every opportunity to win if I get my shit sorted out.

Ryan is making great strides and I’m proud of how far he’s come in such a short time.  My mom has started CrossFit, my friends Nikki, Erin, Ryan V, have started and my sister might be trying it out tonight–my liberal sharing of the CrossFit kool-aid is starting to bear fruits and it means a lot to me.

Now, I have to take another sip myself and remember why I’m here.  But why am I here?

Thirteen months ago, I didn’t know what CrossFit was.  For me it was quite simply the pathway I needed to get on track for a career change that would mean the world to me but it has now become “me”.  It isn’t just a workout anymore but maybe I need to remember that at it’s core, that’s EXACTLY what it is.  I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve shed 75lbs in the last 18 months.  Very proud.  But I’m also not happy with it.  For me to be where I want to be I foresee myself having to lose another 40+ lbs.  I’m okay with that and I WANT to do it. But I need help.  I’m putting my ego aside here for a bit and writing this as Josh—the still overweight guy who is still working really hard to better myself.  I do a lot as the CrossFit Rookie and now as Coach Rook as I’ve been called a few times and I LOVE that side of me but I need to be honest with myself and acknowledge that I’m not done with my own journey yet, and I may never be.

This 265lb plateau has plagued me in the past too, and I need to get past it.  It’s what I weighed prior to my wedding in 2008, but it’s also the lightest I’ve been in over half a decade.  I wish I could pinpoint why I do this to myself but I also am trying to remember that I’m not the only person going through this.  I also need to remember to believe in myself half as much as people like Ryan, Coach Crip, Regan, Melinda, and my mom believe in me.  I’ve had some proud moments, and we’ve all shed a few tears in the last year but it can’t stop now.  There’s more to learn and much more room to grow.

Therein lies the beauty of CrossFit.

I could do this for 30 years, and still learn something the next time I go into the box.  Less than 8 weeks ago I watched Angie Pye get tips on bar muscle-ups–ANGIE was still learning stuff.  That woman is one of the most down to earth superheroes I’ve met and she still has to learn new movements and methods just like the rest of us.  We’re all CrossFit rookies whether we want to believe it or not.  Own that realization and make that your motivator.

All this can be summed up by a word that should be said more. Virtuosity. “Doing the common, uncommonly well”.  Own that word EVERY time you walk through the doors.  If that means you have to drop some weight from the bar to do it right or take the weight right off the bar to do it all, you need to do it.

Don’t let me forget that even after a year, a lot of pounds, a lot of progress, and a lot of personal discovery, I’m still the CrossFit Rookie and I’ll never outgrow that.

CrossFit 403 keeps growing too, I need to stay the course and grow with it. This pic from my last WOD at the old facility.

 

Labelitis

Our society has an affliction that I’m going to call labelitis.  If we don’t know what something is, then it requires a label and sometimes when you put a label on something, it becomes a point of contention.

Of course two labels I want to chirp on today are “paleo” and “CrossFit”.

Having gone through everything from Weight Watchers, to some fad garbage crap that cost me a lot of money, to a plan that add me taking almost 20 supplemental pills per day, to LA Weight Loss (which worked WHEN I kept buying their products), I started visiting Simply For Life.

I had an amazing mentor at Simply for Life, a Paralympic Gold-medalist named Earle Connor.  He helped me lose about 60lbs in 2007-08 (just prior to my wedding) using the Simply for Life meal plan system and especially since I looked up to him, it was easy to listen and hard to make excuses.  How can you tell a guy that you “can’t” run 3kms when he can run 100m in 12.32 seconds–oh yeah, by the way, he’s an above the knee amputee.  Things change though and I got stuck at 265lbs for months; it was a huge plateau and it was mentally defeating.  Earle did his best but after he left Simply for Life’s Airdrie location, I got depressed and lost, didn’t know what to do, and slowly crept back up to 320lbs from an adult low of 265.  It’s amazing honestly how that much weight just can all of a sudden show up.  I hadn’t felt like I changed much but the results said otherwise.

Fast forward a few years and this whole CrossFit obsession and now everywhere I turn I’m hearing about “zones” and “paleo”, not knowing what the hell everyone is jabbering about.  They were talking about the paleolithic diet, aka caveman diet.  It’s a very common topic in CrossFit circles and the fundamentals of this method of nourishment is to eat good whole foods and avoid sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes.  Now, this isn’t to say all of the above are bad–if you want a great read on this all, check out “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf.  It gets into the science and history of it all and why it works.  The funny thing now though is that when I’ve mentioned paleo to some of my fittest and healthy friends I get chastised about buying into a fad, or about how limiting myself is just wrong and I’m going to fail.

I was recently talking with someone who has been a personal trainer for over 15 years, is super healthy and has a shredded physique.  He spoke at great lengths about how paleo isn’t all it’s laid out to be, the word balance was heard a lot but so were things like cheat days, proteins, omega-3s, and fish oil  When it all came down to it though, I took a read through his own 14 day meal plan and it was 100% paleo.  There was no added sugars, no legumes, no grains and no dairy (save for ONE meal in 14 days that had cheese sprinkled on eggs).  That’s fantastic–his clients and friends have had amazing, indisputable results, but when I mentioned the actual word “paleo”, I got ridiculed.  I’m sorry, what?  You make no sense.  I’m sorry I put a dreaded “trendy” label on your mealplan-that-works-and-is-exactly-the-same-thing-but-apparently-isn’t-paleolithic.  Why does it matter WHAT I’m calling my meal plan if it’s working?  I’ve lost 5 lbs in 3 days and I’d hardly say it’s water weight, I’m averaging about 3 litres a day, minimum.  It’s not YET the most exciting mealplan on the planet, but I need to stick to basics before I get to enthralled in customizing meals.

Move onto the title “CrossFit” and it either seems to incite fear of ancient Spartan training practices with blood, leather, and spears (I’d totally do that WOD too by the way) or the aforementioned ridicule from the fit people that don’t like it.  Even a close friend of mine who was a professional athlete for a long time, in his own words, “HATES CrossFit”.   Personally I think he hates it because he’d suck at it…he’s huge and has some of the most amazing Olympic lifting skill and strength I’ve ever witnessed in person but he’s an “anaerobic beast”—CrossFit would kick his ass.  Regardless, he and many other friends just roll their eyes when I talk about it because they think I’ve lost my marbles.  Well, again—who cares WHAT I’m calling my workouts if I’m enjoying them enough to be going 3-5 days a week, seeing measurable results, and working successfully towards a goal? When I put it that way, they agree that it’s a good thing if it keeps me coming back but one person still said “that’s great, but it won’t make you better at anything”.

Again, what? I’m better at every single physical aspect of my life.  Every one.  Not one or two, or maybe a third…ALL OF THEM.  I can run faster, farther, lift more, carry more, press more, the list goes on.  Add that to the fact that my shirts are looser but the sleeves are tighter….ya, it’s not working at all…

Move past the labels and just do something positive for yourself, call it what you want, just do it.

Looking back on the Open

Six weeks ago, on February 16th, I announced my decision to enter a fitness competition, a decision that would have a profound effect on myself and all those around me—in and out of CrossFit.

When I posted about the Open, our CrossFit 403 team had only 13 members–within 5 days of that post, we had 27!  It’s pretty awesome to see that many people step up and give it a shot, standing ovation to you all.

The last 5 weeks have had all 27 of us hit high’s and low’s.  I did my best to keep my chin up but a couple of the workouts really kicked my butt, 12.2 really got on my nerves and I was really upset with myself.  I talked to several other team members too who expressed disappointed at certain WODs and some got downright angry at themselves.  Frustration was common but so was victory.

Workout 12.2 ended up being a really key WOD for me; it’s the WOD that took the most out of me and also gave me the most appreciation for what we can accomplish.  One of my absolute favourite highlights of the open was watching Dawnie complete WOD 12.2, the same WOD that left me pissed off.  Here’s a relatively new CrossFit athlete who had never attempted a 75lbs overhead snatch.  She did the first 30 at 45lbs and made a comment that she wasn’t sure she could do 75lbs.  It took a couple tries but when she got that first lift at 75lbs, she let out a bit of a scream as if to say “holy shit, I just did that”–, and then she proceed to do 28 more!  Huge highlight for me, huge. Another was watching Coach Regan do his 12.2.  He had never done a 135lb snatch and he did 10!

As far as my experience with the Open, I had a lot on my plate outside of CrossFit but I found myself really consumed by it; waiting by my computer every Wednesday at 6pm to see the announced WOD, scouring the leaderboard damn near daily and picking out people to compete with, at least in my head.

So, here’s a breakdown on my results – click the link HERE to see a breakdown and video on each workout in the competition.  My scores were:
12.1 – 57 – 57 burpees
12.2 – 30 – 30 overhead snatch reps at 75lbs, 0 at 135lbs
12.3 – 27 – 15 box jumps on 24″ box, 12 reps 75lb push press, 0 reps toes-to-bar
12.4 – 124 – 124 wall ball tosses, 20lb ball, 10 foot target
12.5 – 3 – 3 reps, 100lb thruster, 0 reps pull-ups

I actually didn’t finish in last place in any single WOD amongst Western Canadian athletes so that makes me pretty happy.  I was kind of disappointed though that amongst the Canada West athletes who finished all 5 workouts, I finished in last place.  Regardless, I did much better on a global scale, placing 22106th out of over 25000 registrants in my Division.  All in all, I really have no reason to be disappointed–I still made an attempt to compete with the best of the best.  Having my name in the same Division as guys I look up to like Jason Khalipa, Rich Froning, Tyson Takasaki, Mike Eberts, and my teammates at CrossFit 403 is akin to me playing a game of shinny with Brendan Shanahan.  Plus, I finished not far behind several other athletes who had a big advantage; most of them weigh 60-100lbs less than me.

All this means is that I have a baseline for 2013 already and I know what I need to work on.

I have a much deeper appreciation for what CrossFit is and what it means to me.  I was also given the opportunity to be a part of the Canada West Media team as a writer, an amazing opportunity at least partially available because of the blog (and a couple wicked coaches who threw my name into the mix).  Having the opportunity to interview and interact with some of Western Canada’s top athletes was truly awe inspiring and really gives you a fresh out look on things and it still amazes me how humble and willing these people were to take the time to talk with me so a special thank you goes out to all of them and everyone who supported, helped, and are helping me continue doing this—My wife Melinda, Coaches Crip, Regan, and Bree, Ken Andrukow and Chris Fenlon-MacDonald from CrossFit Ramsay, and the athletes themselves; Tyson Takasaki, Janine Walinski, Trent Lane, Mike Eberts, Mike Warkentin, and the entire CrossFit 403 crew.  You’re all amazing ambassador’s for the sport.

The last 5 weeks have taken CrossFit to a new level for me.  It has gone from a way to have fun and enjoy working out to becoming an all encompassing sport.  Even on days like today where I know how much shit I have to deal with when I get home, I am now planning my day around working out instead of the old cycle of “I don’t have time for that”.  I have fewer excuses, more motivation, and more focus.  Community is absolutely a huge part of this and we have one damn solid foundation at CrossFit 403.  It’s been a cool ride to be on since October and I can only look forward to the rest of it.  I’ll have to fight with myself to get out of bed again every morning so that I can do other things in the evenings but I did that for 2 years, I can do it again.  I’ll be back tomorrow…and the next day…and the next day…

On to Regionals!

To read the first three articles that made it to the Games.CrossFit.com website, click the links below.  There will be more and I’ll add that one (on Mike Eberts) at a later date.

Tyson Takasaki: No Hail Mary
Janine Walinski: Trying to Achieve Her Potential
Trent Lane: Changing Lanes, A Family CrossFit’s Together