At the end of 2011, an old ski accident flared up so I paid a visit to an old friend, Dr. Chad Messina. Over the next few months, he would reduce the pain and in the next day or two, I’d be brushing my teeth, playing with my kids or simply getting dressed and suddenly the intense shooting pain down my leg would be back. We soon discovered I had a herniated disc in my lumbar spine. On my follow-up after the MRI, Chad put it in the most basic terms for me … “you realize this is going to keep happening because it’s like you’re pregnant and that gut of yours is putting a heavy load on your lumbar spine.” I was broken, both mentally and physically, not because of the honesty of a friend but simply because I just didn’t know what to do. I’d been trying to lose weight, I wanted to be healthier for my son (2 years old at the time) but nothing worked. Chad convinced me to try the Paleo diet and within one week, I lost 8 lbs. The following week he told me to give CrossFit a try. I’d worked out with him in the past and he explained CrossFit was like nothing he’s ever done before. He knew I’d be hooked and since CF SOBO was offering free classes all July, what did I have to lose. He assured me, that even with the herniated disc, the coach would provide me a safe, scalable movement that still had the same stimulus. I figured after a few classes I would just tell him thanks and continue losing weight with the Paleo diet while working hard at Gold’s Gym.
I remember walking into the gym, and Mike Burnes was the coach. I almost turned around and walked out before anyone saw me. I was so intimidated, but then I introduced myself and Mike was expecting me. Fortunately, Mike turned out to be a kind, supportive soul … he just happened to be in a green, Hulk smash body. My first WOD was Fran; I was using a PVC pipe and a green & blue band for pull ups. After I was done and lying on the ground trying to figure out what just happened (mind you I finished dead last … it must have been 10+ minutes), I was hooked like a crack addict. How could such a simple WOD with just two basic movements and next to no weight (except my own) kick my ass more than the years I’d spent in any gym? I still get this feeling almost every single day I’m in the box. Dan’s programming seems so basic at times, but it always kicks my butt, no matter how prepared I think I am for the day’s workout.
When I try to think about what my first big accomplishment in the gym was, I honestly can’t think of just one. There’s so many. First, I just wanted to lose some weight … check … then I wanted to get stronger … check … and then the target moved on me. Honestly, I’m proud of a lot of my results but the biggest I am proud of right now is hitting a 205# hang clean. I can’t believe I broke the 200# mark. My strength and progress at the gym hasn’t slowed a bit since I followed the nutritional guidance of Kaitlyn and trusted the programming of Dan “the Minion” Rogan. I checked back in my logs and I’ve been riding the PR train since March 2016 and IT JUST WON’T STOP!!! Honestly, I even have a hard time believing it myself. I just competed in my first comp ever in 4 years and I hit a 5RM hang clean at 195# and somehow managed to hold on to the rig to knock out 30 consecutive pull ups in the finals. I’m now at the point that I honestly can’t believe I’m still seeing growth. I think I’m more amazed than anyone. And while I love riding the PR train, that’s not what keeps me coming back (I mean that helps, but it’s not the major reason).
After years of suffering with my back pain, even to a point that I couldn’t hold my newborn child, it’s the promise I made to myself and my family that I would never again be frail and weak. I would always fight my hardest to be the strongest – both physically and mentally – until my time on this earth is done. I never want my children to look at me and ask me why I didn’t just try harder. When my day comes, they will look down on me and say, “damn, that was one hell of a fight.”
So what’s my goals for the future? Well, I’m going to keep riding that PR train as long as I can. I’m going to get stronger and healthier with a community of the most caring and kind people I’ve ever met. I want to inspire others and continue to be inspired by everyone in this community of ours. Community. Fitness. Greatness.