OK, Gang – the next post is from one of my favorite former clients. A few months ago he and his wife moved out to Colorado so that she could pursue an awesome job opportunity. Their presence at the gym has been sorely missed as they are among the funniest, most positive, energizing people I know. That, and they had OUTSTANDING results training with us at CrossFit Milwaukee, and I want to reemphasize with my clients that they can achieve the same type of success that Emiliano had provided they 1.) adhere fairly strictly to a paleo diet, 2.) make strength training a paramount priority and 3.) emphasize consistency of training in their fitness lifestyle.
The following is Emiliano’s account in his own words. The only editing I did was to asterisk (or dollar sign, or percentage out, etc.) the letters where a few F-bombs were placed in his article. I did this because my next post will very likely pertain to lifestyle steps that should prerequisite most supplement usage. It will, in part, target as an audience many of the high school athletes who I train at a private school in the Milwaukee area. Since I will be linking to this blog from the FaceBook page I created for them, I thought I would take steps to protect their virgin eyes from such foul language as I’m sure they have no experience in this regard.
Without further ado, I’ll let Emiliano take it from here….
“HOW I UN-F*$@ED MYSELF”
By Emiliano Lake-Herrera
I stumbled, wheezing – trying to catch my breath. “Maybe I’m just not used to the altitude or the dry air,” I thought as I stumbled along the trail. It was December, and my wife and I were visiting her family in Arizona for Christmas. On this particular day we had set out to hike a trail that ran along the spine of a mountain. The pace was moderate, and the grade was easy – so why was I sucking so bad? Oh yeah, I got fat and out of shape. It is pretty easy to do here in Wisconsin; the winter lasts 8 months and there happens to be a cool bar on every corner. As a connoisseur of fine food and drink, things snowballed over a couple years and landed me in this situation: fat-fucked and 20 minutes from the road, barely making it. The rest of my wife’s family strolled along effortlessly with their hands in their pockets. I expected this from her brother, who looks like a champion roman gladiator, but not from her parents, who are about twice my age. I made it through the hike, and back to the car – but not without some serious soul-searching.
To add insult to injury, the next day we were forced to visit my in-law’s gym and watch them complete a special workout for my father-in-law’s 60th birthday. (Can’t we just hang out at the house?) They had been doing this thing called CrossFit for a couple of years and wanted us to come see what it is all about. We slumped in the corner of the gym as everyone blasted through 60 reps of a bunch of different exercises like it was their job. Fuck my life, I feel like even more of a slob. The rest of the holiday was legit – but I didn’t forget the low point, and decided that it was time to take action.
My wife and I had a heart-to-heart after returning to Milwaukee. We both agreed that it was time to un-f*&! ourselves and start exercising and eating better. (Whoa, a New Year’s Resolution…) Neither of us had ever been frequent gym-goers, and we’d certainly never f*%$d around with weight training. My wife had played some club sports in middle and high school, but I had never done anything like that. We had, however, met each other while participating in a Brazilian Capoeira class. We both remembered being in shape – but didn’t know how to get back there.
After much deliberation – we decided to secretly sign up for the CrossFit Milwaukee On-Ramp class starting in January of 2011. In addition, we started eating strict Paleo style according to the Robb Wolf book that my mother-in-law so kindly gave us. Already, by cleaning up our diet and sleeping for 8 hours at night, I had a lot more energy and didn’t feel lethargic after eating (or “feeding,” in those days). I could already tell that my pants were fitting better, and I wasn’t constantly bloated anymore.
I was nervous as f!@# when we showed up for the first On-Ramp class. The room was packed shoulder-to-shoulder for the warmup. “Are all these people going to straight up smoke me like those CrossFitters in Arizona?” I thought to myself. We went over some basic drills and talked about technique. Then we received instructions on how to do the workout of the day.. That workout was designed to test general fitness for the beginning and the end of the On-Ramp cycle. It included Shuttle Runs, Squats, Push-Ups, and Sit-ups. Basic enough – yet it completely gassed me. The runs made me feel like vomiting, and I failed out a number of times doing push-ups on my knees. Damn. Once the urge to hurl subsided – I was hooked. I hadn’t felt that rush of adrenaline in so long, and I knew that I had to be able to do at least one single legit push-up… or else have my man card revoked. The rest of the On-Ramp got progressively more difficult, and more rewarding. CrossFit helped me grit my teeth and taught me to finish no matter what. I don’t care if it takes me an hour to complete the workout – I will finish it, because it can be done. This mentality helped me stay in for the long run and finish the On-Ramp while the class size dwindled as time went on. About a third of the original January class completed the On-Ramp cycle. They are tough bastards now, and you will see them in the gym relentlessly attacking the workouts. CrossFit helped me take ownership of my body and realize that I was responsible, and capable of changing myself for the better.
Ryan, Alex S. and Jonathan P. were responsible for introducing me to the barbell – and I don’t think I can thank them enough for that. My hunger for strength is insatiable and now occupies the core of my training. Strength training gives me concrete goals, and a course of action to complete in order to meet those goals. I completed my first CrossFit Total in March of this year (2011). For those of you unfamiliar with the Total it consists of making 3 attempts at a 1 rep max in the Standing Press, Back Squat, and Deadlift. I pressed #132, Squatted #265, and Deadlifted #335 that day – Totaling 732. Coach Chad L. helped me get pissed and pull that #335 that was beyond my mental limitations. I was fucking high – the rush from lifting heavy weights was so invigorating and awesome – I needed more. After training hard and consistent I had my next chance to gauge my progress at the end of May. I had been hitting at least three CrossFit classes a week (M-W-F), and strength training the 3 lifts on Saturday. Hard work pays off. The new Total of 875 was stacked by Pressing #154, Squatting #315, and Pulling #406. It is now September, and those 1 rep numbers are what I use for my 3 x 5 training. The other week I squatted a legit butt-to- floor #385 for a single.
This isn’t bragging – it is showing that anyone can come from nothing and build up to impressive feats of strength, conditioning, endurance, or sport. This is about changing your mindset and your worldview to achieve the goals that you set for yourself – assuming that you currently have defined goals. If you don’t – make some. Now is the time to Un-f*&% yourself. Make a commitment to yourself and keep it. CrossFit Milwaukee gave me the tools to produce the results that I wanted, and has the ability to adapt to your particular interests and needs. CrossFit Milwaukee has a great environment that is friendly, supportive, challenging, and competitive. How can you have all of these facets in one gym? I don’t know – but CrossFit Milwaukee definitely does. That’s what happens when you have great coaches and a lot of chalk and sweat in the air.