Wreck It Weekend WOD 9/2/16

I always love engaging the inner nerd as well as getting people pumped up to crush some fitness.  This weeks Challenge is brought to you by WOD-RX and inspired by the MMO Juggernaught, World of Warcraft.  You have to admire a game like that.  It’s lasted over a decade and it has brought millions of people together.  Last weekend was a leg lashing.  This weekend will be a chest destroyer.  Go Wild, Get Goofy, Stay Awesome!  Good luck FAM!

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The Warrior:

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3 sets:

10 Push Ups

10 Wide Push Ups

10 Narrow Push Ups

10 Incline Push Ups

10 Decline Push Ups

10 Dips

30 Second Planks

 

The Death Knight:

death knight

3 sets:

15 Push Ups

15 Wide Push Ups

15 Narrow Push Ups

15 Incline Push Ups

15 Decline Push Ups

15 Dips

40 Second Planks

 

The Demon Hunter:

demon hunter

3 sets:

20 Push Ups

20 Wide Push Ups

20 Narrow Push Ups

20 Incline Push Ups

20 Decline Push Ups

20 Dips

50 Second Planks

You’re Going to Die and that’s OK

Yea…  I said it.  You are going to die.  I am going to die. Everyone is going to die.  This is the ultimate guarantee that we all get once we pop into existence.  We are part of the mortal wheel and nothing you do will stop your inevitable last breath from being taken.  Not like Liam Neeson Taken where he will get it back for you.  Taken like the Bernie Madoff investment fraud scheme taken.  Sure, you can attempt to prolong the gift of life by living a healthy existence.

Eat whole foods, don’t smoke, exercise, stress less , laugh more, and be a good human to other humans.  Alas!  The death train will still arrive to whisk you away to the great beyond.  Some of us will be culled before we are ripe and old.  This is a sad fact of life as well.  You can do everything right and still be forced out of this world by shear bad luck or worse…. Karma?

Did this scare you?  Depress you?  Make you want to crawl into bed and simply wait for the inevitable?  It sure as hell shouldn’t.  This information should have the opposite effect.  Think about it.  If you knew the date and time of your impending doom, how many wonderful things would you try to experience before that appointment arrived?  We don’t think about these questions because we live under the guise that our lives will last forever and that we’re invincible.

This delusion causes us to put off getting in shape, learning a new skill, going on that big trip overseas, or simply spending time with friends or family.  We spend most of our time working.  We sit in self absorbed shells as we worry about what other people think of us.  We continuously hold back  and don’t accomplish everything we believe we’re meant to.  We are constantly frozen in fear and routinely let go of our aspirations for a simpler, less scary life.

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Scary things are really growth opportunities in disguise.

The point of all this is to show you, point blank, that life is way to short to spend it incredibly unhappy, out of shape, and unfulfilled.  Starting a fitness regimen is the perfect way to get started on a path to a more active and involved life experience.  When you create a solid body foundation, you become capable of enduring life on life’s terms and more world activities become available to you.  Start replacing all those junk meals with some whole foods, lean meats, and healthy fats (eat an avocado for God’s sake!)  The goal of life shouldn’t be to simply make it to old age but to be able to LIVE in your old age.  Bedridden is not an option for me, if I can help it!

Remember that you get out of life exactly what you put into it.  Life will invest in you if you invest in it.  Throw all your chips in and start making some changes that will shape the rest of your brief stay on this marvelous planet.  Try something new each week and do your best to get scared as much as possible!  Scary things are really growth opportunities in disguise.

Be yourself and enjoy the world around you.  Surround yourself with positive people and love unconditionally.  Be willing to be uncomfortable, shaken, and stirred.  There is so much more to life than just being afraid of death.  Treat each day as an opportunity to be the you that you are meant to be!  There is a line from the awesome animated movie Kung fu Panda that resonates with me all the time.  The wise old turtle master said, yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift.  That is why it is called the present.  When you live like that, your life is truly a magnificent journey.

Getting High on Fruits and Vegetables: Real Juice & Food

You want the juice? We GOT the juice!

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What’s REAL Juice & Food?

 REAL Juice & Food emerged, because people in the community asked for it, and are continuing to support it. I, Taylor Norris, REAL Juice & Food Co-Creator, am committed to making healthy food and drinks more accessible and enjoyable in the Monroe area. I am very open to y’all’s feedback, preferences, wants, and needs in developing this brand.

Who am I?

I’m Taylor Norris, born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana. I am a holistic health coach, cleanse specialist, juice creator, raw foods chef, educator, writer, yogi, and light worker. I am currently studying at the largest nutrition school in the world, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, to obtain certification as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.  You can view their Facebook page here:  Institute for Integrative Nutrition if you would like more information!

As a health coach, I guide and support clients along their health journeys by assisting them in balancing their primary foods – spirituality, career, relationships, and exercise – with their secondary food, the food that we eat. It’s wonderful, transformative, healing work. Interested in a consultation? Check out my website tayloranorris.com

How did I get into all this healthy stuff?

I grew up in Monroe, LA eating all the normal stuff. I was blessed with a momma who loves to cook, so many of my meals were prepared with fresh ingredients. That being said, I ate my fair share of pizza, ice cream, fried chicken, burgers, and French fries.

I initially got into juicing after transitioning to a vegan diet at age 22 while I was living in Johns Island, South Carolina. I was at an emotional and spiritual rock bottom, feeling depressed, hopeless, stuck, confused, and very pessimistic about life. I didn’t feel good in my body, and I had no idea how to care for it.

In 2012, I transitioned to a fully plant-based diet. I committed myself to living clean and sober, running and yoga, and began talking about my emotional problems with a wonderful therapist. At first, the results were fantastic. I lost all my excess weight, my skin cleared up, my mood improved, I was super energetic, and I felt more like myself than I had in over a decade.

But then, my life turned. At a higher level of consciousness and health, I could no longer tolerate my dysfunctional relationship and nonexistent career. A traumatic break-up and a rocky reunion with my family of origin compelled me to stuff my painful feelings. I had given up alcohol and drugs earlier in the year, so I refused to use those to cope. I turned to heavy vegan foods and was prescribed psychotropic meditation to medicate my pain.

Fortunately, I was able to step out of my misery enough to volunteer at a therapeutic horsemanship facility in Scottsdale, AZ. A man there made me a glass of fresh carrot and apple juice with his Jack LaLanne juicer. I was immediately hooked. The next day I went to Costco to buy a juicer, and began making juice just about every day.

I took my daily juicing habit to the next level after watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It’s a highly inspirational documentary on Netflix about Joe Cross, an Australian man who was obese, lethargic, and suffering from a handful of chronic illnesses. Joe only consumed fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 30 days, while touring the West to learn about the public’s eating habits. He experienced a number of health miracles and disease reversals, and I wanted a piece of that too!

I had gained a ton of weight while emotional eating and wallowing in my own psych med coma, and I knew the juice cleanse would help me reset my unhealthy habits and detox all the drugs I had been on.

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I did a 30-day juice cleanse in the summer of 2013 while working full-time as a lifeguard and camp counselor in Colorado. I was working out and running every day. I felt AMAZING and UNSTOPPABLE!

During the cleanse, I took it upon myself to learn how to eat properly once I finished the cleanse, because I wanted to retain all the amazing health benefits I had worked so hard for. I studied the work of Dr. Joel Fuhrman and other leading nutritional experts. I watched every health and food documentary I could get my eyes on.

The information I learned on my first cleanse helped set the foundation for learning to feed myself properly. I am constantly studying nutrition, holistic health, and experimenting on myself to find what works best for me. That means eating in a way that has been scientifically shown to prevent chronic illnesses and reverse the top killers of humankind, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

I’ve learned how to cleanse, and transform my habits so that the results stick and launch me into a whole new level of health and radiance!

I tweak my whole foods plant-based diet from time to time to adjust to changes in my body and my larger energetic context. I now eat a lowfat raw food diet, composed of fresh fruits and vegetables. I have never been more satisfied with a way of eating in my life! My cravings are pretty much nonexistent. I do crave okra and dark leafy greens sometimes, but there are no late night trips to the store to buy vegan ice cream, French fries, or chocolate. I have more energy than ever in my life!

I love juicing for y’all because that means there will be juice for me too, and it helps me stay on track in order to look and feel my very best so that I can be of service to the community.

I am committed to cultivating health, inspiration, and vitality in this town! Let’s transform together!

What’s in REAL Juice?

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Exclusively awesome ingredients, love, and high vibes! REAL Juice is made with fresh fruits and vegetables that are sourced from local, organic farmers as much as possible.

What do you mean by REAL?

REAL Juice is real in the sense that it’s only nature’s goodness packaged in such a way as to deliver you with the highest quality, real, living foods that the human body thrives on. This stands in contrast to the processed, engineered food-like substances that line the shelves of most grocery retailers and are served in many restaurants.

On a deeper level, this brand is about remembering who you are. Remembering and realizing your full, limitless, and infinite potential!

It’s about recognizing our inherent nature as spiritual beings. Embodying our innate capacity for empathy, that is, compassion for oneself, others, animals, and all beings. Accepting oneself, others, the world, and what is. And, loving God/the Universe/the Cosmos/one’s Higher Power, oneself, life, and all beings. Yeah, it’s pretty deep, but that’s how I roll.

Why organic?

I choose organic whenever possible to ensure the highest quality drink. Organic fruits and vegetables have been shown to be more nutritious and have greater enzyme activity, compared to conventional produce.

When a plant is grown organically, it must defend itself from bugs and other harsh conditions (e.g. dryness, too much rain, etc.). The defense mechanisms the plant uses to survive are the very same mechanisms that fight cancer and other diseases in our bodies. We call these compounds antioxidants.

Organic produce is also free from insecticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and other chemicals. The herbicide Roundup is one of the most toxic substances you can put in your body. Concentrating a chemical like Roundup in a juice is extremely harmful.

Environmentally, organic farming is more natural and sustainable for planetary balance, harmony, and cooperation.\

As you all probably know, organic costs more at the store. It is unfortunate that organic farmers have to go to great lengths to obtain certification and are in no way assisted by subsidies and government bodies to provide their produce at a competitive cost.

From a long-term perspective, spending extra money to buy organic is worth it, when you consider the likelihood of spending thousands of dollars on health expenses later.

Why local?

 We’ve got an awesome Monroe Farmers Market with some awesome farmers! The majority of the produce is purchased from Ken and Kathryn Huff who grow all their food organically in Oak Grove. Additional melons have been coming from Charles Holley and Ms. White. Herbs are grown organically by Cindy Kennedy in the Garden District, and by other loving friends who donate or trade with me.

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It is extremely important to support local farmers. They are working their tails off to provide an amazing service to the community. They are kind people who are doing things the natural way, largely unsupported by corporate interests and government subsidies. We have the chance every time we buy food to vote with our dollars for what we would like to be available and affordable. I want local, fresh, organic produce at a low cost!! How about you?

Speaking of cost, the price is a lot better when buying seasonally and locally. I can get bags and bags of food and a car full of melons at the market. Spending the same amount of money at the grocery store on organic translates to a couple bags of food.

There are health benefits too! When we buy local produce we are also consuming local microorganisms that will help us thrive in our environment. Eating food from the Monroe area while living in the Monroe area will help protect us from pathogens, allergens, and other influences specific to this area. It will align our bodies with the natural rhythms of the environment and help shape our gut flora and microorganisms that are responsible for our immunity, digestion, and many other processes. These little guys and gals outnumber human cells 10 to 1. Are we human or are we bacteria? That’s another article entirely!

Eating food from California while in Monroe might help us out if we were to take a trip to California. This is essential for parts of the year, but right now we have more options. Go befriend local farmers, and you will receive more than you can imagine!

What about REAL Food?

Prepare for blast off! This party just got started. More yummy delicious creations are on the way. Be sure to check out my page on Facebook, REAL Food & Juice, to learn how to get your fix the healthy, happy way!

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Fats: Reality Check

The word FAT elicits some pretty nasty emotions.  We see fat on a nutrition label and instantly become nauseated by the product were holding.  Fat has been demonized by our food industry and cast out as a nutritional pariah for many years.  “Experts” harp on the danger that high fat diets present and lead people towards some fad diet plan that can leave us in a worse position then before.  There is so much confusion surrounding fat and the way it impacts our bodies that is much easier to simply believe the hype and try to cut it out of our lives.  I am here to tell you that fat is not evil.  It does not aim to bloat your body or steal your gains.  It is not attempting to kill you or murder your dreams.  Fat is a very pivotal part of the fitness pie (pardon the pun) that should be utilized to create the healthy body you envision.Healthy-Fats

Lets look at some of the fats that are out there.

Trans Fats:

Like anything, there are good fats and bad fats.  Trans fats fall into the bad category and should be avoided at all costs.  These come from fried foods, processed goodies, and chemically manipulated treats.  These thicken your arteries, cause rapid weight gain, and contribute to many of our diet based diseases.  Avoid those deep fried donuts at every opportunity.

Saturated Fats:

Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap because of its supposed link to heart disease and high blood cholesterol.  Much of the truth has been obscured throughout the years by improper studies or bad information.  Saturated fats actually help to increase HDL Cholesterol (the good stuff).  This helps the body remove cholesterol from the blood and transport it to the liver for processing.  Sat fats also can increase the size of LDL Cholesterol (the bad stuff), which makes it harder for the LDL to breach the arterial wall and cause damage.  As an added bonus, most foods containing saturated fats taste amazing! Most of our saturated fat comes from foods like beef, butter, cheese, land animal fat, eggs, coconuts and cream.  The Health Industry has long stated that these foods should be minimized or avoided but this practice can leave you devoid of ample sources of essential nutrients for over all health.

Omega 6 Fats:

These fats are a form of Unsaturated fat that can help keep you satiated and decrease your risk of heart related illnesses.  However, these fats should be consumed on a limited basis.  This fat falls under the cliche of too much of a good thing can be bad for you.  Omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory fats.  Inflammation is necessary for our survival but too much inflammation in the body can have dire consequences.  Diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and metabolic syndrome have been linked to excess inflammation.  A good practice is to be aware of your Omega 6 intake and minimize the amount you ingest on any given day.  You should keep an eye on your consumption of items like peanut butter or oil, grape seed oil, hemp oil, soybeen oil, fast food, seeds, mayonnaise, and high fat salad dressings. Remember, these are not inherently bad foods.  A lot of them can aid you in your nutrient search.  Just be mindful of how much of this category you are consuming and you will be fine!

Omega 3 Fats:

This is another Unsaturated fat that has gotten a lot of press and good vibes for years now.  These fats are anti-inflammatory and can reduce your risk of all the previously named diseases associated with the heart, mind, and bones.  They can impact brain health and development, help with joint health, and can aid in depression treatment.  Most natural Omega 3s come from fatty fish: herring, salmon, mackerel, halibut, trout, and tuna.  You can also get these fats from some nuts and seeds, like walnuts or flaxseed, as well as different oils, like canola oil or flaxseed oil.  If some of these foods are hard to come by, not available to you, or you just would like more Omega 3s in your life, invest in an Omega 3/Fish oil supplement.  These can greatly bolster your nutrition and help you along your health improvement journey.

The goal of nutrition is to find the mix of foods. supplements, and nutrients that provides the optimal benefit for a person to achieve his or her physical vision and to allow him or her to live an abundant and healthy life.  The balance of fats is pivotal for us to attain the healthy body of our dreams.  All we can do is try our best to minimize destructive behaviors and the consumption of unhealthy foods and maximize positive decisions and increase the use of beneficial nutrients.  Start by simply substituting some healthy fat sources in place of your normal junk.  Try to keep the reasons for your selections in the front of your brain so you are always mindful of your choices and how they will affect your body.  Build on each decision.  After awhile, it will be second nature to choose almonds over nuggets!

Here’s a fat super food list that will help you make the most of your meals!

Avocados 

Almonds

Salmon

Mackerel 

Macadamia Nuts

Olive Oil

Coconut Oil

Pumpkin/Flax Seeds

Eggs

Canola Oil

Almond Butter

Walnuts

 

Slump City: Stuck in Our Own Misery

How often do we get amped up to make big changes and fix our flaws for good? How many times have we decided that we will break free of our bad habits and achieve the happiness of our dreams? The number, in my experience, is incalculable. Typically, I move strong, full speed ahead, for a week or two. My discipline is on point and nothing gets in the way of my well thought out plan of success. Then I give in to a banned temptation or I indulge one of my vices.

The mental twists return in full force and, before I know it, I am repeating the same errors that I recently repented against. I find myself searching over and over again for the strength to bypass my hardwired laziness, negative outlook, and deeply ingrained self-sabotaging behavior. Where did I go wrong?

Like most humans, I suffer from being too hard on myself. I also tend to bite off way more then I can chew when it comes to changing my behaviors. I make great progress then the weight of my challenge becomes too much for my will to bear and I buckle. Like concrete, one crack quickly leads to another fissure that ripples through the foundation. Once I give in to one vice, it becomes so much easier to allow another slip until I am right back at square one.

I was a “dry drunk”, as they say. I had to come to terms with my flawed thinking and make a decision to do something about it.

I call this “slump city”. I get to a state of stalemate. I know I need to get back on the horse but each day that goes by the horse gets taller and the saddle becomes harder to reach. I begin to loathe myself for giving in and the shame of my decisions keeps me grounded in misery. I want to achieve my dreams but I can’t bring my butt off the couch.

In order to break the cycle of shame, we must accept our current situation. We have to be completely honest with ourselves about what we want and what needs to be done to get there. Everyone makes mistakes and that is okay. It’s time to stop crying and rolling in our pain.  The cure is Action. The only way to complete a journey is to put our heads down, focus, and take a step forward. Each step builds on the one before until we look up and see our destination in sight.

Every time that I get depressed or stunted it is always because of inaction.  I let my outside circumstances take president over my spiritual serenity.  I get overwhelmed by my job, my house projects, my relationship, or my family issues.  This pushes me into a shock like state where I feel incapable of completing the tasks at hand.  It is so much easier to curl up in the bed, put on a t.v. show and pretend that my problems will melt away.  This always leads to a building of tension.  A rational person would prioritize the issues and work through them systematically like a “to-do” list or ask someone for a little help. Unfortunately, I am far from rational and I require a significant amount of emotional pain before I make a move.

I went through this slump for a few weeks this past month.  I didn’t want to post anything, workout, go to work, eat right, or deal with my problems.  I made excuses for each one of my crappy behaviors and it was absolutely miserable. My selfishness had caused me to neglect my responsibilities and obligations.  I was a “dry drunk”, as they say.  I had to come to terms with my flawed thinking and make a decision to do something about it.

The turning point is when I asked for help.  I prayed for guidance in my life, called someone with an objective opinion, and tried to help someone else like me.  I got out of my own skin and remembered how amazing my life is today compared to how it was two years ago.  Once I finally started doing the work required of me, my mental road blocks began to disintegrate.  Through action, I was able to combat fear, remorse, resentment, selfishness, dishonesty, and pain.

This can be true for anyone, even if you’re not an alcoholic or drug addict.  Don’t be too afraid or too proud to ask for help, from God or another human being, because we all need a hand fighting our demons.  Start taking some steps towards a better life by actually working through the plan that you have set.  Most importantly, be grateful for the life you have now and the opportunity you have been given to be the best you possible.  Live your life with love and fulfillment.  When you get into Slump City, remember stop sulking and start working.  You will be back to normal in no time!

Check Your Ego

CHECK YOUR EGO”.  It’s the first thing I see spray painted on the rubber mats  as I walk through the garage door to this poorly insulated building that greenhouses heat making it 20 degrees hotter inside than outside. Luckily there are two industrialized fans circulating the summer heat. “Check your ego….” I say to myself and chuckle on the inside. These guys don’t even know. If anything they are about to get a reality check after I finish this workout. I’m a former professional athlete, I’ve been through the grind, I’ve done it all.  In fact, I bet no one here can come close to the weight I push on any of my max lifts. There’s already a class going on, so I get a sneak peek into the workout I’m about to own. Guys shirts are off, women making ‘METAL FACE’ (what I call the face you make when the blood rushes to your head from straining, as if you were attending a heavy metal concert). Everyone is shimmering in a thick sweat, the rap music is blaring, and everyone’s heart is nearly beating out of their chest. I see the look on their faces as they glance at the timer. The clock winds down to under a minute and, and these people are giving it their all. I begin to get a little nervous. I know I haven’t made a metal face like they have in a long time. It’s something you may see 1 out of 50 gym members reach at your local air conditioned gym. If you haven’t guess yet, I’m in a Crossfit gym – A place where I never thought I would step foot.

CrossFit

I’ve sized this place up and have made my internal presumptions. I’m greeted by some of the other members waiting for the next class to start. Some of them look like your everyday average person, some are out of shape, and some of them are built with a physique that is what attracted me to Crossfit. “5:30!”, yells our instructor, and everyone rushes outside to the line spray painted ‘0 meters’. I’m hit with a flash back of my athletic days when we stretched as a team. We’ve got an 800 meter run that I am not excited about, but I finish first because I’ve promised myself I’m not losing anything today. We do a couple more stretches inside along with some light barbell movements. I make sure my form is perfect because no one will tell me how to lift. Of course, he comes over and instructs me to keep the weight closer to my body on the deadlift. I wanted to look at him and ask this man, “Can you deadlift 635lbs raw? Don’t tell me how to deadlift.” I do a couple more reps until he is pleased with my form before he calls us around the board to see today’s WOD, or, Work Out of the Day.

First thing you’ll learn in Crossfit is the language – AMRAP, HSPU, EMOM, DL, S2OH, etc. – I am not intimidated by this because I googled them all earlier that day.  He reads the WOD off the white board to us, “Today’s strength is you have 20 minutes to find your 3RM C&J (3 Rep Max Clean and Jerk), and the WOD is a 15 minute AMRAP 20 DL, 10 BFB, 10 HSPU (As Many Rounds as Possible of 20 deadlifts, 10 bar facing burpees, 10 hand stand push-ups) here are your Prescribed Weights. Guys 185lb scaled 155, Women – errrr,I honestly didn’t pay attention to the women’s weight because: A. Not a woman B. Don’t care C. Still trying to figure out why he’s telling me to go so light on Deadlifts and prescriptions, bro.

Work out begins, and I am clearly the strongest in the class. The movements are not foreign to me. I Clean and Jerk 285 pounds, and I’m pretty smug with that number because I haven’t done a power clean since high school and it’s the most in my class. On to the AMRAP! We get about a 5 minute break to set up our weights, and I’m still pondering this prescribed weight of 185 lbs, so I walk over to the instructor and say I’m going to do 225 on the deadlifts. I load it up and everyone in the class kind of looks at me like I’m crazy, but they don’t know me. I’m an elite athlete, people. Prepare to feel my presence and alpha-ness. The rap music cranks up, and it’s Back to Back by Drake. I am about to crush these weights like Drake crushed Meek Mill. I rep out 20 deadlifts quickly, and start the bar facing burpees. I do four burpees, and that’s when I know that I have made a mistake. My weight is too heavy, and I’m not in as good of shape as I thought I was. These next 13 minutes and 30 seconds are going to be rough…..and they were.

The hand stand push-ups were tricky because I hadn’t figured out the kipping motion and, after one set of those, I determined that I should stop because the amount of blood rushing to my head was about to cause me to pass out. I found myself doing the alternative movement, The pike push up, with the other members who hadn’t mastered their HSPU either…they were mostly women… Okay. They were all women and me. I finally finish one round only to realize most the class had nearly finished their deadlifts for round 2. I’m trying to catch my breath and quinch my thirst as I’m being told to “get back to the bar” by my coach. When the timer struck zero and my 15 minutes AMRAP was over, I laid there motionless on the rubber mats staring at the fan above me while my heart tried to escape my chest. Crossfit was an eye opener, I realized I had become a lop sided athlete – Out of shape, out of sync, and not nearly as well rounded as I thought I was.

Lifting has always been a large part of my life. It’s something I’ve done for a long time, and I wouldn’t call myself a professional or a strength coach, but I like to think I know a lot more about it than most. I’ve done similar things to crossfit during my days as a high school football player, junior college baseball player, and division 1 baseball athlete at Ole Miss, but I found myself a year removed from baseball, and I realized that I hadn’t really pushed myself at the things I WAS NOT good at. If there’s anything you should take away from this article it’s this phrase right here,

Be comfortable being uncomfortable

It’s a phrase we used a lot at Ole Miss, and if you really sit and think about it, we are all guilty of avoiding things that make us uncomfortable. Working out is just one of them. Sure, I pushed myself at the things I was good at (Squat, Deadlift, Bench, your typical beach body gym movements) because I was comfortable there. I was in my comfort zone of being the ‘strong guy’ at the gym, but basically everything else was lacking and after only a couple minutes of Crossfit, I was extremely uncomfortable.

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I wasn’t necessarily a fat and out of shape guy, and you definitely wouldn’t say I had a ‘dad-bod’, but I didn’t like the way I looked. I hovered around 13% body fat at 225 pounds. I would turn on the tv and flip through the channels and catch the crossfit games, and see these guys with their shirts off (NO HOMO!) and on the outside I’d make fun of crossfit, but if you cut me open, I wish I looked like those guys. Big, strong, athletic, under 10% body fat, and a well-rounded athlete. I’ve used the term well rounded a couple times. Let me explain what I mean. I can back squat around 550 pounds raw, but struggled to front squat 300 lbs. or overhead squat even 135 pounds. Why is that? Well there are several reasons, it wasn’t lack of strength really, but more technique and flexibility. Basically, I had become stiff and inflexible from being a meat head in the gym and not running or sprinting. I had turned into a guy I didn’t like very much. I was ready for a change in my routine to start reaching physique goals I had for myself, and for me, Crossfit was the answer to these problems.

The biggest knock on Crossfit is the injuries. If you googled “Crossfit not safe”, you’d find tons of articles knocking the sport. There are plenty of Youtube videos and memes mocking it, and it’s easy to come to the conclusion because of outside pressure that you will get hurt in Crossfit. But here’s the thing, if you ask any lifter who demands a lot out of his body and pushes him or herself to a limit of physical exhaustion, you will probably get hurt at any activity eventually. I’ve hurt myself in the gym, on the baseball field, on the football field, and if I continue to push my body to the limits at Crossfit, I’ll probably add it to the list too. If you are a newbie to lifting and are considering Crossfit, here’s my advice – learn the core movements. The things you will be doing every day such as: squats, front squats, power cleans, hang cleans, jerks, push press, deadlift, and snatches. If a person who had never lifted before tried these movements in any gym, you’d risk injury. That’s why the instructors at my gym hand you a PVC pipe if your technique just isn’t there yet.

Another one of the reasons that I was so attracted to the Crossfit gym is the group environment. Once you get your first Crossfit workout under your belt, you’ll realize that you can’t duplicate the environment in other gyms. Maybe some can, but I can’t push myself to the same intensity alone as I do at my box (lingo for Crossfit gym). It brings me back to my college days running stadiums, pulling sleds, and running sprints with the team. We pulled together, and we all finished together. We made each other better, and you get this same feeling in a Crossfit gym. Because of the intensity and others pushing you past the limits you thought were physically possible for yourself, you’ll see quicker results in the gym. With Crossfit along with a clean diet, I was able to reach my physique goals that I could have never obtained alone in my gym. There’s something therapeutic about getting your ass kicked in a gym with your muscles aching after you just finished a workout that you didn’t even think was possible for yourself.

A year ago, if someone asked me about Crossfit, I would have told them to not even think about it. Now, I would recommend anyone to going full Crossfit. For the newbs looking to get into a gym, give Crossfit a try. Yes it’s hard, but it’s rewarding. No one’s expecting you to be ready for the Crossfit games after a couple classes.  If you’re an experienced lifter like me but have never been able to reach those goals you’ve wanted, I go to my box 2-3 times a week and get my butt kicked. The other days I hit up my local gym to fill the gaps on other lifting I enjoy. After a couple months of Crossfit, my maxes in the gym actually jumped after I thought I had plateaued. Along with stronger lifts, I was also in better shape and could workout longer and harder than before. Whoever you are, just remember to CHECK YOUR EGO at the door, or the WOD will do it for you.

Guest post by:

Zach Kirksey

kirksey