The missing piece

About 2 1/2 years ago I started on a fitness journey. I had reached my heaviest weight in my life, and I certainly wasn’t happy about it. My wife and I each bought a Fitbit and started walking. At the same time, we also cleaned up our eating habits. We didn’t do anything super drastic, just started making some better food choices. What happened was, over the course of a couple months I was able to drop a decent amount of weight. It was at that point that I finally gave into my buddy’s suggesting to try CrossFit. I took to it like a fish to water. Over the course of the next year, I saw incredible results. I was in the best shape I’d been in in decades, and I was feeling absolutely fantastic. Then I got hurt.

When I first injured my back, I didn’t have insurance, so I did what I had done in the past when I had back pain, I took some Advil, iced the area and generally took it easy for a little while. After a few weeks, I was feeling better and started back to the gym. I know now that I went back way too early and probably did more harm than good. I would chalk it up to being young and stupid, but I’m not really young, apparently just stupid.

Once I got insurance, I was able to get x-rays and an MRI and find that I had two bulged discs in my lower back. A few weeks off wasn’t going to cut it. This was going to take some time. I ended up taking a few months off from the gym. Then, when I did go back I forced myself, along with the help of my wife and a protective coach, to take things extremely slow. Something I definitely did not do the first time I came back.

During my time off, I slipped back into a lot of my old habits. I had previously stopped drinking soda, but when dealing with the back pain and no insurance, I was self-medicating with rum and Coke. Once I got the taste for drinking Coke again, even after I was past the worst of the pain, Coke was now part of my life again. Rum and Coke’s were pretty regular, too. All of that ended up being a slippery slope which led to going back to eating fast food as comfort food at 11 o’clock at night just because it sounded good. So it’s probably not a shock to learn that I gained back the majority of the weight I had lost over that previous year and a half.

It’s now been several months since I’ve been back working out on a regular basis. The slow but steady return, along with a new dedication to paying attention to my form and technique, has resulted in a much stronger and more durable me. I still find movements that can cause me pain, But the difference is that I now listen to my body, stop what I’m doing and discuss with the coach the issues that I’m going through. We then switch things up so that I can continue working out but without putting my back at risk.

You would think with this new found dedication that things have progressed and I’ve taken off all that weight that I put back on. Even though we weren’t eating fast food on a regular basis, or even eating dinners out at restaurants all that often, I wasn’t dropping any weight. Yes, soda was still in my diet, so I know for sure that wasn’t helping me any. But I was still a bit surprised that even though I was working out five days a week, the scale wasn’t moving. At all.

Nutrition challenge

In February, our gym brought in a nutritionist who was offering a five-week nutrition challenge. My wife and I both signed up, and a week before we were set to start, he had us start tracking all of the food we ate every day. But his rule was “don’t make any change to your currently eating habits.” Well, I don’t know about you, but for me as soon as I realize that somebody else was going to be looking at a list of everything that I was eating, I started cutting out all sorts of things that I didn’t want to show up on my food log. And remember, this is before the challenge has officially started. I drastically cut down on my soda intake and fast food, and in that week before we started the official challenge, I dropped 8 pounds. I made the joke that I’m like the person who cleans their house before the maid shows up.

We are about four weeks through the nutrition challenge at this point, and I haven’t dropped a bunch more weight, but my body fat percentage has been dropping. That isn’t something I was tracking before, but it’s nice to see it moving in the right direction.

The other changes I’ve made, the ones that feel the best have to do with meal prep and cutting out pretty much all of the bad things I had been eating before. The results are undeniable. I’m going to be writing some more posts about meal prep in the next couple weeks. If you’re anything like I am, the idea of starting to meal prep can seem daunting and I plan to write about my experience going from complete noob, to slightly more informed noob.

Yes, there is a competition side to this fitness challenge and one of us will “win”. The funny part is, I didn’t even realize that when we signed up. Honestly, it doesn’t interest me that much. I want us all to win. Entering the fitness challenge means wanting to better yourself. For me personally, a lot of what I needed was really the information on how to go about doing that. The challenge so far has given me that. Having somebody to check in with on a weekly basis, cleaning up my eating, getting the right amount of sleep, eating 5 servings of vegetables and all the other pieces and parts, for me this is the win. How I feel, this is the win. Wanting to share this feeling with others, that’s the win.

I realize this is a long post, but I wanted to paint a picture of what I’ve gone through over the past couple years. I have a lot more to say on the topic of fitness and I plan on doing that and sharing information not coming from the point of trying to sound like an expert, but instead I have real world first-hand actionable items I’ve gone through and I can tell you what his work for me and what hasn’t. Some of it is obvious common sense, but there are other aspects, That may seem obvious but I went years without those thoughts crossing my mind. Something tells me I’m not the only one. So stick around and follow the blog and let’s jump on this journey together.

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