Before and After

Stepping up my fitness with CrossFit

Before and After

Before and After: June 2009 vs. May 2013

Today I felt a need to take a break from all of the hiking and skiing posts I’ve been writing so I’m sharing some lifestyle stuff that led to a shift in my fitness routine.

I’ve been in a season of change since before I left Florida. I can’t say exactly when it really started to really take off, perhaps around February when I realized I was in love with the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, but the guy I was seeing there wasn’t nearly as taken with me. Suddenly there was clarity. I wanted those mountains regardless. Time to load some boxes.

That decision was like a dam breaking. All of the things I wanted, I was ready to pursue with passion. No more planning, organizing, researching…delay tactics I commonly use. Excuses fell away and I felt like I had leaped off a cliff, in a good way. Like long sweet rappel.

One of the excuses I’d made related to my fitness. Yes, I had seen huge gains, but I knew in my heart I hadn’t done all I could. However, when people come up and congratulate you on your progress, it’s easy to rest on your laurels. Guilty.

September 2012

September 2012 – I still had another 10 lbs of fat to replace with muscle, but I was making progress.

Yes, over the last year, I had achieved all of my weight loss goals, but I still had work to do. Fitness is about life, not looks. Now that I was settled in my new place, it was time to get real about the rest of my body. Two areas really stood out as needing work:

  • Cardio Endurance
  • Upper Body Strength

So how am I tackling my new goals? Hiking the steepest trails I can find to build cardio, continued yoga practice for balance and flexibility, and CrossFit.

Gasp….CrossFit? I know, I written about the many benefits of home workouts and now I’ve defected and joined a gym. Well, I have a number of reasons. The top one being I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough at home. The group camaraderie of CrossFit is motivating and I’m learning a lot about how to take care of my body, build strength, and prevent injury. Quite simply, it’s the most rewarding time I’ve ever spent in a gym.

The second reason I opted for CrossFit was I needed to get out of the house. In Florida, I had a social-circle built over 26 years. Here I can count the folks I know on one hand. I wanted to work out with people who have similar fitness goals, and maybe make a few friends along the way.

Lastly, I really enjoy high-intensity training. It was my workout of choice before becoming a firefighter and it took me from skinny and weak, to passing one of the most demanding physical challenges in the nation. However, in recent years I haven’t had a goal to work toward, so I slacked. It feels good to push hard again, and I actually like the familiar feeling of calluses returning to my hands.

The cost of a gym membership was an obstacle for me in recent years, and CrossFit gyms are more pricy than most. I worked out at home because I couldn’t let finances stop me from taking care of myself and it worked great. Just look at what I’ve accomplished this year. But I want to go further and I’m struggling with that at home. One of the changes I made recently was cutting out every extra expense. For example, most of my clothes are second hand. I have decided to use some of the income I’ve freed up and invest in the membership. Unfortunately, the high cost still makes it prohibitive for many people. I get that because I’ve been there. If that’s your situation, I strongly encourage home workouts.

The inspiration to try CrossFit came from Heather of Just a Colorado Gal. We first talked about it in January after being stranded on a mountain by a couple of snowmobiles. Honestly, she’s one of the few women I know who could have hiked out of there with me without whining. I was impressed, so I sought her advice when I decided I needed to get out of the house and join a gym in Salt Lake City, and she encouraged me to try CrossFit. I’m glad she did!

Okay, those of you who pay close attention to this blog know I eat a plant-based diet. Wouldn’t I have a problem with the way CrossFit practitioners promote a Zone/Paleo diet? Quite simply, nope.

I’ll save an in depth discussion on diet for later, but I will say that my diet and the Paleo diet are not as far apart as you might think. Very briefly, both are based on clean, whole foods and limit/eliminate dairy and refined sugars. That means both are far superior to the average American diet, just for a start. The fact we diverge on protein sources is a personal choice.

I am paying more attention to my nutritional needs using a book suggested by the owner of our gym, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, By Brendan Brazier. So, yes, I’m sticking with a mostly plant-based diet because it makes me feel good. I believe that each person’s body is unique and it’s what works for mine.

As for the work outs, just three weeks into my new regimen, I already feel gains. This week I executed some decent power snatches, overhead squats, and kettlebell clean-and-jerks. I see the first sign of ab definition peeking through and I think I can spot my triceps….

I’ll keep you posted on my progress as I kick myself in the butt and build fitness that supports my active (putting it lightly) lifestyle.


I discovered this truth long before I saw the image. It carried me through many challenges. (Image credit not found)


In other news….

So what else has this season of change unleashed on my life? My first tattoo. Yes, at age 43 I had my back inked. Using a photo taken on one of my hikes, I had my artist create a silhouette of weeds sweeping from my right hip to left shoulder. I only told my sister and two close friends about my plans because I’ve always been talked out of it in the past. Perhaps I’ll share a photo later. It’s really something I just enjoy, a piece of custom art inspired by my hikes, which no one can ever take away.

Comments 6

  1. Nice post! I just joined a Crossfit gym and start on Monday. Heather was also a kick starter as well as reading about @christmasabbott. I’m 40 and hope Crossfit will make a difference as long as I commit and watch the diet. Congrats on your progress!

    1. Rex, I know you can do it. I’m older than you and got this far with just home workouts and diet. You will be able to make great strides if you stay with it. Expect to stumble, it’s the getting back up makes the difference 🙂

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