A few years ago, when I began running, I was always appalled at the garbage along the Bronx River Parkway in Westchester County, New York. Piles and piles of post-consumer trash, as well as some bigger things – a tire, a shopping cart in the middle of the river, etc. For some time now I’ve regretted not trying to do something there. Now I live in Celebration, Florida, and the trash still drives me bonkers. I pick up litter when I can, and make it a point to be as careful as possible with my own. But a few weeks ago I was finally driven over the edge and into action.
Two things did it – one longer term, and one short term. After the election of 2016, I was so disappointed and frustrated with the general tenor of the conversation in America that I checked myself out of politics, which has been one of my passions since I stayed up in the 5th grade to watch the 1988 election returns. I said at the time that if progressive voices made some noise in the 2018 mid-terms, I would get interested again … and might get active. That happened, and I’ve been trying to figure out how I want to put my money where my mouth is.
And then I was training for a half marathon a few weeks ago and ran past a stretch of road that had so much garbage on it that I was blown away. Just a disgusting amount of trash. A McDonald’s location had recently opened up just up the street, and I felt like I could see yellow “M”s everywhere I looked. But that wasn’t all – while I didn’t get down and look closely, you could tell this area just loaded with garbage.
Well – I have found my issue, I think. I don’t have to be part of a presidential election in order to make a difference. In fact, I will probably be able to make a much bigger difference right here in my own community. I also don’t need to attend enormous river- or shore- clean ups. I can do my part in a much more micro way. Instead of getting mad about the garbage, I’m going to pick it up. And I’m going to try and shine a spotlight on it so people can see and a difference can be made. Who knows.
Enough preamble – this morning I went to pick up trash.
We like living in Florida. While the weather during the summer is atrocious – hot and humid and rainy – the weather from October through April is glorious. And, besides, summer in Florida is no worse than winter in New York. We have found the people to be open and friendly where we live. There is so much to do, especially with kids, that we are constantly on the go. Overall, moving here has been a very positive experience.
I miss the mountains, though. I grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. While the Ozarks don’t have the lofty elevations of the Rocky Mountains, or even the Appalachian Mountains, they are quite rugged and beautiful. My childhood was an outdoor childhood, and those mountains are a place I understand. They are home, in a real way. The mountains in New York are similar. We never lived far from a good, rugged, up-and-down hike, with waterfalls and bluffs and incredible views merely a short drive away. Continue reading “On Top of the World – A Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park”
On April 18, 2016, one year ago today, I attended my first Couch-to-Crossfit class – and it began. Three weeks later, on May 9, I walked into my first regular Crossfit class. 6am, Monday morning, Celebration Crossfit. I didn’t know anybody. I couldn’t do most of the movements. I weighed about 315 pounds – I was enormous. And I was scared to death.
Friend, fellow Crossfitter, and super-talented photographer Guillermo Cummings took a picture of me doing 17.3 on Friday that I still don’t quite have a handle on. He posted it across his social media last night, and shortly thereafter:
A couple of days ago the owner and head coach at my Crossfit box emailed and asked if they could use my before and now pictures for a post in their social media. I agreed – I don’t like my fat picture, but, as I told him, if I didn’t want it out there I shouldn’t have put it out there. I offered to take a current “now” picture, so I did that this morning and sent the pictures over. The post below is the one they made on Instagram – they also posted this on Facebook.
I never dreamed I’d be the guy getting air time on a Crossfit gym’s social media, but it is happening. I kind of don’t even know what to think – it feels surreal. The best part has been the comments, both from my peers at the box as well as complete strangers. The universal positivity and happy-for-me-ness is very gratifying. Crossfit is a group effort, and I feel that more now than ever. It makes a difference knowing all of those people are really rooting for me. Continue reading “So … this happened:”
I realize I never added this video. As much as I’m loving Crossfit, what I’m really loving are the days when we do the big powerlifts. This was a month or so ago, and we worked up to 90% of our one rep max. This is 365#. If things go right, I’m running a half marathon this morning, and then I’m going to start spending some more time on these power lifts. Big fun.
Holy shit, it has been a month since I posted anything. Life gets in the way sometimes. You’ll be forgiven for thinking so, but I have not – repeat, have NOT – fallen off the wagon. Things have slowed down considerably. I’m going to have to start getting more formal with my food plan. And I still have a ways to go. BUT:
I have lost just under 60 pounds, and I’m now smaller than I’ve been in over 10 years. For reference:
Pictures are funny things. There is some definition in my shoulders and arms (and even maybe just a little (a little – little) in my chest, squee!) that doesn’t really show up here. And I still think the pictures today make me look like an enormous fat guy, though compared to those original ones, holy moly.
I can buy clothes in the regular person’s part of the store now. I just had to buy a new belt – my third since I started this. I’m running a half marathon on Sunday. And this morning I squatted 325# for two reps. We’re getting there – we are absolutely getting there.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
Wednesday morning at the gym (still can’t call it a box), and we had our normal 6am crew. We show up, we work hard, we go about the rest of our day. The coach this week is JC, who also does all of the programming, and can be beasty – he’s a great coach, and he pushes hard and expects maximum effort. So we did the WOD, which this day included lots of power cleans and an interesting front rack carry that was harder than it had any right to be is going to have me sore for days. We got done about 10 minutes early, so he had us cool down with a bunch of band pull-aparts, and then I started gathering my stuff to go.
At this point, two of the guys get on the floor and start doing situps. I’m sure the look on my face was interesting – “what fresh hell is this?” When I asked, they said that they wanted to get in 100 situps, so that’s what they were doing.
Well, hell. Now I’VE got do situps or I feel like a lazy bum. So I get down and start doing situps. And then an extraordinary thing happened.
The whole class started doing situps. Nobody left. The 7am class had to start their warmups while dodging us, because we were all doing situps. We could have left, but we didn’t – there was work still to do.
From now on, when somebody asks me how I’ve been successful at my weight loss and health journey –even if somebody asks me how I’ve been successful in my career or anything else in life – my answer is going to be that I upped my average. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, and my average has gone way, way up since I started Crossfit. So here’s a question – do the people around you push your average up or bring it down?
Finally busted through a little plateau in my weigh-in this morning. I’ve now lost 53.6 pounds, and I’m three weeks ahead of where my schedule says I need to be. I’m also now officially smaller than the smallest I got when I was training for the Ragnar & half marathons in 2013 / 2014. So I’m smaller than I’ve been in 10 years. The next goal is another 15 pounds and I’ll be smaller than I’ve been in probably 15 – 20 years. This is 269 pounds.