When did you start with us at CF100 and what brought you?
I started CrossFit 100 at the end of 2017. It’s an interesting story of how I got started. A guy, Joe Bellevance, was looking to create an insurance product for mortgage companies and was referred to me by another client. It was very early days in the process, and my company won’t work directly with an individual for liability reasons. So, I helped him out on the side with the understanding that if he gets up and running, he would then hire us to do ongoing work for the new company. Well, it didn’t work out for him, but he appreciated my help. During one of our conversations, he mentioned he does CrossFit. At the time, I was vaguely familiar with CrossFit from the Netflix documentaries and said it sounded fun. A few weeks after Joe realized the insurance company wasn’t going to work out, a membership to CrossFit 100 showed up in my mailbox as a thank you! So, I gave it a try and have been a member ever since. I’ve also become friends with Joe, and we stay in touch to this day.
What kind of fitness have you done before (growing up, etc)?
I have two older, twin brothers. Growing up, our folks had us try everything -- soccer, baseball, basketball, football, swimming, etc. I was never a star player or even good in any sport. I was very overweight until my junior year of high school. Growing up in Texas, we had a choice to either play football or join marching band. I chose marching band. And even then, I didn’t march! I played drums in the pit. Then, halfway through high school, I went the complete opposite direction. I started to eat healthy and followed a pretty strict weight-lifting routine and kept that up through college. In college, I was on the crew team at the University of Texas. After college, it was on and off with some type of exercise before joining CrossFit.
What do you do outside of the gym (work, family, hobbies)?
My wife, Liza is also a member at CF100, so we like to go to classes together on Saturday and open gym. It’s harder to go together during the week with my work schedule and the kids’ activities. We have two kids, Harrison (5) and Sophia (12). So, with work and the kids, that’s pretty much it. We enjoy cooking at home, and I like BBQing on the weekends. I try to have people over once or twice a year for a big BBQ, but it looks like that will not happen this year. Last year, we smoked about 30 pounds of beef short ribs from Bavette and had friends stop by throughout the day. The year before that, I cooked a giant bone-in pork shoulder, overnight, on the smoker -- it must have been at least 25 pounds!
We also like to travel, as a family. We had scheduled a trip to Europe, but that was cancelled due to the pandemic. Hopefully, when everything settles down, we can re-schedule the trip (and finally get my back tattoo finished!). Last year, we rented a beach house in Belize.
Your fitness journey with CF100 Nutrition has been awesome. We’ve all been able to see you make some major changes since you started. Can you talk about what motivated you to work on your nutrition?
Thanks! That is good to hear and helps keep motivation going. When I started CrossFit, I felt like I was getting such a great workout, that I could eat whatever and however much of any food I wanted. So, initially after joining, I actually started to gain weight. In addition, I would be sore for days after workouts. Marcela, politely, noticed I was getting larger and overheard me complaining about being sore from prior workouts. She started telling me I needed to eat more protein and should consider doing a nutrition program. My initial reaction was, “I don’t need that," thinking the workouts would eventually take care of everything (I would start to lose weight and stop being sore). After a few more weeks and another push to start the nutrition program, I figured I would give it a shot and see what happens.
How has it impacted your fitness, inside and outside of the gym?
The impact was immediate. I was eating around 60-75 grams of protein on my standard diet, and that was quickly increased to about 200 grams of protein. Muscle soreness disappeared almost overnight – it was incredible! Additionally, I was able to right-size the composition of my food, shifting from a high fat/high carb diet to a low fat/high protein-based diet. I started adding muscle (with the protein) and losing fat. I have been doing a nutrition program for probably two years now and generally just accept and do whatever Marcela tells me.
At home, it is a bit tricky. The food and diet I eat is not a standard diet (lots of meat and lots of veggies), and I cook a lot of the meals at home. I used to just make dinner for the whole family, and we all ate the same thing. Now, it’s a little more a la carte where the kids have one meal (please no more chicken!), I have another meal, and often times Liza has something different as well. I try to meal prep on the weekend, but with working from home lately, meal prep is less of an issue.
I also buy and cook a ton of meat. So much that I ended up buying a meat freezer for the basement! I got tired of constantly buying pounds and pounds of meat at the grocery store, so I now buy in bulk online or from a local farm. I currently have two quarterly subscriptions for 30 pounds of beef that keeps me pretty well stocked.
What are your current plans/goals for your fitness/nutrition?
When I started at CrossFit, I was near 20% body fat and peaked at just over 200 pounds. I’m now at around 13-14% body fat and weigh 190 pounds. My current goal is to get down to 10% body fat, and hopefully maintain that lower body fat percentage. That’s the only goal. Other than that, just keep going to the gym, keep learning new skills, and work on improving everything else.
Favorite CrossFit movement?
I like to learn one movement and focus on that until I feel confident in that movement. For the past few weeks, I have been trying to work on split jerks. I’m still pretty wobbly in the landing position, so there is more work to do.
Kettlebell swings. I pull with my back every time, so if we do over 10 reps, my back just starts to hurt. That and double-unders.
What would you tell someone starting out in CrossFit and/or someone thinking about focusing on a nutrition plan?
For someone starting out with CrossFit, I think the coaches and members of the gym do a great job at welcoming new members and are very inclusive. My only advice to new members would be just work to your level of comfort and go at your own pace. No one is going to push you too hard or criticize you for not being able to do a certain movement. If anything, you will get unsolicited advice on how to improve! If you are looking for a more competitive environment, some members (...not naming names here...) silently compete in every WOD! I know I have a few members I try to benchmark against, but it’s for my own benefit. I know these people are going to work hard in every workout, and I try to keep up to make sure I don’t slack off, myself.
For nutrition, I think that’s something that you really have to commit to for the desired benefits. If you haven’t achieved the results you are looking for – whether performance, appearance, or overall health – nutrition is going to play a huge role in achieving those goals and that part can’t be underestimated. However, it’s a big commitment and really a lifestyle change. So, if you want to commit and really focus on a nutrition plan, go for it! You will get results, and you have to give it time to work. But if you only halfway commit or don’t log the late-night beer, fries, and chicken wings, you won’t get the desired results and might just become frustrated with the process. Similar to the workouts, the coaches do a great job at not shaming you for the food you eat and actually encourage you to eat the food you like in a healthy portion, but in the end, you get out of the program what you put in yourself.