I had a chance to catch up with Clay after he and Kristen moved out to Texas this summer. Clay and Kristen joined our gym about 2 years ago and were very active members in our small community here in Charlottesville. Like Clay and Kristen, many people are here for a short while due to school, training, or other commitments, so when that stint is up we often have to say farewell. We create lasting bonds with people in the gym, and we are excited for them when they start the next chapter of their life although it’s not easy to see them go. It was rewarding to see the progress Clay and Kristen made during their time at CrossFit Charlottesville, and it was even better to get to know them as people. I wanted to thank Clay for imparting some words of wisdom and finding the time during the move (and Kristen being close to having a baby!) to answer my questions below. Best of luck to you both, and come visit us in Charlottesville soon!
Where did you move?
Ft. Hood, TX
What takes you to your new home?
Army, back to work. No more goofing off at school.
What is your favorite memory of the gym?
I’m not sure if I could pin down a single favorite memory. Certainly there were some pretty tough WODs that felt great to get to the other side of. I really enjoyed helping out at the SuperFit games and seeing people of all ages who could bang out some reps in some pretty tough events. I am not sure, but I also feel like that was around the time when I started feeling like a part of the community and not just a member. That transition happened gradually, starting from the beginning, but certainly by a few months in, we weren’t just faces coming and going. Folks knew us, trainers didn’t worry if we knew what we were doing, and if we missed a week people asked after us.
Worst workout experience?
Again, hard to say. I never judged a bad workout on how difficult it was; if I thought it was bad, it was usually because I had eaten badly or was sick/hurt, and I was suffering from my own issue. That said, I do tend to hate anything with high rep burpees. All the up and down just spikes my heart-rate.
Best workout experience?
Kristen and I both remember one of the first Burn workouts we did last summer when it just started pouring at the start of a long series of hill runs and dumbbell things. Other than that I would say anytime I progressed to doing a particular movement/WOD Rx from scaled I was pretty happy. That happened a lot over the first year, even if I didn’t record the particular milestones.
Biggest accomplishment since starting CF?
Two (they’re related): first, I’d say my short-lived ability to do an actual muscle up. Second, the weight loss/body comp improvements that came with being healthier overall in that fall of 2012, and again leading up to our wedding the next spring. I got down to the 200lbs mark for the first time in years, and I could really tell how much difference it made, especially on bodyweight exercises–like dropping a 25lbs plate.
What are your fitness goals when you leave Charlottesville?
Definitely regain the health/body comp focus we had before. Life got stressful and busy with the final school semester, moving, and everything else, and we went from habitual good choices to sporadically good choices in diet.
Anything you’d like to say to your fellow crossfitters?
We will sorely miss everyone we have gotten to know these past two years. I’m very sorry to anyone who we didn’t get to say goodbye to. You know, this seems to have been a tough year for C-ville in major competitions (except for Elizabeth, of course!), but I would absolutely rather workout alongside of everyone there than any of the professional CrossFit elite on TV. Remember the first rule–it’s what make the community in C-ville so strong.
Any advice or thoughts you’d like to impart on a new person considering trying CrossFit?
Along those same lines–CrossFit as a brand has been evolving at least in the several years since I found out about it. There is the international multi-million dollar competitive enterprise that the brand has become known for on TV, sporting goods stores, and countless blogs either touting or bashing it. Then there is the actual experience you have in the gym with trainers who were in your shoes not long ago themselves, and other members who all share the simple goal of fitness. Don’t be intimidated, come and learn. Don’t skip essentials. Learn the movements correctly, and scale appropriately at first. Don’t try to win the Games next year, just try to hit your next small goal, and catch that guy running a little faster than you up the hill. You will improve, quickly.
Anything else you’d like to say?
The bottom line though is that I think you’re doing it right at CFC. I’m bummed that the national brand is turning into a competitive professional sport, NOT focused on functional fitness for everyday people, but that doesn’t seem to have affected the focus locally. That’s good.
My energy is much more predictable and sustained throughout the day
It has been a wonderful exercise to jumpstart self-awareness, preparation, and “kind discipline.”
My clothes fit better, specifically around my midsection.
I noticed improved strength in my core as well as my upper body.
But very quickly after changing my diet, maybe a week or two, I was amazed at how good I slept.
The challenge really opened my eyes to how much change can come from cutting out those last few cheat items, especially gluten.
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Fall 2013 Nutrition Challenge! This was our eighth Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:
- Nutrition Challenge #1
- Nutrition Challenge #2
- Nutrition Challenge #3
- Nutrition Challenge #4
- Nutrition Challenge #5
- Nutrition Challenge #6
- Nutrition Challenge #7
Below you will find before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all eight weeks of our Nutrition Challenge this fall. Chris and I are really proud of the hard work you put in, and I’m glad that we were able to finish this challenge together prior to him moving up to Northern Virginia. Most importantly, big congratulations go out to Linde and Kelly for winning the Fall 2013 Nutrition Challenge! They did a great job sticking to the guidelines of the challenge, achieved measurable body composition changes, but also created new sustainable lifestyle habits now that the challenge is over. Again, congrats to everyone that participated, and we hope that everything you learned during the challenge will enrich your life going forward.
I lost 13 pounds from Day 1 to Day 60. Nine of those pounds were lost after the BodPod measurement, which really motivated me to change my body composition because it gave me a very specific breakdown of % body fat, rather than just a number on a scale. I do not have my measurements about leaning out, but my clothes fit better, I am squatting and lifting more than I did 2 months ago, and I look and feel tighter, especially around the leg area.
Before doing this challenge, I napped at least an hour every single day, and I had serious issues with my sleeping habits. Once I settled into the challenge, Chris pushed me to track my sleep cycle and meal times, which really transformed the ways I gained and expended energy. Because my energy reboots come more rhythmically now with a better sleep cycle and better eating habits, I feel like my energy is much more predictable and sustained throughout the day. I was told years ago that I was hypoglycemic, and I always had what I called “hypo dives” throughout the day, where I’d be exhausted and light headed until I consumed carbs or sugar. Now, that is completely gone; I cannot emphasize how much of a change that is for my daily routine.
I do know that my thruster has increased by 10 lbs; that I grab the 25 lb kettlebell instead of the 15 now; that I can squat 25 more pounds; and that I have moved from ALWAYS being the last runner back to SOMETIMES being the last runner back. I also have moved to completing the higher level of workouts, which is in part due to getting used to CrossFit… but I bet I can also thank this challenge. And I can actually do a push up now!
I’ll be the first to admit that I wear yoga pants 99% (ok, 99.99%) of the time, which are quite forgiving, but just the other day I had to go shopping for a dress because I did not have one to wear for a function I was invited to. I went from a tight medium (especially around the arms and lower stomach) to a comfortable small in a similar style/fit of dress. I can also fit back into the size 6 jeans I have, where before the challenge I was at a tight 8. I was most excited when I could confidently ask my grandma for size small sweaters when she called me before Grandma’s Christmas Shopping Week this year (rather than nervously requesting smalls or mediums and hoping for gift receipts)!
I talked earlier about the “hypo-dive” disappearance already. Beyond that, I wouldn’t say that I feel profoundly more energetic. I do feel less lethargic, though. And I feel more stable (less hyper/lazy cycles). Mentally, I have experienced more profound benefits. I have completely changed my relationship with my body, and my mind has definitely noticed. I started practicing a sort of “kind discipline” with myself, rather than indulging or bullying myself constantly about my food intake and my weight and my insanely unsustainable workout cycle. I read the Primal Blueprint throughout this challenge, and it guided me to a more natural (and pleasant) way to live healthily, including eating Paleo. My mind feels a lot more in “calm control,” much less anxious and less “grabby” than I used to feel when I sought control.
I had only been doing CrossFit for a few weeks when the challenged started, so I was nervous about getting through the workouts. Also, I started the challenge as a vegetarian, which made me not even want to attend the info meeting. This challenge was a huge shift for me, and it taught me how to get good sources of protein and rely less on carbohydrates and sugar for quick surges of energy. I shifted completely from a vegetarian to a pescetarian during this challenge, and I am going to continue eating and living this way because I love the way it makes me feel. I had to experiment way more than I wanted; there were many days where I was literally dozens of grams under my protein intake goal; and I wanted to eat my hand off the first two weeks. But it was amazing how my body adjusted and began thanking itself for it: deeper sleep, cleaner skin, calmer mind, sustained energy, and so on. I am so happy that I went out on a limb, had some grace with myself so that I didn’t give up completely when I cheated and ate 3 cookies a few weeks ago, and never stopped experimenting and reflecting on the manifestations of healthy eating on my body and in my mind. I have learned that this is a process, which is a hard thing for me to accept, but it has been a wonderful exercise to jumpstart self-awareness, preparation, and “kind discipline.”
This nutrition challenge helped me adopt habits that have helped me feel more balanced in terms of my health and wellness. I began the challenge having only attended a free intro crossfit class, and was a nervous beginner. The crossfit staff and members were very welcoming and offered coaching and advice with each workout. I attended the gym 2x/wk, and ran several miles at home 3x/wk which I was doing at baseline. With crossfit I quickly noticed that at work I no longer felt as fatigued during my 12hr nursing shift. I noticed improved strength in my core as well as my upper body.
Following a paleo diet has helped me learn to consume more protein and less carbohydrate in a ratio that best supports my personal activity habits, so I no longer experience sharp drops in blood sugar, and I now rarely crave sugary foods. I feel I have increased muscle tone and have improved posture. My clothes fit better, specifically around my midsection. My favorite part about crossfit, however, is the sense of feeling powerful after completing a workout. Most of the workouts included something I had never done before, and never would have otherwise attempted, and I appreciate the nudge out of my comfort zone that crossfit so consistently provides : )
I lost 3.3 pounds (I don’t know how much I leaned out). This is my second nutrition challenge and it was definitely a different experience than the first. In some ways, I felt less committed and if I had to grade myself on it I’d give myself a low grade. We (my boyfriend and I) both did the challenge together and it was good for both of us to see how I needed to eat much differently than he. It gave us a chance to consciously modify some of our daily behavior – like, how we grocery shop, how we pack each others’ lunches and how we spend our evenings. I wasn’t particularly good at logging my food after the first week, social situations – which seemed to be in abundance this fall – were full of temptation to which I succumbed, and I grew inconsistent with workouts almost like I psyched myself out or maxed out my own mental bandwidth. But looking at it from a wider view, in this time a few deeper level things really started to unravel.
At the same time I was taking the 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course which helped me start to face some of the emotions I have had wrapped up in my relationship to food. Instead of mentally leaning on “only the best” specialty foods or specialty snacks to get me through at the expense of any other personal commitment, like a groceries budget, I opted to take the slow path. I needed to be cultivating a little more of the bigger picture view – allowing for imperfections and healthy mental talk on the back end. Where I noticeably self-sabotaged, I practiced self-compassion instead of striving for perfect paleo. And it was really hard, but with a little encouragement from Chris, started to pause before meals with more consistency (another important place to practice compassion). In the end my ego would have liked for me to have lost more weight and be able to report a great new physical feat, but I know that slowly crafting a lifestyle that is sustainable and loving is more important in the long term. So, that’s what I started to do. It’s a process.
I ended up losing between 2-3 pounds. Though I don’t yet have the official Bod Pod measurements, I’m estimating that my Fat % decreased by about 1-2%.
Energy level definitely increased and overall workout performance improved as well. The diet complimented what I what I was able to do in the gym really well.
How many dress and / or pant sizes have you lost?
No changes at all! Which is important because one of my main goals going into the Challenge was not to have to buy new clothes at the end.
The challenge in some ways was a tale of two stories. During the first month I completely abstained from both coffee and sugar and felt phenomenal. I was pretty strict in my diet and was able to hit my ideal macro nutrient targets most days. By the end of the first 30 days I was at my peak for the entire year in terms of physical energy and stamina and experienced a high level of mental acuity. During the final 30 days I was absent from the gym for about 3 weeks as both nursed a cold and rested a strained muscle. Coffee and sugar crept back into the diet fairly regularly however my mental and physical energy still remained relatively high considering the circumstances.
I participated in the Challenge alongside my girlfriend, Heather Hightower, who took part in the Spring ’13 nutrition challenge. She ended up being the one who planted the seed that led me to Crossfit and eventually the fall nutrition challenge. My goals of the nutrition challenge were twofold: increase my own overall health and well being and be supportive of Heather as she sought the same. So it became not only an exercise in increasing physical and mental health but a relationship building exercise as well. The benefits I received from the challenge were immeasurable given their qualitative and subjective nature, but no matter how you boil it down it was a win/win. Chris and Scott offered excellent guidance and support along the way and I’d recommend the challenge to any individuals or couples who are curious about taking the paleo plunge.
I lost 6 lbs and about an inch off my waist. I wasn’t trying to lose very much weight so I was satisfied with that. I think I’ve leaned out some in my abdomen, still have a little ways to go but I’m happy with my results after only 8 weeks. I’m not a crossfit member, so I didn’t do the crossfit workouts for this challenge. I did, however, change my routine from just running every day to lifting weights with the help of my boyfriend. I definitely like the results I’m seeing from that along with the diet change. I had hit a wall when I was only running with the occasional ab workout.
I feel great throughout the day. I don’t feel the need to take a nap after getting up at 5:30for work. I definitely have more energy and less moodiness.
One of the best things I noticed about this challenge was how I was able to sleep through the night. This probably helped with my energy level as well. I have NEVER been able to sleep through the night without waking up three or more times. Before this challenge, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I slept all the way through the night. But very quickly after changing my diet, maybe a week or two, I was amazed at how good I slept. Very exciting. A reason all in itself to continue with this lifestyle change.
The nutrition challenge wasn’t easy but I definitely learned a lot about fueling my body. I definitely noticed that I had more energy during the day. I didn’t limit my caffeine intake but the longer I followed the challenge the less I felt I needed it. Before the challenge I pretty much relied on my cup of coffee in the morning but during the challenge I grew not to need it at all. In terms of workout performance, I don’t really have a base point. I started working out with CrossFit only a few weeks before I started the nutrition challenge. I felt a little increase in stamina but I’m not sure how much of that was due to the new diet and how much of it was a result from just getting into a 3 times a week intensive workout regimen.
My dress/pant size didn’t drop but I went from most of my pants fitting tightly to them being comfortable and even a bit loose.
My energy level definitely increased from eating clean. My mental energy was better in the fact that I felt more alert during the day. I also felt an improvement in my physical energy. I felt like my body was stronger and didn’t tire as quickly.
Overall, this nutrition challenge taught me a lot about how my body functions in response to the food I eat. I will definitely try to incorporate clean eating into my everyday life from here on out.
I lost about two pounds. I have leaned out a bit but overall just feel healthier and fitter.
I have much more energy and no problems with my stomach or headaches that I am accustom to. My workouts seem to have improved and I feel more energized and have increased endurance.
I have not noticed an entire pant/dress size loss although all of my clothes do fit better.
My energy levels have certainly increased. I sleep much better throughout the night whereas before I had serious sleeping issues. Mentally, I feel more alert and productive.
I was inconsistently paleo before this challenge for about a year. The challenge really opened my eyes to how much change can come from cutting out those last few cheat items, especially gluten. I have an incredibly sensitive stomach however it has not been upset once since starting the challenge. The biggest change for me though is definitely my sleep. I was a huge insomniac through high school and college and rarely ever slept a full eight hours straight. Now I have an awesome sleeping schedule and feel much more rested from the sleep I do get. I have been tracking my sleep cycles with a free app called Sleep Cycle.