Checkout our submissions from Live Sore Nation about how embracing the pain has changed their life for the better. Send us your story to and if we feature your story you’ll get some free swag!

  • About Hailey Lewis

    I have never shared these photos with anyone but my trainer! These photos are exactly one year apart. One year full of doubts, failures, starting over repeatedly and reminding myself constantly to trust the process. I have so much work still to do but I have finally embraced the constant work in progress mentality. I have used every excuse in the book to avoid the gym, to justify poor eating, lack of water intake.. Etc. FINALLY, I decided I wanted this change more than I wanted anything else. I work 13 hour shifts (at night) I drag myself out of bed and into the gym before those shifts even start in order to make sure I am working on MY dreams. I couldn’t be more proud of who I am becoming and I couldn’t be more excited to share this journey with the LiveSore family!

    Hailey Lewis

    About James David Sisk

    On 3/10/14 my 49th bday I decided to make big changes in my life. I had gotten fat and I was miserable. I hired Ben Barkes, Mr Indiana 2013, to be my trainer.

    The next day I was in a horrible car accident in rush hour traffic. Lots of construction on I65, I was stopped and waiting for an opportunity to merge into traffic when a delivery van rear ended me going 50 mph. I was catapulted into oncoming traffic. As I was flying across the interstate I looked to my left and saw the grill of a semi. I knew I was about to die.
    Suddenly the car accelerated and the steering wheel was spinning wilding to the right. The car shot over to the right side and came to rest out of the path of traffic. Still not knowing what had happened I was startled to hear a voice in the car with me. It was God. He said David it is not your time you are starting a journey where you will help many people. Continue down this path and tell your story.

    The car I was in was totaled. Thankfully I was wearing my seatbelt. During the initial impact I was flung forward and I came back with such force that I broke the back of the seat completely off. It was a rental Ford Escape that I had made fun of for three days saying I wanted to escape back into my Mercedes which was in the shop. I opened the door and walked away with a bruise on my left elbow and a small cut on my lip.

    So I did just as God instructed me to do. He led me to Ben Barkes ,owner of Barkes Fitness, and several other things in the months prior to this that made a huge difference in my life. I have had countless people on on social media and in person tell me I have inspired them to make a change. It continues to happen almost daily.

    There have also been people that have joined Ben’s private gym because of seeing my before and afters.

    I owe all of this to God. I also owe Ben more than I can ever repay him for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I thank God everyday for bringing Ben his amazing wife, Amanda and their three beautiful children, that call me Uncle David, into my life. Without this man I never would have made it this far and I certainly would never of had the ability to dream as big as I do now.

    Blood does not determine who your family is. We as humans make the decision of whom we bring into our lives and do life with. My family has just grown now to include my LiveSore brothers and sisters. I am blessed beyond measure.

    As of today I have lost 101 lbs. I am training hard to drop 35 more lbs of fat to be lean enough, while adding lean muscle mass, to compete in my first show next year late summer or fall.

    James David Sisk
  • Kate Warren 

    About Kate Warren

    Ever since I was very young, I had been because of my weight, and I’d never had confidence. I’ve always struggled with an anxiety disorder that made it difficult to really put myself out there and do the things I wanted to do. In 2009 I hit an all-time low. I was just finishing up my master’s degree, was unemployed, depressed and living in so much fear and anxiety that it was almost impossible to leave the house. I was letting other people run my life, and I was worn out. I felt hopeless and was not sure where to turn. I reached the point where I thought this was the way my life was supposed to be. I was supposed to be this overweight, unhealthy person that goes to a job they don’t enjoy and then comes home and can get some comfort in food and watching TV. I felt bad for the people who had to be around me. I was just wasting my life. Little did I know an incredible journey was about to start!

    Everything happens for a reason. I’d been contemplating a career change for a few months, and I ended up losing out on a job where I’d been interning. Deep down I knew I was in the wrong profession. I started thinking that I wanted to do something sports related, and that’s when I was introduced to Jason Porter, the owner and head coach of Five Element Sport MMA and Fitness, a mixed martial arts (MMA) school. I met with Jason to begin doing an internship with him at the MMA school. It was a perfect fit because I would be helping him with an anti-bullying program (which is close to my heart and in line with my master’s degree in school counseling).

    I knew very, very little about MMA. In fact, I thought it was just a sport where two people got locked in a cage and beat each other up. I was so incredibly wrong! The first day I walked into the MMA school I was over 265 pounds, and I thought, “This guy is just going to laugh at me and tell me to leave.” It was the exact opposite.

    Jason was wonderful and ended up inviting me to try a class and encouraged me to come with him. I was terrified, but the New Year was coming up and I did not want to continue to live my life this way, and I thought this was the perfect time to make a change. I was determined to get my life back and not let all the anxiety consume me. I made the resolution to get out of my comfort zone — to try new things and face my fears. I was going to fight for my life. I took my first class when I weighed a little over 265lbs.

    Now five years into the incredible journey, life is amazing. I could have never imagined that this is where I would end up, and I feel as if I am only getting started. What started off as goals to just make it through two one-hour MMA classes a week turned into getting my first belt in MMA. When I accomplished that, I set other goals like running my first 5K, which turned into half marathons and obstacle runs. Then I got to a point where I thought I needed to take things to the next level with MMA. I wanted to compete. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would want to compete in mixed martial arts. I started off with a few grappling tournaments, and then I got my first kickboxing match this past December.

    I trained my butt off throughout my training camp. When I weighed in for the kickboxing match, I was 120 pounds lighter than when I started, and I knew I had already won. After three tough rounds against a tough opponent, they called my name and raised my hand: I broke down crying in the ring right there!

    In May 2014, I met my biggest goal to date. I got in the cage for my first MMA fight. Just getting in the cage was a huge celebration for all the hard work I had put in. I was overwhelmed by all the amazing support I got from the people at Five Element MMA and my friends, family and teammates. The girl who never had a lot of friends in school now had a huge family around her cheering her on, no matter how crazy the goals were. Getting healthy and achieving all these goals has given me confidence that has completely changed my life. While I still deal with anxiety issues, they are much more manageable. I am no longer depressed, and I look forward to what each day brings. Most importantly, I finally have my life back — and I am determined to make it amazing!

    Life continues to have its ups and downs and after going through a very tough divorce, I found comfort and therapy in weight lifting. For me there is nothing more empowering than proving to yourself day after day just how physically and mentally strong you are. This has been such an amazing change in my life. Food for me was also a stress point. I had struggled with many eating disorders up until the last few months when I found another great coach and group of friends who have taught me that you have to eat and fuel your body. Food in now my best friend and I always have my meals packed up with me ready to go. This once 270lb girl is determined to compete in her first figure competition.

    Another huge goal of mine is to continue to give back what has been given to me. I am working toward my brown belt now in MMA and have started coaching more. I never thought I would have the confidence to coach, and I have to say that I love it. It allows me to share my passion for this sport with others and to see them get the same life-changing benefits. It’s been amazing to see how much the MMA school has grown. I went from me being one of the few girls there to having more than 30 amazingly strong females around me, and I hope to continue to pass on the amazing mental and physical benefits of the martial arts to all.

    Thank you for your time in reading my story. I hope it inspires others to set their goals high, work hard and life their life to the fullest.

  • Kristin Anderson 

    About Kristin Anderson

    I had the smack in the face realization of how unhealthy I had become the day after my college graduation as the pictures started to appear. It was not until this moment that I truly saw how much weight I had gained and how sedentary my life had become. I was always very busy mentally, constantly having my mind in my books and research, but never really paying attention to what I ate or how much I moved. Before college that never really mattered as I was an extremely active person involved in many different clubs and sports. In college though, this all stopped and the focus become on becoming the best scientist I could be. I love being a scientist but it is a job that utilizes mainly one ‘muscle’, the brain. Throughout my college career I gained the freshmen 15 or more every single year. By the time graduation came around I was at the top end of the overweight category for my height by the time graduation came around and was squeezing into a size 18. I finally really saw for the first time that I had hit an all time low for myself. It was an embarrassing and depressing realization that I had pushed off for so long that when I truly realized it, I was lost.
    I knew that I had to change my lifestyle but had no idea how. I was moving to new state and starting my new life as a PhD student and decided what better time to just start new and try to become better. It took me a month but I finally gained the courage to walk into a local gym. I remember being terrified at seeing all the fit and skinny, at that point skinny was all I wanted to be, walk into the place. I would go in, rush to the back corner cardio machine and struggle through 15 minutes. I constantly doubted myself and compared myself to everyone. It was always stressful and I was scared I was going to just fail and be stuck in my rut. After about a month of sticking it out I started to train with one of the trainers who became my friend and constant motivator through many life challenges. It was at that point I started to be pushed out of my comfort zone and got my first taste of what it meant to “embrace the pain” and “live sore”. Instead of dreading the gym, I started to slowly look forward to going and seeing what I could do. There were still plenty of times I wanted to stop and I think part of this was because I constantly compared my chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 10, but with the support of my trainer I just pushed through the pain and fear. I started to gain a new perspective on fitness when he pointed out that something which was a struggle for me a few weeks ago was now a warm up. I was now motivated to overcome every wall I hit and to push through every plateau. Eventually I started to begin to research foods and healthy eating which took my fitness to a new level. My goals became around not only losing weight and becoming skinny but about simply becoming fit and healthy. My motivation and enthusiasm kept growing and I started to look forward to my work out every day. I started to feel what being strong was. I now I love the challenge of seeing what I can do and how far I can be pushed. The comfort zone is nice, but in the end, nothing grows there. It certainly better to live sore!

    Over two years, I have dropped down 10 dress sizes to be a healthy and fit individual! I am much healthier and love the positive perspective I now have and continue to grow for nutrition and fitness! Becoming a LiveSore ambassador was an awesome addition to my journey. I had already had a few people before that say they use my story and struggles as encouragement but I am now part of an entire community that does that! Wearing LiveSore brand clothing really does give you a sense a pride on how far you have come and always gives you that extra motivation to do that extra rep when you look down realizing you got to live up to the name on the your shirt! I hope that anyone trying to overcome and create their own triumph story can change their own perspective to just being the best person they can be and truly gaining a love for living sore!

  • Jeff Graczyk 

    About Jeff Graczyk

    So where do I begin? A few years ago, I was doing pretty well. Was training with a friend, making gains, but never committed to the lifestyle. I’ve always had a little bit of a weight issue, but some hard work and discipline went a long way to keeping myself fit. It’s always when you think things are going well, that the floor gives out from under you. A great night out with friends and me doing the right thing by handing my keys over to my DD ended with a drunk texter running a red light and putting his engine block in my lap. I ended up with 2 cracked ribs and 4 herniated discs in my upper back and neck. 2 of which are pressing into my spinal cord to this day. Unfortunate, the insurance company wasn’t interested in my treatment and after the standard 4 months of treatment, the IME determined that I was “as good as I was going to get”. No more PT, and no more treatments. So I ended up having to sure the insurance company of the guy who hit us. 3 years, and a PI following my every move, and I was finally able to get the treatment I needed. But by then, the damage was done. No gym, constantly being followed, took its toll on me mentally and physically. By the time I was able to rejoin the world of the living, I was 300lbs and in no condition to do anything.
    Flash forward to Feb 2014. I was at a friend’s wedding and the pictures were posted on facebook the next day. I didn’t even recognize myself in pics. I looked terrible, bloated and a mess. Something clicked in my head and I knew what had to be done. I was in the gym the very next day. Tough at first, but I went every day for 100 days. I saw some progress, but still wasn’t feeling it. So I started to double up, hired a nutrition coach and did 2 separate “6 week boot camp” challenges. Once I learned how to eat clean again, the strength training combined with the HIIT and the weight flew off. In 12 months, I dropped close to 100lbs. Within a month of my last boot camp, I had done my first two 10K’s and was struggling to figure out what to do next. While at a friend’s birthday party, a trainer at a local gym heard my story and was so impressed, that he took it upon himself to start training me to build myself back up. So, 4 weeks in and I’m up 14lbs and down to 17% body fat (from 35% when I started to track it in Oct 2014). At my worst I was 300lbs, a 50R suit with a 46 waist. Today I’m 212Lbs, a loose 44R and 34 waist (but them quads do not like skinny jeans!!) My new goals are to start bodybuilding and train like I’m going to compete before my 40th birthday. Nothing motivates me more than to live sore and get swole!

    -Jeff Graczyk

  • Jennifer Krysh 

    About Jennifer Krysh

    I started my journey as a completely embarrassed, overweight woman who was bursting out of a size 20 and tipping the scale at 225 pounds. When I was barely squeezing on her jeans at that size, I knew she had to do something to change my life. So, I started to diet and joined Lifetime. I ran a 17-minute mile that day and went home, cried, and wanted to give up on something I had just begun. However something in me refused. From then on I got up every day and dragged my butt into the gym. It took some time, but I shed 100 pounds and was down to 125 pounds.

    All I wanted was to be skinny, as I had been so overweight for so long and had a very unhealthy body image. I would exercise for hours and eat like a bird, maybe hitting 1200 calories in a day; any time I ate something “unhealthy,” which to me then was even a burger, I felt awful about myself despite the victory of huge weight loss.
    I was then introduced to CrossFit about three years ago. As cliche as it sounds, it really changed my life. The first time I grabbed a barbell I was hooked; like love at first sight. I have really grown to love and appreciate the sport of Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit, and loves competing. My biggest competition accomplishment thus far has been competing in the women’s individual RX at the Granite Games this past fall, and grabbing a few sponsors since then. I look forward to training hard and qualifying again next year. I also have my certifications as a USA weightlifting coach, CrossFit Level 1, gymnastics and mobility coach. I have been coaching an amazing group of people for over two years and am co-owner of CrossFit Crystal Lake.

    The moral of my story is that we all know weight loss isn’t easy or we would all be in perfect shape. With the right mindset, good attitude, and a little motivation, the road can be a little less bumpy.I now sits at a comfortable weight of 140/145 pounds and am strong and quick with a barbell. I could care less what others think of my muscular physique. The way a woman perceives their body image determines their quality of life. Once I let go of wanting to be just “skinny” and latched onto performance and health, I became a much happier woman and began to enjoy the little things in life again, like donuts!

    Take a step back today and look at yourself. Think about why you’re doing what you’re doing and make sure your motivation is a healthier, better life. Not to be a magazine ad. Stay strong ladies! I did it and you can too! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    At this point in my journey if I had to sum myself up in one quote it would be this… “She was fierce, she was strong, she wasn’t simple. She was crazy and sometimes she barely slept. She always had something to say. She had flaws and that was ok. And when she was down, she got right back up. She was a beast in her own way, but one idea described her best.

    She was unstoppable and she took anything she wanted with a smile.”

    Follow me on Instagram @fitpinup37

  • Lindsay Rolfe 

    About Lindsay Rolfe

    My name is Lindsay Rolfe. I am 21 years old. My whole life I’ve been an athlete. I think it was engrained in me since birth. My parents first met as opponents on a racquetball court and I guess the rest is history. They say you will become your best self if you have competition – well my parents based their lives and built a family based on this drive to make each other better. My life as an athlete began on the softball field – eventually the soccer field and forever in the dance studio. I was the kid who wanted to try everything…always. I guess my younger self was trying to figure out what was most fulfilling, what was I really good at? What did I love? In high school I had a set back – I tore my ACL playing soccer and two years later tore my meniscus playing softball. Injury has hindered my success and it is often discouraging as I sometimes feel like I cannot do things, or am afraid of how my knees will feel.

    Last year my 47 year old, marathon-running, ball hogging, warrior dashing mother was diagnosed with lung cancer…mesothelioma to be exact. It’s a rare type of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Her life changed in an instant. She could no longer come on morning runs with me. She could no longer train for obstacle races or run marathons with her friends. My mother, the most athletic person I know, had trouble walking around the nurses station in the hospital. It was heartbreaking. During this time of her diagnosis and treatment, I had discovered CrossFit for the first time. I no longer needed to try everything or compete in more than one way, because CrossFit was fulfilling in more ways the one. As my mother liked to put it, it was my ying and my yang.

    Athletes are resilient – physically, emotionally, mentally. I learned this from my mother who bounced back from her illness and is over one year cancer free. She even has gotten back out on the tennis court! It has taught me so much, watching her overcome this illness. I cherish every single moment in the gym…I challenge myself daily…I embrace the pain…I live for the sore. It makes you feel alive. You never know that you cannot do something if you never even try – always add extra weight, always shoot for another round, make every single rep count and when life knocks you down, chalk up and pick up the barbell again.

    My family’s motto through our entire journey was “run to the roar.” It means facing whatever you’re afraid of – running right to it. Face your fears, take on challenges, be brave and be strong. It certainly got us through our hardship last year, but it is a motto that can apply to everyone’s lives – run to the roar. Whether it’s a job interview, a big test, trying to hit a new PR, learning a new movement – just run to the roar.

  • Bethany Viglietta 

    Meet Bethany Viglietta

    Five years ago there was a moment that would change my life forever. My guardian angels worked overtime and blessed me with my life and the ability to walk away. It was like any other day in the Arghandab River Valley, I was at that moment supporting our local Special Forces team because they needed a female and I had a friend supporting the team who thought of me the first time they needed my support. We had a ridiculous Civil Affairs mission that day in a neighboring village. Anyone who has had to give out aid to people that didn’t appear to want it, knows all about ridiculous CA missions. Then our CA guys watched the Chaos ensue when the kids came out to unload the jingo truck (Afghan dump truck). Small Afghan children dragged away 50lb bags of wheat and by the time it was all said and done we sent the truck away and began our walk back.

    There is something that can be said for tactical foot patrols, we kept our spacing while transitioning between villages. There were no children on this roadway, which should have been a sign. An engineer, a bomb dog and half the team walked right over this IED. It was when their Intel guy (Scott) and I were to be over it that it was detonated by a man who stood in their holy place to watch us and hit a button targeting us. Scott said or did something that made me pause and it saved likely my legs, and life. We were so lucky. Both of us literally walked away, not everyone on deployment get so lucky.

    I walked away with a sound mind and some lingering injuries, but not all my brothers and sisters were so fortunate. Many are currently struggling to adjust while coming home and transitioning to the civilian world. We’ll never be civilians again, we’ll always be Veterans. Adjusting from the combat zone where you must worry about someone trying to kill you and targeting your friends is a little rough. My transition back to the US resulted in a divorce and almost alcoholism. My friends and family pulled me from that edge and I began to seek all the information about PTS treatments, yoga, and what I could do to help other Veterans.

    Sharing this story has gotten easier over the years and I continue to teach yoga, learn more, and want to help prevent Veteran Suicides for those who need pulled back from the edge. They’ve survived the combat, let’s help them survive the peace. Please donate if you are able. Share the link. Sign up to participate. Send prayers to those in need.

  • Austin Davis
  • Anthony Venezia About Anthony Venezia
    A little over 2 years ago when I found out my wife was pregnant with my first born I decided I needed to do something about my shape. I wanted to be able to be active with my son. At close to 260 lbs it was hard to get motivated to do anything, so I decided to start getting in shape. Currently at 152 lbs I am on a journey that has been a childhood dream. To become a competitive bodybuilder. I want to be an inspiration to my children. I want both of them to know that dreams can come true with hard work. To never give up on something important to you whatever it may be. I will walk out on stage in the best shape of my life. I will compete in the first of many competitions and show my children that ANYTHING is possible.
  • Sam Chang About Sam Chang
    My name is Sam Chang. I was born with cerebral palsy (cp), specifically left-hemiplegia. Growing up through grade school, I was always that odd-ball fat kid that never moved just right. My left arm never swings and I always limp when I walk. I was constantly berated and bullied. Over the years, I grew acrimonious of my peers and developed a dark personality. Retrospectively, I believe that my dark, convoluted sense of humor is a product of my environment from grade school. Being a child of disability, I grew accustomed to the hospital. I’ve had five cp related surgeries: two on my left arm and three on my left leg.

    Growing up, I always wanted to be an athlete, I learned the world wasn’t as forgiving for individuals with movement deficiencies. Being a 90s kid from Los Angeles, I got to watch the Kobe/Shaq Lakers in basketball and Mike Piazza and Chan Ho Park (the first Korean MLB player) as Dodgers in baseball. They motivated me to be an athlete! Little did I know that there were no such athletic development or guidance available for crippled kids. Instead, I was stuck in physical therapy units trying to rehabilitate from surgeries.

    Now, I’m currently a full-time student at Cal State University, Northridge studying kinesiology with a focus in exercise science. Not knowing what a weight room was, in 2011, I blindly volunteer work at a local high school as a strength & conditioning intern. I had no business in a weight room. That’s when I was introduced to strength & conditioning and weightlifting. For some reason, it clicked in my head; I switched my major at CSUN from business to kinesiology and never looked back.

    Currently, I hold a CF-L1 and a USAW-L1SP coaching at Precision CrossFit in Agoura Hill, CA. I’m a strength and conditioning intern and a CrossFit trainer and work daily to advance my knowledge and coaching skill. Over the years, I grew a fascination with weightlifting biomechanics and technique and it has become my main interest. In the future, I look to work with professional and paralympic athletes.

    Twitter: @SamJChang
    Instagram: @crippledlifter
    Personal blog:
  • Kate Story About Kate Story
    I’m not your next Lisa Leslie or Mia Hamm, nor do I have the body building physique of Iris Kyle. I am however, still, a very valuable asset. I have a creative personality and a newly developed passion for human health. I believe in a positive mental attitude and know the importance of encouragement through motivational phrases and inspirational quotes. I am a driven, hard working individual who is constantly craving new knowledge and personal growth. I enjoy and have a strong skillet in advertising and public relations. I consider myself a social butterfly with a fun, bubbly personality who is approachable and easy to talk to.

    Growing up I played a sport every season. You name it and I probably tried it. Softball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, track, gymnastics, cross-country, field hockey, the list goes on. Although I was never the top scorer or fastest runner, I still continued to play for the exercise, competition, and social aspect. My sports career died out after I finished high school and went on to college. I attended and graduated from the University of Tampa with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and entrepreneurship. During my college years I began to go to the gym regularly with a set weight lifting regimen. It is also when I developed intestinal issues and discovered I had a dietary intolerance known as fructose malabsorption. These two life-changing events caused me to begin to truly care about my body and the condition of my health. I now take care of myself mentally and physically. I train hard and eat clean. I believe in being strong, not skinny. I know I have made a lot of progress over the years, but still have a ways to go and because of that I am excited to see where life takes me.

    I run nearly every morning, usually up to four miles. It helps me to feel accomplished and set a productive pace for the day. My runs enable me to escape from my worries and become lost in my thoughts. The route I take brings me along the iconic Bayshore Boulevard, which is a popular exercise landmark. I am currently a member of Anytime Fitness. I enjoy this gym because it fosters a non-egotistic environment. The people there are friendly and kindhearted. I know I may never be an elite athlete or a professional model, but I still believe a relationship between us could be mutually benefiting. About five years ago when I began to run regularly, I always thought about how great it would be great if Nike, or a similar company, provided me with apparel and in return I would support and rep their brand. After seeing my former classmate and friend, Mallory Frye, accomplish this with Live Sore, it made me realize a partnership like this was possible.

    This is my Facebook: I do not have any other social media applications. I used to have Instagram, Snapchat, etc., but I recently decided to delete them because they were causing me to be unproductive and waste too many hours of my day.

    This is my blog: I created it more for myself than anyone else. It is a way to pour out my thoughts and I do it simply just because I enjoy writing.
  • Catiie Hollis About Catiie Hollis
    I wanted to do fun things be faster, stronger, smarter, and more controlled. Determination and products from my company are what got me where I am today. I have a video of my handstands and back tuck. I can also juggle now haha from doing hand eye coordination drills.
  • Jennifer Carnahan About Jennifer Carnahan
    My transformation story began when one day I simply decided enough was enough. There had been many hurdles throughout my life that
    led to a spiral of depression, overeating, fat jokes at my own expense (if you laugh first its ok, right)? I own and operate a horse rescue and work two jobs to keep it operating. I am a very proud mother of two beautiful daughters who are very active in their own interests. So between the rescue, work, and the kids activities I stayed fairly strung out and health was certainly not a priority. I felt like crap ALL the time. It was getting harder to fake that smile, and push forward with each day. Then someone I respected very much asked me one day if I was aware that it was pretty likely that I was so busy saving these horses so that I wouldn’t have to think about saving myself? That was a wow moment. It took a few months to fully sink in, but when it did I woke up! I began eating clean, and joined a local gym. With each milestone I have become more and more driven to work harder and to be better. My job performance is better, my moods are better, I FEEL so much better!! In this journey I have learned that we have to make the decision that we are not only worth being a priority, but that we should also darn well be on the top of our list of priorities. Yes I am a mother first and my girls are my world. Which is exactly why I should be taking care of myself. They learn so much by watching us and we should make sure that we are teaching them healthy choices, self value, good clean eating habits, and to live fully not squander life away on the couch. I wish I had come to this realization sooner, but never the less I am thankful to be on my journey now. Waiting could possibly cost you everything, so don’t! In order to transform the things we want to change it has to begin in our own thinking. You can decorate a house but it’s not a home without heart. The same goes for us. We can wear nice clothes, paste on the fake smiles, and portray happiness as if it was real. But if we are not well from the inside out, the ugly will spread. It is such a hard life to live in the shadows pretending. Imagine spending all that time, energy, and effort on improving your life rather than on faking it. I have endured much in my life and have fought nearly everyday but the biggest threat I have ever encountered was my own thinking. And now I am winning and so can you! It’s not all about losing weight. Being healthy is a transformation of a whole person, not just a waist line. So I challenged myself, one excuse at a time, and have learned to overcome. I am worthy and deserving of a healthier, fitter, and happier life, and so are you! Down 86 lbs and working towards the healthiest, fittest, and damn well sexiest body I can!

    -Jennifer Carnahan
  • Natalie Noe From Natalie:
    When I was a kid, I never played any sports since I wasn’t that coordinated and didn’t like the competition. As a teen not having done sports before, I hated gym class, running, and pretty much anything to do with being active.
    In my teens, I was unaware of what healthy eating really was and I only ate food that was convenient. Fitness and Nutrition are now a part of my life that have completely opened up my eyes about myself and opened a door of happiness that I never knew existed, BUT it came from a VERY PAINFUL place. I chose to learn how to eat “paleo” ( a rigid term that has lost its meaning and not really how I mold my nutrition per-say) about 3 years ago when I was told by a doctor the only way I would ever manage my anxiety and “depression” and severe ADD was to medicate myself for life. Pick your doctor, pick your disease right? I REFUSED to become a product of modern medicine. I got to work very quickly and immersed myself in research on how my nutrition and what I was putting in my body was DIRECTLY correlated to my feelings and emotions.

    That desire and hunger I had for self learning sparked a fire that CHANGED MY LIFE and now has blessed me to help SO MANY others CHANGE THEIRS.

    In order to live a purpose driven life, we need to accept responsibility for where we are in life and become proactive by controlling our habits, thoughts and actions. Do not wait for outside influences to provide motivation…. DECIDE RIGHT NOW that you are a motivated individual who takes productive, positive action in order to get what you want.
    Too often, I hear people blaming their lack of success on circumstances – Which is a complete waste of time. So what if someone started with more money, better health, or better “luck”? Focusing on what you do not have is not going to help you get what you want. Besides, I guarantee there is someone out there right now who has had less to work with than you – who is extremely successful at what you want to do through being self-motivated

    All across the country, people are struggling with their weight. They’re struggling with obstacles that have kept them from eating better, moving more and making their health a priority. They’re struggling to adopt the lifestyles they need to fend off preventable disease, live longer and spend less on health care. They are living in a vicious cycle of temporary change fueled by quick-fix solutions, and as a result, many of their achievements are short lived. I want to help you reach your fitness and nutrition goals. I will provide you with a personalized nutrition guide that will outline the plan of action to properly fuel your fitness and physical training.

    I also provide private training sessions at your personal gym, or mine here in boca at Iron Athletics. I have an amazing online coaching community for those out of the general area and I provide online nutrition coaching, personalized meal planning and workout guides as well! I have the blue print for your PERSONAL SUCCESS! Let’s do this!
    If nothing else- Do it for you.

    My fitness and health story starts with me going through a lot of (incredibly hard) changes and trying to make a positive change for me.
    I don’t work out for others.
    I do it for me, because I feel better when I’m active. Outside motivators are great, but to really achieve success YOU have to want it.

    Best wishes to you on your own journey, I hope to be a part of it!
    XO Coach Nat
  • Caitlyn Briel  About Caitlyn Briel
    My name is Caitlyn. I’m almost 25. I was always the chubby kid when I was younger. When you are young you don’t really notice physical things such as weight until it gets thrown in your face. I was always happy and outgoing, sporty and active so I never thought about what I ate. As I got a little older and I started realizing the difference between the “thin” girls and the “bigger” girls and the attention they got whether it be negative or positive. I began to take more pride in my appearance. I always have been and always will be kind of a tom-boy; I rode motocross and played softball but always was a cheerleader.

    I struggled with my weight all throughout life but when I got into high school I had it under control. I was a cheerleader and had lots of friends. Unfortunately through all the happiness and being so active in sports my eating got out of hand again and I gained a few pounds. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that things got really bad. I just stopped caring and ended up getting pretty heavy. My long time boyfriend and I had split up and I guess food was comfort.

    Months later I decided to try and work things out with that long time boyfriend but through being on the outside looking in I saw this super fit guy who took pride in himself and then I saw me this heavy girl who just trashed her body( 5’5 @ 196 lbs) Although he loved and accepted me for who I was I KNEW that wasn’t who I really was. Something had to change…NOW!
    I signed up at the local gym and got a personal trainer, having already had a very active background I instantly fell in love with fitness. It became my outlet, my pride, my drive, my reason for everything. Along with this new passion came a love for clean eating and a drive to help others. The fitness journey was in my blood. Through almost a year of constant struggle I lost 85 lbs and I could finally say I was happy with who “I” was.

    Fitness no matter what your goals are is a lifestyle, and in my opinion the best thing anyone can do for themselves. The people you meet and the relationships you gain are uncomparable. The way I feel when I wake up SORE is the best feeling in the world. As I watch my body grow and change I know that I have worked for every ounce of it. After I lost my weight I married that boyfriend I talked about and we now have a daughter who is two. We are a very active military family and intend on instilling those values in our daughter. Girls, despite what some may think are supposed to be strong and my daughter will be just that. The best advice I can give is to be happy in your own skin no matter your size; everyone’s definition of perfection and being fit is different so go build your own empire so you can inspire others. Wake up and LIVESORE!

    For me, I believe that fitness saved my life.
    Ever since I was a child I danced—-ballet, jazz, tap, all of it. I became very passionate and engrossed with the art that I decided that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I wanted to become a professional ballet dancer. Many men and women who pursue the career of dance find themselves conforming to the stereotype of the ‘perfect dancer’ and judging themselves harshly based on their bodies, how they look, how they dance, etc. This is exactly what triggered my eating disorder. I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and had to take half a year off from dance (I should have taken more than that but I begged my parents to let me go back). I went to an out-patient therapy program and thought that I was on the right track and that my eating disorder was gone. When I graduated high school I moved to Winston Salem, North Carolina and attended The University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I was on my way to achieving my goal of becoming a professional dancer. But then my eating disorder came back and controlled my life and body more than ever before, I suffered with Anorexia Nervosa as well as Bulimia/Binge-Eating problems. I came to a very low and negative point in my life, I wasn’t happy with myself, I lost my passion for ballet and dancing, and I lost all self-confidence.

    I decided that it was time for a change. This is when I transferred to a University in my home town and started to work on myself and bettering my life. I started going to a therapist and I began using exercise as a way to free myself from negative thoughts. Although when I first started going back to the gym I was doing around an hour and half of cardio and then biking about 15-20 miles a day. I was mainly working out because I still hated my body and would do whatever I could to burn calories.
  • Meghan Santa Barbara meghan-santabarbara
    It wasn’t until August that I started to lift weights in the gym. I read books after books, blogs, watched educational videos, anything I could to teach myself about a balanced and healthy lifestyle. I never hired a personal trainer or got much advice from anyone with my diet or workouts, it was mainly trial and error up until about October.

    The gym is my therapy now, I leave all negative thoughts and bad feelings at the door and once I leave the gym I feel refreshed, almost like a new me. Since May, when I was at my lowest weight of 110 lbs (at 5’9), I have gained 38 pounds and have more confidence than ever before. I feel at peace with my body and with my life.

    Not only, like I said before, has fitness saved my life. It has also put me in contact with other amazing and inspiring individuals along the way. I have many goals for myself in the future. Since I am very passionate about the fitness industry I plan on obtaining my certification in both Sports Nutrition and Personal Training (hopefully during this summer). I want to be able to inspire others and help them achieve their fitness and wellness goals. I would also like to compete in my first bodybuilding competition as a Figure Competitor hopefully in 2017.
    Although my “transformation” isn’t like other people who have lost 20-40 pounds, got in shape, etc. It is a transformation story that I think a lot of girls could benefit from hearing about, you never know what others are struggling with. And I want to be able to be a source of inspiration and motivation, to show girls (and guys) that you CAN change your life, you CAN love yourself and build a better body with a positive outlook on life and fitness. You just have to believe in yourself and your abilities!
  • Amber Galloway About Amber “Lil Engine” Galloway
    Image Descriptions:
    Left side is pre transplant…the top is when right after my 35th birthday, underneath bottom far left is Sept 2014 and the final one with the tape on my head is just after I was able to breathe on my own post transplant so they pulled the breathing tube. Yay! Right side top is the day I got home from transplant. Underneath is me and my former coach Katie Hogan at Regionals 3 months out from transplant. And next to that is a recent back squat day in my favorite shirt.
    On November 4, 2013 I was found face down in my apartment by an EMT, I was clinging to life. Luckily, my mother’s keen instinct kicked in overdrive that day, after an “odd” phone call, when she called 911, or I would not still be here today. After a long few months of fighting for my life, regaining my speech and short term memory, and ability to walk, my diagnosis was given to me, I had End Stage Liver Disease and I would die without a liver transplant. Actually, I was told I would likely be dead before my 35th birthday, which at that time was only 4 months away.

    I fought the good fight. Survived past my 35th. Cut to November of 2014, I got my first “call” I was the backup for transplant that day. But it didn’t go through. By this point, I was in the hospital more than out, and hanging on to the end of my rope with superglue, but I was hanging in, and staying positive. On February 19, 2015, after screaming at God that I wanted my suffering to end, I got the call. This was it. Be there at midnight, my transplant surgery will begin at 4am on February 20th, 2015.

    They almost didn’t do the transplant, they didn’t think I would survive because of my heart. But it happened, I was given the gift of life. It’s far beyond a “second chance” It’s given my life a new sense of purpose. And I wasn’t about to waste any time. I did everything that was asked of me, and got out of the hospital in a very short 4 days. Went on daily walks until a month out, when I started to add light stretching and work on a Gravity Training System Total Gym with a personal trainer friend of mine. I believe that I survived this partly because of my strength. Liver disease wastes muscle, in the end, I had only enough to stand, but I had a lot to waste to begin with and I never stopped strength training…even if it was 5 minutes on the rower and 30 kb swings, I did something every. single. day.

    Cut to now. Healthy and strong. I still have health issues, but nothing compared to before. It’s all a risk vs benefit for my health now…in everything I do, I have to make that choice much more consciously than most. For my training, rather than all Crossfit, my focus is primarily Powerlifting. I also work on gymnastics because it’s always been my weakness and I need something that fires me up. And some cardio fun, like 60 lap swims, long rows, or 3 mile runs. My training is a mashup of what works for my body right now, and as I continue to heal, it will continue to change. The incision goes down my ribcage and nearly to my hip on the right side, down the left side of the ribcage, and halfway up my sternum. All of that muscle inside is still healing. But I’m off to a good start…
    Back Squat – 245
    DeadLift – 315
    Bench – 125
    It’s not much, but I’m only 10 months out from transplant. This is only the beginning! Livesore! Embrace the pain!

    About Blake Walls
    In high school I was in the worst shape of my entire life. I was about 300 pounds of pure video gaming nerd. I had no interest in sports whatsoever. I stayed that way for about a year or two after high school. My then girlfriend at the time had just started doing CrossFit to get her in better shape before she went off for college. She invited my one weekend and I decided to go. The warm-up was simple, a 500 meter row, some push-ups, some sit-ups and done. This got my heart rate elevated quickly. By the time we moved on to the first part of our workout I was exhausted, out of breathe, turning white and had chest pain. I couldn’t participate. After that day I determined I wasn’t going to stay the same anymore. So I began to lose the weight. After I had lost 60 pounds on my own I needed more motivation. So I decided to start training to play football. I joined a CrossFit gym in order to get my conditioning up and bulk at the same time. I bulked up from 225 pounds to 245 pounds and joined a team called the Tomball Bobcats. I played one season with them and sent out some highlight footage to some college’s in Texas. A school in Marshall, East Texas Baptist University, called me very quickly and asked me to come play with them. So, I did. I went up for a month long strength in conditioning camp where I sustained a couple of muscular injuries. During our week long camp my body couldn’t keep up, so I wasn’t able to stick with it. Now I’m training Powerlifting at Woodlands Strength and Conditioning in the Woodlands, Texas and I’m loving every minute of it. Now I’m 23 and training hard. I may not be a football player anymore, but I’m not 223 pounds and solid and loving every minute of my training and life.

  • Blake Walls 

    About Blake Walls

    In high school I was in the worst shape of my entire life. I was about 300 pounds of pure video gaming nerd. I had no interest in sports whatsoever. I stayed that way for about a year or two after high school. My then girlfriend at the time had just started doing CrossFit to get her in better shape before she went off for college. She invited my one weekend and I decided to go. The warm-up was simple, a 500 meter row, some push-ups, some sit-ups and done. This got my heart rate elevated quickly. By the time we moved on to the first part of our workout I was exhausted, out of breathe, turning white and had chest pain. I couldn’t participate. After that day I determined I wasn’t going to stay the same anymore. So I began to lose the weight. After I had lost 60 pounds on my own I needed more motivation. So I decided to start training to play football. I joined a CrossFit gym in order to get my conditioning up and bulk at the same time. I bulked up from 225 pounds to 245 pounds and joined a team called the Tomball Bobcats. I played one season with them and sent out some highlight footage to some college’s in Texas. A school in Marshall, East Texas Baptist University, called me very quickly and asked me to come play with them. So, I did. I went up for a month long strength in conditioning camp where I sustained a couple of muscular injuries. During our week long camp my body couldn’t keep up, so I wasn’t able to stick with it. Now I’m training Powerlifting at Woodlands Strength and Conditioning in the Woodlands, Texas and I’m loving every minute of it. Now I’m 23 and training hard. I may not be a football player anymore, but I’m not 223 pounds and solid and loving every minute of my training and life.

  • Bill Hansen “Big Sarge” About Bill Hansen “Big Sarge”

    You need a mission.

    So says Sergeant Bill Hansen, a former Marine turned member of the U.S. National Guard and a current mentor with the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). Today Sgt. Hansen has a clear mission: to provide mentorship and support to young veterans carrying the physical and emotional scars of war. “Big Sarge” (as he has been aptly nicknamed) is a true American hero — a veteran with more than two decades of service to his name, a former educator and coach, and a man who generously gives his time and energy to training recently-injured warriors for athletic events such as the Tough Mudder. He’s a man accustomed to playing many roles in his life, one of which also happens to be survivor of brain injury.

    If you met him today, it would be hard to imagine this energetic man voluntarily sequestered on the couch, a container of chocolate chip cookie dough in hand, but that experience is also true of Big Sarge’s journey. The story of his transition from an active duty soldier to a Wounded Warrior mentor is the story of a real man grappling with the challenges of any veteran or TBI survivor.

    In 2009, while completing his second tour of duty in Iraq, Big Sarge’s convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED), leaving him with an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury. It was one of eight concussive injuries he would sustain during active duty, eventually leading to a brain bleed and significant changes in cognition. From the outside, Big Sarge’s injuries were hard to detect. He did not let on that he was relying on painkillers and Rockstars (highly caffeinated energy drinks) to manage the chronic pain and issues with cognition. Like a good soldier, he was determined to complete his final tour and return home.

    Unfortunately, life was no easier at home in California. Struggling with cognitive issues that involved his short-term memory and attention, Big Sarge returned from Iraq only to enter a new battle: fighting for quality care. “You broke me. You fix me,” he recalls arguing with the Veterans Administration (VA).

    Before being wounded, Big Sarge considered himself an active person. He was an athlete, a high school coach, and an involved father to four daughters. But in the months following his return home, as he battled the VA and searched for explanations about his health, he became a man nearly unrecognizable to himself.

    Traumatic brain injury and PTSD had delivered a crushing blow to his identity. “I zoned out for awhile,” he explains while describing the bouts of anger and impatience he directed to his family, the sedentary lifestyle that caused him to gain nearly 100 pounds, and the feelings of worthlessness that pervaded. This was survival, but it certainly wasn’t living. Without a strong support system other than the daughters he was co-parenting with his ex-wife, Big Sarge had to dig deep, drawing primarily upon the lessons in perseverance passed down by his own father, as well as the courageous mindset instilled in him by the military.

    He needed a mission.

    “I felt horrible about myself,” Big Sarge recalls, as he reflects on the period he spent struggling with the emotional and physical aftermath of his injuries. It took the honesty of his young daughter Amanda before he was ready to pick up the reins and take control of his own life again: “She came to me and she said, ‘Dad, something’s the matter. You’re not acting like dad anymore.'”

    This conversation would mark Day 1 of Big Sarge’s most critical mission yet: Be daddy again. After nearly 14 months since returning from active duty, Big Sarge had finally defined his most important mission. Now it was time to figure out how exactly to put his intentions into action. And so he began by setting a series of specific, measurable goals.

    “I knew I was in terrible shape,” Big Sarge admits, “but I said, ‘I know I can do this. I just need to start losing the weight.'” He focused his intentions on losing 10 pounds. This would become the first in a series of increasingly challenging goals.

    “I had to have several goals, and I had to make them verbal to others,” he explains. Sharing his goals aloud with others helped keep Big Sarge accountable for the progress he was making, but it also connected him to friends who would help support his hard work: “I even had a friend come in and clean out my pantry of junk food.”

    But even with a clearly defined mission and a widening support system, the temptation to fall back into his earlier ways did not immediately subside: “I was working a high stress job while I was trying to recover, so there were times I would take four steps forward and three steps back.” At his lowest moments, he found himself re-nursing old injuries, back on the couch with his personal kryptonite — chocolate chip cookie dough — back in hand.

    It took time and patience to achieve that first goal, but once he accomplished his initial weight loss, Big Sarge remained focus on achieving the next milestone: running a full mile without stopping. His commitment to these bite-sized, ongoing goals eventually led Big Sarge to aim his sights on a much larger prize: “I read about the Tough Mudder, and I thought, ‘That sounds crazy. Sign me up.'”

    Without telling anyone, he signed himself up for the grueling 12-mile obstacle course and began training. Instead of joining a team, he chose to compete individually, uneasy about involving anyone else in his goal: “I didn’t want a cheer team. I didn’t want anyone to wait or have to slow down because I was going so slow. I just wanted to see if I still had it in me to finish … no matter what.”

    It took over seven hours to complete the course (most competitors take about three hours), but Big Sarge made it to the finish line. The taste of accomplishment fueled him with the confidence to keep going, and he quickly signed up for his second Tough Mudder, as part of the official Wounded Warrior team.

    In the three years since, Big Sarge has successfully completed seven Tough Mudder and Spartan Race competitions, bicycled from Palo Alto to Los Angeles down Highway 1 in just five days, completed several CrossFit competitions leading up to the National Disney Fitness Challenge (placing third overall in his age group), and is now a certified CrossFit coach. Twice weekly he teaches CrossFit to Wounded Warriors in his community. With each accomplishment, he continues to raise the bar for his fitness goals and hopes to be the first Wounded Warrior to compete in the CrossFit games.

    Fitness has provided Big Sarge with a strong sense of inner motivation, but it has healed him in more ways than one. The experience of training and competing has connected him to his community by lifting him out of depression and into a position of helping other veterans. “For a long time, I was being carried,” he reflects. This was not an easy role to accept for someone whose career in the armed services required him to lead and carry others.

    There are still battles to be fought on the home front, including an ongoing struggle with the VA (To date Big Sarge’s recovery has been entirely funded out-of-pocket or by contributions.) and persistent TBI issues including problems with focus and memory, migraines, and phantom pain. But Big Sarge has come a long way.

    Through his association with the WWP and his desire to make good on becoming daddy again, he is now living with a sense of purpose, one that has impelled him to thrive in the face of challenge. Today Big Sarge describes himself as a more present father, involved in the lives of his daughters — ages 23, 22, 15, and 12 — to the extent that he has deliberately ruled out dating for the moment. As he manages his time trying to fulfill his many roles in the veteran and athletic worlds, there is hardly an opportunity to revert back to old sedentary habits. When frustrations inevitably arise, he says, “I remind myself that I will never be perfect, but I need to just keep moving in a positive way forward.”

    The message Big Sarge spreads today is one for all recovering veterans and TBI survivors. “It’s about reminding people what the body can do. People see where they were. They see where they are now, and they say, ‘I can never do that again.’ But the body will remember. It just takes time. It takes getting over the fear.”

  • Sheri Waller About Sheri Waller
    My name is Sheri Waller… I’m a 38 year old mother residing in Asheville, NC. I work 3rd shift at a community hospital as a CT Tech. I’m not your “typical” CrossFitter per say.

    For years I struggled with depression, using food as my coping mechanism. I grew up in a family business of fast food and loved everything fried. During my pregnancy I gained over 70lbs, eventually reaching almost 300lbs.

    After seeing a picture of myself eating a brownie, my eyes were finally opened to the destruction I was causing myself, physically and emotionally. Trying for about a year at the local gym and low carb dieting I lost a few pounds but was still not satisfied.

    At the encouragement of a few friends and the woman I affectionately call my CrossFit wife, Andi, I decided to try this new thing everyone was raving about. Andi and I entered our first CrossFit box scared and excited. As a child, I was a dancer but never what most would consider an athlete but decided I would try anyway. Halfway through my first WOD I knew it was for me!

    I have since lost over 100lbs, learned how food affects my body and mind, no longer need therapy or medication for depression, and am constantly amazed at what “I” can accomplish.

    Overcoming fears and weaknesses, I’ve learned I can inspire many others in my same situation. After about 2yrs of CrossFit i attained my Level 1, I value the fact that I’m “different”. I love coaching at my home box, CrossFit Pisgah, and sharing where I’ve come from. If I can do CrossFit, anybody can do it!

    My goals constantly change and I love that there is always constant growth in CrossFit. My favorite quote is “Stronger than yesterday but not as Strong as tomorrow”. I’ve attached photos of what CrossFit has accomplished for my body but nothing can compare to what CrossFit has done for me emotionally.

    CrossFit Level 1 Cert

    CrossFit Mobility Cert

    Live Sore Ambassador

    Top 10 Garage Games Masters Tour 2014 & 2015

    Finalist at The Salt Games 2015
  • David Cogdell About David Cogdell
    I had always been the big guy in any group of friends, always width wise rather than height. As I got older, I just got bigger. I would see myself in pictures and just assume the camera angle was to blame for how horrible I looked in the pictures. I knew I needed to get healthy, but as everyone says, there just wasn’t time.

    In December 2012, I changed jobs and went from having a 2-4 hour round trip commute (depending on traffic) to working from home. I could no longer blame my weight on a lack of time. So, in January of 2013, I went (with my wife’s support) into a gym for the first time since the couple of half-hearted trips in college. At the same time, I also began monitoring what I ate, and was counting calories and eating at a deficit.

    That first trip into the gym, I hopped on the elliptical. I had always been active and my energy was something that surprised people because of my size. However, I couldn’t stay on any kind of pace consistently for more than a couple minutes without looking like I was going to die (from my wife’s observation). I made it 20 minutes total, with multiple stops.

    I went back the next day, and kept at it, working my way to being able to stay at a steady pace without having to take breaks. I was in the gym 6 days a week, focusing solely on cardio. After about a month, I finally decided to hop on the scale, not knowing what to expect, but assuming maybe I would see a number around 250. I saw 297. I felt pretty crushed, and wasn’t able to comprehend I had been anywhere near 300 pounds. In hindsight, the way I was losing weight in the months after this, I have to assume I had been well over 300, but 297 is the number I can actually attest to seeing. Apparently, I had been eating at a larger deficit than I even knew.

    In late February, I started to add in a little bit of weight work, although solely using the machines in the gym. The weight was dropping pretty quick, and by the time I got to late March 2013, and my best friend’s wedding, I had dropped 30 pounds. I anticipated hearing all kinds of stunned reactions at how good I was looking…but nobody noticed. A few days later, when I saw pictures of the wedding online, I could see why. I didn’t look any different.

    I decided to keep going, knowing I was on the right path. I continued the cardio and using the machines at the gym and by June I was down 50 pounds total…and people were starting to notice and comment. Those comments just stoked the fire even more. At this point, I set an actual goal beyond “to be healthy” which was to hit 190 on the scale and do it before Thanksgiving. 190 was magical not just for being sub 200, but because that moved me from “obese” to “overweight” BMI-wise (I didn’t know exactly how pointless BMI was then…I was still a noob at fitness).

    I got to 194 by Thanksgiving and was able to maintain through the holidays (even after eating to the point of “severe meat-sweats” on Thanksgiving. I broke the 190 barrier in February 2014, just a year after starting, but the weight continued to drop, even though I had switched my diet to maintenance calories.

    My goal, after hitting 190 was to simply maintain for a year. I knew if I could maintain the weight for a year, I could maintain it forever. During the year of trying to maintain, I really started to love the weightlifting a lot, even if it was still primarily machine based. Fitness was not just something I did, and it wasn’t just a hobby, it was a passion.

    My entire weight-loss process has been something I have been responsible for. I did the research into different workouts, different theories and approaches. I figured I got myself fat all by myself, and I can get myself fit all by myself. Each year, I make new goals for myself, a culmination of my accomplishments over the previous year and all of the research I have done in that time. This year has been dedicated solely to building muscle with my focus on free-weights, concentrating on squats, deadlifts, benchpress and other compound movements.

    I went from wearing XXL shirts and 42? waist pants (both being tight) to wearing 32? waist pants and M (fitted!) shirts. Now, the only place clothes are tight, are a result of muscle gained, most noticeably in my pecs, quads and hamstrings.

    I apologize for the extreme wall of text, but like I said this has become my passion. The notion of being able to motivate others, and show them even a fat, lazy video game playing nerd can get into shape just by paying attention to what they eat, and working out motivates me more every day.

    Thanks for taking the interest and the time to read my story.

    David Cogdell
  • Ross Poole About Ross Poole
    It was Saturday August 24th 2013, I was driving my then girlfriend now fiancé to get something to eat without a worry in the world. Sadly, on the journey for lunch I was involved in a car accident, almost totalling my car. Without thinking my immediate concern was my fiancé’s health and how she was doing. I got her to urgent care thanks to my brother and his girlfriend. They dropped everything and came to help me without any hesitation. Later, after she had returned from urgent care having had several x-rays done, prescriptions for pain relievers and muscle relaxers filled, and
    now it was my turn to seek attention at urgent care. When asked what was wrong or hurting I really couldn’t answer. The adrenaline was still coursing through my veins and my main concern was not my own well-being but that of my fiancé. After several tests and series of x-rays, I too was prescribed pain killers and muscle relaxers. I thought very little of the accident causing me pain or soreness again until a couple weeks later.

    A couple weeks later I was playing soccer and suffered a double impact to my head. Initially, I thought very little of these incidents by themselves but the next day I was forced to revaluate my situation. I went and saw medical attention because I couldn’t focus in classes. I was sensitive to lights, noises, and I just couldn’t think straight. Several weeks passed and so did several medical personnel ranging from urgent care providers, to brain specialists, neurophysiologists, and sleep therapists. A decision was made and I was told I had to withdraw from my junior year of college to give me a fighting chance of regaining normal cognitive functions. I wasn’t allowed any brain stimulation this meant no TV, phone, computer, music, reading, and lights. I was cautioned that too much stimulation would cause an increase blood flow to my brain and risk damaging my brain permanently.

    After almost 2 months of this dark and depressing abyss, it was recommend that I start a brain injury outpatient treatment program. This consisted of 15 hours a week for 3-4 months of intense cognitive
    function therapy, balance therapy, and sleep therapy. During this time I struggled with serious bouts of depression, anger and irritability. It felt as if I was never going to recover and my main outlet for anger, frustration, and sadness in the past had been to play sports. I had a passion to play Soccer and Football in a way that made it seem like nothing could bring me down when I was the last man slide tackling or when I was intercepting a pass for a wide receiver. However, my medical team told me I should never play contact sports again.

    The reality of the situation crushed my heart. The emotional pain was absolutely excruciating. Sports are something I’d played since I could walk. I was always that tough little kid fighting to make his own name, yet always living in his older brother’s shadow. Now I’d never be able to live up to his legacy, let alone make my own. However, my parents, my brother and my fiancé all advised me to carve out my own path and find new outlets.

    One day about a month into my brain outpatient treatment program I was allowed to start watching TV in 30 minute max sittings. This is when Crossfit entered my life. I was able to watch the events on YouTube and I saw something that had the intensity and competition that I lived for. A couple
    months later I was cleared to do activities that raised my heart rate above 140 beats per minute. I started to research local boxes and began to Crossfit. I quickly found out that Crossfit is something I really enjoy and has given me so much more than I ever expected. Some days I feel really strong physically and then there’s days where I use my new found mental strength and just grind out the work out. I don’t care what people may say about Crossfit or me it helped give me my life back. I no longer live sore with the pain of depression or anxiety, I live sore with pain in my muscles knowing I lived the day before in remembrance of all of its hardships and struggles that I overcame. I live sore because I know that I am transforming myself physically and mentally into the man I want to be.

  • Joe Borgisi
  • Veronica Pizana
  • Shannon Halverson