Category Archives: Motivation

Motivational Monday: True Strength

You know that point when you feel like quitting…..

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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in CrossFit, Motivation


Sunday Success Story: Staci

Staci’s story came across my news feed on facebook today. I follow Eat Fat Get Fit, and they were the ones to post her story. I felt like it was a perfect story today following my “counting calories” post on Friday (considering she eats 3,000-4,000 calories/day). I also have a problem with frequently stepping on that scale. Her story reminded me today that the scale shouldn’t determine how “in shape” I consider myself to be. I should just throw it out. Instead I should focus on what my body can do now that it couldn’t before.

Here is Staci’s story (copied from here):

Staci’s story is awesome for a number of reasons, but a few in particular stand out to me:

  • Working a sedentary desk job, Staci slowly packed on weight and ate like a typical unhealthy American.
  • Before getting educated, she tried to get in shape by doing what 95% of the female population does when they try to lose weight: she ran a lot and essentially starved herself – Not surprisingly, she dropped to an incredibly low and unhealthy weight.
  • She educated herself, cleaned up her diet, and immediately started feeling and living better.
  • She found the Nerd Fitness community, discovered a love for barbell strength training, and started lifting HEAVY weights.
  • She’s now in the best shape of her life, healthier and happier than ever before.

For the women out there who are scared about “getting too bulky when lifting weights,” this article is for you.  If you’re curious what happens to a girl who packs on twenty pounds of muscle and starts lifting heavy weights, you’ll find your answer here…I have no doubt it will surprise the hell out of you.

Staci in 2009 – 170 pounds

This is a picture of Staci back in 2009 before she decided to make some changes in her life.

As I said previously, Staci works a typical American desk job where she spends all day in front of a computer screen.

Starting around age 16, she started to put on weight relatively steadily through high school and college and after, when she reached her peak at 170 pounds in 2009 at the age of 25.

Here’s her background:

“Growing up I was never comfortable in my own skin.  Never.  I was always the weird one.  I mean, I raised rabbits for a hobby!  RABBITS.  The only after school activity I did was band, and never participated in any sports.  I always thought I was fat.  I always hated my legs, and would refuse to wear shorts in the summer because I was so uncomfortable with them.  If we went to the beach, I’d wear shorts over my bathing suit bottom.

I was super timid, super shy, afraid to talk to ANYONE I didn’t know, even if we were all out with a group of people.”

I asked her what a normal day used to be like for her back in 2009:

“I’d get up at like 9, go to work, have a Slim Fast shake because I never had time for breakfast.  I wasn’t a big snacker but I ate a lot for my meals – I’d typically go out to eat for lunch every day and get a sub or something from D’angelos or Subway – and it was never the 6″ one, it was the big one.  And chips. Lots of chips.  Or french fries.  Getting home I’d either go out to eat with friends or plop in front of the tv playing video games for hours.

My favorite meal was tacos and nachos.   I just asked my old roommate what I used to eat because I didn’t remember, and she said ‘oh, you used to plop in front of the TV with a big plate of meat and cheese, and go ‘Hm, I guess I should have some chips with this.’  On many occasions we’d order pizza around 11PM too.  On top of all of that, I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day!”

I’m sure this is a daily scenario that you can relate to: too tired in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast, lots of unhealthy meals, general apathy towards what you’re eating and when, and no real direction.  She went to the doctor, who told her that she had high cholesterol and needed to lose some weight if she wanted to live a long healthy life.

Except that she wasn’t really sure how to lose weight and get in shape.  And she certainly didn’t want to get bulky by lifting weights (gasp!), so she did what most women do when they want to lose weight: eat way less and run way more.

Staci in early 2010

To get started on her weight loss journey, Staci joined a gym and started doing the elliptical as much as possible (because that’s what you do when you want to get skinny, right?).  She said:

“At first I was only able to make it like, 10 minutes, but eventually got up to about an hour a day.  Keep in mind though, I’d smoke a cigarette walking up to the gym, and light up again immediately after leaving.”

I always thought that being super skinny would make me happy, like it was the one missing piece of my life.  I bought countless exercise machines for my apartments, which all ended up sitting in the corner gathering dust.  I bought DDR thinking that if I could exercise in a video game, that would do it.  But it didn’t.  I even tried “Sweatin to the Oldies” (which, for the record, everyone should do, because it at least gets you laughing and moving).  But nothing stuck.

Until I was finally ready.  I can’t say what it was, but I just got up one day and said “ok, I’m going to do this now”.  I can’t tell you what it was – I didn’t set a date ahead of time, I just woke up knowing it was time. I went on weight watchers, I started running.  But as I started to feel the effects of the weight loss, I got obsessed.  I’d weigh myself every day, I got a scale that measured every ounce so I’d know what I lost.

Following this unhealthy plan, Staci went from 170 pounds all the way down to 117 pounds over the course of a year.  And then she started to open her eyes…

“I did lose the 50lbs that I needed to lose, but instead of ‘finding myself’ and becoming comfortable in my own skin, I ended up being LESS comfortable.  Everything I did was based on appearance. I couldn’t do certain things because I was afraid I’d gain an OUNCE back.  It got to the point where a friend of mine would IM me all the time with just “EAT SOMETHING”.  I was tired all the time, I had no energy to do anything even when I was sleeping like 10 hours a night. the bags under my eyes were insane – I simply wasn’t getting the nutrients i needed.

It was at this point that I dated a bodybuilder for like, three weeks (hey, we all make mistakes, right?). He informed me I was doing it all wrong (but didn’t tell me what to do right, just said “youre doing it wrong).  That made me start researching nutrition and strength workouts because I was so incredibly unhealthy, tired, and weak all the time.  I got a set of 5lb dumbbells and a Jillian Michaels DVD and tried doing pushups.   I remember struggling doing chest presses with the 5lb dumbbells.  I was so weak.  And I wouldn’t use weights at the gym because I was so scared of all of the boys on the weight floor.  SO SCARED.

As I found more info on nutrition, I started questioning Weight Watchers, and finally stopped going after I asked a question on how something was healthy and he pulled the line, “we’re not trying to get healthy here, we’re just trying to lose a little weight”.    I started doing more research, read Good Calories, Bad Calories, and started my transition to eating more Paleo in April or May 2010.  I upped my calorie intake to like 1500 a day and immediately started to feel better.”

[Steve’s note: I understand that this representative of Weight Watchers certainly doesn’t reflect the beliefs and views of all employees at Weight Watchers.  However, I do think WHAT you eat is very important along with how much you’re eating.”]

Staci starts weight training, goes full Paleo, finds Nerd Fitness

On June 1st, 2010, Staci’s work office opened up a gym with free weights.  Because she was working out with coworkers rather than random strangers, she felt comfortable with strength training; she felt okay asking coworkers questions on different exercises.  Over the next few months, from June until late August, she continued to educate herself on eating better and getting stronger:

“I finished the paleo transition in August or September, and stopped counting calories.  One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life; it’s a freedom I can’t even describe.  I just…ate when I was hungry.  I gained weight, but I stayed the same size clothes, so what the scale said didn’t matter.  I went from 117 pounds (at my lowest) to around 130 pounds and felt GREAT about it.  My scale broke in May, so I threw it away and only weigh myself probably once a month these days out of pure curiosity.”

This is Staci at 117 lbs. on the left (doing her best “deer in the headlights” impression), and 131 lbs. on the right.

It was right around this time on her search for Paleo diet information that she stumbled across Nerd Fitness and saw my latest article about the Legend of Zelda(her favorite video game series too).  She joined our community, signed up for one of the monthly challenges, continued to put her focus on strength training, and made sure she ate enough to fuel her workouts.

And then things got interesting.  After tons of encouragement from members of the Nerd Fitness community (thanks Dantes!), she began a torrid love affair in October that most women would scoff at.

Staci began barbell training.

And not wimpy barbell training either.  I’m talking old school heavy deadlifts, squats, overhead presses, and bench presses – the exercises usually reserved for strongmen in the back corner of the gym:

“When I say that the second I touched a barbell I fell in love, I’m not joking.  When people say to me, “oh, its not healthy to lift that much, etc…”  Lifting to me is like going and playing basketball is to someone else.  Its a hobby, and a passion.  I’m not doing it because I have to, I’m doing it because I want to.  I’m simply happier days that I deadlift.”

Staci gets super strong.

Beginning in October 2010, Staci jumped headfirst into the world of power lifting. Over the following six months, she strength trained like her life depended on it, keeping track of her gains and making sure she ate enough to continue getting stronger.  I honestly cannot tell you how refreshing it is to hear that from a woman!  She packed on another ten pounds of muscle and got incredibly strong.

Seriously, how many 5’4″ females who weigh 140 pounds do you know that can deadlift 315 pounds?

Here are her weight training stats for those six months:

Over those six months, Staci put on ANOTHER 10 pounds of muscle while strength training like a World’s Strongest Man contestant and eating A TON of food to make sure she could continue to get stronger. She raised her deadlift from 135 pounds to 315 pounds, added 50 pounds to her overhead press and 50 pounds to her bench press.

You’re probably wondering what happens to a woman’s figure when she goes through this transformation.

Prepare to be shocked.

Staci Now

Believe it or not, she’s 11 pounds HEAVIER (142 pounds) in the picture on the right (May 2011) compared to the picture on the left (131 pounds, October 2010).

So what the hell happened?  How the heck does she look like she weighs less even though she weighs more?

She packed on the right kind of weight while getting rid of the wrong kind.

When you strength train with very heavy weights for low numbers of repetitions, you build incredibly DENSE, tight muscle.  It’s funny, but if you really want that toned look in your legs, stomach, and arms – picking up small weights and doing lots of repetitions isn’t doing anything – it’s really heavy weights with low repetition that will sculpt the body you’re after.

On top of super heavy strength training, Staci had to eat between 3000-4000 calories per day (all healthy calories, mind you) to put on the extra weight.  Had she not overloaded her system with calories, she wouldn’t have gained an ounce.

As we’ve learned from Mark Twight, trainer for the actors from 300, “appearance is a consequence of fitness.” Rather than worrying about every calorie, every ounce of food, and every pound on the scale, Staci put her focus into getting stronger – she ate to get stronger, she exercised to get stronger, she lived to get stronger.:

“The thing that I really gained the most in all of this is that I’m now comfortable with who I am.  I’m comfortable in my skin, I’m not nearly as shy and awkward as I used to be, I’m not afraid to try new things.  I stand up for myself.  I learned about failure and success, and I’m not afraid to try something (and fail) over and over again even if people are watching.  My attitude for life pretty much just changed.  I still remember the day I looked at my legs and said “you know what, these are the legs that help me deadlift, so who cares what they look like.

So the whole point in all of this is really that yeah, appearance is one thing, but it’s not the main goal.  I would gain ten pounds tomorrow if it meant I could add 50lbs to my deadlift.”

Staci is now a machine that can’t be stopped. She joined a Crossfit gym back in March and now does crazy things like “1000 burpees on the 4th of July” for fun.  Yeah, she’s nuts…in the best way possible :)

To read more about Staci, you can finish reading this article here.


Motivational Monday: Mind Over Matter



You must tell yourself that YOU CAN…

Too often I find myself thinking “I don’t know if I can do this…” or even “I can’t do this….” It is in those moments that I have killed any hope I could have had of progressing at that time. I have found that when I go into something thinking “I’ve got this” that I find success!

Just for the record: I PR’d today on hang squat cleans. My previous max was 65#. Today I made it to 75#! It was awesome!! I honestly probably could have done the 80#, but I started that negative thinking….

If you are in the mood for a few good before & after pictures like I was today, you can click the link below!


Motivational Monday: When You FAIL…

Well, Brett and I are back from vacation. I have no desire to do anything productive today…except maybe get a meal plan and recipes together. There are tons of things I could be doing: unpacking luggage, doing laundry, packing for the move. Maybe I’ll get around to those, but I’m in no hurry. I do plan to work on getting some posts together for the blog, though, since I’ve been MIA for the past week. :)

Just so you know, we pretty much abandoned Paleo for the week. Yep, I gained three pounds, but I think it was worth it. The food tasted great. We didn’t really eat large portions and even skipped lunch most days, so it was rarely enough to make me feel sick. I definitely can say we made better choices about food due to our paleo convictions, but still had some white potatoes and bread now and then. :)

I found an awesome CrossFit video for today’s motivational Monday. It was posted on the “Women of CrossFit=Strong” facebook page. You should definitely like their page and tell them that “CrossFit + Paleo = Winning Combination” sent you! You should like their page even if you don’t do CrossFit. The motivation they provide to workout is AWESOME!

While on vacation I got a message from one of my BFs saying she felt like a failure during one of the WODs (welcome to the club). We all fail sometimes. CrossFit is hard. There is a saying that goes something like this:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would be doing it. The hard is what makes it great.”

I love that quote from A League of Their Own. I’ve failed on my front squats three times in the past couple months, only to PR when I tried again while on vacation. Some, or most, WODs kick my butt, but I’m always stronger the next time.

Watch these two videos!

and the CrossFit FAIL video….

Crossfit Fail from Greg Whiteley on Vimeo.

If you’ve never failed, you’ve never lived.

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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in CrossFit, Motivation, Paleo


Motivational Monday: So You Have a Good Excuse

Yeah, I’m sure you have a good excuse for why you can’t workout….

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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Motivation


Sunday Success Story: Johana Pat

The story below is about Johana Pat. She began CrossFit in January 2010 and the Primal/Paleo diet in March 2010. You can read her story below and check out her results 7 months into CrossFit and 5 month into the Primal/Paleo diet.

This article was written by Johana and copied from here.

Johana Pat - Before and After

Johana Pat – Before and After

As a child I was fairly thin but once puberty hit I no longer was ever really thin again. I had never been greatly overweight during my teenage years but I definitely was not comfortable in my weight and appearance. After graduating high school I would go through spurts of working out, lose a little weight, then get bored of the routine of it all and go back to how things were before. This cycle lasted for years, and hit the worst after a break up with a boyfriend that affected me in the worst way. I had gained weight while with him and a bit more after the break up. I was unhappy with myself and what I had let happen.

Come January of this year I was fed up. I knew very well that it is all in my control and that I need to quit half-assing my efforts. I made a promise to myself that this time I will do a ton of research, ask questions, and keep to a fitness plan to lose weight the healthy way. And I did, and I did well. I was eating healthy and doing circuit training on my own up until March.

Johana Pat - KB Snatch

Johana Pat – KB Snatch

In March, after consulting with Your Nutrionista on healthy eating habits, she asked if she could add me as a trial client for nutrition consulting and I agreed. She is the one that introduced me to the Primal Blueprint (Mark’s Daily Apple). I was very hesitant and anticipated it to be much harder than I ever imagined – I mean, come on, no bread, pasta, rice, beans, artificial sugars, AND keep it low carb? But she insisted that I try it for 2 weeks and see how I adjust and if I like it. I was game and decided to dive in headfirst. Surprisingly, it was not as hard as I anticipated and always felt energized and was never hungry.

As I did research on other blogs that eat primal or paleo, I noticed that most (if not all) people that eat this way also do CrossFit. I wondered to myself, what is this CrossFit that they speak so highly of? Did more research again. I was very intrigued at the intensity. So what did I do? More research of course! I browsed for CrossFit gyms in my area and came across more than I ever expected but I decided to contact the one that was closest to me, CrossFit 310 in Redondo Beach, CA.

By this point in April, I had lost about 30lbs on my own already. Then I contacted Kris, the affiliate’s owner, and we set up a time for me to come try it out with the free introductory class. Since I had been doing circuit training I wasn’t too worried about keeping up, but I also had no idea what to expect and I knew it’d be so different than what I’m used to.

I’ll never forget my first experience walking into CrossFit 310. First of all, it’s basically a warehouse, with a huge garage door opening, but I walked through the lobby doors. No treadmills, no ellipticals, no step machines, no weight machines, and no mirrors. All I saw was bars, hanging rings (what, is this gymnastics or what?), barbells, plates, a rope (is this the military or what?), row machines, a punching bag laying on the floor (how are you supposed to kickbox with it on the floor?), and all this scribbling on white boards.

Then Kris came to greet me, asked me some questions about my physical health and I gave him a quick recap, I signed a release form (in case of injury), and genuinely said he’s excited to have me try it. Did a WOD with the rest of the group, which on that day were all ladies who were very welcoming and guided me through the warm up. After the WOD? Felt like I couldn’t walk, but I felt amazing.

Johana Pat - Box Jumps

Following the WOD, he stated, “I’ve never been a great salesman, ever, which is why I wanted you to try it for yourself as opposed to me telling you what it is and selling it to you…if you liked what you experienced, come back for another WOD in a couple days.” And I did just that. After a few more times, we discussed rates and I joined officially.

That was in April of this year, and the transformation my body has taken from then to now is nothing short of amazing. Beyond the physical transformation, I am immensely stronger. Which completely debunks the myth that you’ll get bulky if you lift heavy weights. I fell in love with CrossFit back then and I am still utterly in love with it. Isn’t that what most people strive for? To have a fitness regimen that you wholeheartedly have a passion for and look forward to? Well, I have found that, and would recommend it to everyone and anyone.


Motivational Monday: Imagine that Day

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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Motivation


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