Turns out I don’t care about your goals.
That is, I don’t care what your specific goal is, because all goals are good. My journey toward owning a gym in South Seattle is one of many small goals linked together. Some accomplished, some missed, but all attempted. A goal with action points is better than the loftiest of goals that is never acted upon.
I was a fat kid. I was never taught about food growing up. I remember my mom asking the lady at Lamonts for the “husky” boys section so we could find jeans for me. I remember my parents bragging about me being a “healthy” boy growing up and me assuming that that is how I would always be. I can’t tell you how many times I told myself growing up that “I am just a bigger guy; this is how I am built.” I continued to tell myself that into adulthood, which prevented me from giving any thought to what I ate or to my lack of physical activity. As my waistline grew I found comfort in food and in making fun of the way I ate. I became the fat, jolly bartender at my work, routinely eating a whole pizza by myself multiple nights in a row. I remember feeling lonely and and depressed when I was by myself, so I found ways to constantly surround myself with people. (Anyone who knew me from high school or the following several years will tell you that I always strived to be the life of the party.) I also found comfort in food when I faced the stresses of starting my first business at age 19. I was living at home with my parents, who always had food out. I was constantly stressed, so I constantly ate. I went from about 220 pounds to 300 pounds between the ages of 19 and 26.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. I woke up the day after my 26th birthday and I couldn’t see my ankles when I rolled out of bed. I sat there and stared at my feet for what must have been 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. Then the thought crossed my mind: “What if I am not a big guy? What if my body wasn’t meant to be this way?” So that day I went out and bought a pair of running shoes at Costco. My goal was to run to the end of my block and back. I only made it one way, and walked back home defeated — and I was SO FUCKING SORE. But I started. I also bought a Men’s Health magazine to get a sense of what I should and shouldn’t be eating. (Looking back, that’s probably not the best resource for nutrition, but every step forward counts.) My biggest goal was to look better and feel proud about how I looked, but inside that big goal I had smaller goals. I wanted to be able to run around the block; I wanted to be able to do a push up; I wanted to be able to make it to the top of the stairs in my house without being out of breath. I needed these smaller goals to propel me forward on my way to looking better, buying new clothes, and feeling good about my body for the first time ever.
Fast forward six months: I continued to run everyday, ate meals from Men’s Heath, and even got a membership at Bally’s gym. I tried to do something active everyday. That was my workout plan: do something active. The real motivation came when people started to notice changes. Nothing felt better then when someone told me how good I was looking. Here I was, this lifelong “fat guy” who might as well have been invisible to women, and all of a sudden they were starting to take notice.
After that first six months, I had dropped 100 pounds. That was a huge milestone for me — I had reached my goal. The problem was that I hadn’t made any goals beyond that, so I stopped my regimen. And so began my more recent history of roller-coaster dieting and rapidly fluctuating weight. After reaching my initial goal, I quickly put back on about 40 pounds. So I went on the Atkins diet and got back into my workout routine. I once again dropped a bunch of weight and at age 29 I reached my goal weight of 180 pounds. This time I knew I had to find something to keep me motivated to keep the weight off. Since I was already running, I decided it wouldn’t be hard to add a bike into the mix and teach myself to swim. I became a triathlete. I signed up for my first race and started training. My next goal was to complete my first triathlon.
I trained as a triathlete for the better part of two years, and at first I loved the challenge of the race and the competition it provided. But soon training became more of a burden than a joy. It took a huge chunk of time; it was lonely; and during the winter months, the cold was miserable. But I pushed myself through four races, including a half ironman.
It was during this training that I realized I didn’t want to be a bartender anymore. I was a new person — and I loved being fit and healthy. I wanted to help other people get there, too. I made a new goal to become a triathlon coach. Well, on my way back from my one of my races, I was reading a triathlon magazine that had an article in it about CrossFit Endurance. I thought that sounded like a better way to train since the grind of long, slow brick workouts was taking its toll.
So when I got home I googled “CrossFit Endurance” and — low and behold! — SODO CrossFit Endurance was just a few miles away from our house. So I ran down to their gym one day and signed up. I had no idea that my life would change so drastically. First of all, it turns out that being able to run a triathlon does not make you strong. I was wrecked after day one. I couldn’t lift 45 pounds over my head, let alone squat properly (“What do you mean get my hips below my knees? That’s not even possible.”) I felt like everyday the coaches would show me something that my body would not let me do. The only thing I was good at was running. And although I was more sore than I had ever been, and I felt like my body was dysfunctional and weak, I LOVED CROSSFIT. I found a way to work out that fit me perfectly: CrossFit was fun, challenging, and varied, and I could do it with a group of people — all of which made it way better than the swim/bike/run workouts I had been doing. I had a new goal: to get awesome at CrossFit and help others discover this new, incredible way to work out. In short, I was hooked and I needed everyone to know about it. After coaching for a bit, I opened my first CrossFit affiliate in my garage , and the rest is history.
Ten years ago I started my health and fitness journey with a failed goal of running to the end of the block and back. That wasn’t the only goal I’ve never met, but I still believe the process of goal-setting is hugely important. Creating new goals and moving toward them is what propels us forward, if only a little.
So that’s why I don’t care what your goals are — because any goal is good. Some people want a six-pack, some want to lose weight, and some want to run to the end of the block and back. It doesn’t matter what your driving factor is, as long as it pushes you out the door on that first day. Don’t ever let someone tell you your goals are dumb. I always say “Everyday Better” and that’s what my story is about — taking action everyday to move toward your goals.
Owner at CrossFit RE