CrossFit Over 40

WODs, Diet, Crossfit OldTown Gossip and Lifestyle Ramblings by MarkyD

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy 2-Year

This is going to be a love-fest of a post. On February 3, 2009 I walked in the door at CrossFit OldTown. I had been a proud dues paying member of Sport&Health for 10+ years. I liked the spin classes. There was a little bit of socialization, a feeling of being part of a group. But that was not doing much for my fitness. Was there not something out there that had that group aspect, yet would actually work? What could that be????

Anyway, at 39.5 years old, despite the spin classes and bicep curls, I had been gaining 2 pounds a year since my twenties and was almost 190 pounds. My doctors scolded me and told me that I would soon be 200 pounds. I was on Lipitor and had highish blood pressure. It hurt when I ran, so I stopped. I ate crap. Not a pretty sight as you can see here:

I had thrown in the towel. I would never run again, and I was not going to be fit. But that idea just pissed me off. Pissed me off enough to finally do something about it.

So I walk in to Crossfit OldTown and spill my guts. Jerry was there - cause he is always there - and I laid it out: "I have been gaining weight, I was totally out of shape and I was about to turn 40. I was scared. Could he help?" He looked me over, and very confidently said "You turn 40 in 3 months, we can absolutely do something by then!" He was so sure of himself. I did not believe him.

I did not believe him at all.

But I signed up and agreed to come to the ramp up class the next day.

Feb 4th 2009 - Ramp up - Day 1: with Danny Hoang. A basic circuit of pushups, airsquats and abmat situps. 10 minutes. I was destroyed. But intrigued. I came back the next day and we ran to the mailbox and did some body weight movements. 3 rounds. Except I could not make it to the mailbox. I could not run 200m without stopping!

But I kept coming back. I was sore. Could not walk kind of sore. Ice baths, epsom soaks, massages, advil. I tried it all. But I kept coming back. I brought Chad "Hollywood" in. He brought Sue "Bollywood" in. Then in May, Jerry added a lunch class. I had found my home. And I was making some progress. Here is me on my 40th birthday in May 09 after 3.5 months of CFOT, Sweaty, sore, still heavy - but happy. I was ok with turning 40:

I had lost 5 or 10 pounds. My diet was still not great. I did not like the Zone - I thought it is crazy. I still think it is crazy. I think food quality is way more important than food ratios. But it works for some people. Chad introduced me to the Primal Blueprint. It was simple: Eliminate foods like: bread, sugar. pasta, etc. Try to adhere 80% of the time. Admittedly, it is Primal light, but I got on board. Then I started to lose weight. Real fast. A pound a week at first. By the end of Summer 09 I was down from 187 to 170. And stable. I quit my meds. My blood pressure was down from 140/90 to 100/60. My pulse was 60. I could make it to the mailbox, and back! This was insane. My doctor was shocked and asked what I did.

Flash forward another year. I am hooked like crack. I sign up for the Fran challenge and knock 25% off my time in 6 weeks. A near 5 minute Fran. I win money. Not bad. I sign up for a Mid Atlantic Hopper Team. I train really hard. Melissa & Danya teach me muscle ups. We compete. The events did not suit me at all, but I had a great time and the training took me to another level. Here is Team B_Awesome:

Here we were so happy - must have been before the events. This may be my single favorite CrossFit moment. There have been many. But training for this event and being part of the team and CFOT community really did a lot for me. I recommend everyone do this once. By the way. Danya later attacked the deadlifts WOD with intensity that I have never seen. She was pregnant but did not tell us. And Laurie deadlifted her "P/R" (bullshit) for a dozen or two reps. Jeremy was solid. I did my best, but wish it was better. I note that I was 41 and everyone else was 33 or less. Watching 43 year old Jeff Tincher win the final event opened my eyes further. Watching Jerry workout as well. Age means nothing.

2011. I set more goals. I sign up for Pete's Paleo Challenge. Paleo is more strict than the Primal Blueprint. I give up cream in my coffee. Somehow, I survive. Soon I don't care. I lose more weight. I hit 160 pounds. I play 160 in the lottery and win $500. Paleo is fun! But I use that for new clothes because my waist is 30 inches and my pants were 34 or 36. I can maintain that without any trouble. I am as strong as ever. Here I am doing Linda.

My time was pretty damn good. 20 some minutes. My time in a lot of WODs is pretty good. Improvements are incremental and hard to notice these days, but still steady. It requires a new mindset and smaller, different goals. But I still set goals. Cause without a target you will never get there. I admit that I have achieved a lot. And yet, I am not satisfied at all. I have a ton of weaknesses. On the whole, I think I am good at half of what we do. Very good at 5% of what we do. I think that is an honest assessment.

I try to work on weaknesses, but it is natural to do what is easier. So sometimes I just want to strict press, when I should be doing GHDs or double unders.

Here are some basic things I have learned in 2 years.
-Doing what you are already good at has less impact on you.
-Working out moderately hard for a long time has very little impact on you.
-Partial range of motion is useless.
-Routine is the enemy.
-Do the MWOD every day.
-Take criticism. If Danya says to sink your squats, it is because you are not doing them right.
-Complain later.
-Talk to people. There are members that are smarter, tougher and fitter than me. Go to the socials and ask questions of members and coaches. Learn!
-The randomness and variety of Crossfit as programmed by Jerry Hill is the single best fitness program I have found. Better than the shake weight. Just show up, don't complain and do the work as hard as you can. Complain later.
-Watch the whiteboad and compete. Push yourself. Sean M has no idea that I try to beat him everyday. He is fitter and better than me at everything. Probably a better dancer than I am. He is not aware that I watch his times and shoot for them. Does not matter. Next month I may pick someone else. One day it will be Jerry. I am aware of beating Jerry in a WOD 2 twice. By 1 rep or a few seconds. 2 out of 500. But it can happen. And that is why you try as hard as you can.

It has been a long and amazing two years. A lot of hard work. A lot of pain. But more satisfying than anything else. Crossfit works and CFOT is implementing it as well as anyone. The community is strong. I consider Jerry and Melissa family. They push me and praise me. I am just one member out of 200+, but yet I feel like the program was custom made for me alone. It is magic. My fitness is better. My confidence is better. My life is better.

2 years. Maybe I had some unique special athlete gene hiding inside me that allowed this transformation to occur. Maybe I could add muscle and stamina and lose fat better than others. But I doubt it. I think that improving your diet and doing what Jerry and Melissa tell you to do can accomplish the same for anyone.

(Left) Jan 2009 - Age 39 (Right)Jan 2011 Age 41

Hell yeah!


  1. Mark I had to comment on your two year post. I have just recently started crossfit 3 weeks ago and I think it is for me but it is hard to tell. i am a deployed soldier so I dont have a lot of crossfitters around to consult so I surf the internet look for blogs and read forums. Your blog was the first place I have read about the mobility WOD. Which is something that I think I lack is mobility. Your story is motivating. Thank you.

  2. Scott.

    Happy to help. Email me if you want.