I walked through the door at CFU for my CF101 on May 15, 2013 and have never looked back. I had always been pretty active growing up and eight years in the Army really kept me in decent shape but life after the military and a sedentary lifestyle really started catching up with me. The summer of 2010 my smokin’ hot wife, Kerri, and I along with some friends took a trip to Mexico. When we got back and printed out the pictures I realized that I was not just a fluffy little bunny… I had a severe case of Man Boobs. Now I am no doctor but I think my ample bosom had something to do with all the back problems I was having that, in turn, forced me out of bed by 6:00 am daily. One morning I decided to put down the Diet Coke and Pop Tarts (breakfast of champions, for sure!) and head out for a walk. This was the first part of August 2011. I remember getting back from the walk completely worn down, out of breath and exhausted from an excruciating ½ mile WALK. I climbed on the scale and discovered I weighed over 250 lbs. The switch was flipped.
Every morning for the next 4 months I repeated the routine and pushed myself to go further each day, slowly progressing from walking, to jogging, to full on running. Another “Ah Ha” moment occurred when I was forced to run on the hand-me-down tread mill in the basement on one rainy morning. While running full tilt, which at the time was about an 11 minute mile, the treadmill decided I was over the acceptable limit of weight and blew a fuse… promptly ejecting me over the front of the machine. Good thing I still had lots of padding 🙂 By Christmas that year I was down about 30 lbs and feeling really great. Fast forward 2 ½ years of morning running, knee pains, shin splints and one child later and I was still hovering around the 210 mark.
I had always wanted to continue my military career with dreams of one day being able to walk out to the mail box, salute it, and pull out a retirement check. Contrary to popular belief… the Army is rather picky when it comes to recruitment nowadays. I needed a change. I needed something more. One morning after church, Kerri suggested I talk with Coach about doing CrossFit. This was about the time she had quit teaching and started running CFU full-time. I remember thinking that my wife was purposefully trying to kill me, most certainly for the life insurance policy. I thought to myself… have you seen those guys? They flip giant tires and beat things with sledge hammers and lift really heavy stuff over their heads… repeatedly… on purpose… you’re nuts. No thanks! My fears were confirmed when I met up with Mike Bax at a softball game after his CF101 class… the dude was totally wiped out. No, thank you!
Eventually, I came to my senses and with another trip to the Dominican Republic on the horizon, I decided to see what was up at CFU. I have never made a better choice for my physical well-being in my life. The first two months were pretty tough and the thought of carrying my child down a flight of stairs conjured fears of dropping my little buddy for lack of function in my legs and arms from that mornings WOD. Eventually, things became easier, heavy things became lighter and the addiction to Diet Coke and Pop Tarts was replaced with Snatches and burpees.
The number on the scale is not important… unless you are in the military. Thanks to all the coaches at CFU, not only have I gained the strength and lost the weight and have been back in the Guard for a little over a year with five months from completing Officer Candidate School, Kerri has “drank the Kool-aid” as well and I am almost certain that our next child (due in May) will be born doing pushups and burpees! I cannot thank Coach Roz, the CFU Staff and the Dark and Early crew for pushing me further than I ever thought I could. Now if I could just do one damn Muscle Up, life would be complete.
Thanks for sharing your journey Gary! I remember those dark and early mornings when you would push yourself because you had the drive and determination NOT TO QUIT! You have come so far and I look forward to seeing the future for the Gates’ household 🙂 Keep up the GREAT work! We are proud of you!!