We’ve said it before and we’ll keep on saying it: if you want to transform your body and improve your health, it starts with food.
And nobody knows this better than Rick K., a member at CrossFit Michiana (a Whole9 Nutrition Partner). Rick has lost 150 pounds in 4 months by combining Whole30 eating with CFM’s high-intensity exercise program. But, more importantly, he has changed the course of his life, and his family members’ lives. Here is Rick’s story.
TIME FOR CHANGE
Everyone who makes a commitment to this kind of weight loss and lifestyle change has some kind of story. Rick’s story begins in front of a whiteboard – his son Zach’s board, used for tracking yearly athletic goals and accomplishments. Zach is a high school wrestler whose goal every year has been to make it to state finals. “I noticed that during his semi-state competition, I could barely walk up the steps, and I couldn’t fit into the seat,” Rick said. When Zach announced that he would be giving up football to pursue his goal of making it to state wrestling finals, Rick knew it was time for him to make a change, too.
The first stop on Rick’s journey was open auditions for The Biggest Loser. “I had just had knee surgery, and the doctor said I should go,” he said. A callback for a second audition sent his hopes soaring, but when he didn’t make the show, they came crashing down again. “My hope was crushed. It was so frustrating getting your hopes up and believing you finally had the answers and then nothing.”
That’s where CrossFit Michiana comes into the picture. A friend of Rick’s family had initially approached the gym to ask if they would be willing to oversee Rick’s “at-home training” if he made The Biggest Loser, but when owners Jim and Carole Turnbo got word that Rick hadn’t made the cast, they made it clear they still wanted to help.
“That week Jim met with Rick and offered to work with him. We wanted Rick to have the opportunity that we give all of our athletes,” Carole said. But there was a catch: At that point, Rick was unemployed, so paying membership fees was out of the question. “We knew Rick had no source of income, so we had him sign a contract stating that he would do whatever we asked of him. He would follow our strict nutrition guidelines, he would show up to work out at least 3 times a week with no excuses. And then, of course, he would reap the benefits of an excellent nutrition and fitness program, free of charge.”
Rick was hesitant to get his hopes up again, but he knew he needed to give this a shot. “I told myself that if I could look this Jim guy in the face and shake his hand, then I would do anything to have a better life…I asked myself when I left that first meeting, ‘Dare I hope, is this the way? ‘Cause I do believe, I just don’t know how to do it.”
They met together for five minutes on a Thursday, just long enough for Jim to introduce the Whole30 program and give Rick the guidelines. They shook hands and parted ways with the understanding that Rick would be back in the gym at 5 a.m. Monday, ready to change his life.
And oh boy, was there a change. Rick’s body quickly began to transform, and in the first month alone, Rick lost 48 pounds. More importantly, though, Rick’s mind began to change. He looked at the day of his first workout as the day of his re-birth. And as the challenges came, he took them one day at a time. “I remember on my first morning, this strong hairy guy says to me just keep showing up. I had nothing else, this was my only shot, and ever since I just try to show up and do a bit better each day. Even when I don’t want to show up I say to myself ….self, WWJWM2D (What Would Jim Want Me To Do?)”
The training was hard, both physically and mentally. “It’s easy to say, ‘Yeah I believe’ or ‘I’m going to do this’, but actually doing it, that’s the challenge. The first few weeks, I cried when I got home, I hurt so bad. They were tears of joy, but it made me nervous every morning to wonder what the workout would have in store for me that day. Believing you can do something you have never done before is hard!”
Rick found a little extra encouragement in the CrossFit yoga class. “The workouts were and still are tough, but yoga is where I started to notice the most change in my body. Each week, I could reach a bit farther, hold a pose for just a little bit longer. I can still remember the morning when I punched the floor because I could actually reach it. I wasn’t just touching my toes, I was knees straight, feet flat, knuckles hitting the floor. I knew then I was on my way!”
I WANT TO CHOOSE BETTERThe first thing Jim asked Rick to change was his diet. He was given the Whole30 guidelines and a weekend to clear out the house before Day One began. Rick wasn’t in love with the new menu. No matter how committed you are, changing the food you put on your plate isn’t easy. In Rick’s words: “You really don’t get to 457 lbs without some food issues.” One of his worst transgressions? “I didn’t have my driver’s license, and I would make my kids go out to get me candy.”
At first, Rick mourned the loss of cheese on his eggs and biscuits drowned in country gravy, but he knew that the time for these foods had passed. “I have lived a false life putting all kinds of s*** I used to call food into my body, and wondered why I felt like s*** all the time. I want to choose better,” he said.
Food wasn’t the only thing Rick was asked to change. “We let him go for about two weeks with the cigarettes – then we dropped the bomb: you have to quit smoking. “He would text Jim every time he wanted to smoke,” Carole recalls. Then, at the beginning of his second month, Jim told Rick it was time to find a job. “When Rick started at CFM he was withdrawn, shy, and obviously drastically overweight….but the weight on his shoulders was so much more,” Carol says. “Besides the fact that Rick weighed in at 457 lbs, he was also unemployed and couldn’t support his family.” So, Jim told him that he had to go on three interviews a week if he wanted to keep up his training. In his third month of the CFM/Whole30 program, Rick began working again.
I’M READY TO LET ‘FIT’ HAPPEN
Since beginning the program in November 2011 (with Whole30s in November, January and February), Rick has lost a total of 150 lbs. By choosing to change the food he eats and they way he moves his body, Rick has saved his own life. But, in the process, he has also started his family on the path to a better, healthier, life.
When Rick joined CrossFit Michiana in November, his sister-in-law, Jill, joined with him. In January, his wife and sons joined the gym for basic training and completed their first Whole30 programs. Rick’s other family members, and even some of his friends, have been inspired by his accomplishments to change their lifestyles, too.
“Some of the workouts still kinda of freak me out”, Rick says. “I have only been working out for four months now, but my belief in myself is through the roof! Before, I was happy just surviving a workout, and now I’m competing in my first challenge at CrossFit Michiana. It’s only because of my CFM family how far I have come. When those around you believe in you, it starts to have an effect on you, and you start believe in yourself. I’m ready to let ‘fit’ happen. I’m ready to become fit and healthy.”
In case you were wondering, Rick did skip the Whole30 in December – but it wasn’t so he could stuff his face with Christmas goodies all month long. No, Rick decided to indulge in one cinnamon roll with his family on Christmas morning. He reports it was a sweet treat, indeed.