Nick has been doing CrossFit for more than four years, and has been a member at CFQS since June 2016. Nick attends class in the evening about 5 times a week, and does about 1-2 hours of extra training outside of class time. Read below to learn about how Nick sees the role of fitness in his military career, how he has recovered from shoulder surgery, and how he has changed his approach to nutrition since starting CrossFit.
Have you changed the way you eat since you began CrossFit, If so, how? For years I did "globo gym" workouts, I never took the time to learn about nutrition or worry about what/how I ate. I just assumed that if I did a heavy squat day or a big chest and arm day, I could reward myself with a pizza or a McDonalds chicken burger (because chicken is good for you right?) I never realised how much junk I put in my body thinking it was "healthy".
It wasn't until I was about 265lbs with an almost 500LB squat and a 350LB bench that I realised I didn't like how I was doing things. I developed a few career goals that made me realise that being that big and heavy (and slow) was not what I wanted.
I started learning CrossFit from a friend and he and his (now) wife forced me to look into what/how I was eating. I find that I am continuously learning how my body reacts to certain foods and nutrition.
I think the hardest part for me in the beginning was realising that I will "mess up" and acccidentally eat an entire pizza. I had to learn that having the occasional "cheat Meal" means just that…a meal… not a cheat weekend. I would have a cheat meal and then think that "well… I already screwed up the weekend… might as well just order in and start fresh on Monday"
Maybe I am the only one with that issue, but I find the easy work is done in a gym, (Globo or Crossfit). the hard part is done in your kitchen.
What do you eat on a typical day now? I generally eat 3 meals a day with at least 1 snack. I prep most of my meals on Sundays (good rest day activity and like causing havoc in Costco).
Before I go to bed I set aside my premade meal in the fridge. I generally vary my lunches and dinner between 4 different meals for some variety. On Sundays, I prep chicken/steak burrito bowls, chicken with rice and broccoli, some sort of pasta with veggies and a protein, and protein pancakes.
With the exception of the pancakes, I measure my meals and they generally consist of about 700-800 cals.
Here is how I time my nutrition:
-Workout at 0715 (running, rowing, or biking)
-I eat my breakfast around 930AM (eggs/spinach, or pancakes)
-lunch at noon. (one of my 800Cal meals)
-Small snack at 4pm (protein bar, beef jerky, or a handful of mixed nuts)
-Class at 530PM
-Supper at 630/7PM
*maybe too much coffee throughout the day
I listen to my body and if I feel like I am running on empty, I tend to throw in an extra snack in the evening.
How does training/CrossFit fit into your life? I feel that CrossFit and military/law enforcement/first responders should go hand in hand. For myself, I had a job for a number of years that had me traveling all over the world with work. I needed to be quite active participating in exercises/training with a number of different nations. I found that when you compete with others at a physical level, you automatically create a bond with that group (even if we spoke different languages) which created a more enjoyable working atmosphere.
What reasons did you have to train when you started CrossFit? Have those reasons changed? If so, how? I started CrossFit because I wanted to be able to move faster and still be strong. I wanted to walk on my hands and then do the cool gymnastics stuff on rings my buddy could do. It wasn't until that I actually went to an actual CrossFit gym and saw firsthand how everyone had the same mentality, the mentality of competing against yourself and trying to better yourself. (if you happen to help someone better themselves because of what you do… even better).
What improvements have you made in the past 6 months that you are most proud of? On Friday the 13th of October 2017 I had surgery on my left shoulder. I had dislocated it 3 times in 3 different directions over my 11 years in the military. The idea was to put 3 anchors in my shoulder to stabilise it. Once I woke up, the surgeon informed me that it was a lot worse than they had initially thought and had ended up putting 5 anchors in my shoulder. He told me that I would probably never recover to 100% and that I should plan on not doing any kind of gymnastics/ring work again.
After surgery, I waited a week and then went to a globo gym to try out a leg press machine. 2 weeks after surgery I started back at CrossFit, doing 1 arm CrossFit workouts. Every time I would go to the gym I would be able to do a little bit more with my arm. My physiotherapist, who I still see 2 times a week, can't get over how fast/how my body is reacting to his treatments and the stories I tell him about what I did at CrossFit during the week.
I have so many proud moments in the last few months it’s hard to pinpoint one. Everything from finally being able to assault bike with two arms, to being able to ski and row pain free.
By far though, the most important and memorable thing that happened a few days ago. After about 30 minutes of pumping myself up, doing ring dips, some ring pushups, ring rows and ring pull-ups, I did one strict ring muscle up! I had this huge fear that even though my physio told me to try it, I had images of me ripping my shoulder out and that would definitely be the end of my 2 arm CrossFit career
I don't even think I was that excited when I got my very first muscle up!=)
Do you currently have a main focus or goal(s) with your training? Currently, my goals are to continue recovering and get comfortable putting weight overhead. While I do that, I would like to continue with body weight exercises (something that has always been a weakness).
I want to be able to run 2.5km in under 9 minutes.
I want to be able to do 75 unbroken pushups.
I want to be able to do 15 strict pull-ups (muscle ups would be better but let’s not get crazy here)
I am also playing with the idea of doing the Kingston Triathlon on August.
What would you consider to be your greatest strength as an athlete? I feel like is a bit of loaded question to blow my own horn here. lol. in all honesty, I think I approach every workout with a solid pacing plan. For some of the longer workouts I kind of surprise myself that I pick one pace and manage to keep it the entire way though based on how well I know the movements and how confident in them that I am.
What is one thing that you do every day that you feel is essential in contributing to your success in the gym? It may be silly… but I like to socialize first. I like to sit up in the lounge area and take my time putting my shoes on, and seeing how peoples’ days have been/are going. (I know I CAN be a bit intimidating to people that don't know me very well… and I like to not be). I find it just creates a more enjoyable time for myself.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you started CrossFit, what would it be? lol… Jump on that nutrition train early!!
Do you have a favourite quotation or mantra related to training? I'm a big fan of "Actions speak louder than words".
It might be cliché(ish), but at training and at work, I'd rather my actions speak to who I am and on my behalf.