I am the smallest and strongest I have been in years!
My name is Richard Helton, I am 56 years old. I started CrossFit two years ago. I decided to start CrossFit because I wanted to encourage my son to step out of his comfort zone by demonstrating to him that I could do something I had never done before and be successful. At first I was very intimidated by the workouts and the ability of the other athletes (Charles) around me. Initially I started off at 250 pounds and lost some weight at the beginning. Then I plateaued for about a year because I was eating the same way I did before I started CrossFit.
At first, I was just happy with finishing the work outs. Then I started to become unsatisfied with just finishing the workouts. I wanted to push myself to my maximum ability and improve my performance, but I felt my weight was holding me back from doing that. Kyle said something that resonated with me, “you can’t out train a bad diet.” I asked Marty what he thought I should do. In his quite way he told me to follow the Zone diet. It wasn’t until my brother Tony stopped into a Crossfit class to see what it was all about. He told me with the intensity of the workouts in Crossfit, I should not be as big as I am. He told me about his meal plan and it was not until then I started putting the pieces together.
So I started looking into eating better. A couple of weeks later Jimmy told me that he and Doug were going to start the Zone diet. So I printed out the materials and decided to start the Zone with my wife Nancy. Having someone to share the program with made all the difference in the world. Also having the help of Jimmy as my coach, held me accountable each week.
Once I started the Zone, I started losing weight again. Throughout the entire time that I was following the Zone, the CRC members kept encouraging me. Jeff, Neal, and I started doing extra workouts and providing each other with encouragement. Right now I have lost 55 pounds, I am at 17.8% body fat (started at 32% body fat) and I am the smallest and strongest I have been in years. I would not be able to do this without the support of my friends at CRC and the support of my wife my three children. I encourage others to trust the trainers at the gym and follow their examples. Coming to CrossFit and going through the motions is not enough, you need to embrace the lifestyle and encourage yourself to perform to your maximum capacity.
Keeps Me Accountable
I’m just about to have my two year anniversary with CRC (November 15th). I started at CRC at the recommendation of a co-worker (Eric Sutch). I had decided a couple of years earlier to change my lifestyle and get into shape. I started with running and completed my first half-marathon when I wanted to do something that would challenge me and make me stronger. Having never been an athlete in my life, and never having lifted weights before, walking into a CrossFit affiliate was a big step for me.Since joining, I have set personal bests in three more half-marathons, climbed Long’s Peak (14,259 ft.), competed in three different CrossFit competitions, and have attended classes in 18 different affiliates around the world. It took several months to fully embrace CrossFit, but I have jumped in whole-hog.
What keeps me coming back day-after-day is the friends that I have made (including the coaching staff). They keep me accountable and push me further than I think that I can go. I wouldn’t have registered for a competition, if not for the encouragement of those friends.
My favorite WOD is 12 Days of Christmas, but our version could only be made better with rope climbs. I never climbed a rope before in my life before coming to CRC, and aside from rope burns on my legs, it is my favorite movement. My least favorite WOD is Karen, because who would want another person to do 150 wall-balls? Seriously, why? That or anything with handstand push-ups, because I still haven’t figured that one out yet.
My advice to anyone relatively new to CrossFit is to realize that change is a process, and scaling is not a sign of weakness, but rather part of the improvement process. In every gym, there are some amazing athletes, enjoy watching their abilities, and strive to reach that level, but focus on form first and get better with time and work.
Also, having the chance to walk into many gyms as the “stranger”, the CrossFit community is a tight-knit group, and regardless of where you go you will find encouragement, the ability to grow physically and mentally, and at the end of the day a group of friends to work out with.
So Many Successes
How long have you been with CRC?
6 months (started June 1, 2015)Favorite WOD?
Fight Gone Bad – I hate it, but I love it.Least favorite WOD?
Paleo food: sweet potatoes
Non-paleo food: pizza!
Interesting Fact About You?
I climbed Africa’s tallest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2014. It took me 6 days to reach the 19,341ft. summit. It was physically and mentally the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life (yes – harder than any WOD!).
What were you doing before CrossFit?
In high school, I played soccer. In college, I competed recreationally and did various cardio workouts and classes. In my spare time, I like to run in the metro parks behind my house and I love biking!
How did you hear about CRC?
I found it by searching for gyms online and noticed a Groupon back in 2014. I joined during the summer of 2014 for a couple months between my junior and senior year at Ohio State while I was interning in Cleveland for the summer. After graduating in 2015, I knew I wanted to jump right back into it.
Give us some insight as to your thoughts after your first workout at CRC?
I can’t feel my body, but I f***ing love this.
What was a success you had at CRC?
I’ve had so many successes at CRC! Some of the ones I’m most proud of include:
-Getting my first Rx pullup
-Walking into CRC on day one not knowing what a snatch or clean & jerk were to joining the weightlifting class and learning everything about them. Now practicing Oly lifts are a new favorite hobby of mine.
-In nutrition, I learned how to meal prep and balance my macronutrients which have led to overall awesome nutrition habits
-Learning dubs – this was one of the most frustrating movements to learn!
-Becoming a bo$$ at rope climbs
-Learning how to do handstand pushups
-Competing in my first team competition in November with CRC teammates…did I mention I’m very competitive?
-Making a ton of new friends/family that I get to hang out with every day! Coming into CRC is the highlight of my day
What advice would you give to someone new to CrossFit?
Learning each movement takes time – be patient and stick with it. Practice your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to ask coaches for help or guidance. If you find yourself on the floor barely able to breathe at the end of the wod – good job, you’re doing it right. Most importantly, make friends and have fun.
I’d like to extend a THANK YOU to Crooked River CrossFit co-owners Marty Pajek and Kyle Eshelman for their contribution to my successful weight loss this past year. With their instruction, guidance, and motivation, I successfully lost 70 lbs and 30 inches! These pictures show the physical change that CrossFit provided. The first was taken November 2012; the second November 2013. Not shown is my 8.5 BMI reduction and 10.4 Body Fat Percentage reduction taking me from the obese ranges in both to the lower level of the normal range for both. Needless to say, CrossFit has changed my life!
And to think of all the excuses I made before I began this program – “I’m too old”, “I don’t have the time”, “CrossFit is too intimidating”. I did it anyway – and I got hooked. The hardest step was that first one to walk in the door. I was immediately put at ease with the welcoming, professional staff who worked with me to scale each movement to allow me to learn and be successful. Over time, my strength improved and so did my ability to perform. Now, 16 months later, I realize I have literally been transformed. And it feels GREAT! I am a new person; a stronger, more fit person. And I’m never going back to where I was before CrossFit. Exercise and nutrition have become a focal point in my life; CrossFit has become my lifestyle. Again, I say THANK YOU to Marty and Kyle; and to each of the CRC coaches. I owe my success of a healthier ME to YOU!