mark vanThe following is Mark Vanacore’s  journey through his first year of CrossFit. There is no before and after, only life change and gratitude.

Back it up

I’m Mark. A yo-yo dieter on a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain. Every New Year brings a new resolution to lose the weight – once and for all. I have always struggled with my weight. Lose ten, fifteen, even twenty pounds only to put it back on, plus a little more each time. And, this is me exactly two months before I started at CrossFit Fury. Just hanging on and hoping that this year it would be different. This year is different. My neighbor has been bugging me to join this CrossFit gym called Fury. What have I got to lose?

Sign Me Up

Saturday class was a breeze. Not. 400 meters on a bad knee, shin splints and lungs that haven’t felt the burn of a run in years – and that was the warm-up. Then the real fun begins. Box jumps, push-ups and burpees…oh my. The fatigue was overwhelming. I was the last one to finish, but I made it. Crazy thing is that despite the fatigue and finishing last, I signed up.  I filled out the paperwork and Aimee asked if she could take a “before” picture. “No thanks, I’m good,” I tell Aimee. I have spent my entire adult life being self-conscious about being anywhere in public with my shirt off. Not even my family sees me without a shirt and now a perfect stranger wants to photograph me? “No thanks Aimee,” I repeat politely with a smile as I hide my horror to her request. I try to slink out the front door without any more interaction with this lady. I do not succeed. She opens up a conversation about some Paleo Diet plan and I roll my eyes to myself as I think that it’s just another fad diet. “Let me think about it, see ya Monday.” And I darted out the door.

mark van1Basically…

Monday morning arrives and I am stoked! My first Basics class. Yeah buddy, bring it on! I just know that years of lifting weights and doing that elliptical machine are going to pull me through this workout. Wrong. How many box jumps? More burpees? Didn’t we just do these on Saturday? And a row? The whole time I am doing the WOD I hear Coach Kelly yelling at me. I don’t even know if she is yelling to motivate me or because I am doing something wrong, I just remember a lot of yelling. I finish the workout dead last and spend the next several moments on the gym floor looking up at the ceiling trying to catch my breath. To say I was sore for the next few weeks would be an understatement. Despite the incredible soreness, the Basics classes eventually become somewhat enjoyable and within four months I end up being able to do prescribed weights for every workout. My hats off to Kelly, a great motivator, teacher and coach. I owe most of my weight loss to the Basics class – 40 pounds in 6 months.

Then, I finally took Aimee up on her offer and tried the Paleo lifestyle. Once I plateaued with my weight loss from exercise only, Paleo allowed me to drop an additional 20 pounds and has helped me to maintain my body weight for six months now.

Moving On Up
I love Basics! Why in the world would I want to move up?  I am not really into all that Olympic lifting stuff anyway. But, the coaches haven’t steered me wrong yet, so I head into Prep with Marcus. I soon discover that Prep is just more stuff that I will suck at! Marcus is kind enough to show me how to do a muscle up…in slow motion. Seriously? My first day of prep and I am introduced to a skill that I immediately filed into the “impossible” category. Never stop learning, I guess. It’s not long before I move into CrossFit. Actually, my wife informed me that I had moved up after seeing a post Peter made on Facebook. Nice! No biggie. I am definitely up for this challenge. So for the past five months with five workouts a week, I accept challenge after challenge. In addition to my own health, my kids are now also doing CrossFit Kids and they love it. What a great gift to give them so early in life! I need to thank Deana, Will, Josh, Alfred, Kyle and Derek. You have all had significant roles in my improvement and Fury is lucky to have you on staff. Most importantly, I want to thank my wife, Nancy for making this all happen with her never ending support and for enduring the miserable body weight roller coaster with me for all those years!