By Bo Nielsen
You may think this is a story about weight loss, but that is only part of it. I think my story is more about wanting to enjoy my life and living a better life, not only now but also later in life. I am slowly getting into the 2nd half of my life and my dream is to have an active retirement. I hope to spend my life living in my own home with a minimum of support and hopefully never end up in assisted living because I can’t take care of myself (granted I am not going to retire anytime soon).
I played soccer from my early childhood until I was about 25. I ran 10-20k’s from my teens to about 27, and I went to traditional gyms. Then life kicked in. Marriage, starting my own company, then a person close to me got sick and I helped out for many years. I changed my priority from myself to focusing on others. I ended up in a situation with no time to eat right and exercise. I went from 180lbs to close to 300lbs by the time I turned 40. I started having lower back problems, got weird knots in my body (muscle inflammation), dizziness and anxiety problems. In my mid-forties the muscles in my body started to disappear. I could not tie my shoes without sitting down. Getting up from a bean bag required help or rolling out. Getting up from a chair or toilet seat was done with the use of my arms. I saw a family member and friends die of lifestyle diseases at an age close to mine. They say the body is smarter than the brain. If that is true, then ALL my body alarms were on.
Over about 5 years in my early forties, I began changing my priorities. I started to dig myself out of the hole I created. I was going for a simpler life. Bike instead of car. Small apartment instead of a house and possessions, carving out time and money to focus on myself. After not really exercising for 10-12 years I started to run and go to the gym again.
At the time, I saw CrossFit as a strong man/woman sport – young and strong people flipping tires. What motivated me to contact Russell at CFJC (now JCFIT) was the fact that my own workouts many times ended up as “no sweat” workouts and I needed to be pushed. I also just moved to Jersey City and saw the community element as a big plus. It took some conversations with Russell, but I finally got started as one of the few in the close to 50 age bracket.
Today I have been doing CrossFit for almost 4 years. I am still learning, and I will never squat 300lbs, lift 250lbs, walk on my hands or get a six-pack, but I don’t really care. Physically I lost weight, but it is much more than that. I got more mobility and strength than ever in my life. I got rid of my balance issues. My stress and anxiety is practically gone. I remember that sometimes after a long workday, my brain was completely fried, so I would be walking to the CrossFit gym dizzy and in a haze. Once the class started, my thoughts would disappear and I only thought of breathing. Walking home I was almost normal again. No running thoughts. No dizziness, No anxiety. Just a clear and calm mind. Rest of the body was another story. CrossFit is a tough sport and you will feel it, but in a good way.
The training and the gym give you a series of benefits that you do not expect. I have learned more about food and have a better understanding of what I eat. I have learned much more about blood circulation, muscles and pains. Being in my fifties, there is always something hurting, but instead of taking painkillers I try to improve blood circulation with the help of massage balls/rollers. I also get a massage every other week as part of enjoying life more. Great blood circulation is the key to many things I found.
I moved my focus in life. I moved my investments. I invested in my body so I can enjoy my life for the rest of my life. Why end in retirement with a body full of problems. I am turning 52 this year (2020) and I am probably in the best shape of my life. I run Spartan races, do CrossFit Opens and compete a bit in the gym. I never win or even get close, but that is fine. I already won the competition against myself.
For some reason, it is normal to take your car for a service check, but not your body. I now take my body’s engine to some pretty serious health checks every 2-3 years – not only bloodwork, but detailed heart check and scan while exercising. Last check showed that I am pretty “clean” and the heart pumps blood just under what you see with pro athletes and way better than an average male at my age. I take no medication, I eat fairly healthy (though not perfect), I don’t smoke and my alcohol intake is limited.
Most importantly. I feel healthy, strong and enjoy my life. Remember to enjoy yours!