Before and After: Templar Successes

Andy and Shannon V.Holly T.Kristin A.Micky R.Eric F.Eric V.HeatherJason B.Jeremiah D.Matt D.Matt S.Nick J.Paul N.

Andy & Shannon V.

In January, 2013, our lives changed as we began a journey that we dreamed about but never expected…

I have struggled with weight my entire life. In high school, I was athletic and in shape but felt fat around the “skinny” girls that surrounded me on a daily basis. After high school and the sports stopped, my weight became more of an issue. I would go from gaining weight to not eating enough and exercising excessively. My weight would go up and down for several years until it just kept going up. After my second child, I was at my heaviest, 296 pounds. I felt hopeless and looked to gastric bypass surgery as my solution. It was a solution…temporarily. I got down to 145 pounds and fit into a size 6. I thought I was happy eating less than 1000 calories a day and going to the gym on a daily basis. That didn’t last long…10 years later I was creeping my way back to where I was pre- surgery as I stepped on the scale and it read 255 pounds…


Early in 2012, my brother Keith began ranting left and right about his newest fitness fad…something called Crossfit. He began posting recipes that had no sugar, grain, dairy and, as far as I was concerned…flavor. I mean, really, brownies with no sugar…no flour? I cringed at the thought and teased him frequently about it.

Fast forward 6 months…my brother visited us and I see first hand what this “fad” has done. He was fit, happy and confident. To be honest, I had been secretly looking into it, but was scared to death to even fathom the idea of walking into one of these…boxes??? During his visit, my brother convinces us how great Crossfit would be for our son, Dalton and his soccer game. Dalton is a soccer goalie and soccer is his one and only sport. While we agreed that this type of training would be great for his soccer game, we didn't seriously consider it until a couple of weeks later. My brother messaged me after he attended a Crossfit Kids certification where he happened to run into Teri Lynn from Templar. After talking with her for a while, she convinced me to at least look into it.

Dalton wanted nothing to do with it. I had to force him to go and watch a class (which Gretchen invited him to join and he declined). A couple of days later, he agreed to “try” a class…he was hooked. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Dalton attended the Crossfit Teens classes at Templar which Andy and I came along to watch with pride. Dalton was a quick learner and, since he has both of our competitiveness, it seemed like a perfect fit for him. Little did we know, Andy and I were both slowly becoming addicted to Crossfit as well.

Jump forward 2 months…January, 2013. A new year, a new start, a new way of life had begun. We both began Crossfitting 3 days a week. Our bodies had never hurt so much, but we had never enjoyed exercising as much as we were. As shocked as we were by how much we loved the classes and the soreness, we were astonished by the people surrounding us. My brother had kept telling me, “Crossfit is more about community than it is the workouts”, but until I was fully submersed in exhaustion doing step ups on a 12 inch box and push ups from my knees with Swan sitting on her box (since she finished her WOD several minutes earlier) cheering me on that I understood what he meant. It wasn't my competitiveness or my desire to be fit that kept me going until I finished that WOD, it was Swan. Instances like this repeated itself over and over again during the next few months and we were truly hooked.


Andy and I were both athletes growing up. I played soccer, basketball and softball. Andy played competitive tennis. We were both competitive in everything we did…sports, board games, work…you name it, we wanted to be the best at it. While we certainly were NOT the best at anything when we started at Templar, we found those few things we felt confident with and worked even harder to become better. We slowly began changing our diet as we continued our journey. I was lucky enough to have a knack for cooking (part of the reason I weighed close to 250 pounds) and this new Paleo lifestyle challenged me to make some of our favorite meals, healthy and tasty. Also having the talent of photography helped me showcase my meals and recipes on Templar’s nutrition page on Facebook. Soon after, my good friend Paul Nobles Jr. began his Eat To Perform site and asked me to do a recipe blog. That recipe blog soon turned into a self therapy blog for myself and helped me face a lot of demons that I discovered many people shared.

About 9 months after starting Crossfit, I participated in my first Paleo challenge. Andy had shoulder surgery on the first day of the challenge, so although he wasn’t an official Paleo challenger, he was also participating since he was eating what I was making. I felt great after that first horrid week and the 7 weeks following. I lost about 13 pounds (down to about 205 lbs) but didn’t win the challenge. My competitive side wasn’t happy about that, but I got over it.


Andy was out of Crossfit for about 6 months after his shoulder surgery (injured from throwing a toilet into a dumpster, not Crossfit…) and his return to Crossfit was even more humbling than when we first began. His strength had diminished significantly and he was not happy about it. Luckily, the pressure of not going to Templar was worse than the humility of going.

Just as many do, we fell of the wagon for a few months as the summer of 2014 rolled around. Cold beer and not so healthy food crept their ways back into our lives. Needless to say, when we heard a Paleo challenge was starting in September, we were relieved! This is just what we needed to get back on track. That joyfulness was soon overshadowed by my memories of that first week of Paleo. Once again, it was a ROUGH first week, but we kept at it. We were strict Paleo for our first month, cutting out all sugar, grains, dairy and alcohol. We began introducing some dairy, rice and alcohol back into our lives and added some running in to our workout routine.

AndyShannon_After2Well, here we are…almost 2 years into our lifelong journey of fitness and health and we are both healthier and stronger than we have ever been. Since I joined Templar, I have lost 70 pounds but have gained so much more. I am confident, I am strong and I am healthy. I know that we have only begun our lifelong journey, but we are looking forward to this journey and spending it with the family we have gained at Templar.

We cannot thank Sean and Gretchen for all they have done for our family by letting us be a part of Crossfit Templar and Crossfit Templar Teens. To all of the coaches at Templar…you are amazing, each and every one of you! You have each played animportant role in our lives and we cannot thank you enough! To our Templar family…you are what keeps us going, physically and mentally. We know that all we need to do is show up for our WOD and you will take care of the rest.

“JOURNEY-The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn…”

Holly T.

6 months ago, I walked into Crossfit Templar for the first time and I was terrified. I looked around at all the athletes in the gym and was instantly in awe of the positive atmosphere and attitudes. Like most women, I couldn’t help but check out the brawny men and their big muscles, but what I was most immediately impressed with was that the WOMEN looked so fit and their arms were sculpted and strong. I wanted to be like them!

I was reluctant to start because I considered myself a FORMER athlete. When I was 10 years old, my dad starting running to quit smoking and soon he had the entire family signed up for every road race in the tri-state area. I competed in 5K’s and 10K’s almost every weekend as a kid, and running became a huge part of my identity throughout high school and college. My 2 favorite sporting achievements were competing in the State Cross Country meet as a 7th grader and then later qualifying for Nationals in Track & Field in the 400 and Long Jump in college.

After college I starting running marathons to stay in shape and could eat anything I wanted without ever gaining a pound. That is until P-day and D-day. P-day was pregnancy – my first pregnancy was with twins and I gained 75 pounds. Apparently I ate way too many pickles and ice cream. D-day was my divorce, which drastically changed my eating habits for the worse as well. Being a single mom of 3 kids all in different school and sporting activities, plus holding down a full time job gave me little time for meal prep or finding time for exercise. I made excuses to put my health and wellness on the backburner.

HT-beforeSideHT-BeforefrontMy workout routine the past few years has consisted of an occasional 30 minute jog with tons of sit-ups to get 6 pack abs. I was frustrated that I never seemed to get in shape or shed any pounds, and the only 6 pack I could see was sitting in the refrigerator next to the leftover pizza. I had heard that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. I was tired of the excuses and I wanted a change. A friend had told me about Crossfit and I checked it out online first. The success stories inspired me and I set up the free trial class to see what it was all about.

After day one, I was so sore I could barely walk upright for the next 3 days, but I loved it and I wanted more! It didn’t take long to start seeing results. The first couple of months I had to modify EVERYTHING and even though it was a bit embarrassing, everyone still encouraged me and I got the fist pumps and high fives just for finishing a workout without passing out.

When the Paleo challenge started, I was excited to see if changing my diet would bring even more results, and the fact that there was prize money at stake made it even more fun. Who couldn’t use some extra money around the holidays? I asked Sean what it would take to win the Paleo challenge and he said the most important thing was to be strict and stay consistent. I took that to heart and never had a cheat day, even while traveling for work. As the days passed, it became less about the competition and more about how great I was feeling. I had way more energy, was sleeping better and the pounds were starting to fall off. I started noticing my arms (formerly my bingo wings) were getting some definition and my old runners legs were slowly but surely making a comeback. I was able to RX my first WOD and could lift way more weight. I was pumped!

The best part was going back to the bodpod and finding out I had lost close to 10% body fat and gained a ton more muscle. I lost 20 pounds and took almost 3 minutes off my baseline workout in just 2 months. I have become a believer!! The Paleo diet is definitely my new lifestyle and I’m excited to continue to see the results. I know I’ll never see my name on the board or finish a wod first, but I do know that I’m improving myself every single day and that is enough for me. And I don’t have to call myself a FORMER athlete anymore. Thank you Crossfit Templar!

HT-Afterside HT-AfterfrontI also have to shout out to Gretchen who knew I wanted to do a pull up so badly – she challenged me to work on my pull-ups at least 3 times every time I entered the gym. TL gave me some great pointers and Jill D always took the time to encourage me and offer tips. I can now say that I can do at least 1 pull up unassisted!!! Woo hoo!! Thanks to all the trainers and athletes who have inspired and challenged me and to those of you who don’t think you can do Crossfit…think again! If I can do it, so can you. No more excuses.

Before Crossfit I was not an athlete. I'd never played a sport, and had only adopted regular exercise as an adult to reduce the 40-45 pounds that had somehow crept on since high school and set a good example for my young children.
It took me about a year of tracking Crossfit online before I scheduled my first Elements session with Sean just before Thanksgiving in 2010. In retrospect I am glad I gave myself some time to prepare mentally and to have some successes on my own: I'd completed several duathlons (running/biking) since the birth of kid #2 in 2008, had lost 15-20 pounds, and most importantly, I knew what it felt like to push myself really hard (but I admittedly didn't do it often enough!). What finally made me sign up was that winter was approaching, and moping because your bike is in the garage does not burn very many calories. I knew I'd gain weight and lose fitness over the winter unless I did something different.

Rather than tell my whole story, I will share some results and some of my biggest  surprises:

Weight - 152 - 128
Blood pressure 138/88 - 108/68
Back squat - could not complete full depth squat without weight (due to knee
stability issues) - 110 (full depth)
Deadlift - could not deadlift from the ground due to knee stability issues - 185
Pushups - on knees - got 'em
Running pace/mile - 11:35 - 9:45
Fastest mile - 10:40 - 7:57

Biggest surprises:
1) Crossfit is really fun. Ok, so there are moments where you pray that there is a fatal dose of burpees or wall balls and you'll be mercifully spared the rest of the workout, but it really feels good to work your body really hard, and it's really inspiring to be around a whole bunch of people who are pushing their limits, too. The people here have become friends in and out of the gym.
2) My life is better because of Crossfit. Not only am I healthier and more active, but I am also more confident, less stressed, and tougher in other aspects of my life.
3) I actually fit in here. When I started I had to modify every workout for my level of fitness, yet never have I felt looked down upon for lifting less weight or doing a modified exercise. The effort you put in is respected much more than the weight you lift or the speed you run. I am just now starting to do some of the workouts Rx.
4) The paleo diet is totally worth it. I have been pretty consistent since early January. It's made a huge difference in my recovery times, speed and strength, and generally in how I feel (more energy, less stress) and look. And because I never go hungry, sticking to it has really not been a big deal. I've also found that when I cheat, the non-paleo foods are a whole lot less satisfying. I have fewer cravings if I just eat clean.
5) Crossfit is great for the time-poor. I own a consulting business and have two kids. I don't have hours and hours to train for marathons or major distance events, and I travel for business and can't have a fitness program that requires much specialized equipment. Crossfit is perfect. You'd be amazed at how sore you can be after a 12 minute workout, if you're doing it right. It's funny, whenever I go to a conventional gym now I laugh at the guys on the weight machines and how inefficiently they use their time. Me, I keep moving, sweat buckets, and get 'er done fast! It doesn't have to be a huge time commitment if it's done at the right intensity.


My first day of CrossFit, September 26, 2012
My first day of CrossFit, September 26, 2012

I was 64 years old, overweight, and seriously out of shape.  My husband and I had lost three parents in a short period of time and so I was too familiar with nursing homes, end of life decisions, and quality of life issues.

Since turning 60, I had become more aware of my own decline in abilities.  I had more aches and pains, and getting up and going in the morning took longer.  I watched my friends getting older and dealing with serious health issues like diabetes and heart disease.

I was ready to make a commitment to my health, but I wasn’t sure that Crossfit was the right choice for me.  My kids had experienced success with Crossfit, but they were 20 years younger and more typical of the 20 to 40-something “fire-breathers” that seemed to dominate the Crossfit gyms.  How would I fit in?  What if I hurt myself?  Or worse, what if I made a complete fool of myself?  It wasn’t an easy decision, but my kids gave me a lot of encouragement and I decided to “just do it”.

There were many things I couldn’t do in the beginning.  Due to shoulder issues, I couldn’t do weight bearing exercises above my head.  I couldn’t do a push-up, couldn’t jump, and didn’t have much cardiac capacity.  But the coaches never focused on what I couldn’t do.  Instead, they focused on what I could do.  I could squat, I could do step-ups, I could run/walk and I practiced with a PVC pipe to improve mobility and form.  I was amazed at how fast my progress was.

Getting encouragement from my son during my first WOD, Fight Gone Bad
Getting encouragement from my son during my first WOD, Fight Gone Bad

At the end of my first month, I deadlifted 100 lbs., a feat which a few weeks before I would never have believed I could accomplish.  I was doing ½ pood kettle bell swings, about 18 lbs.   I managed a 45 lb. shoulder press, and a 45 lb. back squat.   And although at times I felt clumsy and unskilled, I never felt like I didn’t fit in.  Crossfit, it turns out, is made up of people of all ages, sizes, and abilities.

Fast forward to the present:

My lifting achievements after 180-days of Paleo and CrossFit, March 2013.
My lifting achievements after 180-days of Paleo and CrossFit, March 2013.

My body is in better condition now than it has been for 20 years.  For starters, I have more flexibility and range of motion.  Getting in and out of the car, reaching the top shelf of the cupboard, and even getting out of bed are all things that we take for granted when young, but become more difficult as we age.

Until I started Crossfit I didn’t fully understand the value of core muscles. Working on those muscles has improved my posture and my balance.  I feel like I have a foundation again to support my bones, my organs, and whatever else that needs support.  My midsection has shrunk 4” and I can see muscle definition.

When I started Crossfit I could barely hang on the bar, and now I’m doing pull-ups with a band.  I’ve progressed from doing weight lifts with a PVC pipe to doing a 70 lb. bench press and 155 lb. deadlift.  Having more muscle puts less strain on my joints, decreasing joint pain.  I have less stiffness in the morning because my muscles are used to being put to work at a moment’s notice.  I learned more about nutrition and giving my body what it needs to build muscle. Giving up processed foods and sugary sweets has increased my energy level, and eliminated the bloated, drugged feeling and cravings I used to experience at the end of the day.  A decrease in body fat along with muscle gain has made my skin smoother and tighter.

Life is full of surprises and for me Crossfit is one of them.  I’m an introvert and was worried that I wouldn’t feel comfortable in its type of environment.  But everyone has been so supportive and outright encouraging, that I thrive there.

At the beginning, I remember thinking there are a lot of workouts I might never be able to do, but not any more.  At Crossfit there’s always a way, and if I don’t have the muscle to do it today, I will next month or maybe the following month.  I am really looking forward to what I’m going to accomplish during the next year.  If one of my concerns about aging was maintaining independence (and it was), I’m moving in the right direction.

A few days ago, I read a quote on my Caribou coffee cup that totally sums it up for me:  Life is where “What if?” runs away with “Why not?”

"Murph" 27MAY2013
40lbs Ground to Overhead

Eric 1

Ever since moving to Minnesota 3 years ago my weight and body circumference had been
steadily increasing while my fitness levels were steadily decreasing. My job involves a lot of
sitting and driving and the sedentary nature of my day to day activities were catching up with me. When I was at home I felt like I never had enough energy to keep up with the kids and found myself spending more time watching the fun than getting involved in the action. I half-started a lot of different diets and workouts on my own at several local facilities, but to be honest I needed something different. I came to the realization that I either needed either a personal trainer or a fitness program that I would provide a little more motivation than I was able to generate on my own.

My wife told me about the new Crossfit Bootcamp being offered at Crossfit Templar in July as a way to introduce myself to the Crossfit program and to see if the morning classes were
something I could more consistently fit into my schedule. After several weeks of
procrastination I decided to give it a try and I haven’t looked back since. The first couple of
months were pretty tough. I had a hard time keeping up with others in class but I stayed
focused on my personal improvement. As my confidence increased, I decided to try the 60
day Paleo challenge in September to round out some of the healthy lifestyle changes I was
already making.

When I started the Paleo challenge I weighed in at 205.4lbs. 60 days later I could see and photo 2feel a dramatic difference in my body composition as I had lost over 12 lbs. My waist shrunk 2” and I was able to get into suits I hadn’t worn in 2 years. My physical fitness also improved dramatically as my baseline WOD time improved by over 2 minutes. I also saw a 5# increase in my shoulder press max and a 30# increase in my deadlift max. Most importantly, I feel good. As a matter of fact, I feel better than I have felt in years. We are eating healthier as a family and have incorporated the dietary changes we made during the Paleo challenge into our everyday routine. But what matters to me the most is that I have more energy during the day and I have more energy for my kids. During the last 5 months, I have made some great progress but I see this as simply the beginning of a new journey towards a more active and healthier lifestyle. A special thank you to TL who has challenged me both mentally and physically to work harder to achieve the results I have experienced thus far and to my Crossfit Bootcamp friends who through their hard work have inspired and motivated me over the last several months!


Eric V.Honeymoon November 2012 Before starting Crossfit, I was stuck in the rat race most get into… get sick of the way you look and feel… get a gym membership… hit it hard for a month or two… and then back to square one (it’s a vicious cycle).

During my honeymoon I weighed around 205 pounds. Years before that I remained pretty steady at that weight. Moving into 2013, I was traveling a lot for work and needless to say, when my travels were done, I weighed in at 220 pounds (my breaking point). It was here that I knew that I needed to change something since the rat race wasn’t working for me. That’s when I chose Crossfit.

It freaked the hell out of me since the only Crossfit I was used to was the stuff I saw on ESPN… you know… where the people are really amazing at everything and have the bodies of greek gods and goddesses. Even so, I gave it a shot anyways and the only regret I have was not starting sooner. The people here are amazing, very friendly, and the coaching staff is extremely knowledgeable. Towards the tail end of summer, after doing Crossfit for a few months, I was able to get back down around 205 pounds and got stuck at that weight…. again.

This is when I decided to do the paleo challenge. I knew my eating habits were next to horrible and that this challenge would help steer it in the right direction. I didn’t know a whole lot about paleo (still learning), but I knew I was going to be eating a lot of meat and veggies along with some fruit, which sounded pretty good to me. I hit it hard and stayed strict with it. I also kept it very simple; I didn’t get into calorie counts or anything like that, I just simply ate whenever I got hungry. I wanted to get used to this new, and much better, way of eating without over complicating it.

(Day 30)Eric V,Day 30 - 2

I started the challenge weighing 206.136 pounds with 20.7% body fat (I thought I was sitting a little better than that, so this was a painful shot to the gut). Around day 30 is when I was really starting to feel better and notice physical differences. I was starting to see the beginnings of six pack which I haven’t had in years. At the end of the 60 day challenge I weighed 185.865 pounds with 12.9% body fat. On top of the weight loss, my strength and endurance was increasing a lot. I’m lifting more and am able to make it through the workouts without completing gassing out (bonus). The paleo challenge
is definitely a life changer and I’m totally looking forward to sticking with it and seeing what awesome results will come in the future. Thanks Templar!

(Eric V.Day 60Day 60)

This is Spider. She won the Paleo Challenge, lost 24#, put on lean muscle mass, has an Rx’ed Angie (100 Pull-ups, 100 Push-ups, 100 Sit-ups 100 Squats) time of 34:41 and will climb up, jump on, lift up and run around anything we tell her to. This is her on the path to wellness. This is her doing weighted Pull-ups. THIS CAN BE YOU! THIS IS DOABLE! GET YOUR NUTRITION IN ORDER!

A message from Heather -

....I can not even tell you how much I love CrossFit and your gym have made me into someone I never thought I was or ever could be.........a competitive ATHLETE.....and all around stronger person......I still can not believe what I am able to do when 14 months ago I did nothing and nothing the 20 years before on those days I feel like I suck compared to others I just take a step back and look how far I've thankful I found something that is working for me!


Day 17 of 100% out people I am back!! I do not need ice cream to survive!! Ice cream is my cocaine!

CrossFit has been a fantastic journey for me since starting in December of 2011. I've drastically changed my body composition while losing weight and adding strength. More importantly, I've met great people that have evolved into a support system that I hadn't previously experienced before. We're like an extended family or team. At times we may compete against one another but at the end of the day we root for each other to be better than yesterday. New accomplishments are a regular occurrence for us all.

Some personal milestones to note include dropping 25 lbs in two months and maintaining that loss for seven months while adding lean muscle. An example of pure strength gains include increasing my max deadlift well over 100 lbs in six months. In addition, I wasn't able to do an unassisted pull up at my first workout and four months later I did 36 consecutive pull ups. I now could exceed 50 consecutive pull ups as I'm more confident than ever before. I have really enjoyed learning the proper OLY lifting techniques as it has helped me move more weight than I ever imagined. My endurance, recovery and most importantly my mental toughness is at an all time high too. Lessons learned...nothing worth doing is ever easy so eat right, rest right, believe in yourself, listen to Sean and his training staff and you will succeed.




My Journey

The Paleo Challenge at Crossfit Templar began on 10/13/12 and the choices were simple, 3 months or 6 months?  You would BodPod at the beginning and the end and you would complete a benchmark Crossfit Total and a benchmark WOD that would each be re-tested at the end of the time period.  No food journals, just eating Paleo and working out.  The only other stipulation was the first 30 days were to be Whole30 approved (so really strict!).

It was really a no-brainer for me to get involved in the challenge, as I had been eating Paleo since January 2012, when I first started Crossfit, and I decided to give it the full 6 months.  I was not necessarily in the challenge to win, but to give myself a reason to stay on track and see what I could achieve during that time.

I decided to set a few goals after the first BodPod on 10/13 when I weighed in at 200.967 lbs, 9.1% body fat, and fat free weight of 182.611 lbs (I am 6 ft 3 inches tall).  It was my first experience in a BodPod for body fat testing, with my only previous experience being caliper testing (not overly accurate in my opinion).  I was surprised by the body fat reading of 9.1%, as I thought it would be higher than that.  With that said, I now had some targets for the end of the challenge:  Gain 10 pounds and lose 1% body fat.  I knew it would be tough and I would have to change some things, but I was up for the challenge and I will tell you the results and how I got to them shortly.  First though, I need to give a bit of background on myself.

I was always active and involved in sports growing up.  As a kid, I played football, baseball and ran track.  Once I got to high school, my sports became just football and track, as I was never all that good at baseball.  I was fortunate to receive a full-ride scholarship to play football at the University of Kentucky where I was a 4 year letterman and 2 year starter at tight end.  During this time, my weight fluctuated between 240-245 (in-season) and 250-260 (during the off-season).  The concept at the time was pretty simple, eat anything and everything, workout, and play football year-round.

Our honeymoon 2006

After five years of college football, and 12 years of football prior to that, I was pretty burned out on weight lifting and football in general.  I ended up taking about a year off of physical activity, but continued to eat like I was playing football.  My weight fluctuated between 230 and 240 pounds, which included less muscle and more fat than my playing days.  Over the course of the next 3-4 years, it was an on-again, off-again cycle of exercise and eating “healthy” (or at least what I thought was healthy).  I would start a routine, continue for a few months, and then “get busy” and stop.  Part of the problem was finding something that I enjoyed doing, while also not having any competitive reason for going through the routines.  During this time, my weight would go down as low as 220 lbs, while creeping back to 230-235lbs during the “off” times.

Finally, in 2009, I found something that kept my interest, Boxing.  I had the pleasure of meeting a former professional boxer by the name of Gerald Reed, who trains MMA fighters and boxers.  My wife and I began working out with him one day a week personally, and then took two “Boot Camp” type classes per week with him at the local globo gym.  I loved the high-intensity, tough workouts that he created and it seemed to constantly change each time.  I never actually boxed another person, but hitting the pads and flipping tires was a blast.  I continued this type of training for about a year and half before making a move north to Minnesota for work.  At that time, my weight was steady around 220 lbs.

When I arrived in Minnesota in the winter of 2010, I no longer had a trainer or program to follow, so I joined the local globo gym and started participating in some boxing classes they offered a few days a week.  I never touched a weight while I was a member of the gym, and I was not consistent with even going to the gym.  As my wife and I sat in our house on a cold snowy day in December 2011, we watched the Crossfit Games replay on ESPN 2.  We had briefly heard of Crossfit in the past, but it looked like the exact thing we needed to get back on track.  In January of 2012, we found the closest box to us, Crossfit Templar, and began a journey that is still going strong today.

When I first entered the Crossfit box, I was humbled.  My weight was actually the lowest it had been since high school at 215 lbs, but I hadn’t lifted a weight in about 2 years, so there was not a lot of muscle in the 215lbs.  I couldn’t lift more than a PVC for overhead squats, I needed a band for pull-ups and ring dips, and I was out of breath after the warm-up.  I also nearly broke my neck trying to do a handstand against the wall, but I was hooked!  The other thing that happened right from the start was a decision to commit to Paleo and change our lifestyle.  Both my wife and I made a full commitment and we cleaned out the pantry and refrigerator to eliminate non-Paleo foods.

The weekly CSA delivery

It took me a few months to start RX’ing some workouts, but I was losing weight and feeling good.  Over the next 9 months, I was able to drop about 15 pounds down to the BodPod weight of around 201 pounds.  I was eating Paleo consistently, but I knew there were some changes that needed to be made moving forward.

This brings us to the 6 month Paleo Challenge…

I will focus mainly on what I changed during the challenge, along with some aspects that I feel were important.  I will also provide what an average day looks like in terms of eating.

The first thing I knew that needed to change was to increase my protein intake.  Prior to the challenge, my afternoon snack would consist of a Lara Bar or an apple or some nuts.  In addition, my post-workout food consisted of eating 5 or 6 prunes and that was it.  To change it up, I began using Progenex Recovery, post-workout, mixing it with 12 oz of Coconut Water.  For the afternoon snack, I began eating half of an Avocado along with a can of Wild Planet Pink Salmon.  On my off-days, I would occasionally substitute a Progenex More Muscle Protein shake mixed with water and a handful of cashews or macadamia nuts.

I was doing a decent job the rest of the day in that I was eating protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner, however, I did decide to increase my egg intake for breakfast from 2 eggs to around 4 or 5.  I also began drinking homemade Bone Broth; first in the morning, then I changed it to right before bed.  Not sure if the time of day makes a difference, but it worked out better for me before bed.

In order to make sure I was getting enough protein and fats, I spent a little time toying with the Zone prescription, but never really followed it exclusively.  I really just took the 5 block approach for my snack and each meal to ensure I was getting enough protein and fat at those meals.  On most occasions, Dinner was well above the 5 blocks for both protein and fat.

In addition to the increased protein consumption, I also knew that my carb intake was too low.  For the first 9 months of Crossfit and eating Paleo, I was not really getting enough non-vegetable carbs.  I dropped body weight during that time and I increased my work capacity, but I felt tired in longer workouts and knew that I was not optimizing my performance.  I added starchy carbohydrates for dinner, which basically consisted of Sweet Potatoes, and more recently Sticky White Rice.  I will say that my carb intake is probably not as high as it needs to be, but I was still able to get good results.


Typical supper
Typical supper
Another supper meal
Pulled pork, sweet potatoes and greens










I almost exclusively eat grass-fed meats, free-range chicken and eggs, and organic vegetables.  I also try to buy locally for these items.  My reliance on supplements is pretty minimal.  I take some fish oil in the morning, along with a Vitamin D supplement and a multi-vitamin.  Aside from those, the protein shakes are the only other supplements that I use.

Aside from the details of what I ate, I think the biggest part for me was the consistency.  By no means was I eating strictly Paleo all the time, as I would occasionally indulge in some Pizza, some Ice Cream, some alcohol, etc.  However, I made sure to keep it a once in a while thing, and tried not to over-indulge.  In addition, I did not let it affect me the next day, as I would just go right back to my normal eating routine.


April 2013
Oct 2012 - My goal was to gain muscle













Consistency played a major role from a diet standpoint, but it was even more important with Crossfit.  I was consistent with Crossfitting 4 or 5 days per week, depending on how my body felt, but more importantly I was consistent in holding myself to the movement standards of the WOD.  I had no problem no repping myself if I didn’t meet the range of motion standards even if that meant it took me much longer to finish a WOD.  I also worked to improve my technique.  Overall, I think this helped lead to better gains and better performance over the course of the challenge.


Winning the Scaled Div 1st place prize @ Freeze Fest
Winning the Scaled Div 1st place prize @ Freeze Fest with my lovely wife Ashley


In the end, a consistent approach to diet and Crossfit led to the following during the 6 month challenge:

  • Body Weight increase from 200.967 lbs to 213.517 lbs
  • Body fat decrease from 9.1% to 7.1%
  • Muscle gain of 15.732 lbs
  • Increased Crossfit Total by 75 lbs
  • Decreased benchmark WOD time by 23%

I am looking forward to what the next 6 months will bring…



A note from Matt -

Hi Sean........I basically did a Day 1, Day 30, Day 60, Day 90, and a 10 month (Day 300) from this weekend. The first 90 days I was strict Paleo and since then I've been about 90% Paleo. It's been a great journey so far and I'm looking forward to the next 300 days - I still have a lot to improve on! ~Matt D.













DAY 30












DAY 60












DAY 90












DAY 300

"The Matt State Story"
Written by Matt State

March 2012 - 235lbs

Where does a former out-of-shape, overweight guy like me start?  How about I start with a little background back to my HS years and then roll up through college and married life?  So, back in the day (early 90’s) I was a 3-sport athlete at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, MN.  I played football, basketball, and baseball from 1st and 2nd grade all the way through varsity at Sibley (except for baseball – quit after 10th grade season).  I was an OLB and FB in football and played 2-guard in B-ball.  I had a football coach that was a big weight lifting guy and I even partook in a lifting class my junior and senior years.  We did all sorts of exercises; bench press, dips, lat pulls, preacher curls, upright rows, leg press, squats, etc.  I learned early how to lift and what hard work could result in. I graduated high school at a whopping 175 lbs and I was in pretty good shape.  I was never super strong, but I was pretty lean and cut with around 10% body fat.

I headed off to good old UW-Stout (when in doubt right?) and started drinking way too much beer. I continued to lift a lot through my sophomore year and got up to about 190-195 lbs and I was pretty strong and had some good definition and bulk. I ended up breaking my finger that year during intramural B-ball and that event began a big spiral of what I call "fatness" on my end. I think I got up to 215 or so before my senior year. I got back in to the gym, but mainly with cardio. I got back down to 169 lbs (too darn skinny) with no real muscle before graduation. I did way too much work on the Stairmaster and it lead to some serious plantar fasciitis issues. That really hampered my ability to play softball, basketball, and do anything cardio-based like jogging. I simply stopped thinking I could be very active anymore. Then I entered into the real world, got married, and had children. YIKES! That led to a lot of McDonalds, limited working out, and the release of “THE LARDWAGON!!!” Holy smokes…working in Chaska and living in Apple Valley led to a lot of two McChicken and two Double Cheeseburger rides home and sometimes culminated in a dinner at home too. I ate 4-6 terrible meals a day. I had let myself get as high as 260+ lbs (yep…you read it right…260+ lbs). I got so damn fat and out of shape that I even got stretch marks on my gut (yep…you read that right too…stretch marks). What a waste of a former athlete’s discipline and hard work. But, it happened and I hated myself for letting it happen. I went up and down like a perfect sine wave or Valley Fair roller-coaster for a number of years following. I would get back down to 210-220 in the summer and then let myself balloon back up in the winter. I just never found something I had passion and love for.

I heard about CrossFit and CrossFit Northstar from my sister a few years back and saw how much she enjoyed it. However, I was fat and worried that I would never be able to do it with my plantar fasciitis. I had neighbors like Mike L. and Dave R. corner me all the time to start, as well as my sister, but I was scared that I would start and not be able to continue. So, I procrastinated and let the roller coaster ride continue. Finally, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. No person in their 30’s should have to lose their breath tying their damn shoes…right? I joined the newly formed Templar gym in September 2012 and was scared to death, but just said enough was enough. I checked my ego at the door on day one and just starting working. I also took Sean’s advice (with some solid coaching from the “nutritionist” Paul Nobles Jr.) and started Paleo right out of the gate. I started CrossFit at 3-days a week and within a month moved to unlimited and eventually a 5-day a week routine.

In October, I hopped on the 90-day Paleo challenge and went balls-to-the-wall and virtually followed the Whole 30 all the way through the month of December. I had a few cheats during the 90 day period, but stayed to a pretty strict 90-95% Paleo. With hard work and some dedicated eating, I went from 220 lbs when I started to 214 lbs with 25% body fat when the challenge started and I weighed in at 199 lbs and 16% body fat 90 days later while adding 6 lbs of muscle. I grew some man-cans and muscles I never knew I could have…even though I always wanted them. I even have some abs coming in (not Andrew, Tim S or Matt D abs, but abs all the same) and that is cool as hell. I couldn’t do a kipping pull-up and only a couple of dead hangs when I started to now I’m doing 25 straight pull-ups after I am done with workouts and feeling like I could rip of 40+ if need be. I could barely do toes-to-bar, no parallette pass-thru’s, no hand-stand push-ups, and no Rx deck squats to being able to do all of them easily now (but limited reps with the HSPU’s). My strength and speed during workouts has improved to where I am not just happy to complete, I am actually competing to some extent. I am totally addicted and try to push CrossFit on all of my friends because I believe in it and feel I am an example of what you can do with CrossFit, some dietary discipline, and some dedication.

Matt winning 1st place at the Paleo Cookoff
Matt winning 1st place at the Paleo Cookoff

I am sharing some embarrassing pics of me before, but if they can motivate someone like the Jason Ball, Matt Dean, Spider, and Beanie stories inspired me, it is well worth it. I have found a new passion in life and as long as my body cooperates, I will be a CrossFitter for life! I cannot wait to see what the rest of year one looks like and does to me. It is super exciting and drives me to work harder and continue my Paleo dedication. Thanks to the awesome staff, the excellent fraternity of members that support each other, and to the Flaherty family for creating such an awesome place to grow physically and mentally.

Before CrossFit
Oct 2012 - Paleo Challenge Day 1
25% Body Fat; 214lbs
Before CrossFit
Oct 2012 - Paleo Challenge Day 1
25% Body Fat; 214lbs
End of the 90-day Paleo Challenge
Jan 2013 - completion of the 90-day
Paleo Challenge. 16% Body Fat; 199lbs
End of the 90-day Paleo Challenge
Jan 2013 - completion of the 90-day
Paleo Challenge. 16% Body Fat; 199lbs

First let me introduce myself, my name is Nick Jeffrey. Some at CrossFit Templar call me "Eel," and I will answer to both. I do not have a huge success story, but rather personal decision I made to take a step forward in my life. I first heard about CrossFit from my father because he was involved in the construction of CrossFit NorthStar when it opened in Rosemount back in 2009. When I first began I was preparing for my junior year swim season at Rosemount High School. I was only an average swimmer on the team but somehow I had qualified for high school state the year prior. My motivation for joining was that if I wanted to be a better swimmer then I needed to take action.


My first couple of WODs were fairly easy for me (I thought) because I had the oxygen capacity of a swimmer. Little did I know that I was doing it all wrong. Sean was not afraid to come up to me and tell me I needed to lift heavier. And he quoted, “the closer you get to RXing the more results you will get out of the workout.” I took his advice and over the next 3 months I gained 6lbs of muscle. My confidence increased and so did my performance in the water. I was able to finish my races stronger than many of the other competitors. I’m VERY grateful to have found CF and happy to be around so many ambitious people who working to reach their goals by doing whatever it takes. We are a family of believers and together we can accomplish anything!

Nick Jeffrey

I spent the good majority of 2011 going from over 31% Body Fat (my Body Fat was actually higher but I did not have the will to get it tested at that point) to 9% Body Fat but there are a couple of interesting things about that journey.  I stalled at about 20%, this was eating Paleo and exercising, the missing component was muscle.  After joining Crossfit my strength exploded I went from never lifting in my life to having a Deadlift PR of 385.  From July to December I gained 10 pounds of muscle and lost 12 pounds.  Something like that does not happen without a plan but I had a plan before Crossfit, so it's easy to identify what was the missing component.  Additionally I began lifting on my own a couple of months prior to joining Crossfit Templar but with bad form and bad technique I got bad results (go figure).

Now that I get to look back on that journey there was a lot of trial and error.  Today there is a level of contentment because I know that if I eat mostly whole foods and show up and do the work the coaches tell me to do I will improve.  My gains are much more gradual and I now have a passion for lifting that has been an interesting discovery.  Last year I chased numbers, today I chase performance and that's the right approach for me.  I am not the gym fire breather and while I am competitive the actual competition is with myself.  Certainly I am motivated by the people in the gym because I am not going to give a poor effort when everyone else is giving all they got.

Lastly I would like to say that I travel quite a bit and when I travel I usually visit Crossfit facilities.  I typically perform very well because at Crossfit Templar our gym is established, the programming is designed for the best athletes and we modify from there.  That is the example that is set for all of us and while I might not be one of those athletes now I am at least shooting for the correct goal.

Today my fitness journey ended exactly one year after my first BodPod, the final tally was 9.1%. While that wraps this up with a nice little bow I think the thing I am most looking forward to is just being able to move into my next phase of health and fitness. Clearly this year was a very measured approach, next year will be much more deliberate, less measuring and more enjoying the journey.