Feb 2019---Joe Thomas

1.Tell us about yourself, your family, your occupation, hobbies/interests.

A little about myself: Well, my name is Joseph Thomas. I have 2 first names - its crazy… people get that confused all the time.

I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, an uncle. I married my best friend at the age of 19 and we currently have 8 children who are incredible blessings from God. I live in the same community that I grew up in. This town that I know and love, and I've seen many changes to the town.

Occupation: I am helping grow a 42 year old company by challenging the status quo through strategic planning and growth,  partnerships, inventory management and flow, and implementing lean business systems.

My hobbies or interests - There are a few here…

I really love the outdoors. If it involves, being outside, it's probably something I like doing. I love camping. I love hunting (birds!). I'm not a big fan of hunting deer because I did that it once and it was a bad experience.

I like solving problems and helping people. I like seeing people that are encouraged, driven and strong.  I like to empower people to help them to get to that point. I like seeing people happy.

2. When do you start CrossFitting? Why did you start? Why do you continue now?

I started CrossFitting in late summer of 2015. There were number of reasons that kind of pushed me to start. One, I was pretty overweight. Well, actually I was obese. Nearing 300 pounds and finding it hard to go up the stairs without having to catch my breath. My joints were aching. My back was hurting. I was barely over 30 years old and realized that I was on a path of disaster.

I initially thought joining but then I lied to myself and told myself that I would get fit, so I could start CrossFit but that never happened, so I just ended up biting a bullet and starting.

I continue now because I know how slippery that slope is. It takes just one instance to start that chain of events - that ripple effect - you stop one habit (lets say that is showing up to class) and then you change your eating habits and then pretty soon you're back into the boat that you started in. I know that is really real and happens to people and I don't want to be one of those statistics. I want be around for my family. I want be around for my friends and colleagues and be a good example in the community and for my family.

3. Do you remember your first WOD? What were your thoughts after your first WOD?

I don't remember the specifics of my first CrossFit WOD but I do remember the very first warm up of my very first CrossFit experience.

It was over at Doc’s on his back patio and when class started we assembled and we just started moving. I was definitely exerting myself, but I thought it was manageable. Keep in mind, again, I'm almost 300 pounds. And so, I thought to myself, 'You know, I'm doing pretty good. I think I can make it through this. It's a little bit of a struggle but I think I can do it.'

And then, the WARM UP ended…and the WOD began. I remember going pale-faced and thought to myself - what have I done?

My thoughts after the first WOD was: Hey you know what, I don't even remember. But I do remember distinctly that feeling of panic, of what the heck am I doing here?

4. What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?

I enjoy most out of CrossFit - the end of the WoD. Right as the buzzer ends and you collapse to the floor in a heap of sweat. The neurons are complete fried. You know you gave that workout your all and there's a sort feeling that kind of overcomes you and it gives you that sense of accomplishment. You were just confronted by this incredibly hard thing and you pushed through it - you and your  comrades and you completed it. That feeling of accomplishment—that is massive.

On a side note, there are so many things I enjoy about CrossFit. It's Constantly Varied! I'm not doing the same things. I never know what's gonna happen. I never know how my body's gonna react or my muscles are gonna react. I’m continually finding new muscles that are sore as I get better and better. Learning new movements. The accountability and the community is next to none. There's no way to replace that. There's no way to recreate that same experience on your own or in a globo-gym.

5. What is your proudest CrossFit moment?
Proudest CrossFit moment - that's a tough one because there have been so many proud moments but one that kind of sticks out of memory was, I've been chasing 400 pounds on the deadlift for a long, long time and one day I hit it with a 405 pounds, so that one was super super proud.

Another one probably would have been when I hit my One REP MAX on a clean and jerk (I believe 225 was what I hit on that). That was a really really exciting proud moment.

6. What is your favorite movement or lift? What is your least favorite?
I think my favorite movement is actually a lift. It's the snatch and the reason it is my favorite is because it takes an incredible amount of patience and skill. But then once you get it, it's so satisfying to throw that weight overhead and to have that power so to speak.

My least favorite movement is running. I try to embrace my weaknesses ….but running?! Seriously, my heart sinks at the thought of this. I know I just need to figure out how its done correctly.

7. Have you had one or two challenging CrossFit goals that you've achieved recently? What are your current goals and how close are you to reaching them?

Double Unders. I hit a PR of 34. Now I am working on my HSPU. I am at the negative stage so it should be soon. From there its dips. Then Muscle ups of coarse!

8. What makes CrossFit different from other fitness programs that you might have tried in the past?
What makes CrossFit different from any other fitness programs that I've tried, is CrossFit is the whole solution. So, there are a lot of other things that you can do. And other things do work for some people that are fanatics about fitness. I wasn't a fanatic about fitness.

I had tried things like Beach Body workouts and runs (read: walking with arms swinging rapidly), but the problem with those is, they don't really tell you how to solve the whole problem which is partly nutrition and the other part of that is, there's no accountability  -  you're still relying on yourself to get YOU out of that - “out of the rut” so to speak.

With CrossFit - you have that community, you have that accountability. People are depending on you. You have that camaraderie and brotherhood of suffering with somebody. It's incredible.

9. What impact has CrossFit Benedictus had on your life, in and out of the gym?
Question #9

CrossFit Benedictus has impacted me in quite a substantial way.

Let's just start with inside the gym. So inside the gym, it's taught me that, I'm able to overcome things. I'm able to get stronger and better and faster just by showing up and just by working, following the coaching, following the process. And, you know, it's basically putting one foot in front of the other. Think about this: a baby growing up, then they try to start walking. What do you think happens? They fall… Well, if we all as babies were to not try walking again after falling down one or two times, then, we would would not survive. Babies dont think about things and complicate them, they just DO.

Similarly, with CrossFit, the GAINZ have come just by me being honest with myself and following the programming, following the coaching recommendations.

Doc said best when he said “Leave your Ego at the door”, or “Your Ego is not your Amigo.” Those words had a really profound effect on me.

Outside of the gym:  Wowza. Talk about functional fitness here. I’ve become tougher physically in the gym, but also physically outside of the gym and I even applied my knowledge of how to lift properly. You know for years, people would say this Buzzphrase “lift with your legs not your back.” I didn't know what that meant. Then after going through CrossFit and learning how to deadlift and learning how to lift weights properly, there's been numerous times where I've been able to use those in real life functional fitness. Whether it’s picking up a heavy tree trunk or  chopping wood and loading things. Such a huge impact there physically.

Mentally: I have had awesome benefits from CrossFit mentally. It makes you incredibly stronger because you can compare things to a WOD. It's like, “hey,  this difficult, tough time that I'm going through right now, or all these challenges that I'm going through right now,  you know what, I just gotta get through it. The only way through it is to do it”, and I use that WOD mentality. This trial is not gonna last forever, and you get through those points. And so, that's been massive for me to get through a few challenging things.

And spiritually, same thing. It's that accountability with yourself. It's that accountability that you get, and you learn in that community setting. The same accountability that keeps you coming back for the gym - that's the accountability you have spiritually. I find myself saying “You know maybe I need to mortify myself on this or that, or maybe I should be kind to this person even though I don't want to. Maybe I should not rash judge somebody, or whatever the case is.”
The CrossFit mentality does not confine itself to the box… it spreads. It’s contagious.

So, that in itself, I don't think I could ever repay the amount that I got back from CrossFit already in just three short years.

10. Tell us about your nutrition and how it has changed, if any, since starting CrossFit?
Well, before starting CrossFit, I didn't really understand nutrition. It was always this big question mark. I knew I wasn't doing things correctly because I was severely overweight, almost 300 pounds and things were out of control. So, I didn't really understand why. I didn't really dig into it. Or give it much weight (Pun intended)

But, you know CrossFit gives you that full solution to fitness, to wellness. And a huge part of that is nutrition. They say that it is the foundation of fitness. And it really is.

The thing that I really kind of blew me apart is the comeback now. It took me eight months to change my diet, after some CrossFit.

I started CrossFit, I was doing fairly well - making gainz. I was losing inches everywhere, but I wasn't losing any pounds.

It was kinda confusing at first but then, I was training, studying to get my L1 certification and the training guide talks about nutrition, specifically they talk about the zone diet. That got me into reading the book abbot the the zone diet, “Enter the Zone” by Dr. Sears. I read that, and was really blown away. I love the story of Dr. Sears and how he found his own diet and why it makes sense. So from there, eight months after I started, I started on the Zone diet, and then over the next year lost 36 pounds roughly. I wasn't super strict and I still have a lot of habits to change. Now I think twice about what I put in my mouth because it does have a true effect on my body.

11. If you could write a WOD for the classes to do, what would it look like?
If could write a WOD, right now, it would probably have something to do with a very heavy barbell.
I really enjoy heavy weight overhead, so maybe it's some sort of squat snatch ladder or a DT style workout where you've got deadlifts and Hang Power Cleans and Jerks. There would be something like that in there. And I'll probably throw some lateral barbell burpees as well. I think it would be in an 8 to 12-minute time domain. It will definitely be around that time because for me that's what I love. The AMRAP stuff, that’s for the birds.

12. What advice do you have for others about the importance of the dedication of taking care of yourself, of investing in yourself?
Honestly, my advice is to anybody and everybody. Guys, do it. You have to do it. You have stop making excuses and do it. Nobody is going to do it for you. Understand that. Realize that. Look me in the eyes and listen to me. NO ONE is going to take care of you. You have to take care of yourself.

The import thing to remember is that life happens so fast, the blink of an eye, and before you know it, you're 65, 75, 85, or whatever. We all know, we all say it that “time just keeps racing by” and if you don't take the time right now today (this very second) to fix that, you're gonna look back after having read this article, having read this interview, you're gonna look back and say, 'Son of a gun, I should have done what Joe said.'

Your future self will be so upset with you right now in the present, so do it. Get off your butt and make that change.

You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your family, your loved ones, friends. It's actually a very selfish thing if you do not take care of yourself. So like it or not, you have an impact on people in your life. Those people love you. It is not fair to them or you to not take care of yourself. Imaging ending up disabled or dead because of that lack thinking about others.

Imagine if your spouse or your best friend or your mom or your dad, didn't do this, and then you have to live with the consequences because of that. So don't be that guy, don't be that gal.

13. What advice would you give to someone new to CrossFit or who is thinking about giving it a try?
The advice that I would give to somebody that is thinking about giving it a try, I would say, absolutely do it. Invest in yourself. Do it. It's the best thing you can do for yourself. You know, I'm not gonna pretend and say “CrossFit is the end all be all, the best thing since slice bread” or “the ONLY way” but it is a way and it is a simple way. But you have to show up. You have to sign up and you have to show up. Definitely, definitely, do it.

If you invest in yourself and you show up and follow the process, the gainz will come. All of the things that I've talked about in this interview come. It's guaranteed. I am one of many thousands of people that this happens to. You can be that person. You have to do it. You have to get yourself to sign up. Ask for a “No Sweat Intro” and Get control of your life.

The advice that I would give to somebody that is new to CrossFit, maybe they've just started, maybe they're in On Ramp, maybe they're 3-6 months in, etc.  I'm a big believer in setting expectations. And here's the expectation: Doing CrossFit is gonna be painful because you're not used to it. You're using muscles that you've probably never used in a very long time. So the first 3-6 months, they are challenging. They are painful. They're taxing physically. They're taxing mentally. But have that expectation. Go in to that knowing that and stick with it. Every thing will pass. Just put one foot in front of the other. That’s it.

There's no easy way. There's no magic pill that you can take to be fit. There's no magic pill you can take to have the clearest mental clarity, toughness and grit. There's no magic.
You just need to take a step, one foot in front of the other and do it and persevere. That's it.

You can have all kinds of excuses. The mind is gonna make all kinds of excuses for you why you can't do it. But you know what, if you don't do it, you're gonna be in a heap of trouble.

14. Open Forum:

I would really like to say thank you to Doc Carroll for everything that he's put into this business, into helping others. Words are not gonna be able to describe the gratitude that I have for him, for Cindy, his family. Everything that he's sacrificed to do that so, thank you. And I hope to repay that someday.

The other thing I wanna say thank you to my wife for believing in me, for putting up with me when I first started. You know, juggling schedules, and really making CrossFit a priority in my life. And that's helped me have success in business, that's have helped me have success in life in general, mentally, spiritually, so thank you to my wife, Bridget.

The other thing is thank you to the coaches. The coaches do a good amount of research and skill work testing, studying to bring better info/movements for us to use. You don't have to think about it. You show up, and basically,  have a personal trainer to get you through difficult or complex movements. They're also there to cheer you on. They're there to encourage you. So big big shoutout to the coaches, all of them, thank you so much for all you do for all of us. And I truly do apologize to all the coaches as well for everything that I might have said during burpees or any other workout for that matter. =)
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