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My Experience “Kicking the Crack”
Cullen Young-Blackgoat, January 30, 2009

In January I ate an uncomfortable amount of nuts to survive my craving for Corn Pops and Peanut Butter Captain Crunch.  Go ahead, laugh.  It is funny in many ways…and true.  It all comes down to being pushed to a place of discomfort for me.  The notion of seeing if I can do something (or not) was originally the reason I enjoyed CrossFit.  Overcoming my own perceived limitations and simply “making it through” WOD’s and knowing that I was getting stronger validated: the pain I went through during workouts, the sacrifices I had to make to be a member, and the consistency of showing up for constantly varied functional movements executed at my own individual high intensity even when it was F-ing snowing outside, and I was tired.  CrossFit defined itself to me in the beginning as an obstacle to overcome with a tool box of gnarly caveman like movements to aid me, leading to a better and healthier life.  It meant doing things I hadn’t thought about doing to improve, and then having the faith that I would improve.  It turned into a competition, a race, a social identifier and a quest to obtain any minute amount of information from the vast reservoir of how to become “better.”  On a mental and emotional level, I lived at CrossFit for months, at best, at the bottom of the sickness-wellness-fitness level.  I lost the root of WHY I was even there.  My head took over.  I lived in a constantly hypoxic state of worry about being the best, and lost what Ryan had taught me about CrossFit; that we do it to improve our lives and to do better at the things we “enjoy.” 
    The “Kick the Sugar” challenge presented a surprisingly refreshing reminder to me about CrossFit.  Yeah, my name was up on the white board.  Yeah, people saw a vast amount of improvement in my performance that seemed aggressively unimaginable.  And, yet, my social and mental state as a CrossFitter became increasingly more and more unbalanced and it affected everything, mainly my view of myself.  I stopped growing and started a downward cycle of obsession with the world of CrossFit and lost the practicality of it.  I thought that if I committed myself to fighting, using CrossFit as my fitness program, everything would balance itself out again.  Instead, what I learned through the month of January is that I never laid the foundation properly to CrossFit, let alone the ability to use it as a personal journey to better myself, in whole.  I had laid the mortar without the sand.  Looking at what I was eating, changing what I put in my face gave me a better way to use my eyes, enabling me to accurately evaluate CrossFit and my life.  I hate it when things like this are written because they sound hokey.  But if you haven’t tried it, eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and NO sugar for a month and I’m sure you would actually write something like “Looking at what I was eating, changing what I put in my face gave me a better way to use my eyes, enabling me to accurately evaluate CrossFit and my life.”

    I could tell you several things about “going Paleo” for a month.  I got acne, my gastrointestinal tract revolted, the house became a sanitarium of what I couldn’t eat, restaurant prices increased while the food I actually got decreased, my co-workers jested about the strange things I would concoct during lunch hour, my wife became increasingly more noticeable to me as a supporter and motivator in my life, my children’s pancakes nearly caused me to throw temper tantrums, and I woke up once with a slab of pork and zucchini spread over my pillow, replacing what used to be cereal bowls and cookie crumbs.  My bowels (sorry) became a science project.  My moods depended upon the amount and type of nuts I would eat, and I struggled to just stay the course when I was HUNGRY.  But I never cheated.  I couldn’t.  It would have led to complete relapse and I had to build the foundation with myself so that what I did in CrossFit was a personal adventure and not a Certification or a time on the white board.  I constantly made references to things like the CrossFit Journal article about being a good “trainee” starting with: learning to train alone, eating correctly, and becoming teachable. 
    I have never been a national CrossFit Hoss, a Beast, or a Certified Badass.  But I had tried to jump to the end of the Games, without learning to do dips, kips, to open and close my hips, do handstands, and eat properly.  I set myself up for failure.  That ended the day I did “Barbara” alone in our home gym in late January.  Nobody was there to watch me; no pictures, no evidence to present.  I was SO happy to be accountable to my own form and intensity.  I had no one to race.  I simply had a hearty breakfast and sleep the night before.  I set myself up that day to succeed by beginning with the basics and set a PR.  A personal record is just that, personal.  When everyone left I asked myself, “Can you do this?”  The outcome was based on my faith in myself that day.  The “Kick the Crack” challenge has been extremely personal and I recorded the whole thing.  That is an accomplishment that needs no insecure searching for recognition.  It won’t reach any white board or earn me credentials.  I moved more mentally than physically from the spectrum of sickness to a solid foundation of wellness.  I gave myself a reason to look back and say “I did what I didn’t want to, with faith that it would change something.”
    The “Kick The Crack” challenge got me off sugar and back on the band wagon of enjoying CrossFit and not just doing CrossFit.  Why care where I stand at any given time in comparison to others?  I wasted so much time doing that without committing myself to the training and learning of the movements, philosophies, research and values of CrossFit.  Instead, my philosophy became (again): see if you can do it, and if you can’t, find where you are weak and work it.  My weaknesses are cereal, pancakes, carrot cake, Naked juices, and unreasonable expectations of myself without investigation.  What got me through this month was that I was stripped of what I thought I was doing and forced to look at what I actually did.  Then I considered the results only on a continuum of “where can I force discomfort that will lead to improvement, and am I willing to do that.”  I eventually just gave into the discomfort and recorded the facts.  I had to let go of my perceptions and accept my nutritional and character defects all together. I had to re-become a CrossFitter, remembering why I do it and when things got rough I could just tell everything else to: EAT NUTS.


  1. Well said Cullen. You’re a Certified Badass in my book. . . Level 2!!

  2. I can’t wait to see you beat on some folks in a ring/octagon/back alley/machine shop/Dairy Queen or where ever!! Right on strong work You are frickin’ killing it man -amazing.

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