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2012: Learning Through CrossFit

Lindsey Valenzuela John Michael Bric

Myself and Lindsey Valenzuela at the 2012 CrossFit Games

Anyone who has visited our site over the last few weeks would have seen the numerous New Years resolutions from some of the best CrossFitters around the world. Their responses and aspirations for the 2013 year were not only insightful, but they got me thinking about my own CrossFit training.

As I sit here now and write this, it is quite interesting how in three years of CrossFit training, I’m still learning new techniques, new exercises, and refining ones I learned that very first day I walked into a CrossFit box.

Reflecting back, it amazes me just how far I have come. And I’m surprised 2012 was the year I finally managed to learn how to butterfly kip, do pistols properly, and even get my first strict muscle up.

But the past 12 months have also taught me more about life outside the CrossFit gym, especially in regards to my health.

Breaking Paleo at In and Out Burger

Last year I turned 27, and for the first time in my life, I began to notice signs of aging. No, not the kind you will see on a woman’s cosmetic advertisement. My issues are more sports and performance based than anything to do with “age defying” moisturizers.

During my early 20s, I never worried about getting old. I would eat pizza, burgers, fries and chocolate on a daily basis. I would drink alcohol every weekend, rarely stretch or do anything that was good for my body. For me, it was about having fun. As competitive as I am, I never gave two thoughts about diet, recovery or supplements.

When it came to football, I would regularly skip the team warm ups and cool downs. While my teammates iced, stretched or rehabbed their bodies with the team physio, I could be found chatting to other players about the past week’s events.

Yet none of my neglect for myself was ever an issue. I seldom got injured, never missed a match, felt great on game days, and even had enough energy each week to play basketball, surf, skate, kick the soccer ball around and go out on the occasional date. To compound matters, I did it all while working two jobs.

But last year there was a turning point, and my years of neglect finally appeared to be catching up with me. All of a sudden, my body began to show signs it was no longer invincible. Not only was I struggling to push through workouts and tough games on the weekend, but my recovery levels were slowly getting worse.

For years, I would play a game of football on Saturday afternoon. Saturday night would be spent drinking at a bar or club, meaning by Sunday morning you would expect I would wake up bruised and sore headed. Yet that never seemed to happen, and after a Sunday surf at the beach, I was always ready to do it all again the next week.

As I mentioned, last year that totally changed. Getting out of bed after a night out or a big game was becoming a chore. Walking the day after a tough workout became plain painful, and the idea of working out two days in a row was enough to make me cringe!

In addition, my lower back started to flare up and I began picking up minor injuries in my ankle and both wrists. Basically, my body was telling me it was time to look after it.

I quickly began searching for a solution and in the process went out and purchased all kinds of massage tools: from foam rollers to lacrosse balls. I implemented a routine of stretching and massaging my whole body every couple of days. In addition, I also changed my stubborn ways and made sure I warmed up and cooled down properly.

John Michael Bric Injury

Badly Sprained Ankle: One of my Many Injuries in 2012

After a few weeks, I started to notice some slight results. My back pain started to decrease and my whole body slowly began to feel better. However, my recovery was still an issue. I continued to pull up sore after most WODs and games, and instead of feeling great by Sunday afternoon, it was usually not till Tuesday or Wednesday when I felt I was back to full working capacity again.

At the time, friends and coaches suggested I try some basic vitamins and supplements, but I was quick to dismiss the idea. While I had experimented with stuff like protein and creatine during high school, I was never a big believer, and always preferred the natural approach, i.e getting all the necessary nutrients through food.

But it was at the 2012 CrossFit Games in Carson, when I started to change my mind. I was reporting on the Games for The Rx Review, and considering we only had a small media team with us, my time in Los Angeles was literally spent running around, organizing equipment, recording interviews, writing, editing and publishing.

It was an exciting but chaotic time and we were averaging about 3-hours of sleep a night. Those long work hours, coupled with my jet lag following the 15-hour flight from Australia, meant my body was in desperate need of something. Anything!

Back then, one of our website sponsors was the high performance company AltrientTM. Besides being an official Games sponsor, AltrientTM was also sponsoring some of our live blogging. So it was only natural that during a break in the chaos, I decided to walk over to the their stall they had in “Tent City” and introduce myself. It was a pretty busy tent and while I waited to say ‘hi’ to the CEO, one of their sales reps got talking to me and asked a range of questions about my recovery and what issues I was having with my body.

After finding out more about their products and how they can help me, I ended up walking away from the tent half an hour later with a month’s supply of both their AltrientTM C and AltrientTM METM products.

The Rx Review Media Team

The Rx Review Media Team Working Late Into the Night During the 2012 CrossFit Games

At the time, I wasn’t really expecting much. Let’s be honest, I own and run a review website, so have tried a whole gambit of products over the years, most of which failed to do anything for me. But what the rep said seemed to make sense, and considering I was in search of anything to help my body, I thought I should give it a try, even if it simply worked as a placebo!

However, as the weekend continued, I started to learn a few top CrossFitters were also using the product, most notably three-time CrossFit Games competitor Cheryl Brost. During one of our interviews with the 41-year-old, I asked her about AltrientTM and what she thought of it.

“I’m not as young as some of these other CrossFit athletes here this weekend. So I have to be more proactive in how I train and eat. After taking AltrientTM for some time now I can definitely notice the difference in my recovery and overall health.”

Cheryl Brost

Cheryl and Michael at the 2012 CrossFit Games

Cheryl couldn’t talk any higher about the supplement, and much of what she said resonated with me. That said, I was still skeptical. I remember thinking how can something as simple as Vitamin C and Vitamin B, be so effective? So, I decided to put AltrientTM to the test and see the results for myself. So I found out what Cheryl was taking, and decided to see if that would work for me.

At the conclusion of the 2012 Games I returned back to Melbourne and continued taking both of Altrient’s products. To my surprise, after only a few weeks, I was shocked to notice my overall recovery time improve. I was no longer pulling up as sore after tough workouts and my overall health seemed to improve.

Rather than taking 3-4 days to recover after killer workouts like ‘Murph’ and ‘Fight Gone Bad’, I only needed 1-2. In addition, my overall performance was slightly improved, and my energy levels had increased.

After moving back to Melbourne from Sydney, I had rejoined my old football team I had played with since I was a kid and I was desperate to win a Premiership with them. By August, and after a great year, we had made the finals and were in contention for the title.

With my newfound appreciation for supplements, coupled with my desire to win a title with my football team, I had now begun taking a whole host of new products. From protein powder, organic fish oil, coconut water, apple cider vinegar, creatine, AltrientTM C and AltrientTM METM, I had really jumped on the supplements bandwagon.

By September my team had progressed to the Grand Final and I’m glad to report that, finally, after 19 seasons at the club, I became part of a premiership winning team! It was a tough match, that put all my fitness and work over the last year to the test.

After the 2013 Portsea Swim Classic

I have no doubt my CrossFit training, stretching and mobility work, diet and supplementation made a huge difference. I can honestly say, I would not have achieved my lifelong goal of being part of this premiership winning team had I not changed the way I took care of my body.

It was just last month when I interviewed Altrient ™ spokesperson and the 2nd Fittest Man on the Planet, Matt Chan. And some of the things he said in that interview really struck a chord.

“One thing that’s important for me is that people recognize that CrossFit is not just the CrossFit Games,” Chan said. “I do CrossFit because the repercussions in achieving a high level of fitness in the gym. It means I’m able to have a high level of fitness outside the gym. I can go mountain biking, climbing, skiing, you name it.”

“I think people get wrapped up in being inside the gym, when in reality I would like to see people outside the gym, improving their fitness outside of the gym… and showing the world what CrossFitters are able to do outside the gym.”

Listening to Matt, I realized this was also once a problem for me.

While my stubbornness and reluctance to try effective supplements had seen my body slowly begin to deteriorate, my early obsession with CrossFit had also hindered me.

As is the case with many people new to CrossFit, in my first few months of training I became totally consumed with the sport. I would train 4-5 times a week, either at my local box or at a few parks around my home, and started to neglect some of my other favourite sports like football and surfing.

Waist Deep in Power in the Austrian Alps

Then it hit me.

Over the past few years I had been spending so much time developing into a stronger and fitter athlete through CrossFit, but I never had a chance to apply that fitness outside of my box.

Thankfully, 2012 was the year I decided to spend more time taking part in some of the other sports I love, like football, surfing and snowboarding.

But as Chan reiterates, getting out of the CrossFit gym and trying other sports is one thing, but taking care of your body the right way is another.

Flat Day’s Surf at Bondi

“When you’re beating your body down on a consistent basis, recovery becomes a major issue that needs to be recognized,” he said.

After my 2012 season, I couldn’t agree more with his words.

Although I had applied my CrossFit training outside the gym, I had to learn the hard way how important diet and supplementation is for my overall performance.

As 2013 gets underway there are some things I will continue to do. For the first time in many years, I’ll be showing my body a newfound respect. I know now if I want to continue to CrossFit, play football, surf, ski, and live the life I want to lead, there has to be a change. I’ll need to continue to stretch, drink more water and eat healthier. But I’ll also need to continue to supplement my diet with protein powders, fish oil and some basic Vitamins.

In my three years of CrossFit training, I have not only become a fitter, faster and better functioning person, I have also learned to adapt in ways I never thought possible. That said, I can’t wait to see what I learn in 2013.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.