Talon 039bIn January of 2006, oldest son Elliott and I signed up to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in July, 2008. Philmont is the oldest and most well known of the Boy Scouts of America High Adventure bases. Though I am an Eagle Scout, I didn’t do much High Adventure as boy, and it had been a dream of mine to go to Philmont with Elliott and eventually with all my kids. I was certainly more excited than Elliott about this trip. Elliott was in 6th grade. I was 39 years old and weighed 268 lbs.

As we signed up, one of the scoutmasters pulled me aside and pointed out that I was probably a little over the weight max (BSA High Adventure has a sliding height/weight scale for high adventure trips) and that I had 18 months to solve that problem. Turns out that I was almost 40 lbs over – my weight needed to be a MAX of 228 lbs. Philmont is very strict and will not allow adults on the trail if you are even 1 pound over that number. A combination of that shock and my wife telling me that she wanted a husband around for the next 40 years moved me to action. So, I hired a personal trainer and over the next 18 months dropped 43 lbs. I weighed in at Philmont on June 23, 2008 at 225. Victory!

Cy and his son, Henry in 2011.

Cy and his son, Henry in 2011.

I came off the Philmont trail at 217 pounds (70 miles will do that for you!). Losing the weight was certainly a major deal for me personally, and I got a lot of benefit in health, mobility and confidence. However, without a goal, I fell off the wagon on eating and bounced back up to 230.

I committed myself to losing more weight. I knew I needed to lose more – after all, 228 was the MAX for my height. The BSA and other “experts” say that a guy my height should be 160-180, but I NEVER EVER thought I could get there. Over the next 3 years, I worked out with my trainer and a few gym buddies, but didn’t make a lot of progress. I would lose 10-15 pounds and gain 5-10 back over a year. I worked out 2-3 days a week, tried to make better eating choices, counted calories obssesively, and made progress.

I began to think of my fitness journey as a sculpting job on a big piece of granite. I had a tiny little hammer, and I would bang away on sections of this statue I was creating and tiny little chips would fly off – tink tink tink tink. I could see progress, but it was all very small and often felt like 2 steps forward one step back. I resigned myself to a very long haul down to 180 – 10 years at an average of 5 pounds a year.

Combine that with the boring workouts on the elliptical with headphones on for 30-45 minutes and you have a VERY boring existence. No wonder I couldn’t get motivated! It’s very hard to keep up hope when all you have to look forward to is 10 years of denying yourself foods you like and boring workouts in your tiny headphone protected bubble.

Enter Crossfit

Sometimes it takes a major change in your life to get you out of your rut and onto a new and better path! In August of 2011, I moved my office from downtown Nashville to Cool Springs. Driving back into Nashville for a lunch time workout wasn’t going to work, so I looked for something in the Cool Springs area. I tried doing my own thing at the Y, but that was same old same old.

My kids are competitive swimmers, and my two oldest had been attending Performance Training sessions at Crossfit Talon during swim season. I saw them improve in strength and power, as well as their self confidence and poise. My wife and her best friend, Dawn VanRyckeghem, started attending Crossfit workouts while the kids were doing Performance classes. Amy came home in July and said “Cy – you would love this.” I thought – I am working out at the Y and doing just fine. Then I got on the scale in September and found I had floated back up to 235. I knew I needed to do something and so I decided to give Crossfit Talon a try.

The Foundations class was HARD – I mean really hard. I had been working out with a trainer for 3 years – one that Dennis and Tara know very well and is no slacker, and yet I was worn out! Turns out that those first two weeks are hard for EVERYBODY. But my body adapted and I got used to it. After a couple of months, I started to see some changes in my fitness level and body composition. I came in 3 days a week at first. After 3 months (December), I had lost 15 pounds and 2 inches off my waist. In December, Amy and I started eating Paleo, which further accelerated the change. At the end of 5 months, I had lost another 20 pounds and was down under 200 lbs for the 1st time in over 20 years. I set a goal for myself of being 190 by the time I turned 46, May 5th. I made it with a week to spare!

Cy Fenton, keeping up (side down) with his children

Cy Fenton, keeping up (side down) with his children

It’s been about 9 months since I joined Crossfit Talon and I’m so excited about the changes that have taken place. I’ve lost 45 lbs (my wife Amy has lost at least that much as well). I came into CF Talon with 1 Strict Pull-up and had a personal goal to be able to do at least 5 pull-ups. Dennis and Tara worked with me and in December, I accomplished my first kipping pullup!. Now my max unbroken kipping pull-ups is 21 and my max strict pull-ups is 9. I’m deadlifting 385 (2xbw), back squatting 290 (1.5xbw) push jerking 190 (bw), and did Fran RX in 9:06. Not bad for an old guy! Our whole family is doing Crossfit, and we have become a part of a community that is caring, encouraging and motivating.

And as for that block of granite? I’ve traded in my tiny little hammer for a sledge and chisel and I’m whacking off large chunks of stone now! Progress is exciting and motivating! I’ve personally gone from being resigned to a long slog (10 years!) of boring workouts, small progress, counting calories and denying myself, to looking forward with great anticipation and excitement to the next day and workout. My hope has been restored and I’m so grateful! I can’t wait to get into the gym (every day I’m in town and the gym is open) to see my pals and hit the WOD hard!

Cy Fenton
May 15, 2012