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“2013 – A Year of Change”

As other bloggers, writers and social media status posters begin to invest time to jot down their thoughts of reflection on the past year, I believe I will join them. Perhaps it’s time to tell my story, perhaps its time I told the complete story of what went on this past year that, as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would say, how my life got flipped, turned upside down.

However, there won’t be any negative details here. 2014 approaches, and it will be a year where new and greater things will come to fruition. “2014: A Year of Transformation”.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 11.22.29 PMI could post a plethora of motivating factors of what drove me to massive amounts of change this year. I will focus on 2. The first is probably not as dramatic as it simply has to do with wanting to be healthier. During Christmas 2012, my weight sat somewhere in the area of 197 lbs. I could go through a pretty long list of fat jokes that became applied to me, which I of course had to laugh at as well, because it was true. However, looking at where my weight was, I also did not feel as great as I used to.

During my younger years I was constantly involved in some type of sport. I was always an athlete. Somewhere between high school and last year, I lost it. Perhaps it was because of my occupation, it stationed me far too much in front of a computer. Perhaps it was I just became involved in not thinking about myself and focusing on the needs of others more than I should have. Whatever the reason was, it needed to change. I took it upon myself to begin dieting, and the first order of this was to cut off a lot of fats and sugars that I had been inhaling. The idea that I won’t be able to enjoy a lot of Christmas sweets this year is borderline heinous, however, I have got to stay strong.

The gym became a second home of sorts. By no means do I call myself a ‘gym rat’, however, being able to exercise and begin to feel a bit more agile again became addicting. Little did I know, that addiction would grow, exponentially.

Turning Point

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 11.38.33 PMSummer time hit, and I was somewhat pleased with my progression as I was down about 20lbs. However, I have been always been a bit bashful about taking off my shirt in public, especially at a larger weight. Believe me, as bright as my skin is as well, it wouldn’t have been a pretty sight,  I could have lit up an entire football stadium for a night game.

The Summer months brought about a new challenges that demanded my attention in having a much more focused attitude on life, my daughter, and my being. I also took notice that my weight and strength was beginning to plateau. Perhaps I had hit my ceiling, and wasn’t going to improve much more. However, I wanted to try, and I needed something that would help drive me a bit harder than normal. Something that would push me to utilize the extra motivation I was incurring into something productive.

I was on a bit of an emotional/professional ‘high’ however, since my development team and I had just won our first hackathon in San Francisco. This was something to be absolutely ecstatic about, and enormously proud of, yet I wasn’t satisfied with my strength, weight and my health still. Knowing myself, I will never settle, I don’t think it’s in my genetics to simply stay stationary.

‘Chusei Shin’

One of the most popular and endearing stories that has come out of Japan, is the story of the 47 Ronin (and in no way should be associated with the new Keanu Reeves movie that is coming out with the same title. I will rant about that later).

I won’t get into the whole story of the Ronin here, but the Sengakuji Temple in Japan, which houses the warriors grave stones, can probably give you the essence of what their spirit meant. The story of these 47 Ronin is arguably one of Japan’s examples of honor, and loyalty (You can read the rest on Wikipedia if you want). This will be important for my little post later on, however, this will may be able to explain further on the name change I used or moniker of myself in which I pride my life on.

AdriAndI‘Chusei Shin’ means ‘one who is extremely loyal’. If you notice any of the ink on my arms (kind of hard to miss), it is dedicated to my family and things that help me find peace and grace.

The majority of my ink work is dedicated to my beautiful daughter, from her name being imprinted, her actual portrait  engraved on my shoulder, to the lyrics of a song embodied on my chest for her. Those lyrics are from a popular Rolling Stones song and reads: “Wild Horses, couldn’t drag me away“. Never, throughout our lives together, and as long as breath would fill my chest, would I ever leave my daughter’s side. It was my guarantee and something to comfort her for what negative imperfections of life she may go through. Her father would always stand by her side. I needed to stay healthy for her. I needed to be stronger for her. I was her rock, her stability and protector (she has even asked if I was getting stronger for her so I would always be able to protect her, she is amazing). The love of my daughter, coupled with another tattoo engraved on me in honor of my family and friends. The Japanese kanji symbol for ‘Loyalty’.

For each and every family member or friend to consistently know that they would have a person they could count on in me as I take those relationships seriously. I couldn’t not be a person that would preach strength and kindness if I didn’t become the epitome of it. I could not teach my daughter what the real definition of beauty of life was, if I didn’t bleed it, if I wasn’t around. I had to make sure I would give myself the best change to be around, for as long as possible. Hopefully, if I could find that, it would inspire her to always stay determined to become stronger in mind and body as well. Inspire her to perhaps change the world.

Crossfit

My good friend JC, knew I wanted to improve. JC knew I wanted something else to expend an enormous amount of energy out on. If finally came, I chose to try Crossfit with him for the first time in Cypress with JC, and the rest of the local Crossfit community. I remember seeing stars from the lack of air, even though my first workout with them was simply body weight exercises. However, it was at a higher intensity. Something I wasn’t used to, but something I needed. I wanted to dig out of my plateaued state, I wanted to be able to say my body could be better than at it’s current setting. I got through the workout, albeit, I probably looked like a snail amongst others, but was reminded that its not a competition with anyone but yourself. That was the day I first heard the small quote, a hashtag, that would become everything that would push myself as I move forward in crossfit.

“Better Than Yesterday”

It’s amazing at what type of impact just 3 words can have. It’s a benchmark, a reminder that each day you are taking small, but significant steps towards achieving goals. You may be going through the worst of times, and faced with the most difficult challenge of your life. However, you have to remember you are eating an elephant, one of the greatest things that JC has taught me. As I am grateful for his friendship, I appreciate him reminding me that each day I am taking a bite of that large mass. It won’t be finished in a day but over a span of many. I have to stay patient when encountering those unfortunate moments in life that I will overcome, and this reinforced my mettle as well in life and for becoming healthier.

Although my schedule does not permit me to be able to workout with the team as much as I would like, I do appreciate the people it has introduced me to. You could call it a Godsend, you can call it enlightening but as we would say, its about ‘Community’. The workouts in crossfit are hard, I won’t lie to you, but having others that are next to you, going through that same type of hell can be very motivating. You are trying to fight through a WOD (workout of the day) together, and a positive aura tends to cloud over the group as we push, motivate and cheer each other on to finish. Its about finishing.

To me, its also about staying loyal to a group that embraces each other so effortlessly, and we sincerely want to see each other succeed. Egos are checked at the door, this stuff is hard and as it doesn’t matter where you finish, just do your best to complete with integrity and a solid effort. Crossfit, obviously, can enrich even further the values and foundation of life beyond working out.

Semper Fortis

IMG_5964Semper Fortis” or “Always Strong“, a standard that we all as a team devote ourselves to live for ourselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean the ability to have large muscles and lift heavy weights, but being assertive and tough mentally as well. The fortitude and drive it takes to be able to press forward in crossfit, in work, in relationships and in life must be sustained at a constant rate of improvement.

The Crossfit community has been amazing. We cheer each other on at individual or team events, we involve ourselves in charitable events, and even form new and great relationships outside of working out side by side.

It has been a great experience, and second family to be able to turn to when I needed to grab a barbell, turn up the music loud, and put my body through things I didn’t think it would ever do again.

1458488_10150335001679986_400138773_nTo be considered an athlete again, to be told that my new found gymnastics ability could be an asset in my growth in crossfit has been extremely uplifting. Gymnastics? Anthony? Really? A year ago, I would never have dreamed that I would be where I am at now. I began a paleo diet in October, and went strict for 30 days and immediately dropped another 10lbs. I currently sit at 160lbs, which equates to nearly a 40lb drop in weight from a year ago. I am going to try and do things like snowboard again, where I didn’t think my legs would be strong enough to fight a mountain’s elements after surgery.

I tried doing a muscle up for the first time in early November, and where I didn’t think I can do it, I did it and just about broke a rib doing it. We will ignore that part. For being able to know that I am capable of not only doing what I can do now, but being able to realize I can be even better, I thank JC and the rest of the Crossfit community for being supportive.

squareHowever, my thank you’s don’t stop there. I have had an amazing outpouring of support this past year from my parents, family and friends this year. My sister, Amy, has been absolutely stellar, and my brother, Andrew, has been nothing short of unbelievable in their support of Adrianna and I. The list is too long for me to name everyone, but I want to say you are all appreciated, and ‘Chusei Shin’ will always lend an ear, a hand, or some words of encouragement if ever needed and may you always stay strong as we approach 2014. Like the 47 ronin mentioned above, I am here in support of you as well.

Tomorrow will be better than today. Just put in the work, the effort and live with honesty, loyalty and integrity; the results will surprise you.

Adrianna and I love you all. Stronger than ever.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
Anthony