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Showing Up

It’s pretty easy to give up on the gym.  Some people get frustrated if they don’t see gains immediately.  Other people come back after a long layoff, take on too much, and burn out fast.

Most of the time, the best results come from simply sticking with it. Training is hard. It makes you sore. It hurts your feelings. But it’s always worth it when you see results, and results come from consistency.  It’s like the old adage says: “success consists of getting up one more time than you fail.”  And as it happens, we have a little success story that’ll hopefully inspire you to do a little more sticking with it of your own!

Meet Matt. About 4 months ago, Matt walked into the gym weighing 260lbs.  He’s 20 years old, and has no athletic background whatsoever. By that I mean he couldn’t do a pull-up or a push-up.  He couldn’t air squat.  He couldn’t jump rope. He was severely out of shape, to say the least.   We had him deadlifting a 16kg kettlebell for 10 reps and it was kicking his butt.  On his first visit to the gym, he christened the puke bucket after a single 500m row.


Matt Before

Matt After

Matt After

It’s a difficult thing to participate in an activity that, frankly, you’re really bad at.  You’re forced to confront your weaknesses, and it takes some cahones to be willing to do that.  Matt has complained through every rep of every workout.  Nonetheless, he’s shown up consistently 2 to 3 times per week for the last 4 months.

His latest weigh-in was 205lbs.  That’s 55lbs lost in a mere 4 months, for those of you too lazy to do the math.

The remarkable thing is that Matt hasn’t come close to being a poster child for diet and exercise.  His main dietary change involved eliminating the copious amounts of soda he was consuming and cutting down on some of the bread and pasta he was eating.  Two big changes but a far cry from going Paleo or measuring his blocks.  He mostly eats meat covered in various kinds of sugar sauce.  We harp on him constantly about eating vegetables and fruit, but our success is limited.

Yet Matt’s workouts have improved noticeably. No, he’s not a firebreather.  No, he doesn’t “crush” the workouts. He still can’t do a pull-up. He can air squat, but his form breaks down pretty rapidly during workouts.  But he puts up with our constant yelling about squatting deeper and incessant urgings to eat fruits and veggies.  He can now get through a 20 minute workout without throwing up.  He can deadlift 225lbs. He can work 100 times harder than when he first walked in the door.  He can wear shirts that haven’t fit him since high school.

Matt’s a great kid and we’re immensely proud of him.  So many people are afraid of CrossFit and can list dozens of reasons why they “can’t” do it:  “it’s too hard”, “eating Paleo or Zone is too time consuming”, “the exercises look too challenging”, or “handstand push-ups are impossible.” Matt is a shining example that the main thing you need to do to get results is show up.

Matt shows up, and that’s what’s important.  So the next time you think of skipping a day or giving up, remember that results come from sticking with it!

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.

–Thomas Szasz


  1. Dan says:

    Great job – keep up the hard work!

  2. juan says:

    yeeaaah, Matt ya’ sexy bitch!
    keep it up!

  3. Tim B says:

    go Matt!

  4. Jonathan Silverman says:

    well done keep up the good work.

  5. Eddie Long says:


  6. Paul@CFQ says:

    Great job Matt! That’s what it is all about. Stick with it.

  7. Gerrit says:

    Seriously f-ing A awesome! Keep on!

  8. Scott G says:

    Great job Matt! Keep up the great work!

  9. Joey says:

    Awesome work, Matt.

  10. Davi says:

    YAY MATT! I was wondering where you were – since our paths haven’t crossed since you first started.

    RIGHT ON! Great job.

  11. Caroline Kong says:

    You ROCK, Matt 🙂

  12. cristina says:

    I want to give Matt a shout out from Boston! Great job and keep it up.

  13. Jonny@CFChicago says:

    Great story. Keep at it Matt. It only gets better from here.

  14. Yelimar says:

    This is exactly what Sam and I were discussing last week.

    Rock it Matt!

  15. Matt Ryan says:

    Thanks guys, I really appreciate the kind words. Don’t know what else to say…..

    There you go.

  16. laura says:

    I am Matt’s Mom I am very proud of
    the success he has achieved,he has a new attitude of himself & is proud of how he looks.I sincerely thank everyone that has helped him at the gym. Matt does try to include veggies & fruit but does not like that many, I am curious can he start adding whole grain pasta and bread in moderation into his meal’s. Because I am worried that all the meat and eggs he is eating will effect his cholesterol ? Thanks again for giving my son a new body & a new life !!!!!! He has lost at least 10 inches on his waist ! You guy’s a miracle worker’s !!!!!!

  17. Anne says:

    Wow!! Great job Matt!!

  18. Mak says:

    WOAH!!!!! That is amazing. Way to go. Mucho impressive.

  19. Christine says:

    Matt – you are true inspiration!

  20. Grant Belton says:

    Matt – I am showing all my clients what hard work get do for you. Keep up the good work!!!!!!

  21. David Osorio says:

    This is great! Keep it up, Matt and CFV!

  22. Samir Chopra says:

    Awesome, very inspiring. I’m going to remember this as I try and come back this year from injuries.

  23. Amit says:

    A W E S O M E !!!

  24. Paul Mea says:

    Awesome job Matt!!! You are true inspiration!

  25. Aaron A says:

    Great work dude! It is great to see you sticking with it.

  26. Eugene Lowery says:

    Inspirational, Matt! I lost 47 lbs. in 47 weeks when I joined the gym, and have kept it off for 5 years now. You are inspiring and a great model for persistence. Keep it up!

  27. WOW! Awesome! I am down about 30lbs which I grant mostly to eating primal and circuit training, although I am now a crossfit gal officially for about 2 weeks and I am loving it! But Matt’s transformation so far is amazing! Showing up IS what’s important, and effort.

  28. Seana says:

    WOAH. Awesome.

  29. Victor says:

    Love this kind of stuff. Way to go!

  30. mike c says:

    i saw that dude working. Great job man. You are an inspiration.

  31. Rob E. says:

    If you listen to your coaches think about what you’ll be able to do in 5 years.

  32. Nathan Barnett Herrera says:

    So awesome.

  33. Ben says:

    Hey Laura,
    I understand your concern for all the eggs and meat he is eating but i hope this helps:
    Here is a good piece on grains. I would suggest leaving out the whole wheat pasta and toast.

    And here is a good article on saturated fats and cholesterol.

    I would suggest some of the other articles on this site. They are all very informative and helpful.
    Best, Ben

  34. Claire D. says:

    Great job!!!! reminding me I haven’t been to class this week.

    I should be learning this lesson right now…

  35. Hilary says:

    Matt you are AWESOME! Congratulations you should be super proud of yourself. You are doing amazing. You are an inspiration Matt.