Darren’s CrossFit Success Story

By Darren M. 

We’ve reached the 30 day point of the Incendia Paleo Challenge 4.0. It’s the half-way mark. Only 30 more days and you are done. For some, this is a time of celebration (yay, Paleo-friendly alcohol) and for others, it can be a sentence of 30 more loooooonnnng days. Please take a moment to check out Darren’s story about his transformation. As the winner of the Fall 2013 Paleo Challenge, he began this journey half-heartedly, but came out the other side stronger, leaner, healthier and more confident. When we think about “transformation,” we tend to think about people losing weight. I think it’s important to keep in mind that being “too skinny” is just as real of a struggle for some and we all have our own personal barriers to overcome. CrossFit is all about finding comfort in your own skin. Please keep Darren’s story in mind as you go through the next 30 days. Change – true change – is just around the corner. Be strong! — Lisa

When Lisa first approached me to write my story on how joining Incendia CrossFit and winning the Fall 2013 Paleo Challenge has rocked my “workout world,” I thought no problem I can do this.  But after doing a lot of soul searching, I realized it was a much harder task then I had anticipated. I have only shared my story with a few people in the past, it was a very sensitive time in my life, but it developed me into who I am today.

I never had to watch my weight or work out on a consistent schedule until the fire department hired me. In fact, until I was a junior in high school I was the smallest kid at the school.  For whatever the reason, I grew very slow and uneven so it was hard to ever play sports.  As a child, I played club soccer and baseball, but I was never very good.  When I was in junior high I had a size 13 foot and big enough hands to palm a basketball but I was only 5’5”.  As a freshmen and sophomore in high school I tried out for the track team because there were no cuts and my parents strongly recommended it.  Once the coaches saw me run they knew I was not a runner so they put me on the pole vaulting squad.  Of course, after a few months, my pole vaulting coach quickly nick named me “Flipper” because of my large hands and feet.  Looking back it’s funny to look at my track pictures because of my small size.  My lack of body size made school and growing up very hard.  Not just difficult but extremely stressful, worrisome, and unsettling.

This next part is so hard for me to say because I feel people over use the phrase in today’s world, but I was bullied from the 3rd grade until I was a junior in high school.  This crushed my self-esteem through childhood and adolescence.  My Dad and Mom would always say, “all you have to do is stand up for yourself,” but I believe once bullying starts its very hard to stop, and this was compounded by the fact I was so short and small.  A couple aspects people don’t understand about bullying that made it really hard stop when I was young, is that bullying is extremely contagious.  Normally, its starts with name-calling by one kid, but then there are five kids laughing; now there are five kids that think they can do this and the number grows until before you know it the entire class or grade would be against you, which is what happened in my case.  This totally affected my self-esteem in a very negative way.  I was very down, not only on my body, but also who I was as a person.  Another aspect with bullying is the “pack mentality” teasing gets old.  They would escalate their antics until groups of kids would start to physically attack me.  It would never be just one on one but groups of kids that would attack.  This contagious toxic behavior continued throughout most of the junior high years, it got to the point where I just ate lunch in the library by myself. This further led me in to hopelessness and despair.

When I completed my sophomore year of high school, I was 5’7” and 125lbs with a broken self-esteem and confidence.  I hated life with all of my heart.  I had hit rock bottom and it was hard.  Once I finished my sophomore year of high school I grew 7 inches in 3 months.  When I came back as a junior I was 6’ tall but still skinny, but I was done being pushed around.  Of course, it helped having my cousin – who is the same age – had moved to our side of town and started to go to my school at the same time.  I also started to really get serious about my relationship with Christ.  I realized that I was special, that Christ died on the cross for me, and I was made to perfection according to His will.

I have never had to worry about my diet.  As an adult I would eat what I wanted and exercise by playing basketball with my friends.   My diet was designed around a high calorie foods consisting mostly of fast food.  As I got older, I never really learned how to eat correctly or how it would affect your body.  In my early 20’s I married the woman of my dreams and we had 3 beautiful children.  I was always very patient and great with kids; however, I was starting to notice that I was getting irritated for no reason. Then I would get bad headaches.  I had a strong inclination it was my diet.

Through friends, we were introduced to CrossFit Incendia and the Paleo Challenge.  Truthfully, I did the challenge to support my wife and sister, but whenever I do anything I don’t do it half way.  However, the challenge was not hard.  It made me feel great.  I had so much energy. When I would run into family stress and I would respond correctly, patiently, and lovingly.  It took a while to find the balance between my intake of protein, veggies and fruit.  When BV said in our first meeting that you are going to have to listen to your body and eat when you need to eat, that took several weeks to learn but now, several months later, it is a lifestyle and we don’t ever plan on changing.

As I stated earlier, I have never gained or lost too much weight at one time ever in my life.  Even when I completed 3 months of the fire academy which we were burning 3,000 calories a day, 5 days a week, I only lost 10 lbs.  Most other guys in my academy class lost a minimum of 20 lbs.  In contrast though, when I started the Paleo Challenge I weighed 215.  During the challenge I lost over 20 lbs.  None of my clothes fit me anymore; most everyone I know says how much I have changed.  Truthfully, I never thought it was possible!  As for my workouts in CrossFit, I have never been physically challenged to this extent.  I have always worked out at a “Globo Gym,” doing chest, shoulders, legs, and back all on different days with cardio peppered in, but I was never in shape like I am now.  I have always played many different sports but I have noticed how much faster and quicker CrossFit has made me across the board.  There are many CrossFit gyms around the city but I am so glad I joined Incendia.  Thank you coaches!




  • Chris Petrie

    Awesome story Darren! Thanks for sharing