Monday, August 24, 2015

The long journey!

If anyone thought it was just a quick fix journey, they are wrong. I started this journey over two and a half years ago and it has not been perfect, but I've learned from my mistakes. I am still here on this journey with my family and friends, and also some great new friends I picked up along the way. Getting started has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am an honest guy so I can disclose that I am not at my lightest weight that I have been on this journey. I have made diet changes and fallen off the "band wagon" sometimes, but I have never stopped moving, exercising, or focusing on my goals.

I have hit new personal gains in crossfit by increasing my weights lifted in a lot of things. Deadlifts (my favorite) when I started out on this journey I maxed lifting probably around 220lbs and now I am lifting 355lbs! I almost got to 365 and I know I will do more soon. I can do a few un-assisted pull- ups now! When I looked back at my first crossfit journal, I saw I used to do assisted sit-ups with a band when I started; it was a shock to remember that and how far I have come. This is one of my favorite tips: journal your accomplishments and keep out your medals from events like 5ks so you do not forget how far you have come and so you can look back on those tough days to keep you motivated because you will have those days! It is only natural to have rough days and set backs, it makes you stronger and makes it more worth it! As they say. "if it was easy, everyone would be doing it." I still believe the Advocare 24 day challenge is one of the best ways to get your mind setup for beginning the journey. It is an easy program for starters. It's not all about weight loss and that is something you need to learn in the process. It does help in the beginning.

I have also saved some money and started buying my own weights and other fitness tools for home use. I got a great rig from Inferno-Equipment, a local Minnesota company that does local deliveries and ships to your house cheaper than other name brand companies. They have custom colors and help you size it to your space. Great customer service and a small start up company!! (Thanks, Jesse!) I use the home equipment to keep up with my routine when I cannot make it to the gym or to work off some stress when I'm feeling frustrated. I love seeing what I am capable of doing! I am even getting my wife and kids involved in my workouts, whether by going biking or playing around with the weights in the garage.

I still go to my favorite box Minnesota Top Team because I still need my trainers Jo and Jeff with group motivation (extended family) three to four days a week at 5:30 am!! I could not do any of this with out my wife's encouragement, which keeps me going on the real bad days!

(Son Logan)

I am sorry it's been since December that I have posted. Flew by way too fast! Since then, I have done some more 5k's, with more on the way!
A few of my main points with this journey is that you have to keep moving, set backs happen and don't beat yourself up about them. I have said this before - if you had a bad day, wake up with the thought, "today is another day to make yourself proud!" Get your friends and family involved, because if you are not making a positive difference, what's the point of anything. (BEAST MODE)
Lucky 7k March 2015
Warrior Dash 5k Obstacle Race July 2015
Mid Deadlift 

Do for those who cannot! I am not going any where; let me know if you have any questions! More posts to come!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Back to basics

The end of the year is upon us, holidays are really hard to get through, it's a great time to remember the family and friends that are no longer with us. Take that to re-motivate yourself if you need it! Remember that this is a long journey of life, not a short, quick trip, and eating well and exercising is how you get there. It's not easy!

I am still here still kicking and my weight has stalled. I have not eaten perfect, but I have been hitting the Crossfit at least four days a week, still making gains and going to cleanse out the system. I am going to keep on hitting it hard.

To help motivate us, my wife and I are starting to plan 2015 5k runs and other activities to help us push each other. It's fun to plan and look forward to warmer weather! I am hoping to better my times at the events, because I am getting competitive with myself which in turn challenges me to work harder and I end up fitter and healthier; bonus!

Time flies by so fast; don't wait! We have a saying on the wall at home: "today is another day to make yourself proud"; so do it! Also, don't forget to do for those who cannot! Sorry for the long delay between posts and thanks for all your support!

MTT CrossFit 2013 Thanksgiving day WOD

MTT CrossFit 2014 Thanksgiving day WOD - The family is growing and still not all of them

Snow fun! The winter is no excuse not to get out and have fun!
(First time Cross Country Skiing since grade school!)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Having fun and staying focused!

The world gets hectic - you have to get the kids to school and their activities, you're in school finishing your own homework, you have started a new way of eating to improve your health or maybe a new workout regime. Whatever your chaos includes, you need to have some fun or find ways to play to reward yourself for all the goals you hit and to release some stress in your life. This summer, I found motivation, accomplishment and fun when I ran six different 5k runs:

1. Wolf Run, Eagan, MN: my first trail run

2. Electric Run, St. Paul, MN: a nighttime fun run.
3. Warrior Dash, Afton, MN: an obstacle run at a ski resort.

2014            Brian and me              2013
4. Urban Wildlife Richfield, MN: a street run.
5. Rugged Maniac, Taylors Falls, MN: another obstacle run at a ski resort.

6.  Run@Work Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul MN: another street run.

My summer was packed with activities: bicycling trips, off road parks, riding a flow rider and so many other things. I still love doing crossfit a several times a week with all the crossfit family at MTT Crossfit. You can meet me there for the 5:30am class! 
I could not have imagined doing all these things just over a year ago at my starting weight. Just the runs alone have motivated me to do more and maybe some longer ones. I know to some people 5ks are nothing and others might not think of them as an idea for fun, but they are awesome! I have run with my family and friends, whom I would have only dreamed of doing it with before, and being there to cheer each other on is a blast! They are such great motivators, having my wife, my son and my brother all on different runs! My daughter hopes to join us next year when she will be older.

This journey has been so worth it and I know I have come far since April 2013. That being said, I also know I have so much farther to go to my ultimate goals. In your hectic daily life, don't forget to step back and enjoy all the moments along the way because it will fly by so fast before you know it. I did just that this year, and now that summer is over, it doesn't mean the fun has to stop!!

August 2012

August 2014

Do for those who cannot! Have some fun while doing it!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

FOOD and Updates!!!

It's been awhile since my last post, so I'm reconnecting with a fun blog post. I couldn't think of anything more fun than FOOD. I have been eating healthy for over a year now and I would like to share a few of my favorite recipes with you. 

First, a repeat from one of my first blog posts: 
Cauliflower Fried Rice
Photo: Cauliflower chicken fried rice.

Cauliflower Fried Rice Recipe
1. Rice one head of cauliflower in a food processor
2. Cook for 5 minutes in the microwave (add nothing)
3. Drain the water that cooks out
4. Pre-cook and shred 3 chicken breasts 
5. Pre-cook mixed veggies, any variety you like
6. Mix all ingredients in a Wok
7. When mix is half-way cooked, add two eggs: 
       Make an opening in the middle of the pan, pushing the ingredients to the side. 
       Add the eggs in the middle. Let the eggs set-up a little bit, then mix all together. 
       When the egg consistency is how you like them and mixed in, you are done! 
8. Add Braggs liquid aminos (soy sauce replacement) while cooking to taste  


Second for the sweet tooth:
Homemade Chocolate
This recipe is so easy and it can be customized with many different variations. I've added things to it like dried fruit, cacao nibs or nuts to mix it up - all delicious! The recipe can also be doubled or tripled for sharing.

- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp honey (more or less, best quality you can find, can also use stevia or any other sweetener you want)
1. Melt oil
2. Combine all ingredients and mix until blended well
3. Chill in rfridgerator or freezer until solid
4. Enjoy! (Not all at once)

Another of my favorites is a side/meal: 
Brussel sprouts with apples, bacon and walnuts
This recipe can be modified, take out whatever you want. 

package of fresh brussel sprouts, washed and chopped (buy pre-chopped, no need to over-complicate)
1 green apple cored and cut in to small bite size pieces. 
2 Tbs olive oil
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces precooked 
1 cup of raw walnuts 

Combine all ingredients in a stove top pan and cook until brussel sprouts are tender and start to brown. (About 10 minutes on medium high heat.)


In May, I finally graduated college after going for 5 years!
Left: Kazia's graduation (May 2011); Right: My graduation (May 2014)
What a transformation!

So far this season, I have run two 5k races with more on the schedule for later this summer!
Wolf Run 5k
Trail run in Eagan, MN
Electric Run 5k
Evening fun run at the MN State Fairgrounds, St. Paul, MN

The journey continues - I am holding now at around 130 pounds down, but I feel stronger than I did in the last post. I have tweaked my back a couple of times so I have held back on the amount of weight I'm lifting, but not the intensity! I have been using the Moves app on my phone to track how many miles a day I walk and it's great. I love to beat my previous step counts per day. I also like to use the Map My Run app for when doing training runs and 5k's. I've been trying to get at least one 5k in around town per week to prepare for the next 5k race I have coming up in July. Before, I had to take breaks from jogging to walk and now I do not! I would like to get under a 30 minute 5k and my goal is to do it by the end of summer. 

Sorry for the long break between posts - it has been crazy busy! Please keep on following and sending me questions; they are great! I love to help anyone on there journey too! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

First Year Complete

I started this journey officially on April 8th with my wife when I started with my first 24 Day Challenge by Advocare and she started a nutrition plan. The Challenge kicked off my lifestyle change where in those first 24 days I lost 30lbs with my advisor Jennie's help. Before that, on April 6th, I started my first Crossfit class with one of my trainers Jo at Minnesota Top Team. One year ago, I never would have thought I would have ever come this far. I think realistically I would not have made it through my 24 day challenge, yet I did. I did not even know I would make it through my first week of Crossfit classes without giving up or passing out, yet I have made it a year thanks to trainers Jo and Jeff! I am sure I am not the only one that had these doubts. The last year has been amazing; has it been easy? Heck no! I have been tempted by many different foods; have I been a 100% perfect on my current eating plans? No, I am human.
      (Now)    I have a neck now    (Before)

My first 24 day challenge I was a 100% perfect and that got the ball rolling. I did a lot of research on different ways of eating when the AdvoCare eating plan plateaued for me. I started mixing up a lot of things up over the months. I added some cheese back, organic from grass-fed cows, and when that did not work well, I took it back out and did that with many things to see how I reacted to them. For instance, I still stay away from sweet potatoes and other certain carbs. I find it's okay if I really limit the carbs, but the sweet potatoes just have too many carbs. What does seem to work is sprouted bread (7 grams of carbs per serving) from Trader Joe's or rice bread (5 grams of carbs) from Whole Foods. I like to use these to make almond butter sandwiches every once in awhile. I have found different recipes for homemade coconut chocolate that are awesome too and healthy in moderation, but if you eat the whole batch, not so much.  Also raw nuts are great snack for me too, but can add up to a lot of carbs as well - look out. The key is not to feel deprived, but not to lose control. If you are eating a lot of good quality fats and other good quality foods that are low processed, you will not feel deprived. Without feeling deprived, you will not fail. You might have some issues, but you will succeed.

You also need a great support team as I have mentioned in other posts. When things get old and you get side tracked, you need them! I have my family and many other people that have helped keep me going on the journey when I was frustrated that the weight was not coming off as fast as I hoped it would. I needed those people to help get me going again after my surgery in December. You have to realize life happens and things do not always go perfectly. You will have setbacks, you will have life changing events that will hit you when you least expect it, like I did with my father dying and mother years before him. You have to pick yourself up when things get tough and do for those who cannot. I had to stop waiting for something to happen, I had to make it happen! This may be cliché,  but this is not a television show - this is real life; if you want to live a long, healthy life, just do it.
(Before)                                  (Now)

To keep me going, I have set a new goal: I would like to hit 150 down by the end of summer. I am currently getting close to 130 down and I can't wait to get past it.
My life has already changed in so many ways and it is getting better every day, for my wife and family too who are on this ride with me.  From trying on new clothes in smaller sizes to riding on rides with my daughter that I have not 'fit' in for years. I weigh less now than when I got married over 13 years ago! That is crazy to me and this has only been one year. I cannot imagine where this next year will take me and my family. The overall goal of getting healthier and more fit and feeling great is important for so many people - it can be done and it will change your life too.

There have been several 'experts' I have found doing research that I have would like to tell you about. I have listened to their podcasts - check them out (links below). They are inspirational too! I have contacted some of them and gotten real responses. They are willing to help you, and so am I. (Some of these experts promote their own products. I am not affiliated or sponsored by any of them.) Again, if you have any questions or someone to vent to, please contact me! More to come...

Gary Roberts, Crossfit Killing the fat man YouTube videos 
Jimmy Moore, Living la vida low carb, Website and podcasts
Abel James, The fat burning man podcast and website
Dave Asprey The Bulletproof Executive podcast and website
Andreas Eenfeldt, MD., The Diet Doctor podcast and website
Dietitian Cassie, website and real Dietitian 
Minnesota Top Team
Do for those who cannot!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


The holidays are over and spring is around the corner; it is a good time to reflect on the last year and grow into the year to come. Last year was a huge year for me and my family which really started in March with the sudden death of my father, who was a great man! With his death being such a tragedy and a tough thing to move on from, my wife and I were motivated to change our lives. At the time it was difficult, and still sometimes is, to maintain the motivation to be healthy. Through this, I have met so many new friends at my gym, Minnesota Top Team, through AdvoCare support groups, and helped motivate other people to change their lives too. His passing has become a bittersweet milestone.

The holidays were tough to get through, but we made it! I had hernia surgery and my workouts were really restricted; I could not lift more than fifteen pounds. My weight loss really suffered and eventually stalled. That was tough and got me down. A few weeks ago, my restrictions came off and I basically had to start over. I do miss trying for new weight lifting records; I know I will be able too soon, but it sucks standing by and watching everyone in my box do it. It was even worse when I watched from home. I am slowly getting back into my workout routine now and thankfully, without hurting myself. I received some great messages from friends and it really helped to pick me up again. I am starting to get back into "beast mode." I'd say I am at 50% and I can't wait to get back (without the fear of hurting myself) to set some new personal records.

Now, I need to move on and look forward to setting new goals. One goal I have is to go on a Segway tour this summer -- the weight limit is 250lbs to ride. I am currently down 120lbs and have just over 30lbs to make it to the Segway tour! Last week, I went to the Mall of America for a father-daughter date and fit on some amusement park rides that I could not before. It was such a proud moment!

It's been awhile since my last post, so I wanted you to know that I am still trucking along and not quite to the end of this adventure yet. More posts to come...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Mental Game

The other day, I was discussing my blog with a friend and she said, "you have talked a lot about the physical side of weight loss, but not really the mental side. You have talked about doing more physical things and losing pant sizes, etc., but you have not talked about how it makes you feel." I agreed that it would be a great topic, so here I go:

It is a tough set of emotions to describe; there are so many parts to my thought process about everything. First, as cliche as it sounds, it has been a real roller coaster of a ride with many huge ups and downs. The constant thought of "falling off the wagon" and going backwards, of failing or putting all the weight back on. My weight loss is not one easy task, the thought that once all I get this weight off (if I'll get it off), what then? The toughest part of the battle, I know, will be to keep it off. Many say that to maintain the weight loss is harder to than to lose the weight in the first place. I worry about that even though I am still far from there. These are some of the thoughts running through my head from the start of this journey and it is these thoughts that also keep some people from even starting on the journey - because they fear it.

I have gotten better about not beating myself up over the scale, because I know when I am on plan, I lose weight. The plan works - stick with the plan. When I have a bad meal where not everything is 100% up to my normal standards of plan, I have learned to become okay with that. For example: if I go to a restaurant and forget to say no to some ingredient (like cheese), I just pick as much off as I can and get through it (without flipping out). I have learned to take one meal at a time. You have to do that because a lot of people will just have one bad meal and throw the whole day away, which does not work at all for anyone that is serious about losing weight. It takes a long time for your body to recover from a bad food day versus one meal. The current plan I am testing myself on calls for a light carb-feeding day and that means a sweet potato, not a pizza or a whole free-for-all day. The reason for that is because it would take many days or a week to get your body back on track in the right mode for a variation that big. Also, there is a mental implication with that too, because then you start to crave and look for that "cheat day," and then it compiles and fails. I know I have tried those kind of plans and it did not work after about a month.

The holidays are extremely tough too; I have had a couple emails about this. I know that Thanksgiving has now passed, but there are still more holiday parties coming for a lot of us. One of my emailers asked about what to do for Thanksgiving: should I just take a cheat day and then go back to normal eating after? He is a fellow Cross-fitter and healthy eating beginner, having just started his journey. He also asked if he should bring a salad to eat while everyone else was eating the more traditional foods. I told him that he could of course bring a salad, but turkey is not that bad for you and sweet potatoes are even good for you (depends on what is in them), certainly a better option than regular potatoes. Fruit and veggies are usually available and great to load up on. If you need to have something sweet and you can't bring something that fits your plan, the best option would be some pumpkin pie without the crust or cream on top. That will save you a lot in the long run. It took me a day or two to get my body back in order without falling of the wagon for Thanksgiving, more because of how my current routine was thrown off versus what I ate. I was totally calm about the change to my routine, because I knew Monday was coming when I could be back on a regular schedule and kicking butt on the weight loss side of things, and I have been.

How far you want to take the healthiness path is up to you. Sometimes information overload can make you so frustrated that it drives you crazy. For those moments, I have my wife and two great friends: Jennie and Amy, who are all doing the same things (for the most part) as I am, eating healthier and lower processed foods, gluten free, lower carb, etc. Our plans are not all exactly the same, but these women are on their journeys too. It really helps to have someone to vent to when you are freaking out because of something you ate, and they totally understand where you're coming from. Finding people like that really helps your mental state. Going back to an earlier blog post, the support group helps a lot and I could not do this without them. All of us need to decide what level we want to take our journey to, and its hard with so many choices like eating carb- or gluten-free, all organic or not genetically modified foods. Sometimes the choices frustrate me when I am looking for products I can trust. An example of this was when I sought a particular butter brand that I thought was a certain quality and then found out it was not after I had just bought some. It just made me crazy and I know it was just a little thing, but long story short, my friends talked me down and I later found other options that were 100% perfect for what I wanted and I am good to go. That may sound a little odd to some people, but I know a lot of people that have had similar issues like this when trying to figure out what works for  their plan. If you have an example, please share it with me; I would love to hear your stories.

About the emails I have gotten from the readers, I think many of you are also facing a lot of these issues and I think this example could help others too. The reader was asking how to make a change when his wife and co-workers are not supportive of what he is doing, eating healthier and working out (Crossfit). For starters, I will be here for anyone that needs someone to talk to! I also told him to "keep on the plan, because the plan works." This is the motto my wife and I stick to; it helps and it works. Also, be the leader  - even though it is hard - you will prove the nay-sayers wrong. After awhile, some of them will follow your lead. Friends and family will see it working for you, and even if they have different goals you will motivate them. Seeing this, in turn becomes motivation for you, it has for me big time! If you are looking for a gym or crossfit box and the trainers do not fit what you think your vision of yourself can be, find a different place. Having the right motivation is important to your success and finding that right fit is extremely important, if getting in shape is a part of your goal. While learning more about Crossfit, I have come across stories of places where they were not as friendly or they wanted you to pay extreme prices to get you to a certain level. Crossfit and any gym should have the goal of getting everyone that walks into the the place in better shape for their life. My crossfit box could have ignored my needs that way when I walked in for the first time at over 400 pounds. For one thing, I was too embarrassed to tell them, but they truly are happy to help anyone that is ready for the change and that really was a huge mental boost. Crossfit and working out is for everyone; it is scaleable for everyone's own abilities. It is so important to clear your mind, which is why I am so behind doing something active. My wife notices that I start to go crazy now if I do not get to do some type of activity. One might say the plan is working on me. A wise person once told me, "food is like a religion to some people, you can't push your thoughts about eating on other people..." (it was my wife), but it is true. I am here to help if you want it.
Halloween Party 2013

The other day I was shopping and looking at products that had weight limits and I thought, "oh, I can't use that; I am over the weight limit," and I had to do a double take, because I was under the weight limit and there was a click in my head - it was the weirdest feeling of excitement. I felt so proud of myself and I cannot wait to lose more weight to get under more limits on things. I have also now lost enough weight to have my doctor sign off on my hernia surgery, which happens later this month. I went in to see him in May and it was a huge mental blow when he told me that losing 40 pounds was not enough. Now after losing over 100 pounds, it was enough! I know the reason he wanted me to lose more is to have better success with the repair and less chances of having it happen again, but his approval was still a huge mental gain in the process. The reason I got this type of hernia in the first place was because I was out of shape and did not have enough core strength for my last job where I did a lot of heavy lifting. In my next post, I will give updates on the surgery with more pictures.

Remember, all this started when I joined a friend in doing an Advocare Challenge. If you want more information on starting the Advocare 24 Day Challenge or a 10-day cleanse package for the New Year, visit my web page for more information:  There are packages already set up. New Years Day is coming up and it would be great to start your new year off with a clean slate. You have the support to help you start your journey - take it as far as you want! Also I have had some huge support from Minnesota Top Team, which is where I do Crossfit.  Visit their website too if you want to learn more about them. They do so much more than Crossfit - check them out! (still not a paid sponsor) If you do not live in Minnesota, Twin Cites area, you're missing out. I love those owners and trainers!

I am currently eating a low-carb diet with right-size portion meats and high quality fats. This type of plan set-up allows me to do my own tinkering to find out what works for me. I will explain more when I am done with the phase I am on now. For a sneak preview, you can find out more about it by checking out Jimmy Moore and his websites and podcasts at  
Jimmy has taken my emails and Facebook questions too; he is an awesome man!
Lastly, I've also followed Abel James' blogs, podcasts and videos on YouTube. This is my favorite; it is one of the best informational videos on healthy eating perspectives I have ever seen. In a future post, I will list other recommended sources, though these two guys are my favorite; check them out.

Also, thanks for reading my ramblings; please email me at DJUELL30@GMAIL.COM! My blog is also posted on MINNESOTA TOP TEAM CROSSFITS WEBSITE.   Tweet me @DUSTJUELL on Twitter. Here is a picture from our Thanksgiving workout; I am hanging on to the rope, wearing blue. This is just one small part of the crew!