#1: How CrossFit Helped Pat Crossan Shed Over 100 Pounds of Fat

by Deanna Mutzel, DC



Pat Crossan transforms his body with nutrition and exercise

In this episode:

Although Pat Crossan tried every diet and knew all the right nutrition steps needed to loose weight, it was not until he discovered crossfit that he was finally able transform his body. Learn the steps Pat followed to shed over 100 pounds, cutting his body fat percentage in half, add over 15 pounds of lean muscle mass, improve his sleep from 3 hours per night to over 8 hours per night and dramatically increase his strength; he now deadlifts over 495 pounds.

Connect with Pat:

Show Notes

03:02 Losing over 100 Pounds: Pat lost over 100 pounds in a year and can now deadlift 400 pounds. He did this through CrossFit and the supportive CrossFit community. CrossFit is centered upon compound movements.

09:43 Impacts of CrossFit: Almost 2 years ago, Pat would be spent during the CrossFit warmup. He tore his Achilles tendon and gained even more weight. He went back to CrossFit, but really worked at it this time.

11:39 Taking on the Challenge: His first workout used no weight, just a bar. He was with a group of women who were lifting more weight than he was and finishing faster. It was motivating. He began to increase difficulty.

12:51 Weight Loss from Movement: Pat started working out 3 days a week and started losing weight quickly without dietary adjustments. When he stepped up the intensity and made changes in his diet, the weight loss truly began.

14:21 Stick with It: Focus on your diet. Get into the gym and get consistency and a rhythm. At first he just cut out carbs and soda.  At the gym you record your progress and through this, you see what influence the foods you consume influence your performance. Fuel your body with the correct fuel.

16:08 Social Support: Pat had the knowledge, but he didn’t have enough accountability. The CrossFit community support was what he needed. They do food challenges.

18:43 Dietary Shifts: Pat no longer drinks soda. He drinks water. He no longer eats empty calories or carbs. He eats more protein. Most of the weight came off with these simple changes.

21:29 CrossFit: You don’t get bulky, even at 5 days a week. There is a metabolic conditioning aspect. Pat only lifts 10 to 12 minutes a day.

24:28 Pat’s Elevator Pitch: If you can do CrossFit 3 times a week and clean up your diet, you will lose weight. CrossFit has an on-ramp class to get started.

26:50 How Pat Feels: He feels amazing and has lots of energy. He probably had sleep apnea and slept poorly. Now he sleeps soundly for 8 hours.



Mike Mutzel: Hi everyone. Welcome back to the show. It’s Mike Mutzel here with High Intensity Health. We have Pat Crossan with us today and we’re going to talk about CrossFit and weight loss and really talk about Pat’s really unique story. Pat is a Functional Medicine Consultant from Xymogen. He’s been in the nutritional industry – going on for four plus years, right Pat?

Pat Crossan: Five in November.

Mike Mutzel: That’s great, man. Alright dude. Thanks so much for being on the show.

Pat Crossan: Yeah. No problem. Absolutely. My pleasure.

Mike Mutzel: Awesome. So, let’s talk about your unique story. I hope you don’t mind diving into some details. But I think your weight loss has been remarkable, you’re doing a lot of unique things. It’s really noticeable. You started CrossFit about a year ago. Let’s talk about how you got into that and what you noticed with CrossFit?

Pat Crossan: Yeah. Almost two years ago, a friend of mine creates a CrossFit Gym and said, “Hey, you should come and work out with me.” And I said, “Oh, okay. Cool.” So, I would go and I would work out. It would be like when we’re finished with the warm-up, and I was like, “Okay, that was a good workout, right?” And he was like, “No, no. We haven’t even started warming up yet.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” I was having like a pretty bad attitude about it, and I find that – I was like, “This is crazy. This is ridiculous.” Like, “Why would I do this? I’m killing myself.” Just kind of an attitude issue, and then actually, I hurt myself and had an achilles issue. I tore my achilles tendon, so that took me out of the game completely. I was already heavy. I was like 280 pounds, but I gained some weight after the achilles issue just being on my back for six months. Anyways, I get off the achilles issue; I get back to the just the regular globo gym; kind of just doing my own physical therapy. My buddy goes, “Hey, are you ready to come back and draw in?” And I was like, “Well, maybe I’ll go one or two days a week.” You know, just to get some activity and then just to try to get some of this extra weight loss gone. I took the bull by the horns and just went with it. I dove in and committed and I haven’t really looked back since.

Mike Mutzel: That’s amazing. Just to clarify – you have somewhat dabbled in CrossFit prior to hurting your achilles. Is that right?

Pat Crossan: Yeah, really just a couple of times – two or three or four workouts is all – really all. And I wasn’t happy about any of it.

Mike Mutzel: Right. What I love about this is CrossFit is really explosive. It’s high-intensity exercise. It’s powerlifting, deadlifting, squats cleans, and a lot of people that were heavy like you – used to be – would probably be intimidated by that. And you just went and grabbed the bull by the horns and said, “I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to get fit.” How was that? Because you’re already carrying a lot of weight and then you lift weight – I mean, physiologically – how did you feel? Let’s get into some of the details of that.

Pat Crossan: First of all, most CrossFit gyms have the ability to scale all their workouts, so I was going out. I can remember my first workout – I wasn’t even using any weight. I was actually using literally just a bar. And it has really kind of emotionally fired me up because I was around with a bunch of girls who were lifting more weights that I was and finishing faster than I was, but they were doing really, really incredible. And so, I’m looking at that; I was like, “Here I am with a bar and I can’t even do half the stuff that they’re doing.” That kind of pumped me up. I was like, “I want to get there.” So, it’s a process. It started really with just a bar and doing some of the work as much as I could do with the extra weight, and moving through the progression of adding weight and doing a pull-up with bands, and doing a pull-up or doing pull-ups on the rings when I first started as opposed to doing the standard. It’s a complete progression.

Mike Mutzel: That’s awesome. So, it really started with just a movement, just…

Pat Crossan: Really basic like squats with the bar, exactly – squats with the ball and things like that. And so yeah, it was good. It was a real progression.

Mike Mutzel: And then how quickly did you know that weight coming off doing just that form of base movement?

Pat Crossan: I started it like three days a week, and I was like, “Okay. I can do this. I can maintain this, and this was good.” I started to lose weight really relatively quickly without any real adjustments with my diet or anything. Maybe the first month, I lost 10 pounds. I was just doing three days a week.

Mike Mutzel: Right.

Pat Crossan: There was some initial weight loss for sure, but it wasn’t until I really stepped up intensity and really started to focus on my diet.

Mike Mutzel: So, the exercise was good – nice step in the right direction – but it wasn’t enough to really cause some major shift in your body weight. Is that what I’m hearing?

Pat Crossan: Yeah, basically. We didn’t really see… Well, so far, I lost – I started when I was 300 pounds basically when I got into it. I’m down to 218 now. And obviously, I’ve gained some muscle over those times. So, we will call it probably 100 pounds of total weight shift. Maybe the first few months, it was 10-15 pounds – something like that. And then after the first couple of months when I lost that 15-ish type pounds, I started to get some strength; I started to be able to lift some weights as opposed to just a bar or a weight medicine ball. And then I increased – I went up to five days a week – and that’s when things really started to shift.

Mike Mutzel: Got you. For people that are watching this that want to lose their weight, that want to start CrossFit and may get discouraged because they don’t – everyone wants it’s a miracle, right? Fast results right away now. And by what you admitted – you lost 100 pounds and put on a muscle, so you feel great, you’re very strong – we’ll talk about all that in a minute. But in order for people to not to get discouraged by sticking with it, getting the form down, and then starting to increase the intensity – what tips would you offer to them to help speed up results and ensure that people stick with the program?

Pat Crossan: Well first, I think that the majority of the weight started to come off when I really started to pay attention in my diet. So, I would think that would be the one step. Obviously, get into the gym and get a rhythm and a consistency going whether that’s two, three, four, five days – whatever that is, whatever that looks like for you. Make sure it’s consistent, and then really start to focus on the diet aspect of things. I mean, it wasn’t anything crazy that I started out with. Obviously, my diet’s pretty aggressive now. But when I first started, it was just things like cutting out the sodas, cutting out a lot of the real starchy carbs (like the breads and things like that). Not anything major, but just some really simple things that I started out with.

Mike Mutzel: So, let’s talk about the diet because obviously, that was a huge shift for you. And you’ve been in the nutrition industry for quite some time, so you know about all these different things. What was it about CrossFit that enabled you to really be motivated or educated on these dietary shifts that you maintained?

Pat Crossan: Well, been in the gym and you want to hit these things called “PR” – these personal records and personal best. You’re trying to do that and maybe you fail one or two times, and you go, “Why wasn’t I able to lift that amount when I could’ve lifted it maybe last month or maybe, I think I could lift it in the next month.” I really point that to diet and it’s like, “Man, I need to eat more protein to gain lean muscle mass that I need to be able to lift that weight.” So, that was kind of the thing. It’s like, “Man, if I don’t put the right fuel in the engine – why I do it all these?” So, that was the main deal. “Hey, if I’m going to Crossfit, if I’m going to put this time in and put the effort in and really work as I am really working in the gym, then I might as well fuel my body with the correct fuel.”

Mike Mutzel: That’s awesome. So, before CrossFit, I guess the mentality was you don’t really care, you weren’t trying to hit these different records, and you didn’t have the social support – what was in your head before?

Pat Crossan: The social support was a big deal. Before, while I knew I had the knowledge to understand that diet was an important aspect, but I didn’t really have the accountability. I do have the accountability from my wife and some of my friends, but that wasn’t enough. We’re really talking about a partnership and a community in CrossFit that really keeps you going. My coach – he’d tell me, “What’d you eat? How come you’re feeling tired today? What did you eat today?” I said, “Oh, I didn’t have time for lunch, so I didn’t eat in lunch…” or whatever. “You can’t do that. You got to eat lunch. You got to eat this.” It’s a big community part. Beforehand, it was not like that much. I knew I had the knowledge. I knew what I needed to do to eat, but the follow-through wasn’t really there. It’s like, “Oh, man. I don’t have time right now. I’ll just grab this quick burger.” I’ll just grab this quick whatever just because that was where I was at.

Mike Mutzel: Do you think a lot of other people that were in your shoes – a little overweight and have a knowledge and the thought to undergo these dietary shifts – you think CrossFit is a nice modality for people to embark on and get involved in the community – in the paleo community and all that – to really have that social support? Will your opinion with that be – would you distribute that as a primary driver?

Pat Crossan: Yeah, that’s a big piece of it. That was the big driver. Without getting connected into the CrossFit community – even if I went to a global gym (or whatever) five days a week, I go by myself, I put my headphones on, I don’t really talk to anybody else, I’m in there for an hour and I leave, maybe I have a protein shake while I’m there. I mean, it’s totally different with CrossFit – the community completely supports you; you’re plugged in; people are talking to you about your diet; you’re talking to them about their diet; you’re sharing paleo recipes and paleo snack ideas. One thing that we do in our gym and a lot of gyms do is food challenges. So, we do a food challenge a couple of times a year where we take two months out of a year and you get a points-based system. Every gym is going to be a little bit different; every CrossFit gym is going to be different, but most of them are going to have some form of challenge or food challenge.

Mike Mutzel: Right.

Pat Crossan: That really was what started it back a few months after I was into it. When I started to go and heavy, we did a food challenge back in, I think, October or maybe just before that, September, and that was really what kicked it off.

Mike Mutzel: That’s amazing, Pat. That’s really cool. Let’s talk about some of the changes specifically. It was a lot of carbohydrates. I know when you and I had dinner in Portland – it was like November of 2011 or 2012 – you’re making a lot of bread and things like that, right? So obviously, you’ve shifted the carbs to protein. What are some other real significant changes that you noticed by getting rid of certain foods?

Pat Crossan: For sure – no sodas. I knew “no sodas” were good. I know not to drink soda, but when we go to lunch, I’ll make the sacrifice and instead of having two cokes, I’ll only have one. That type of mentality didn’t really work out, so it was like I completely had a divorce with soda. Even like yesterday – this is kind of funny. I thought yesterday – I’ve been eating so well; I really want a soda, so I’ll have a soda with my lunch. So I get triple egg, no rice, no beans, just meat, pickles, and I go and I get a soda, and I get my soda and I bring it back to the table. Sprite is what I thought I had. I drink my Sprite; I’m going, “Wait, this is water.” It’s been so ingrained in me in the last six months to literally just get water at the soda machine that I didn’t realize that I got water – that I thought I got soda, but I actually got water.

Mike Mutzel: That’s awesome.

Pat Crossan: Pretty funny.

Mike Mutzel: So, just making small shifts with just like empty carbohydrates, empty calories.

Pat Crossan: Yeah, changing the empty calories into positive ones – drinking more water, taking the breads off and eating a lot of protein – just really simple changes. I don’t really feel like anything that drastic. I have to modify my diet just recently to be a little more aggressive. The majority of the weight came off with just these very easy changes.

Mike Mutzel: Right. That everyone can do – I mean, they’re not healthy for you; there’s no micronutrients or processed. Well, that’s amazing, Pat. So, the other unique part about your story that I really is not only did you lose the weight very quickly, but you’re very strong. No one would’ve ever known that a year ago, you didn’t work out. I mean, you’ve been lifting over 450 pounds and doing all these things. Let’s talk about how the natural bear came out of you and changed your diet and exercise and really enhanced your power output.

Pat Crossan: Yeah, for sure. I remember one of my first days in CrossFit trying to front squat 135 pounds. You have to get this front rack, and I couldn’t get this front rack position so I had to hold the bar basically like this, and I couldn’t even get into a full squat, so I didn’t even rep technically a 135 pounds and so. Now, I can front squat 285 pounds very easily. Yeah, it’s just funny. It’s amazing the enormous strength that’s came from this and really just from the amount of work, the amount that I do with CrossFit.

Mike Mutzel: That’s awesome. So, for people that are maybe scared – they want to lose weight, but they don’t want to get to be able to put on size or get bulky or something like that. I know now you look very physically fit, but no one would say you’re a bodybuilder or you’re too big for your clothes and all that. So, for folks that maybe scared about going to CrossFit because of these different reasons – whatever they may be – what would you offer them as advice from your own experience?

Pat Crossan: I really don’t see – We’ve had friends ago – girls especially get this why I’m going to get too bulky, but you really don’t get that. These really ripped and lean athletes that you see maybe on ESPN, they’re not really even that bulky in person, but even these guys are like super ripped. They’re working out literally six, seven, eight times a day just to be able to make a claim to be the fitness on earth. Going in one – even to five days a week – you’re not going to make these ridiculously bulky gains that you see. We do mix it up. There is what we call the “metabolic aspect,” where it’s maybe I only lift maybe 10 to 12 minutes a day versus some of these guys that are in the gym – those globo gyms – that are lifting an hour and a half or two hours. It’s totally different. It’s very fast-paced, like yesterday we did two clean and jerks, which is a clean – you get the bar from the ground to your shoulder, and your shoulders to your overhead; two every minute on the minute for 12 minutes. That was it – 165 pounds; you do 24 reps, and you’re done. And then after that it’s all conditioning; it’s running and pull-ups and running and pull-ups, and running and pull-ups. Unless you specifically go to that gym and say that, “This is what I want. I want to get bulky. I want to get big.” – You’re not going to have to run into that issue.  The typical CrossFit programming doesn’t really allow for that.

Mike Mutzel: Sure. So, there’s a lot of aerobics mixed in the so-called “powerlifting.”

Pat Crossan: Yeah. It’s this metabolic conditioning aspect. We’re going to condition your metabolic process by running or doing a lot of burpees – whatever it is – but it’s not necessarily always lifting. There might only be one aspect that’s the lifting aspect. And it’s usually not even that. We only go for personal records maybe once every month, and it’s on one lift. It’s not like we do this every day – I’m deadlifting 500 pounds every day. That only happens maybe once every couple of months until I get to a deadlift – a heavy deadlift like that.

Mike Mutzel: I see it on your Facebook a lot, so I was curious how much you were deadlifting, you know.

Pat Crossan: Yeah, 495 is my deadlift now, so I’m just shy for 500. I can probably get to 500 if I try. Last time I deadlifted was just about a week ago for anything heavy and that was for reps. You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you want to.

Mike Mutzel: Yeah, let’s let our audience know what are those Twitter handles and Instagram…

Pat Crossan: Yeah, it’s @deadliftswithbears for Instagram; and “Deadlifts” as the first name, “With Bears” as the last name on Facebook. Those are the two social media aspects that I go with.

Mike Mutzel: Right on. Awesome. As we rap up here, Pat, 68% of Americans are overweight or obese. What advice would you give to them – getting to CrossFit three days a week or two days a week, get rid of bread… I mean, if you’re going to sum it up and you bumped into someone in an elevator – what would you say?

Pat Crossan: I would say, “Start with a three-day-a-week process with CrossFit. If you can do it three days a week, you’re going to lose weight. If you could just add that with the diet aspect – we clean up the diet a little bit. Literally, three days a week with CrossFit and cleaning up the diet – not anything crazy – we’re just talking about eliminating the carbs, eliminating the simple sugars, adding a little more protein. That’s a very easy equation to lose some weight, and to get some lean muscle and really to start the process and your own journey in this health industry.

Mike Mutzel: Sure. Now, if I were to say I’m just an overweight person hypothetically, and I was nervous about CrossFit. I don’t know anything about it, and I see a gym and there’s – like you mentioned – there’s women that are ripped and doing all these stuff – is there a way to get like one-on-one coaching sessions or go after hours or an odd time where you can get a little bit more hands-on support?

Pat Crossan: Yeah, there is. Every gym is a little bit different, but for the most part, most gyms are really, really flexible. So, you can go in on a one-on-one with a lot of these guys. Most gyms have what they call an “on-ramp class,” and so there’s a period of time when you first started CrossFit gym that you have to learn some of the really basic moments. I mean, all these things that you’re seeing on TV or on YouTube or whatever, these are the elite guys that have been doing this for years. When you walk in the CrossFit gym, that’s not the stuff that you’re doing. You’re picking up a 25-pound medicine ball, putting it on the ground, and picking it back again. There’s various simple aspects that they’re teaching you that we all culminate if you’ll stick with it, so eventually, being able to do things like stretch, regular pull-ups, muscle-ups – really unique movements that not a lot of people can do – but if you will just do those three days a week and go and clean up the diet, eventually, you can do those as well.

Mike Mutzel: That’s awesome.

Pat Crossan: That’s just the thing you know. A year ago, lifting 500 pounds – are you kidding me? No one would’ve looked at me and ever thought that.

Mike Mutzel: Right, right. You would have never thought that.

Pat Crossan: Yeah, not at all.

Mike Mutzel: Did you have a background in athletics or no? I don’t know.

Pat Crossan: Yeah, a little bit. When I was in high school, I was a very good soccer player. I played soccer my entire life. I never lifted anything really that heavy, but I was having some good lungs and I could run. I was pretty athletic, but yeah, I was always a little bit bigger. Even in high school, I was 190 pounds. I was always a big dude, but yeah.

Mike Mutzel: That’s amazing, Pat. Lastly, how do you feel? I mean, energy-wise, mood, sleep – let’s talk about these changes.

Pat Crossan: I feel amazing. Energy-wise – it’s up to scale; I can wake up in the morning at 6 and off running until I get down from CrossFit at 7:30 and all that. I can go all day long like that.

Mike Mutzel: That’s awesome. How did you feel before?

Pat Crossan: I was going to say good sleeping. So before, I probably had sleep apnea as what we would probably call it. I just didn’t know that. I might have been sleeping – this is bad – I was probably sleeping maybe three hours complete through the night. Now, it’s like once my head hits the pillow, I’m out. I wake up at 5:30 to 6 every morning, and I’m ready to go. And so yeah, it’s changed a lot. That just eight hours of sleep a night is a big deal for me and has helped out a lot. I mean, I would toss and turn and not get a full-night sleep ever since I was probably 23 or 24 years old.

Mike Mutzel: Wow. Now, you’re already 32?

Pat Crossan: 33. Probably the last 10 years.

Mike Mutzel: Now, just prior to everyday living, you just became accustomed…

Pat Crossan: Yeah, I was just used to. I mean, I was just taking time at night just to try to get some additional sleep occasionally and stuff like that. So, that’s been a big – really big difference – just that small aspect of being able to get a full-night sleep has been huge for me.

Mike Mutzel: That’s amazing, Pat. Well, keep up the great work. I’ll make sure your Instagram and Facebook handles are also available for everyone. It’s great having you on the show, man. I hope you have a good day.

Pat Crossan: Thanks. I appreciate it, Mike.


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