WEDNESDAY WINS! SANDEEP D.!
Today we celebrate one of our awesome night owls, Sandeep D.! If you don’t know him, it’s probably because you don’t take the 7:30p class, but he’s become a fan favorite FAST… and a coach’s favorite too!
Sandeep actually lives in New Jersey, but spends his weekdays in Columbia for work. He’s living proof that just because you live life on the road doesn’t mean you can’t live a healthy one.
He was born in India and moved to Mumbai when he was one. He played some sports in school – mainly soccer and table tennis. Sports in India wasn’t big at the time (other than cricket) so he kept busy doing recreational things to stay in shape.
He got married, had two kids (now 18 and 13) and came to the US when they were young. He initially thought it was a three-year plan, but the family has been here ever since. Not only is he away from home all week, he’s responsible for pressure-filled projects in construction including building tunnels, bridges and railways (think big stuff like LaGuardia rebuild and Washington Metro!).
Like most of us, he’s made himself the lowest priority for many years. Family, kids and work all took a front seat to his fitness (and being on the road all the time made it even harder), but since joining the Cove a few months ago, all of that has changed.
“I remember when my younger son was born I felt the responsibility of my older son should fall more on me so my wife could take care of the baby. I spent time knocking the ball around with him. He joined a soccer league. He’s so fraught with injuries including a meniscus tear – he basically has two knees in one. He’s got his one knee and a big bump on the side. He experienced ‘growing pains’ when he was 13 he was told to give up soccer and take on swimming to save his knees. He asked his doctor ‘how many days rest do I need?’. He said, ‘one month after each time the knee hurts.’ He said ‘okay, I can do that’. And so that’s what he does.”
“When I was young (before kids) it was all about me. When you have kids, your job is to keep telling them everything to do all the time. You tell them to keep going. You tell them ‘you got this’”. And his lessons clearly worked, but he soon realized he wasn’t practicing what he preached all those years.
“But then all of a sudden they’re grown. Now I have to tell myself everything I’ve told them for 18 years. I’ve been preaching this their whole lives, and now you’re back on the other side and you need to do what you’ve been telling them for yourself”
“I believe you need to lead by example. But my kids’ schedules were so crazy that I was only able to get in some running on the treadmill. With so little time you have to squeeze it in when you can. But honestly, the reason I started running was for him.”
And how he found CrossFit was also inspired by his kids. “My younger son goes on YouTube and finds crazy guys who do crazy things. He found The CrossFit Games on TV and we discovered Rich Froning. I’m a big Rich Froning fan.”
“I was really interested in what they were doing. Generally my go-to thing would be to run, but I knew I had to find a way to condition my muscles. I was getting weak. I was getting older. And I needed to my health as I also have diabetes.”
He knew he’d be in Columbia long term so picked up the phone and called the Cove. “I spoke to Brian and he said ‘ok, why don’t you just come’. When I came in he forgot for a moment it was me he spoke to and said ‘oh, you’re the Jersey guy’! After the first day at the Cove I said to Brian, ‘tomorrow I’m going to come back’. He’s said ‘next week when you finish foundations you can decide what you want to do.’ I said ‘it’s fine you want me to go through the basic classes, but I’m gonna sign up.”
“We hit it off just perfectly. He was my age and we clicked that first day. I didn’t think about the second or third day, I just knew I was coming in. I was excited but I had so much anxiety. The first day it hit me how out of shape I was when there were push-ups in a WOD and I couldn’t do a single one. I said to myself ‘I’m gonna fix it’. I used to be able to do 100. A few weeks later I could complete a set of five or six in each set. Every week I’ve hit a milestone. Week two I got some good squats done, week 3 I got my push-ups. And I’d say to Coach John or Josh, ‘See, I’m happy, I couldn’t do this before’”.
“I started three days a week and now am working up to four.” He comes in Monday night after work and leaves Thursday night after class to go home to New Jersey. And not only have his priorities shifted, his mindset has completely changed. “I started with ‘why can’t I do this?!’ Now it’s ‘I have to complete the workout; its just a matter of how’. And now I spend Thurs-Sunday back at home focused on eating smart, recovering and maximizing all the work I did during the week.”
Smartly, he made gradual change that he could stick to. “I started with the workouts and now have fixed the diet. I gave up starchy and processed carbs (rice, bread, etc). and eat tons of lentils, salads and fruits. And the byproduct of this change is that two weeks ago my doctor asked to do a blood test. My blood work, for the first time in two years, showed my diabetes was under control.”
“My family is so supportive. I’ll still go to my big family dinners, but they know I’m eating for my health now. My wife has been just amazing. She helps by packing my dinners for the week. She doesn’t want me to eat out and ruin all the work I’m putting in. So she takes care of me Monday –Thursday, even though she’s not with me.
Most of us would struggle with this unique lifestyle of being on the road all week, so look to Sandeep for inspiration. “This is how I live now. Rather than going to get a drink or eating out, I come to the gym. This helps me socialize too. If I’m home by myself I don’t know what to do with myself. I lived in a hotel for a long time and it can be lonely. Here there are awesome people that I can connect with. Anyone’s who sitting on the chairs I chat up and everyone is so great.”
Sandeep is now practicing what he’s preached all those years to his kids – and then some. If anyone is struggling with discipline with difficult schedules, seek him out. During the week, he’ll be up for anything. That is, as long as it involves a workout and healthy eating.
Huge congrats on all of your life changes Sandeep. To use your own words to your son, “you got this”.