SISU Transformation: Sam Holtberg

About Sam

I’m a 30-year-old engineer engaged to a lovely lady. Aside from CrossFit and competing, I love to golf, paddleboard, rock climb, hike, and bike – just about anything outside – and hang out with my two cats.

Making a Change

In 2012, I made the decision to get healthy mentally by living a clean and sober life. My story with drugs and alcohol could take up an entire blog of its own so I won’t go into too much detail, though I’m happy to talk about it if anyone asks. Making this choice was the best decision I’ve ever made, but in doing so I sacrificed my physical health by eating terribly and doing absolutely no physical activity whatsoever because “I had more important things to fix.” While this statement was 100% accurate, I was a mess mentally and emotionally. After a year or so of sobriety, I was extremely overweight and while I felt good about my sobriety, underneath all of that was a deep-rooted self-consciousness that was almost paralyzing, and I knew I had to do something about it. That realization lead me into the gym.

Finding SISU

I was working out at Lifetime by myself and had lost a fair amount of weight but had hit a plateau. My solution was to just spend more time at the gym – the more you work out the more results you see, right? I was also unknowingly starving myself. I knew what and what not to eat and did a decent job of it, but I had no concept of how much I needed to be eating for the amount of activity I was doing. Also, with the endless sales pitches from personal trainers, it became clear that health and wellness were a secondary priority and profits were king, so I looked at changing things up.

That’s when I found SISU in the spring of 2015 and discovered that a former coworker (Thomas Richards) was now managing the Excelsior SISU location. I reached out to him, and he responded back. Initially, I joined to change things up and had no real expectations, but joining SISU really shook up my whole concept of working out. There is a “less is more” aspect to CrossFit that made no sense to me at the time, but the physical changes I wanted were happening even though I was actually spending less time in the gym. Being aware of the quality of my training vs. the quantity of time that I train became something I paid very close attention to and still do to this day.

Getting Nutrition on Track

One thing that was suggested of me was to start counting my macro(nutrients) and paying close attention to not only what I was putting in my body but how much. I had been working with an online nutrition firm that monitored how much I was eating and how my body weight was responding, but that was about it. It was a very hands-off and impersonal process that became monotonous and boring, and again I had started to see things level off both in my performance and physical appearance so I knew it was time to make another change. I talked to Christina (SISU Nutrition) about what was going on, how I felt, what I wanted to accomplish and what my priorities were. Having her guidance was a game-changer and really opened my eyes to how critical proper nutrition is to athletic performance which is currently what the majority of my training is geared towards.

Continued Motivation

I still have the competitive fire inside, and competing for me is all about finding out just what my body and mind are capable of accomplishing. I had a trainer once tell me “live to do, not to be.” I’ll admit that when I first starting working out I just wanted to look good. I wanted to be the “fit guy”, but what I found out is that just being isn’t as rewarding as doing. Being able to do things that I never was capable of in the past has proven to be one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. Changing my outlook from “wanting to look good”, to “what challenge can I overcome next” keeps the motivation inside to always try to find that edge and see how far past I can push. I am of the firm belief that what doesn’t challenge you, will never change you. Struggle, adversity and getting beat are a crucial part of life. It puts you at a crossroads where you can either decide to let it break you down or build you up into a better version of yourself.

Trust the Process

Looking back, I wish someone told me that this process is just that, a process. Nothing happens overnight, there will be times when you’ll want to quit, give up, give in to the pain or go back to what’s comfortable. These feelings are ok and are even necessary, but true change and adaptation come from the ability to face these feelings and realize that you are a ghost driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. What do you have to be afraid of?