Wednesday, June 13, 2012

AJ's 2012 CC Empowerment Story

Check out AJ's CrossFit Central Empowerment Story and his experience with Fuel-21. After 10 surgeries to regain his eyesight, AJ finally found way to control his blood sugars through Fuel-21 and CrossFit.

2012 Empowerment Stories: AJ from CrossFit Central on Vimeo. "

After much more consideration, I joined Crystal Nelson’s Fuel 21 program.  I decided that I was going to give this Paleo thing an honest attempt for 21 days and see what happened.  On day one, I honestly thought I had made a mistake when Crystal told me I had to give up grains, dairy, processed sugar, legumes, and most importantly, diet coke.  Diet Coke was my one vice at that point and I’d have rather given up women than diet coke.

Four days into eating strictly Paleo, my insulin intake was cut from 6 units per meal to 2 units per meal.  That is 1/6 of what I had been taking before every meal for the last 18 years of my life.  Two months after finishing Fuel 21, I had my A1C drawn again and it was a 6.0, which for diabetics nearly impossible to achieve.  My doctors were stunned with my results.
My little brother is a diabetic too, though he developed it much later in life and has been over weight for years.  I find myself worrying about him all the time; afraid he is going to make the same mistakes I did and suffer the same problems too.  So I made a deal with him to try the Paleo diet for 3 months and see what happens.  As a result, my mom decided to try it too as a way to support her children.  After 3 months, my little brother lost about 20 pounds and had better control of his diabetes than ever before.  My mom, who is in her mid-sixties, and exercises sparing because of her rheumatoid arthritis, is at the lowest weight she has been in 20 years!  Her arthritis is becoming much more manageable.  In addition to that, my older brother, who is a doctor of genetics and can be skeptical of “diets” decided he would try to eat Paleo as well.  He too has now lost over 20 pounds and is loving a lifestyle that he thought would be too difficult for him to sustain based on the way he used to enjoy eating."   READ MORE HERE!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


If you don't live in Austin or can't make it to the Fuel-21 meetings, there is an option to participate in the Fuel-21 Distance course!  The next course will begin on Sunday May 20th at 12:00PM CST.

What's great about this course??

  • You can go through the EXACT same material as someone that comes to the meetings from your computer and phone and get the same results!!  There are 3 meeting times plus you have unlimited access to your Fuel-21 Educator the entire 21 days.
  • The number allowed in this course is limited to 5 people, which means that you will have more attention on YOU.
  • Your food log will be evaluated online throughout the course which will ensure your success for the program. 

~Don't wait!!  There are only a few spots left!~

Meeting Times:

Sunday May 20th @ 12:00PM CST
Sunday May 27th @ 12:00PM CST
Monday June 11th @ 12:00PM CST

Please contact us for more information or if you will miss a meeting.  We can work with your schedule to get you the information missed.  

The only mandatory meeting is the 1st meeting on May 20th.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

April Results!

The next 21 day course for Fuel-21 begins THIS TUESDAY MAY 8TH!!  There are still a few spots available-- register soon!

Check out a few of the results we had in April:

Michelle lost 13 lbs and 8 inches!!
Elizabeth lost 3% Body Fat and over 5 lbs!!
Martin lost 6 lbs and over 5 inches!!
Megan lost over 8 lbs and 8 inches!!

Although changing body composition is important and motivating, other changes that happened over the past 21 days were life impacting in many different ways.  Most people don't realize how poorly they sleep until they actually get a good night's rest.  This is usually something we don't even think about but when you start to notice your sleep is improved because of diet, this can change your entire day!  Skin, eyes, and hair started to change, mood swings were in control, addiction to sugar started to subside and views on what is appealing to eat and not were drastically changed over the three week course.

Is it time for you to do the same thing for your life??  Join in on a 21 day challenge to get the results you are looking for by changing the way you eat and view food!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kady: From Carb Queen to Paleo

Like so many others, Kady was a classic "Carb Loader" before Fuel-21.  After 21 days she went from using carbohydrates as fuel to using FAT instead.  Doing this allowed her to lose 4 pounds and 3% body fat, give her a boost in her performance and aided in her recovery time.  She is steadily becoming a CrossFit athlete to watch in the future!  


"My name is Kady Allender and I have been an exercise enthusiast and active my whole life looking for challenges in the areas of cross country running, basketball, soccer, marathons and cross fit, my newest passion. Like most endurance athletes I always made sure to “carbo load” before any of my events or games. My family always joked that my diet consisted of the “3-C’s and P”; chicken, cheese, chocolate and potato. After completing my college degree in Kinesiology and making personal training my career I changed my diet up a bit but was still a carb queen. I got into CrossFit about 2 years ago and started training with Crystal Nelson in Austin, Texas in 2010. We addressed my nutritional ideas and how I needed to kick the “carbo load” theory. After many attempts of her checking my food log and still working in the sugars, I looked into Crystal’s Fuel-21 program and decided maybe I needed a kick start and would give it a try.  Besides I didn’t eat that much sugar, or so I thought.

 I’d have to say the first two days were hard! I had horrible headaches, felt dizzy at the end of the day and was just in a bad mood which was eye opening. I noticed after the 4th day that getting up at 5:30 am was not challenging anymore. My work schedule was still the same but I felt so energized when I woke up. It did take me awhile to figure how much to eat during the 21 days. The first week I felt like I was starving all the time and all I could think about was what and when I was going to eat again. Around day 11 on the program I noticed that my days no longer revolved around when I was going to eat again. I ate when I was hungry and sometimes I would completely skip a meal, which is a big for me.
One obstacle during Fuel-21 was celebrating my birthday. Like most families we celebrate birthdays with cakes or pies. Thinking no sweets was going to be my only obstacle; I was ready to take on my birthday. Birthday breakfast…. well, no cinnamon rolls, pancakes, muffins or donuts. My family made me a birthday omelet which was awesome! Everyone was going to take part since my diet was limited which made it easier for me. It is not easy putting a candle in an omelet so we resorted to putting one in a container full of almonds. Birthday lunch/dinner: I picked Texas Land and Cattle so that I could get a BIG steak. When I ordered and I had to drill the poor waiter to make sure my steak and veggies were not cooked in anything I wasn’t allowed to have on the program. “Yes I’ll take the grilled asparagus and side salad with no dressing, cheese or croutons.” My family made a point to put the yummy looking rolls on the far side of the table as to not tempt me to cheat. I successful made it through dinner! I have to say that was probably the hardest day during Fuel-21 but the fact that I stuck to it was very rewarding.

Four days before Fuel-21 was over I competed in CrossFit Central’s Fittest Games competition. I was extremely surprised at how well I felt during the competition and how fast my recovery was after. I felt very focused and energized the whole day despite the fact I completed four WODs throughout the day.
Overall I lost 4 pounds and dropped my percent body fat by 3.6%. I felt leaner, lighter and energized. My whole view on nutrition has completely changed, I had learned new ways of cooking foods and tried new foods I would have probably otherwise never tried. I plan on continuing to incorporate this methodology into my meals from here on out and share with anyone who is wanting to learn about the Fuel-21 program."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Brian's Story: 17 Years Without Red Meat

Do you know anyone that doesn't eat red meat because they think it's not healthy OR they don't think they can digest it?  Maybe you are that person that tends to stick to the white meat or no meat at all.  Brian has been an athlete of mine for a year and has dropped 35 lbs since being in class.  When he first told me he had not eaten red meat in 17 years, my jaw dropped.  I mean, I can hardly go a couple of days without a big juicy burger like the one shown to the right!  17 years?  How sad!

He was convinced that he could not digest red meat, but after some "encouragement" (more like insistence that he needed red meat in his diet), he cleaned up other food items and was pleasantly surprised he could digest red meat just fine!  In the end, it was other food items like grains, processed foods, and sugar that were causing disruption in the gut.   

Brian's Story:
I started CrossFit in January 2010 and noticed over the course of a few months results in the form of weight loss (217 lbs to 204 lbs), endurance, and overall energy.  By June, however, I noticed that my improvements had plated and improvements were not coming as easily or as often.  After consulting with Crystal, she convinced me to give Fuel-21 a try.  Thinking I ate pretty healthy (no red meat in 17 years and no soda in 3 years) I was somewhat hesitant.  Nonetheless, Crystal convinced me to enroll and was further determined to reintroduce red meat back into my diet.
So in August of 2010, I enrolled in the 21 day class.  The results over the 21 days were impressive for sure (3.8% decrease in Body Fat, 9.2 lbs lost, and a decrease of 3.25 total inches); but to be honest, it was how the "lessons learned" have carried forward that has been the game changer.  Six months later I am still in "maintenance mode" and maintaining the weight I competitively swam in college (188 lbs) some 24 years ago.  In addition, I have reintroduced red meat into my diet without enduring my previous stomach ailments!
It's like they say, it's 70% nutrition and Fuel-21 definitely taught me to live that way!  -Brian Vogel
Why do we need Red Meat??

First off, red meat is delicious and has a variety of flavors, tenderness, and taste that each of us enjoys and craves.  There are many reasons why red meat is beneficial, but here are a few of the main ones:
  1. Iron- This is essential for transforming oxygen in the blood that then gets converted into energy and provides fuel for the body
  2. Zinc- You need this to heal wounds, support your immune system and aid in growth
  3. Omega-3 Fats (from GrassFed sources)- brain cells require the use of Omega-3's along with many other physical processes and heart health
  4. Protein- we need good, quality protein for amino acids to build every single cell in our body
  5. B Vitamins and other Vital Supplements (a very BIG reason)- Red meat is filled with many of the essential B vitamins that are necessary for many of the body's processes that ARE NOT FOUND IN MANY PLANTS: B6, B12, niacin, Vitamin A, cysteine, bovine cartilage, and riboflavin.
  From the Weston A Price Foundation "It's the Beef":
"What a shame we have demonized red meat because this is one modern food, enjoyed by almost everybody, that is rich in nutrients. Red meat provides complete protein, including sulphur-containing proteins like cysteine. Beef is a wonderful source of taurine and carnitine, needed for healthy eyes and a healthy heart. Beef also provides another key nutrient for the cardiovascular system—coenzyme Q10. 
Beef is an excellent source of minerals like magnesium and zinc—you need zinc for clear thinking and a healthy sex life. The fuzzy-headedness that vegetarians mistake for heightened consciousness is really the fog of zinc deficiency. Vitamin B6 is abundant in meat, especially rare meat. Red meat is one of the best sources of vitamin B12, which is vital to a healthy nervous system and healthy blood. Vegetarians are especially prone to vitamin B12 deficiency. One of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is a tendency to irrational anger-—so much for vegetarian claims that we will have a more peaceful, harmonious world if we all just stop eating meat. 
If you use the animal bones and hooves to make stock, and use the stock as our ancestors did in soups, stews and sauces, you will get plenty of calcium and the components of cartilage to give you healthy bones and cartilage. If you eat organ meats, as our ancestors did, you will get vital fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A and D, both of which are essential for protein utilization and mineral absorption."  
Read the full article here

What about cholesterol?  Red meat is high in cholesterol and therefore will raise my cholesterol right??

First off, I want to point out that cholesterol is NOT the bad guy.  It is actually necessary and vital to have a good amount of cholesterol.  When something happens in the body, cholesterol is the one to come in and take care of the problem, or in a way, act like a band-aid.

There is no evidence to suggest that eating foods high in saturated fat or cholesterol raise cholesterol levels and cause heart disease.  In fact, since Americans have cut back on saturated fats, there has been a marked INCREASE in heart disease.  Funny how that works!  It seems that what is actually causing heart disease is when we are deficient in B6, B12, and Folic Acid.  These happen to be exactly the vitamins you get from eating red meat.    

Look at the diets of the primitive people Dr. Weston Price studied.  One of the common themes was that animal and animal fats were staples in the diet.  There were no cases of high cholesterol or heart disease in any of the groups he studied.  In fact, there was no evidence of disease at all until sugar was introduced.

So what are the benefits of cholesterol?
  • Cholesterol is produced by almost every cell in the body.
  • Cholesterol in cell membranes makes cells waterproof so there can be a different chemistry on the inside and the outside of the cell.
  • Cholesterol is nature’s repair substance, used to repair wounds, including tears and irritations in the arteries.
  • Many important hormones are made of cholesterol, including hormones that regulate mineral metabolism and blood sugar, hormones that help us deal with stress, and all the sex hormones, such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
  • Cholesterol is vital to the function of the brain and nervous system.
  • Cholesterol protects us against depression; it plays a role in the utilization of seratonin, the body’s “feel-good” chemical.
  • The bile salts, needed for the digestion of fats, are made from cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is the precursor of vitamin D, which is formed by the action of ultra-violet (UV-B) light on cholesterol in the skin.
  • Cholesterol is a powerful antioxidant that protects us against free radicals and therefore against cancer. Cholesterol, especially LDL-cholesterol (the so-called bad cholesterol), helps fight infection.

I have a steak to go eat now...  For any questions, shoot me an email or post in the comments section!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

AJ's Amazing Story: Diabetic Gone Paleo

Aaron (AJ) just completed Fuel-21 in January.  His story is pretty amazing to say the least.  From diabetes as a kid, to losing his eyesight in college, to gaining eyesight back and starting CrossFit, to finally diving into a real food, nourishing diet and seeing even more positive results, to the onward quest to meet Anne Hathoway, his story is impressive.  He lost 4% body fat during the 21 days, learned how to cook for himself (and grocery shop), and also inspired his family and friends to change their way of eating and see phenomenal results as well.  You've got to read all of this!  Also, he has a blog where he wrote about his experience throughout the 21 day and it will make you cry it's so funny!!  Check that out at  This is just one story of many where changing what you eat changes your life in more ways than one.  I couldn't be happier for him!  

My name is Aaron, though most people call me AJ these days.  Coach Crystal asked me to talk about my experiences in her Fuel 21 program I just went through and the results I saw.  But to do that effectively, you probably need to know a little bit about me prior to me ever meeting Coach Crystal.

I am 31 years old and I have been a type one diabetic since the age of seven.  Growing up with diabetes was pretty much the worst thing I could imagine as a kid.  I craved sugar and junk food so badly, that I would do just about anything to get my hands on it.  I made my Mom’s life miserable when it came to feeding me.  She did her best to get me to eat healthy and I did my best to do the exact opposite.

Fast forward a decade or so and I am a freshman in college, where I decided, that because I was skinny, athletic, and active, I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I wouldn’t have any problems with my diabetes.  Turns out, my diet consisted mainly of Burger King, Sixth Street bar drinks, Diet Coke, and convenient store junk food. It proved to be idiocy to believe that living and dieting the way I was would be good for my diabetes. A fact that was proven true shortly after college—shocking I know--when diabetes robbed me of my eye sight and the subsequent three years of my life it took doctors to fix the issues as well as could be.

Once my sight was returned to me—there is a good story here that would take way too long to write—I made some changes to my diet and lifestyle that my endocrinologists—fancy word for diabetes doctor among other things—told me would keep my diabetes in good control.  So I played basketball and ran a little more than I use to, ate a little less fast food than I use to, and was told by my endocrinologist that I was doing well enough to avoid further problems with my diabetes.

Again, fast forward a couple more years and I move into the neighborhood behind Crossfit Central.  It didn’t take long to notice the large groups of fit, tan, cute girls working out at all hours of the day and before I knew it I was enrolled in a Crossfit class.  I am pretty sure Gilly “prettied” me into signing up, that or she used some type of voodoo.  Whatever it was, I am thankfull that she did, but I am also pretty sure Life Time Fitness and P90X blame her for me quitting on them.

After a few months at Crossfit, one of the coaches suggested that if I wanted to reach my goals, I should come to one of their nutritional meetings and consider changing my diet.  I agreed and went and listened to Carey Kepler tell me about the Paloe diet and how I needed to stop eating grains, diary, legumes, sugar, and Diet Coke.  At the time, I thought Carey was completely insane and I spent the remainder of my first nutrition meeting thinking about going to Sonic for dinner.  Sorry Carey….

As the weeks went on though, I still couldn’t reach my goals and I reluctantly gave up some dairy, grains, beans, and sugar (no way in hell I was giving up Diet Coke!) and saw immediate results.  My body fat went down a little, my insulin intake dropped from 12 units a meal which I had taken with every meal for the last 10 years of my life, down to 6 units, and I had a better control of my diabetes than I had ever had before.  I figured I was doing as well as I possibly could be doing.  Then I met Coach Crystal…

I started Fuel 21 under Coach Crystal’s guidance at the beginning of this year.  I was 201 pounds, 18 percent body fat, and was taking roughly 5 to 6 units of insulin a meal which is very low for someone my size.  I was pretty proud of where I was at and wasn’t honestly sure what Fuel 21 would be able to offer me, but gave it a try anyway.

Coach Crystal had asked me to set some goals I wanted to achieve when I had finished going through her program.  I really had trouble with this at first.  My first set of goals were things like: get a date with Anne Hathaway, dunk a basketball over Dwight Howard, win a Golden Globe for Best Female Lead in a movie (yeah, you read that right), and invent Diet Coke that would be considered healthy by Coach Crystal.  She looked these over and told me I needed to have real goals, so I came up with: lose enough body fat to look good in a swim suit and control my diabetes even better, if possible.

The first thing Coach Crystal made me change was drinking Diet Coke, which I only did because even though Coach Crystal is 98% rainbows, smiley faces, and puppies, I wasn’t sure about what that last 2% was made of. So decided it was better to listen to what she said, than argue with her.  I drank roughly 120 ounces of Diet Coke a day prior to starting Fuel 21. I cut it out immediately, had a caffeine withdrawal headache from hell, and then never looked back.
Two days after given up Diet Coke, some odd things started happening.  I had more energy, I seemed to be able to focus on tasks better, my skin looked better some how, and I had an odd clarity of mind I can’t recall ever having before.  After that all happened, I decided it was best to stopped doubting anything Coach Crystal told me to do….with the exception of eating eggs. They have a nasty texture.

I did have some problems while going through Fuel 21 though.  Giving up sweets and grains wasn’t all that hard.  I liked vegetables already and steak, fish, turkey, chicken, and bacon were staples of my diet. Granted most of that meat came from places like Torchy’s, Subway, McAllister’s Deli, Chipotle, and Jason’s Deli, so I needed to learn to cook at home.  However, cooking was more difficult for me than winning that elusive Golden Globe will be.

I just couldn’t cook very well. Everything about cooking seemed harder than it should have been for me. I ruined my first few meals pretty badly.  Which is amazing, because all I ate was meat and it isn’t really that hard to cook baked fish, steak or sausage, but I burned, over salted, over/under seasoned, or made them all taste like card board.  Eventually, with some help from Coach Crystal and some friends from Crossfit, I got marginally better.  Now I can at least make a decent steak or piece of fish. But if a recipe calls for more than 6 ingredients, has more than 12 steps, or has 5 different types of measurement, I am pretty much certain to make something that looks or tastes like sin.  I’ll get it sooner or later though. Its like hand stand walks I am told.  You try, fail, and try again till you get it figured out.

By about day 10 I had gotten past most of my issues with the program and started seeing results I honestly didn’t expect.  I looked leaner, my skin looked better, I was sweating less, and I had way more energy than I thought I could have just from eating better. Prior to starting Fuel 21, I was ok at my WODs but everytime I finished, I looked like I had just  climbed out of a swimming pool and often laid on the floor of Central’s gym, wondering if I’d be needing a defibrillator to live.  Now, while I still struggle, I finish WODs easier, have more energy during them, and am fairly sure I won’t die anytime soon from a WOD.

By the end of Coach Crystal’s program, I didn’t get a date with Anne Hathaway or win a Golden Globe which is a little disappointing.  However, I did lose 6 pounds, 4 percent body fat, and reduce my insulin intake from 6 units per meal to 2 units per meal.  That saves me about $4,000 a year.  My A1C level, which is a rough 3 month reading of your blood sugar levels, also dropped from a 6.1 to a 5.8. (A 6.1 is considered great for a diabetic and even for someone without diabetes) My doctors didn’t believe me at all that I was accomplishing all of this with a new diet and more exercise. In fact they were certain that I was doing something else and just not telling them. These are pretty amazing results for someone who had already been taking pretty good care of themselves and I think I’d take them over anything other than that date with Anne Hathaway.

The best results I achieved though have nothing to do with me.  My little brother is a diabetic as well, though he contracted the disease much later in his life and has struggled with weight issues and control for a while.  I often worry that he would soon run into the same types of medical problems I did after college, if he didn’t make some changes in his life.
Over the holidays as I talked about how I was starting Fuel 21 and the results (the real ones) I was hoping to achieve. I convinced him to try the diet with me to a degree he could handle, as a Christmas present to me. In order to help him with his new found diet plan, my mom decided she would eat Paleo as well.  The two of them began right away and with a determination that surprised me.

Both of them are overweight, so I was excited to see what results they might see in themselves.  To my utter shock, my little brother lost 20 pounds in 25 days and reduced the amount of insulin he takes by almost half.  My mom, who doesn’t exercise much, lost 10 pounds in 21 days and has seen a reduction in her rumatory arthritis which has bothered her badly for the last 10 years.  Doctors had told her for years that there wasn’t much they could do for her to alleviate the pain. Now though, she has felt so well, that she started taking a spinning class at her local YMCA…at the age of 65 this is her first exercise class.
I figured that would be about as good of a result as I would see, however I was wrong.  I also have an older brother who is a doctor of genetics at Emory University in Atlanta.  While he was supportive of my decision to eat this way, he wasn’t completely sold on the effectiveness of a Paleo diet.  He is the type of person who needs a lot of empirical proof before he is willing to believe something.  It is just the nerdy scientist in him coming out. But, after I talked about the program so enthusiastically for so long and then seeing my mom and little brother get on board too, he decided to try it himself.

He didn’t want to tell me he had started the diet, because if he tried and failed or hated it, he didn’t want anyone to see him as a quitter or a failure.  But after about 2 weeks on a program similar to Fuel 21, I got a call from him telling me he had lost 8 pounds in two weeks and had more energy than he had had while in college.  With two small daughters under the age of 3 to take care of, that was pretty amazing.  I had always been worried about my older brother’s weight, but couldn’t get him to do anything major about it.  Turns out, all it took was Coach Crystal’s Fuel 21 program and a little enthusiasm from me.

Had I met Coach Crystal during college, it is pretty likely that I never would have lost my eye sight. Since I can’t do anything about that now though, I’ll happily settle for the fact that her program has helped change not only my life, but that of those I love most.
 Thanks Crystal!
Aaron Johnson
 P.S. If you know Anne Hathaway, can you hook me up?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Next 21 Day Course February 1st!!

Registration is open for the February 21 Days to Food Freedom course!  This course is the bread and butter of Fuel-21.  We just had a potluck last night for the January crew and the results are pretty amazing so far.  There has been some massive weight loss just in the first 5 days with a couple.  To be exact-- 10 pounds lost by one.  Others are starting to see improvement in their daily focus, energy, and daily choices with obstacles that come up in their daily lives.  They are geared for success!

A.J. has been writing a blog post on his 21 day experience and you might find it pretty humorous.  He has actually recruited his family to start eating less processed foods, sugar, and grains and more lean meats, good fats, and some vegetables!  When you know something works and see the results that you want, you are more motivated to stay on track.  The issue usually arises with those that don't want to try it.

I guarantee you will feel better than you ever have if you take the plunge.  The good news is, you don't have to do it alone!  That's why this course was created.  Surrounding yourself with others that are battling the same cravings, obstacles, and old habits gives you the strength to carry on and then actually reap the benefits.

You have daily habits now.... you eat every day... it's just your choice of food that is the problem.  So, if you take ACTION and focus on changing your old habits to new ones, eventually you will find that it becomes your new routine and it isn't hard anymore.  It takes time, will power, education, and support.  Fuel-21 was created for that.  Come join in and see what is possible in your life!