No Limits Soldier

2005 – Nick walking for the first time – several months after his injury in Iraq.

If I would have asked Nick five years ago what his dream was – or where he saw himself in the next five years, owning a CrossFit affiliate gym would not have been on his list of answers. At that point, he had no idea that CrossFit or Paleo even existed.

Nick had recently been medically retired from the Army due to an injury he sustained while in Iraq in 2004. After he was discharged in 2007, he worked as a local mechanic and went to school for Computer Networking, but was constantly faced with monthly, week-long hospital visits for pancreatitis – a chronic condition that occurred as a result of his injury.

After 2 years of very regular hospital visits (Nick was pretty popular with the doctors and nurses) and a Whipple procedure, Nick’s pancreatitis had subsided, but he was then battling issues of malabsorption, weight loss, fatigue, constant nausea, and the list goes on…we were grasping at straws. His doctors prescribed a bland, low-fat diet, B12 injections, and a long list of other vitamins to combat the malabsorption and loss of bone density – none of which really improved the quality of life for this 27-year-old man.

In December 2010, my sister loaned me a book that changed our lives forever – The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. This book detailed the Paleolithic diet in a way that really made sense – and made us reevaluate the Standard American Diet (SAD). All of the illnesses and autoimmune deficiencies associated with grains and sugar pushed us into thinking that this is something we should try. After all, what did we have to lose? By January 2011, we decided to try the Paleo diet for 30 days hardcore. After two days, I can quote Nick saying “I miss bread” and then a few days later “I may never eat bread again.” Within a week, his nausea had subsided…within a month, he quit taking all of his prescribed vitamins for malabsorption (because he was obtaining and absorbing those vitamins from the foods he was eating)…and shortly after, he put the video games away and began searching for ways to expel all of this new energy he gained from eating like a caveman. That’s when CrossFit came along – something that offered “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements” and would help him rebuild his muscles and become stronger and faster than before his injury.

2012 – CrossFit + Paleo = Nick 2.0

Once the fatigue and nausea were no longer part of his daily routine (unless they occurred after a CrossFit WOD), he was like a completely different person. CrossFit became his new passion – reading as much CF information as he could get his hands on, watching video after video, subscribing to the CrossFit Journal, and finally signing up to get his Level 1 CrossFit Trainer Certification. After training soldiers in the Army and proving to be an excellent leader, I had a feeling that this would be a perfect fit for Nick. He got his certification with ease and then immediately began training some friends out of our house – never looking back.

Now – a year later, we opened GA.BA Strength & Conditioning and Nick affiliated with CrossFit so that we could bring Thomasville CrossFit to our community with the intention of spreading good health and strength throughout Southwest Georgia.

Nick’s motivation is contagious and his constant pursuit of strength and perfect form are a true testament to his undying will. He’s like a machine, except he can relate to almost anyone that walks into our box because he hasn’t gotten here without a fight or two.

For me, it has been inspiring to watch Nick fight his way forward and reclaim not only his strength, but his life. He instills that same fight into me and each of our athletes. With Nick as our trainer, there are no excuses, no limits to what we can do.

*Information regarding CrossFit – Courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.

11 thoughts on “No Limits Soldier

  1. This is an amazing and inspirational story for anyone hoping to change their life, and a true testimonial to how eating a Paleo diet and CrossFit training can transform lives. That is a 180 degree turnaround. What doctors and medication couldn’t fix…proper diet and strength & conditioning did. The picture of Nick after his injury is unbelievable, and the picture of him now is every man’s dream. Kudos to Nick for working through this horrific ordeal and coming out on top. Best of luck with the new CrossFit gym and affiliation…I know you’ll do great.


  2. I am so happy to hear things are going good for you Nick. You were an amazing soldier!! To add to the story, Nick almost died 3 times on his flight out of Iraq to Walter Reed Medical facility for these injuries. He then spent the next few months recovering and insisted of going back to Iraq to finish his tour with his fellow battle buddies. You are a daily inspiration Nick…love ya and miss ya!

  3. I love this Nick! I’ll never forget visiting you in the hospital, as I was there too. You gave me strength and hope, and I admire you so much for the amazing soldier and friend you were/are. That photo of you walking for the first time was right around the times I visited u… U probably remember tho… Lol:) Over the years, I told your story to soldiers who thought they had it bad, it always worked to shut them the hell up and drive on. Anyways, love and miss ya buddy, and so happy to read this wonderful story:)


  4. Abrie words can’t say how touched I was when I read this, I remember so well the day I took the picture of Nicholas walking for the first time after 2 1/2 months, even then he didn’t let his injury stop him they wanted him to walk down the hall and of course he had to walk down 2 halls. My son has made me proud of him so many times in his life, and the man that he has become should not surprise me. To say he is in his element with his CrossFit training is true, he has found his calling in life, I feel that anyone who knows him would agree. I also think that anyone who comes to him for CrossFit training will find that they truly found a trainer that believes in himself and them. He will not ask for anymore from them than he gives of himself. Thank you for all the love and support you have giving my son. I have enjoyed watching the changes in both of your lives.

  5. I am not surprised that Nicholas has done so well. When I visited him at Walter Reed Hospital he let us know that he was not going down without a fight and that is just what he did, he was determined to get well and go back to Iraq to complete his tour. He never gave up. Even when he received his medal, out of respect for the official doing the honors, he got up and dressed in full military uniform, even the boots! You know, I don’t think that Nicholas was walking yet, everyone told him that getting dressed was not necessary. That didn’t stop him. If Nicholas sets his mind on something then he will accomplish it. Good luck Nicholas, we hope you continue to do well and stay strong.

    Nicholas will always be our hero. Love you always, Aunt Judy and Uncle Gary.

  6. That is an awesome story. I did not realize Nick had been through so much. You both are impressive young people who genuinely care about others. We wish you the best with your gym.

  7. Nick,

    I am amazed at how Paleo changes our lives. I started following right after ya’ll did and I am forever changed. You are not only a testament to Paleo but physical fitness as well. I just found out about your gym and I am really proud of you! Keep up the good work and don’t look back.

  8. I heard of Nick’s story just last week while on a business trip. When I saw the website and heard more of the story, I was very impressed and just plain “wowed”!!!!! I couldn’t believe the photos. I have been in an up and down battle with food for many years. I was telling my wife about this story and showed her the pictures. She couldn’t believe it either. Now she wants to research this further and see if we can do it.
    Thanks for the inspiration and your service to our country!!!!

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