Brittany Jansen

On January 21, 2010, Jeremy Kuchenmeister’s life changed: He awoke one morning, intending to go in for a doctor’s appointment for the headaches, dizziness, and weakness he was experiencing, but found himself being taken to the ER instead.

In the midst of treatments, Kuchenmeister found a program that helped him build the necessary strength, endurance, and mental toughness to fight cancer: CrossFit.

After a series of tests, Kuchenmeister was diagnosed with cancer. Tumors were found in his lungs, kidneys, liver, and in his head near his brain. Over the course of the next year, Kuchenmeister was in and out of the hospital, going through chemo, physical therapy, a Stem Cell transplant, radiation, and then more chemotherapy.

In the midst of his treatments, Kuchenmeister found a program that helped him build the necessary strength, endurance, and mental toughness to fight cancer: CrossFit. Kuchenmeister began CrossFitting in January 2011, and over throughout this past year, he has been in and out of the box, trying to stay as active as possible.

He says CrossFit has helped him both physically and mentally. Physically it has helped him handle his treatments better because it forced him to keep moving; on the other hand, the mental toughness he gained was instrumental to his recovery, as well. He also says the support from the community has been vital in his maintaining a positive outlook, and it’s easy to understand why CrossFit athletes from six different local boxes in the Northwest Chicago suburbs attended a benefit to assist in Kuchenmeister’s road to recovery.

On October 29, head coaches and owners, Pete and Ivy Rasmusen, of CrossFit Carbon, Vernon Hills, Ill., held a benefit for Kuchenmeister and his family’s fight against cancer. While 150 athletes went through Kuchenmeister’s 23:00 AMRAP, another 100 or so others came in to donate their time and money to his cause. By the end of the day, they raised approximately $5,600. It was with the support from his family, friends, and the CrossFit community, and in combination with his physical and mental gains, that Kuchenmeister discovered recovery was not far off, and on January 18, 2012, Kuchenmeister was informed he was cancer free.

Currently Kuchenmeister is in remission; he is now attending school and consistently working out about five days a week at both CrossFit Carbon and CrossFit Prevail. Where Kuchenmeister’s workouts used to primarily consist of work/rest ratios and AMRAPs, he is now completing the regular class workouts with minimal scaling. Not only has he dramatically improved his work capacity, but he has made tremendous strides in strength, successfully transitioning from completing workouts only with the bar to setting new personal records on his back squat at 175 pounds and his front squat at 155 pounds.

He now plans on tackling the Open, and his first line of business: burpees.

By the end of week one, Kuchenmeister walked away with 64 burpees, sore shoulders, aching quads, and a continued sense of pride and support from the CrossFit community. In order to give back to those who have helped him reach this point, Kuchenmeister will continue to move forward and keep working hard in the Open.

“I just want to see how far I’ve come –- to measure my own progress, to push myself more, and to help push others,” Kuchenmeister says. “I figure, I can show people that I’ve gone through this much and plan to keep going, so why can’t they? I just want to show them that it’s always necessary to keep pushing harder, to never give up, and that if they can fight the mental battle, they can beat anything.


12.1 in the Northwest…



Dan & Amy Hollingsworth

Rest assured, these athletes will not be resting on their laurels.

The first week of the 2012 CrossFit Games Open appears to have favored the unknown athlete.  In the North West Region, athletes who did not compete in last year’s Regional competition are leading in nearly all categories. North West Masters competitors have also established themselves as an early threat.  Here’s a recap of how things shook out.

In the Men’s Division, 27-year-old Nikoli Martindale of Cascade CrossFit leads the region with a very impressive 145 burpees.  His score not only leads the North West Region, but also places him in a tie for 8th place worldwide. Not far behind Martindale is Bryan Weed, another 27-year-old from CrossFit Untamed. Weed cranked out 143 burpees, which finds him in a four-way tie for 24th place in the world.

On the Women’s side of 12.1, Emily Carothers from Maple Valley CrossFit relied on her background as a collegiate gymnast at the University of Washington, to jump to an early regional lead in the Open. In her first ever CrossFit Games Open workout, Carothers completed 128 burpees, which lands her in 42nd place worldwide.

Easily, one of the most impressive performances of the week came out of CrossFit Bellevue. Forty-five year-old Janice Spray, last year’s 4th place finisher in the 45-49 age division at the Games, showed that she can still hang with the young gals. Spray put up an astonishing 132 burpees, which places her on top of the world ranking for her age group. In the Open Division, Janice’s effort would have her sitting in 1st place in the North West Region and in 28th place worldwide.

Other Masters competitors who have established themselves early in the race include last year’s Women’s 45-49 year-old champion, Susan Habbe of CrossFit Emergence, now competing in the 50-54 age bracket. Habbe’s score of 105 burpees secures a 13th place worldwide placing after the first workout. In the Men’s 60-plus Division, 60-year-old Jim McCarry, representing Rainier CrossFit finished Week 1 in 7th place worldwide with 95 burpees.

In the Team’s race, Cascade CrossFit, bolstered by Martindale’s 145 burpees, finds themselves on top of the Leaderboard. In their first year of Affiliate Cup competition, Cascade CrossFit now sits just ahead of 2010 Affiliate Cup Champions CrossFit Fort Vancouver. Adam Neiffer’s Fort Vancouver team is looking to return to the podium in Carson, Calif., in 2012 and currently sits in 18th place worldwide. Rounding out the top three teams in the North West is CrossFit Bellevue, benefitting from Janice Spray’s big time performance, as well as solid numbers from their other top members.

Rest assured that none of these athletes will be resting on their laurels despite their current status on top of the Leaderboard. They are celebrating, but also preparing and waiting on pins and needles just like the rest of us for the release of Open Workout 12.2.

The Mayonnaise Jar…

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” he said.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are
important to you…” he told them.

“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Please share this with other “Golf Balls”

“Yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today or right now is the only cash we are truly dealing with.” ~Unsure.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Overwhelm


Harry Selkow

Published: January 22, 2012Posted in: ColumnsIron BrothersTags: 

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Overwhelm
elitefts™ Sunday edition


Standing in the gym this morning, I had an overwhelming feeling that there was no way to get everything I had planned for the day finished. I needed to train 30 or so athletes (or there about) and I had to rehab my shoulder and hamstrings. My bride needed her training supervised and spotted and my son need attention, too. Not only those things, but also my puppy needed attention and I had to make sure it didn’t have a “puppy accident,” while watching the strength practices from the lifting platform. 

THEN, I needed to train myself and get home before Team Selkow went to a luncheon for a friend. With hockey practice looming in the not-too-distant future (tonight at 6), I was already planning dinner and getting to bed and it wasn’t even 6:30AM. 

Definition of OVERWHELM

transitive verb

1: upsetoverthrow

2a : to cover over completely : submerge

Examples of OVERWHELM

  1. Don’t overwhelm him with facts.
  2. They were overwhelmed with work.

Synonyms: crushdevastatefloorgrind (down)oppressovercomeovermasteroverpowerprostrate,snow underswampwhelm


What I needed to do was stop for a moment and realize that I should be happy about where I was, with all the activity that surrounded me, and focus solely on the task at hand.

“Yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today or right now is the only cash we are truly dealing with.” ~Unsure.

Or in other words, the reason “NOW is called the present…because it is a gift,” began to ring louder and more clear.

I stopped! I focused on my immediate and most important task. Note! Task, singular and focused. I left the urgent for what was important. I began to live for the people that I was training at the hour. I began to focus wholeheartedly on their needs, and NOT what I needed to do in the next hour. I saw clearly the changes that had to be accomplished in the flawed movements of some, and I reveled in the effortless manner of others whom have perfectly honed their skills.


I coached both my wife, and child in seemingly timeless effort. I sent them off to their day of friend and food with smiles and pats of congratulations for jobs well done. I managed to focus on my broken body parts and fortification of otherwise healthy ones, without so much of a thought as to where I needed to be next.

Where I needed to be, was right where I was.

I began to think, how often I’ve been guilty of either living in the past, to predict my future, or how much time I devote to conquering distant goals?

Be Thankful

I can’t change the things in the past. I realize they are what brought me to this very place and very time, even as I write this on my computer. I am thankful for all the things both good and bad, which have allowed me this moment. All of my past experiences are the summation of decisions that shape my present.

I don’t want to focus aimlessly into the future.

“A man without a plan is like a ship without a rudder, destined for disaster.”

I will continue to write goals and objectives to meet those goals. However, I won’t stress the small deviations that occur and take you from that path in order to find new and very cool (or not so) things serendipitously. No, instead, embrace those moments that seem as if they are stressful deterrents and place them into the “stuff happens” box. Whether good or bad, it is the experience that we are after. It makes for more interesting conversations. too.

Live for the Moment

Living for the moment you are in right now, allows for time to stop, or fast-forward. It takes the idea of multi-tasking away. (That stuff doesn’t really work anyway.) It gives you laser-like focus, and allows for completion of things that are important to YOU, and not-so-urgent to others.

Being present gives you a clearer picture of the successes you obtain in the gym. You aren’t anywhere else. You are in the gym, not at work, not checking your Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail, you are focused on weight lifting destruction. Being present in your relationships builds a stronger bond. You aren’t thinking about your committee meeting next Tuesday. You aren’t thinking about the missed lift last Friday. You actually hear AND listen to whom you are with at the moment.


When my son says “Dad!” I answer, “yes?” What do you think that boy will remember when I’m gone? That I answered every time, and that answer was YES. What do you think he will answer the call of HIS son with? (Oops! I think I slipped into future mode. I didn’t say it was easy to be in the present). It takes practice. You are given as much opportunity to practice, as there are seconds in the day (or night if you count that too).

Take the next moment and live in it. Take the next meeting and be in the meeting. Take the next training session, and give that 100 percent of your focus. Try commuting home and actually THINK about the commute, and not just arriving.

You might get a LOT more out of what you are living for.

Do You Hear Voices?….

That Little Voice

Posted on January 30, 2012 by -CFNH

“I’m so tired.”
“You can do it.”
“Just one more rep.”
“I dunno, that looks heavy.”
“Just lift the bar.”

We’ve all got a little voice in our head, sometimes it’s helpful , sometimes it’s not.

“Did the dog just talk to me?”

Sometimes it’s really not. No matter how helpful or unhelpful (or strange) that little voice in your head is, it’s actually trainable, just like the rest of your body. It takes effort and near constant attention, and you have to hold that attention in even the toughest of circumstances. The middle of a WOD, for example.

At some point, there’s been someone you’ve seen do a WOD who just amazed you. Not the firebreather who just blazed through the WOD, but that person who finished last, minutes behind the next closest person, but who kept going. Who kept moving. Who ground their way through to the end. What makes that person keep going, keep powering through even when no one else is cheering? It’s that little voice.

It’s powerful enough to get you through an ugly WOD and powerful enough to derail an easy one. It can be your biggest fan or your biggest enemy. But ultimately, you’re in control of it.

Today’s a good day to start working on it. Just look at that WOD over there. Is that little voice already telling you it’s going to suck? You can start working on it before you even get to the gym! Remind yourself how much you love wall balls! How awesome burpees are! And add a box jump on the end of that burpee? How could that not be even more awesome?

See? You’ve already taken the first step to reprogramming that little voice. Now try it again without letting the little voice sound so sarcastic