RKC and IBD: 31 Days to RKC

The Backstory July 26, 2012

I have IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) – ulcerative colitis to be exact. I also have a date for the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) test in exactly 31 days.

When I was diagnosed with IBD 4 years ago I had no idea what it was – I had never heard of IBD, ulcerative colitis, and hardly gave a second-thought to my digestive tract. I came to understand that I would need to increase my knowledge quickly to help me recover from the physical side-effects of this disease. I lost 50 pounds of body weight in about 6 weeks. I was incredibly weak, could barely eat, and had almost no control over my body. The road to recovery felt long and difficult at times but I knew that it had to be done. However, 4 years ago I had little idea that it would lead me to this point.

I signed up for the RKC without giving it much thought. I was on the website one night, saw that there was going to be a certification course offered in my hometown of San Diego, figured that I’d save on the travel and hotel costs and signed up. The next day I really understood the committment that I had just made. Not only is the RKC a highly respected certification but it is also a demanding test of one’s physical abilities. The course is 3 days long. I’ll have to show proficiency in several moves using kettlebells. On the last day I’ll have to pass the Snatch test – 100 snatches in 5 minutes with a 24kg kettlebell.

I have a 24kg kettlebell that I had been using at my outdoor training classes. Clients had mainly used it only for deadlifts. At the time I was using it for swings and felt strong because it was the biggest kettlebell I owned and only 1 0r 2 clients could swing it also. When I tried to snatch it I quickly realized how different a snatch is compared to a swing. I also realized how not strong I really was because it was really tough! Honestly, at this point I was a little afraid and worried about what I had gotten myself into.

I contacted the best kettlebell guy I know – Max Shank and joined his group classes the next day. Talk about a humbling experience! Suddenly I was in a group class with women swinging a 48kg (105.6lbs) kettlebell! My 24kg wasn’t even their warmup weight! I knew 2 things right there:

1. Don’t piss off these women

2. I needed to get A LOT STRONGER!

For about 2 months I have been training at Ambition Athletics 2-5 times each week. I have gotten a lot stronger:

  • I can swing the 48kg bell (just like some strong ladies)
  • I can push-press 2 36kg bells for reps
  • I can front squat 2 40kb bells for reps
  • I have done 95 snatches with the 24kg bell in 5 minutes (almost to 100!)

But why is any of this important? Because 4 years ago I was terrified by what IBD was doing to me. I had no idea how I would regain the weight I lost, live a healthy life again, or even be able to do something as simple as exercise. I still remember the very first day I stepped back into a gym. I was incredibly weak – doing a bicep curl on the cable stack with 10lbs was a challenge…performing a decent squat was only possible if I held onto to something to help me stand back up. I was confused and very unsure about how I would ever find strength again.

Somehow I managed to rebuild my body and my mental outlook again. I was able to believe that I could be strong – even with IBD. Luckily, most days are good and I live without any real restrictions. I manage my symptoms by eating healthy foods, managing stress levels, and taking my daily medication – which is only Asacol and nothing more intense. However, there are some times when things just aren’t right. I get really tired easily and just want to sleep. Sometimes I have digestive issues and things do not function 100%. Certain foods can be a painful experience. But what has all that tought me and what does this have to do with RKC and IBD?

Everything and nothing…there is still no pin-point cause of why I (or anyone) have IBD. There is really no reason why I had to sign up for the RKC 31 days from today. But there is also something in life that makes us do things that we aren’t completely aware of at the time – that feeling that we may be guided or on a certain path that is leading us to something bigger, better. I know now that I have IBD because it allows me to relate to people that need help. People that may be suffering with there own IBD struggle or another battle of some kind. I believe that I signed up for the RKC that night without much thought because strength, true strength,  is something that we all admire, respect, and desire…and I hope to show that physical and mental strength are possible when I pass my RKC test.

~With Strength and Nutrition

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