This year, my BMI crept up to 35. Long days at the office and a stressful desk job have taken their toll over the years. My love for pizza, beer, and potato chips isn’t helping either.

So I decided to make a change. I recently enrolled a local CrossFit class. It’s not that I’d never tried exercising or even lifting before. It’s just that I really either pushed myself too hard or not hard enough. Nothing was really happening. I’d usually sort of give exercise a few days of half-hearted effort before saying, “This doesn’t work” and returning to the couch.

Fortunately, this time I got a coach who really knows his stuff. When I push myself too hard he forces me to rest. But he doesn’t let me get away with less than my best, either. Everyone else is in there working hard, and it’s really true what they say. Everyone in my box, at least, is super friendly and encouraging. And they’re all busting ass, being really inspiring, working hard. You don’t want to be the guy who is in there dragging your feet or bringing down the energy, so you sort of reach in yourself and find strength you didn’t even know that you had.

The first few days of my training, what they call the “on ramp” period, were brutal. They were brutal because they were embarrassing—there’s nothing like huffing and puffing your way through a simple set of push-ups and sit-ups to let you know how far you’ve fallen. They were also brutal because they did leave me huffing, puffing, and gasping for breath.

The day after my first training session I could barely sit down. That’s how bad everything hurt.

But I had this bag of ManSalt. My Mom had actually given it to me for Christmas. I’d kind of shoved it into the back of the bathroom cabinet, where I’d promptly forgotten about it. I’m mostly a shower kind of a guy. I didn’t really want to drug the soreness away with aspirin though, as I knew I’d just feel bad again the next day. And I had another on-ramp session coming up. I didn’t want to do it feeling like I could barely walk.

So I ran the bath.

I was really impressed when I opened up the bag. I mean, I’d always thought of bath salts as being something really girly, and in spite of the name I really didn’t expect much. But this really was this very fresh, clean, “dude” scent. I dumped a generous amount into the tub and slid my way right inside the steaming water.

It was glorious. I got relief almost immediately. Some of the pain was already sort of melting away.  

Frankly, I’d had a tough day at work as well. But, my thoughts began to drift. I just wasn’t thinking of anything: an unexpected benefit. I must have been in there for an hour, just soaking and thinking of nothing.

I had no problems standing up. Considering I had literally groaned like I was being tortured when I’d sat down in my office chair earlier that day I considered this to be a pretty big deal. I set my alarm and went to bed.

I think it’s worth saying that normally, when I go to bed, there’s no guarantee that I’m actually going to sleep. I tend to replay the day. I sit there trying to solve all the challenges I’ve been facing. I worry about my boss, my team, whatever fires might be cropping up in my e-mail box. So I usually wake up feeling like a zombie.

I don’t know whether it was the exercise, the hot water, the salt or some combination of the three. But that night I slept like a baby. The next day was one of the most incredibly productive days I’ve had in a long time.

The next day I was totally ready to get back to CrossFit. The pain was forgotten. I was able to give the entire workout 100% effort. And trust me, I would not have predicted that when I was limping around the house.

I began repeating this routine of soaking after my workouts because I knew it would take care of the worst parts of them. I ordered more ManSalt when I ran out of the first bag. I tried different varieties (Mom got me the Original, but I really like the Boss). Most importantly, I kept going.

In just 8 classes I realized something was missing when I pulled off my shirt. What was missing? Back fat, that’s what! I was shocked, because I really hadn’t expected much out of the on-ramp. I’d just been learning the various techniques, after all. But apparently the techniques were really doing their work. I guess the fact that I hate “wasting” a workout by eating crap food helps too. I’ve found my eating habits slowly changing over time. My body craves different stuff now too. It’s like it pretty much knows what it’s going to need to power through all those burpees, squats, and kettlebell swings.

I’ve now been at it for about 8 weeks. I have made it through the entire WOD (or workout of the day) a few times now—before I could only do halves. I’ve felt my strength and endurance returning. My pants have gotten looser.

Sometimes the WOD really wipes me out, but it’s not a problem. I know that ManSalt’s going to take care of that for me so that I can get right back into the box. I’m confident that by the end of this year I’m going to look and feel totally different. I’m also confident that I would have given up already if I hadn’t remembered that bag of ManSalt sitting in the back of the cabinet.