I recently switched jobs, and since then I have taken the opportunity to finally focus on my own personal health and well-being. I started working with my trainer, Desiree, several months ago after I switched jobs. I began training with her 2x per week. In addition to personal training, Desiree guided me to complete my Active Metabolic Assessment and purchase a heart rate monitor to help me with my cardio training. As part of the 90-Day Challenge, I completed the D.TOX program. I thought the D.TOX program was going to be much more difficult than it truly was; quite honestly, I never really felt too hungry or missed anything that I used to have. Since completing that program, I have found it much easier to cut out the foods that I used to crave but got in the way of my goals (chocolate, bread and milk). I continue to go to the gym on a regular basis (approx. 4 times per week) which I never thought I could do. My work schedule has picked up some, and now I train with my trainer 1x per week. However, I continue to see progress on my own. The focus to me in the future is all about moderation with food and continued dedication to working out on a regular basis.
As a teenager I was very active as a distance runner and basketball player. It seemed like I had boundless time and energy for school work as well as competitive athletic activities. After finishing graduate school I continued to enjoy running, racketball, and tennis for many years. My first professional job was as a college professor at the University of Iowa, where I taught urban and regional planning. It was a busy and exciting life, but my salary barely covered my living expenses.
I left higher education and took a project management position at AT&T in the 1980s. The job was mostly sedentary and involved long hours at the computer, but I maintained a strong personal fitness program of running and other outdoor sports.
Then my wife and I had two sons and found that the pace of our lives accelerated significantly. Family and job responsibilities took their toll on my free time, especially on my personal fitness program. I no longer had the luxury of coming home and taking a leisurely hour for running and exercises before dinner. As the kids got older, they demanded a steady diet of fast food or a full-course meal whenever Mom was home to cook dinner.
When the AT&T job ended, I was involved in a number of consulting positions that required long hours and/or up to 100 nights a year in hotels, which further disrupted my dieting and eating plans. At that point I started putting on 1-2 pounds of weight per year and continued doing so for the next 20 years.
By 2009, I peaked at 245 pounds and was unable to find more than a couple days a week for regular exercise. My physician told me my cholesterol level was too high and suggested that I either go on medications or find a way to improve my physical fitness.
In the winter of 2010, I joined Life Time Fitness in the hope of getting into a more regular pattern of exercise. Many staff members have helped me along the way, including Kadri, Marie, Brian, and Liz. Kadri and Marie gave me advice about improving my eating habits and provided excellent information through the MyHealthScore assessment tool. They also introduced me to MyFitnessPal.com, which is an excellent resource to keep track of your daily caloric intake, as well as break down your diet in terms of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I was shocked to learn that I was consistently eating 300-500 calories a day more than my daily metabolic rate, which explained the weight gains I had been experiencing for several years.
Brian and Liz helped me considerably in developing exercise routines to improve my functional fitness, particularly in the core muscle groups. Through their patient coaching, I’m now able to do squats, lunges, and back hyperextensions—all of which were beyond my fitness level at the beginning of 2013.
At this time, I’ve lost 22 pounds from my peak weight in 2010 and am halfway to my goal of getting down to my “normal weight” of 190-200 pounds. I typically work out at LTF four times a week and do stretching exercises at home the other days. I’ve also started using the Garmin VivoFit fitness band to keep track of my walking. I started at 7,500 steps a day and am now consistently walking 10,000 or more steps each day. This has been one of many great “tips” that the Life Time staff have given me.
I have made 20-30 incremental adjustments to my diet and exercise programs based on suggestions from my Life Time coaches. Some of these are: increasing my protein intake by 100 grams per day; cutting at least 100 grams of carbs per day; starting each day with a hearty breakfast including oatmeal, whey protein, and fruit; exercising all the muscles in the "posterior chain" to improve my core strength and posture; and making daily health choices that will increase my lean muscle mass and/or reduce body fat.
My coaches and other friends tell me I’m looking a lot healthier and have better posture these days—and I tell them I’m only halfway to my ultimate goal. I look forward to every day at LTF and am now confident that I have the tools—and support—to continue improving my strength and flexibility without going on medications or diets that involve counting calories or going on crash diets. I’m confident that I will continue to lose a pound of weight every month—while gaining muscle mass—until I reach my "normal weight" goal.
Have you ever wondered if your life was worth living? Or how to live your life? I was. Last winter I was stuck. I was stuck on my couch. Literally. I had no energy to do anything. I was not living. I was only existing. I would go to work and come home and sit on my couch and watch TV. I had no energy to do anything else. I was too tired to see friends, go shopping, or do anything. I was almost 300 pounds, and I hated myself. I hated who I had become and the life I was living.
That all changed in Feburary of 2014. I knew Life Time had the 90-Day Challenge coming up, and I kinda sorta wanted to do it, but I didn’t know if I had the energy for it. I had started the Challenge 3 or 4 other times but never finished it. I had to do something because I couldn’t go on living this way. I had to either change something or die. I decided I wanted to live and change the way I was living. I felt ready. I was up for the challenge. And to help motivate me more Ashley, Susan and I started our own challenge. I needed that extra motivation and support to see who could take the most steps everyday. I was ready. I came to meet with Susan at the beginning of the Challenge to set goals and to figure out how to get started. I remember she looked at me as we were talking and asked me how motivated I was. That was the moment of truth. I told her 110 %. And that I was going to win this thing. And then she proceeded to tell everyone around us that I was going to win. That was it - there was no going back now. SO, we talked about changes I needed to make in my diet. And she told me about UCAN. I was willing to try anything at this point.
So I went home and cleaned out my fridge and cabinets and then went grocery shopping. I switched to an all organic clean diet. No processed food. I made myself a protein shake with UCAN and Dynamic Greens every morning, and every afternoon and I had no need to snack in between meals anymore. Of course, I still had to give the kids I took care of snacks. I put theirs in individual snack bags to avoid getting out the big container and being tempted to help myself to a handful. The first week I lost almost 14 pounds. That was it: I was hooked. I would come work out for an hour in the morning and an hour at night. I felt great, and I had so much more energy.
One night I showed up about the same time the TEAM Weight Loss was started. Susan encouraged me to join and try it out for the night. I am not a joiner or a people person. I really didn’t want to, but I decided to give it a try. I ended up joining TEAM. There were lots of days when it was really hard to go, but Susan told me to just show up and she would do the rest. Now I love TEAM Weight Loss and love my teammates. I ended up doing a 5K with one teammate this summer. It was a blast, and we often go walking together to support and encourage each other.
I lost 62 pounds during the 90-Day Challenge and I did win! My goal was to win at Berkeley Heights and finish in the top ten in the nation, and that is exactly what I did. But more importantly, I got my life back. I have energy. I have the desire to go out and live life to the fullest. I am happy again. That is not to say that I don’t have hard days because I still do, but they are so much easier to deal with now, and I know that tomorrow will be better.
I have now lost a total of 80 pounds and still have a ways to go, but I know that I will get there. I know because I have a team of great friends and supporters at Life Time. I know because I have knowledge about a clean diet and UCAN that helps me through my weak moments, I know because, lets face it, I’m the most stubborn and most competitive person you will ever meet! I WILL get there!
Six months ago, I recall a day when a woman came up to me while I was preparing for an early morning fitness class. She asked me to vote for her so she could win the “90-Day challenge.” I asked her what the challenge was all about, and she explained. When I asked her about signing up, she explained and said it was offered twice a year. I thought to myself that when the challenge was offered again, I would check into it. My other thought was why not try to lose these “unwanted pounds” “on my own.” I would have a couple months to prove I could do it on my own and not have to do the challenge.
Several months went by, and I saw the “90-Day Challenge” being offered again. Well, the extra weight had not come off through my own efforts. My body had stayed the same. I was retiring in 4 months. This was very exciting, but I wanted to have an active retirement. I wanted to be ready to travel and not let anything stop me from enjoying this next phase of my life. I decided to give The Challenge a try. I signed up for the first appointment. Get it done!
When I returned home that day, I shared what I had learned about the Challenge with my husband. I told him I signed up for the Transformation Challenge. Would he be interested in the Weight Loss Challenge? I had been concerned about his health for quite some time. He talked about losing weight as well. His doctor also recommended he lose some weight. He had tried other diets, but at the present time he wasn’t committed to any plan. Well, after a little more explaining, he took me up on it. I was very shocked. I said I would go with him to Life Time to get signed up. After a consultation, numerous questions and a weigh-in, we both had made the commitment. At the time, I didn’t realize what an adventure we would have in the months to come.
Before we left, Paul, a trainer, stopped by the desk. Tina introduced him to Wes. They set up an appointment for his first training session. I was so happy. I knew I would have a better chance at losing weight if we were both working toward the same goal. Yes, that’s how it all began.
Throughout the next 90 days I worked out daily. I met with a trainer, Brenda, twice a week and still took part in some general fitness classes. I learned what foods to avoid and how to add more protein to my diet. I was educated on which supplements to take to aid in my challenge of “toning up my body” and even speed up my metabolism. I had an active metabolic assessment done and a resting one. This helped me to determine my zones, so I could make my workouts as effective as possible. I bought a new heart rate monitor to track my calories, steps and calories burned. My husband bought one as well. I met with my trainer twice a week for workouts, specially designed to meet my goals, weigh-in and ask questions about food choices and exercise. I tracked my food intake to focus on what kinds of food I was consuming, as well as the calories. I gave it my all.
My husband was consistent with his efforts as well. Our lives outside the gym now centered on grocery shopping, cooking healthy meals, trying new recipes and finding restaurants that offered healthy food choices. It was wonderful. We attended several “Try-it Tuesdays” together, which included the grocery store tour and the one offered by the nutritionist on food choices. Weekly weigh-ins motivated us to continually watch our calorie intake. Even though our workouts and our goals varied greatly, neither one of us wavered from our ultimate goal - getting a healthier body. We are both very proud of our current results, but also motivated to keep going forward. We want to lose more weight and continue to tone up our bodies. It has been quite an experience! Thank you for all the support, Life Time staff!
I’m 38-years-old, but now people assume I’m 10 years younger! I’ve been involved in the sport of swimming for over 30 years. First, as an age group swimmer, subsequently as a swim parent, and currently, as an active certified USA Swimming official and recreational master swimmer. My daughters, Paulina (17), Fernanda (12) and Isabella (7) are all competitive swimmers and dabble in other sports like soccer, lacrosse and gymnastics. They keep me busy! I also consider myself a yoga practitioner, a gym rat enthusiast, and lately, a little bit of a runner.
Growing up, I really didn’t have any weight issues until I became a mom. With every pregnancy, I gained more weight, and it kept getting harder to lose it after the babies were born.
In 2008, my husband, Alfredo, got a job transfe,r and we moved to the USA. I’ve since taken a hiatus to stay home and manage our active family. Moving to a different country - I’m originally from Mexico - has its advantages and disadvantages.
The drastic change in eating habits became a problem for me. The convenience of fast-food restaurants and processed foods became the norm within my busy schedule. Between taking care of the household, running errands, carpooling to different schools, swim, soccer, dance, gymnastics or lacrosse practices, meets or games, I neglected the way I used to eat before. Therefore, my kids ended up eating CRAP on the go too (C- carbonated drinks, R- refined sugars, A- artificial preservatives, colorants, flavors, P- processed food)instead of home cooked healthy meals.
As the years passed, I kept ignoring that my clothes were getting bigger, my migraines and mood swings were becoming worse, and my health was going down the drain! I had no energy, and I became a couch potato. I also had to be put under different medications to control my migraines and to be able to sleep.
In March of 2013, I hit rock bottom. I’m 5’5", and I was 183 pounds, a size 14 (tight), depressed, suffering from chronic migraines, insomnia, GI problems, and nasty mood swings. I was officiating the 2013 Michigan Swimming 12 & Under State Championship. For the first time in years, I was in front of a camera - not hiding behind my CANON 70-200mm lens like I used to. It had been years since I allowed anybody to take a full body photo of me. This time, I had no say in it. Lots of people were pressing their shutters all around the pool - one of them was my husband. After the long three-day meet when we got home, Alfredo downloaded the pictures, and when I saw them that’s when it HIT me! WHO IS THAT?! IS THAT ME?! How did I allow this to happen to me? I looked and felt awful! I’ve been denying for so long what I already knew. I had to do something about it, and I had to do it immediately!
I had been a member of the Rochester Hills, MI Lifetime Fitness, since 2011, but I hadn’t set foot in the facilities for over two years. In November of 2011, I had torn the meniscus on my left knee. I had to undergo surgery in order to repair it. I spent 6 months on physical therapy. After more than a year and a half beyond the surgery, I still felt that my knee was way too weak.
My friend, Elaine McCorry, has been a LTF member for years. She was the one that helped me get out of my rut. She told me that even if she had to drag me by the hair – and she would’ve - I had to go to the gym with her. She challenged me to stick with it for 12 days. She would call me on the phone and kept tabs on me. Then, she told me that after surviving the 12 days, I had to survive 12 full weeks. Only after that she would leave me on my own. She was right! So, on my birthday, March 28th 2013, I began my transformation journey.
The first place at Life Time where I found myself was the pool. Swimming was my first choice not only because it was the gentlest way to start working on my messed up body, but because I felt most at home, comfortable and safe surrounded by the lane lines, black lines and blue walls, and most of all the water. I had to wear a neoprene elastic knee brace for months until I was able to kick with ease and without pain. Swimming was the only activity where I didn’t feel out of place or clueless whatsoever. At the beginning, I was so self-conscious about the way my body looked that I would only wear my daughter’s old, worn out knee skins - swim lingo for long racing suits. After a couple of months of swimming by myself, I joined the masters' group, coached by Caitlyn Best, and started practicing with a group of ladies once a week. Also, I started wearing regular swimsuits. After almost half a year, the practices became twice a week, and I gained another coach, Patrick, at first and, currently, Jordan.
The second place that helped me improve my all around fitness was the Yoga Studio. When I first started practicing yoga, I wasn’t able to kneel without wearing volleyball knee pads. I couldn’t reach my toes with ease, do a pigeon pose or even consider a tripod headstand! Porsche, Thaira, Rajini and the other yoga instructors were always super supportive. They showed me modifications for the poses I wasn’t able to do and were always encouraging me in a very uplifting way to try to push my body to its limits. I adopted Porsche’s saying “How you do anything, is how you do everything!” Breath by breath, day by day, I kept getting stronger, more flexible, and my character started changing too! I became more relaxed, patient, less reactive. I was happier! I try to practice yoga at least three times a week. If I can squeeze in more days, the better!
After the initial 12 weeks of my transformation journey, I purchased a heart rate monitor and got an Active and Resting Metabolic Assessment. Once I had my numbers, I knew where I needed to push my heart rate in order to maximize fat loss and improve my VO2 Max. I started reading lots of books about fitness and nutrition. One of them detailed a list of symptoms that were significantly similar to what I had been dealing with for years. I decided to give up dairy cold turkey and be as gluten-free as possible. After a couple months of been dairy and semi-GF, I hadn’t had a migraine, my depressed mood improved substantially, my bad temper went MIA, and I lost about 20 pounds! As I got in better shape, I moved upstairs from the pool and Yoga Studio, and expanded my workouts to the Cycling Studio, the group classes and, eventually, the gym area. I had created new healthy habits that kept transforming me inside and out.
But fast forward to February 2014. After about 9 months of attending LTF diligently almost every day, incorporating the Fast Fuel and Veggie Max supplements to my diet, and being dairy free and semi-GF free, I had lost around 50 pounds and 6 dress sizes. I hit a plateau after the winter holidays, and on the last day of registration for the 2014 Spring 90-Day Challenge, I gingerly approached the PT desk to ask for more information. I met Ryan Graydon, Shehzad Sheik (Shaz), Brian McKinney and Joe Dabrowski. I ended up signing up for the Transformation Challenge, making a big financial commitment - I used all the money that I had saved from officiating swim meets the previous season - in order to afford TEAM Boot Camp, Pilates sessions, an Active and Metabolic Assessment, three sessions of Metabolic Coaching, a Food Allergy profile, a My Health Score test, a Detox Bundle, and lots of supplements.
On registration day, I weighed 129 pounds with 22.7% body fat. Ryan and Shaz asked me what my goal was. My answer was that I wanted to learn and try different things, become stronger and work on my core and legs. Whatever improvements in my body composition and weight would be welcomed. Plus the 10,000 dollars, and other prizes, were a huge incentive! I think I was ready, physically and mentally prepared, to try the 90-Day Challenge for the first time. I wanted to push my body and test my limits. I wanted to feel empowered and strong. I wanted to be fearless.
In order to start the 90-Day Challenge, I worked a schedule around my swim practices. The morning masters' group meets Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:30 a.m. Because of the Try-It Tuesdays events, I had to modify my swim practice time. After I was done with the scheduled Try-It Tuesday events, I would go to the pool. My swim teammates would be in the middle of practice, and I would take a photo with my phone of the written workout on the white board. I would talk to Patrick or Jordan about the sets and intervals. I would go change into my swimsuit and after everybody was done, I would jump in the pool and do the workout by myself. It wasn’t the same, but I made a promise to myself not to slack on the pool work.
Mondays and Wednesdays I had Team Boot camp at 9:00 a.m. with Brian McKinney. Since day one, I was hooked! We never had the same workout. He always pushed me to do my best and always with a smile on his face. Brian encouraged me to conquer my fear of running. I was so hesitant to try it, but I started to get the hang of it. There was no session when I didn’t laugh, sweat like a pig, and finish exhausted. Plus, I met a group of amazing, competitive and inspiring people! On some Fridays I would attend the 6:00 a.m. Team Boot camp session with Joe Dabrowski so I wouldn’t miss my swim practice with Caitlyn at 9:30 a.m. Some of those Fridays it was tough to wake up at 5:00 a.m. If by any chance my husband was out of town, and I had to take my girls to school, I would have to miss either swim or boot camp. It happened more than a couple times.
On Thursdays, I had Pilates with Matt King. I’m still working on getting the hang of the sequences and transitions, but Matt was able to move me to a higher level class almost right away. Pilates helped me be aware of my posture and core at all times.
Once I figured the core of my 90 Day-Challenge workout schedule, I complemented it by continuing to attend some of the group classes like Total Fitness, Ripped to the Core, Insanity, BarreFusion, Cycling, and of course, YOGA - Hot Vinyasa, Slow Burn, Yin Restorative or Ashtanga Vinyasa - whatever class I could fit. I also did the metabolic workouts on the treadmill that Shaz designed for me.
On weeks 1 and 2, I learned about healthy and clean eating and the Detox program with the help of Kelly Wilson. I incorporated the following supplements into my diet: Multivitamin AM/PM, Omega-3 fish oil, Cal/Mag 1001, Vitamin D, Multi-Probiotic 4000, Dynamic Greens and U-Can. I continued the Veggie Max protein powder and switched to the Dairy Free Fast Fuel. I read the Eat Well, Live Well guide and attended the grocery store tour twice.
On week three, I got some very amusing news. My Health Score test result was a 100, and my metabolic age was 19-years-old - even though my chronological age was 37!
At the end of week five, I participated in my first Indoor TRI. The event taught me some valuable lessons. It didn’t go as I had planned - just like life itself. I had to deal with a leg cramp that started almost at the beginning of the swim portion of the race - seriously, why did it had to be on the swim part?! The cramp never went away throughout the cycling portion and, to top it off, I had to deal with an untied shoe lace in the middle of the running portion that made me hop and limp. It was almost impossible for me to move because of the leg cramp. I got through it, thanks to my yoga instructor Porsche, my swim buddy Jessica, my boot camp buddies, Julie, Alicia and Kathy, who participated in the TRI too, and to Brian McKinney. I appreciated all of their encouragement. It helped me finish with my best effort.
As soon as the Indoor TRI was done, I started to prepare for the Detox on week eight. I was introduced to the dry sauna. I’m a fan now! Kelly gave me a bunch of easy, nutritious and tasty recipes to incorporate to my diet. I also started eating the Detox to-go meals a couple times a week at the Life Time Café. It was super convenient, they were delicious, and I didn’t have to worry about portions or nutrient combinations. During the Detox, I switched my TEAM Boot Camp workouts for TEAM Fitness. Anna still kept me challenged, but the intensity was diminished.
Once the Detox was done, I went back to my regular workout schedule with a newfound energy and vitality. As the weeks passed, I was getting more excited about the Challenge. My endurance, speed, flexibility and strength were getting better!
Everything was going great until week eleven. My family was never quite on board with me participating in the 90-Day challenge. They kept saying that it was a long shot for me to be able to win and that I wasted money on my investment. They kept complaining about the food choices that I was making for the household and the time that I invested at the gym. It was very difficult to find the time to go to the gym on the weekends and to refrain myself from eating all the junk and processed food that they bought occasionally. My husband would also bake cakes, cookies and bring treats for my daughters. All of those treats were very tempting, and I almost felt like they were a cruel joke, but I know in my heart that it wasn’t their intention to torment me. I caved in once or twice, but I found the support system I needed at Life Time.
The personal trainers, coaches, instructors, my boot camp buddies, swim teammates, and people in general who had witnessed my transformation gave me the encouragement to keep reaching deep for willpower. They allowed me to believe that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to. Week twelve was testament to that. I stepped on the InBody Machine, and the numbers on the screen shocked me. I was down to 16.1% body fat and 122.6 pounds! I was only 0.02 away from my goal of reaching 15.9% of body fat.
I knew that by the weigh-out weekend, I was going to be on my period. In previous weeks, I noticed that during that time of the month my numbers went up - both body fat and weight. So, I was preparing for the worst.
We finished the Try-It Tuesdays with an outdoor 5k on week thirteen. Let me remind you that I had never in my life ran outside on a trail. I was just getting used to hopping on a treadmill, and now I had to figure out how to pace myself without looking at the speed on the treadmill screen. I thought about following Julie and Denise, my boot camp friends. Yet, for some strange reason once I started running, I found my sweet spot. I kept going, and soon enough, I was leading the pack. I had no idea where we were going. I followed the signs but messed up the route twice. Julie and Denise had to yell at me in order to go back on track. I passed everybody on my way back, I thought all of them were right behind me, but I was surprised to find out when I crossed the finish line first that nobody was close to me. I will never forget THAT moment! I was kind of in denial. My time was 28 minutes and 50 seconds. I know that I could’ve done better if I had known what I was doing and where was I going, but being clueless didn’t help me at all. That day I found out I was a runner in progress!
Today, as Brian McKinney asked me to step on the InBody Machine for the final weigh-in, I was literally shaking. I didn’t want to look down at the screen! When the numbers finally appeared, I felt tears filling my eyes. I was up to 18.0% of body fat and 124.3 pounds! I immediately felt like a failure! What did I do wrong in a little over a week to mess up my progress?! Brian was so kind to me. He gave me a hug and reminded me that unfortunately for females, getting that time of the month at the worst time possible, can mess up the body composition numbers. He reminded me to focus on what I had accomplished so far and look back at my progress photos. Once again, he was right on point. Thanks for the encouragement!
Whatever the outcome of this 2014 spring 90-Day Transformation Challenge, I’m already a winner. I’m proud of myself! I won a newfound confidence and improved my overall health and body. I met some new, amazing friends who share the same goals and ideals that I have and learned that my journey is not over! I will continue this healthy path for the rest of my life. I will try different things, push my body to new limits and keep on learning!