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Success Stories

Success Stories

Sunday
Jul202014

Kim T. – Deerfield Township, OH

I was obese.  There I said it!!  Obese - what an ugly sounding word! It’s still so painful to write or say that word.  At the beginning of this 90-Day Challenge (just 3 short months ago), that is where my body fat percentage listed me. I had already lost over 40 pounds in the 6 months prior to that. How could I possibly still be considered obese? Obesity increases my risk of heart disease, for which I was already at risk. My mother had her first heart attack at 57 years old. She passed away at age 60. Her mother also had a heart attack in her 50s. I am 45 years old and raising an 8-year-old daughter. If my fate were to be the same as the two women in my generation who preceded me, I wouldn’t be around to even see her graduate from college.

I wasn’t always overweight. In my twenties, I was a member of the greatest Air Force on the face of the Earth. I gave birth to two of my greatest blessings while I was in the service. I don’t remember even having to work on losing weight after their births because military life pretty much dictates that you will be healthy and fit.  I got out of the service in 1997 and found that the civilian life and workforce don’t focus very much on fitness. My life was consumed by sports activities for the boys and excessive work hours. I was focusing on those around me and forgetting to take the time for my health and wellness. The weight just kept creeping up and topped in 2006 with my last pregnancy. When I was young and fit with my boys (who are now men), I would roller blade and go for miles with them. I would play tag at the park and would have to let them win every once in a while (really boys, I did!). Now, with my daughter, I found I was sitting on the sidelines and watching her play. I longed to be “in the game” with her, but I had no energy to keep up (or even try). My lifestyle choices were affecting the mother that I really wanted to be.  I remember so many times telling her “Daddy is the fun one” when she wanted me to run or play outside.

My weight loss journey really started in 2013. I was sitting at 185 pounds and had really just given up on trying to lose weight. I was eating horribly – hiding in my car devouring fast food before I arrived at home. Then when I would get home, I would still eat dinner with the family. I would drive to the gym and sit in my car and not actually step inside the gym. I guess I wanted to “appear” to others like I was trying, but no matter how much I fooled them, I couldn’t fool myself. Then, it happened. I saw a picture that my daughter took of me. I couldn’t believe that was me in that picture. I may look at myself in the mirror every day, but somehow I hadn’t noticed the gravity of my situation until I was staring at this picture and didn’t recognize this person looking back at me. It was time....

About that time, I got an email from Lifetime that I could try a group training class for two weeks for free.  I wanted to try the Team Weight Loss, but the schedule just didn’t work with my crazy work schedule. The trainer suggested I try Team Boot Camp instead. I remember the first day I arrived. I was so nervous because I didn’t have very fond memories of the real Boot Camp from 20 years prior. The first day, I finished and I raced to the bathroom and was literally sick (sorry to anyone who walked in on that). That would normally have probably been a good time to quit, but it was free and, boy, do I love a deal.  I planned to give it two weeks and then start working out on my own. I went the second day, and I only felt like I was going to be sick. The third day I didn’t feel sick until I arrived at home. That’s progress, right? I continued Boot Camp for that whole two weeks. Within those two weeks, I already was noticing a difference in my attitude. When my two weeks was over, I signed up to stay with I,t and I still continue to be challenged by my trainer, Michelle August, every time I show up. Within 6 months of doing Boot Camp three times a week, I had shed over 40 pounds. 

In January 2014, Michelle encouraged me to sign up for the Transformation Challenge. I already lost so much weight, how in the world could I compete? I told her I would think about it and, truth be told, I didn’t give it another thought.  The timeframe of the competition was also the busiest time in my work life. Between January and April, my work week requires 50 plus hours.   Michelle asked me again and again over the next two weeks. She really believed that I could not only get in better shape but do it competitively, too. I talked it over with my family and friends.  They all thought I already looked pretty good. Seriously though,  now that I look at my before picture I have to wonder…were they lying to me or did they think I looked pretty good just in comparison to the 40 pounds extra I use to carry? Michelle volunteered that if I were to do it, she would write up workouts for my days away from Boot Camp. How could I say no to that? After all, I do love a good deal.

On Day 1, I weighed in and for the first time in my entire life, I was looking at body fat percentage instead of just weight. Michelle advised me to start taking vitamins and supplements.   I am not a pill taker, and I will cry about a headache before I will pop aspirin. But one thing I decided before I started these 90 days is to listen to Michelle and take her advice. I am obviously not an expert when it comes to living a healthy life, and it was important for me to seek out those who were. I started taking Life Time’s AM and PM vitamins, calcium, whey protein and FiberMend daily. I was already eating a high protein and low carb diet, but Michelle showed me that I was actually eating too little in my calorie count and not consuming enough protein. In addition to that, I needed to supplement the nutrients that my food plan wasn’t providing. My energy level skyrocketed almost immediately. I started really tracking my nutrition and not just calories but also protein amounts.

The first two weeks I had awesome results, and I really felt like I could do this. But I quickly found that it can be somewhat of a roller coaster watching those results so closely. Week 3 I almost had a meltdown because “that stupid scale” said my body fat went up. How is that possible? I’m here every day, taking my vitamins, eating correctly, and working really hard.   There were a few of those tough days in the last 90 days, but there were also those days where instead of beating that scale, I wanted to hug it. There were days when I had to stop the tears because I felt defeated and days when I had to stop the tears because I had made another breakthrough. Ten percent body fat lost, twenty percent body fat lost, thirty percent body fat lost, etc.  The important part is I did not give up. On days I wanted to sleep in, on days when “I just didn’t feel like it,” on days when the scale was not my friend, I showed up ready to work hard.

I remember looking in the mirror during week 4 and seeing definition in my abs. Well, first I was kind of surprised I had abs but then…. definition? There is no motivation quite like seeing the results looking back at you in the mirror. I went down 5 pant sizes during this 90-Day Challenge.  I had “dieted” in the past but this was not dieting: this was training. I was training my body, and I was training my mind. 

I took advantage of so many different activities at the gym.  In addition to my Boot Camp classes, I was doing weight training, climbing stairs, taking fitness classes, and doing Pilates Reformer. It was difficult even with as much time as I spent at the gym to get bored with my routine because every day it was something totally different. 

The entire staff at Life Time has been amazing. The greeters at the door who greeted me by name whether it was 5 a.m. or 7 p.m. made me feel like I was family. The childcare workers provided the most nurturing and professional care to my daughter on the occasions that I had to drag her along. The trainers on the floor spoke words of affirmation and encouragement and were always open to any questions I asked and gave out helpful tips. 

The support I received was stellar!! First and foremost, GOD continued to answer my prayers keeping me healthy and getting my feet on the floor at zero dark thirty. My husband was just plain amazing. He must have cooked hundreds of tilapia fillets over the last three months. Most importantly, he picked up the slack at home and gave me time to find myself again!

There are no words to thank Michelle for creating my workouts. I hated you for those and loved you for those at the same time. You believed in me before I believed in myself. You haven’t just helped me change my body; you have helped me achieve the life I only dreamed about. 

As I write this, I have decreased my body fat out of the obese range and into the ATHLETE range. I am an ATHLETE. Wow, I like the sound of that. I AM AN ATHLETE!!  I am not obese, I will never again be obese, and I will never, ever be in those sizes again. 

Thank you, Life Time Fitness, for motivating me to challenge myself over the last 90 days and finding My Healthy Way of Life again!!! I refuse to sit on the sidelines and watch life pass me by anymore. I play baseball with the neighbor kids, I bike ride, I roller skate, I race my daughter home from the bus (and every now and then I even LET her win!). 

Thank you for getting me back into the game!

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Sunday
Jul132014

Kate B. – Eagan, MN

My 90-Day story isn't just a story of a physical health. It's a story of mental healing, physical healing and hope - hope that, in any circumstance, any stage of life, change is possible. Everyone has a story, a hurt, a battle, whether physical or mental, to overcome. Here is my story.

As I sat on my couch in January scrolling through pictures and stories of previous 90-Day winners, I wondered what this journey could be for me? How could I pull it off? After all our family had gone through in the last year, should I really commit to this? Would my kids behave in child care? Would they feel safe? Would my husband be supportive? What if he had more rough patches with his health? Money has been a struggle the past few years, so would this be wise? There were so many things to think about. I spent the next several days praying and talking with my husband. We both felt peace on moving forward, and I am an all or nothing personality, so after researching a little more about the Challenge and competition side of it, I decided I wanted to be all in. What better way to start the year of health and healing?
I have been thin most of my life. However, after getting married and the life challenges we faced, my once non-existent battle with weight became an endless ride on the weight roller coaster. My husband and I have had a long journey of serious life stresses and, as most people do in times of stress, I either turned away from food or to food. My weight over the past seven years has been very high and very low. When it was high I would talk myself into some fad diet or crazy workout routine. As is often the case with fads, my weight would end on a high and soon with life stresses would again swing back to overweight.
This past year has been one of the worst in our lives. It was a very long journey and many terrible events that lead to finding out my husband has bipolar disorder. One thing that was imperative, and what I believe saved my husband’s life was working out during that time. Every counselor or psychiatrist he has been to emphasizes how important it is for him to get physical exercise. We knew money would be tight with all the medical bills, and Life Time Fitness graciously paid for our membership throughout the entire summer. It has been and continues to be a very painful and life changing journey. Mental health illnesses are very real, serious, and often misunderstood. After receiving that diagnosis, we deemed this year as a year of health and healing for our family.  
Through a friend, I found out about the legendary Bob Holper, (Pro Body Builder, ISSN Nutrition Specialist, NASM certified personal trainer) and his expertise and decided I wanted to work with him for my 90-Day Challenge. Little did I know that this journey would be so much more than physical.
The first meeting with Bob was to go over my 90-Day plan. Specifically, we discussed workouts, nutrition and Life Time supplements. I realized then that Bob was knowledgeable on so much more than just workouts. I also knew from his gentle spirit and sincere care for what's going on deeper than just the physical that I could trust him with every aspect of this journey. He educated me on the supplements that would help me have the greatest success and most healthy lifestyle. Over the course of the 90-Day Challenge I would take a handful of Life Time supplements: Vegan max protein, dynamic greens, glutamine, creatine, lean source, L-Carnitine, Relora, vitamin C, vitamin D, women's multivitamin, multiprobiotic, Cal/Mag, fish oil, and some natural herbal supplements that helped with the stresses of personal life as they rose and fell during this journey. I would also start nutrition by learning how to eat cleanly.
At the start of my 90-Day journey, I spent time learning good nutrition values and how they affected my body. Bob had me create my own menus every week, and he looked over them. He would laugh at how precise I was. I wanted to know that at the end of this journey, there wasn't one thing I could have done differently. My workout plan consisted of six days a week doing cardio, and lifting with Bob 3-5 times a week. I also would use the sauna daily. Even on my rest days I would come in to use the sauna, relax in the hot tub, or get a massage. I just loved being at Life Time. When he told me to do something I did it, no questions or doubt in my mind. He made sure I understood what I was doing and why I was doing it, and I did it just the way he said and then some! I would spend a day each week planning and preparing my meals, putting them each in individual containers. I also put my daily vitamins in baggies for each day so I could grab and go with my busy mommy lifestyle. I was completely committed to the 90-Day Challenge and still committed to balance for my family. And it was, and is, possible!
Bob’s making me plan out my meals and figure out my nutrition numbers was so wise and one of the best gifts he has given me in this 90-Day journey. He wanted me to learn and to understand what and why we were doing this, not to just follow a printed out pre-done menu. He wanted me to have a permanently changed lifestyle, not just a 90-Day changed lifestyle. We continued to discuss these things throughout the 90 days.
I couldn't honestly talk about my journey without giving the Life Time staff a lot of credit. They make the journey possible. At the front desk as we walk in, Debra, has been such a blessing and encouragement to my kids and me. We are there early each morning, and she always greets us with a smile. She is sure to give the kids hugs or high fives when we enter and when we leave. It is a highlight for them! When we walk past the cafe, we get waves and hellos from Mary and Jane. I think my kids feel like superstars when we enter. I can’t begin to say enough about the child care! These workers may only see my kids for two hours a day, but they still have a huge impact on their lives. They are always so kind and have so much love and smiles to give to my boys. It’s so reassuring to leave them some place I know they are safe and loved. For a tired mom and wife who has a lot on her plate, the two hours I get to be healthy are so much easier when I know the kids are happy and safe. For these two little boys, who have experienced more emotional trauma in their life than any kids should, I can't begin to put into words how therapeutic it is for them to have a loving, consistent environment that they can come to.
My journey would not have been the same without Bob. He has been invaluable throughout this challenge. He not only cares about the physical component of his clients but also the mental. He knows that they go hand in hand, and I can see he truly cares for the people he trains. He is such a motivator and encourages me to always do my best and reminds me that is all I can do. He has shown me a new vision for my life physically, and has encouraged me to push myself further than I ever thought I could. He cares about how my kids are and even stopped down one morning before our workout to meet them. They call him Bob the (muscle) Builder! My kids have seen me change and watch what I do and eat. It makes me emotional at times when they show me their muscles or when they first asked to start eating the food I'm eating. I will never forget the afternoon that I went to give my oldest a not so healthy snack and he said, "No mommy, I want a healthy snack." This journey is truly transforming our family! No one necessarily knows our story and that is nice in its own way. They just care because they do.
I was afraid that this process would be nothing but grueling, yet once I started week four was here before I knew it. I couldn’t believe how fast my body was changing! And I don’t think Bob could either. As we were lifting arms one day, he said to me he doesn’t know another girl who can lift 50 pounds of weight on shoulder press other than his girlfriend. This was all new to me, so I just thought I was doing what everyone does. It was truly a compliment to receive from Bob. Week five was a challenging week as I would end the week of hard training, starting two-a-day workouts. I was nervous about it at first, but then once I started I was actually sad to stop. I loved the intensity and drive to push myself a little more. One day when I was checking in I mentioned it was my second workout of the day, the front desk clerk told me I was the third person in an hour to tell her that. Then I knew the competition was heating up. It just made me push myself even harder and take it that much more seriously. I loved the drive and fire it lit in me. That week I lost 3% body fat!
Week seven came with many nerves for me. Bob was gone on vacation, and I was so worried about how I would do. As I walked into the gym to lift weights, alone for the first time, it felt like everyone knew I had no clue what I was doing. Although no one really was paying any attention to me, it sure felt like it. But I made it through that week and had one of my best weigh-in results. I lost a total body fat of 3.5%. Week eight was a big week for me, too. I lost another 3.5% body fat and my husband was starting to notice changes daily. I was loving my meals and enjoying the process. It was so nice to see and know I could really maintain this lifestyle. Bob told me he thought I might be able to get into the teens of weight loss percentage and lose another three inches. I was feeling great and couldn’t believe he thought I could do that. When we started the 90-Day, I weighed 168 pounds and had a body fat percentage of 41.1. I asked Bob what body fat percentage he thought I could realistically get down to. He said he thought getting down to 25% body fat would be really good. Now, still weeks from the finish, I was already there!
As I headed toward the home stretch of the 90-Day, I was getting compliments from people daily. I had some awesome moments of realizing my changes were becoming more obvious. One morning I was walking into the locker room and one of the other members said to me, “You have such a nice body. I wish my body looked like that!” I honestly had to look around; I had no idea she was talking to me. During week eight one of the trainers came up to me and said, “I just want to tell you that you look amazing. I seriously had to look twice because I didn’t know who you were!” I almost cried. I couldn’t believe it! It’s amazing how fast the body can and will change if you truly work hard at it and understand it.
In the last three weeks of my 90-Day journey my husband started having health issues again. I remember sitting in a bathroom stall crying. I didn’t want to go up the stairs and see Bob and cry. So I was trying to get myself together. When I got up to Bob for my weigh-in, I broke down. I was so sad that this was happening again. Bob was very understanding and talked to me about what was going on throughout our workout. I left that day realizing I didn’t just have a coach in Bob, but a friend. He truly cared and understood that even in the midst of this, my life was still happening.
From a competition standpoint, the final three weeks would be the hardest. Two weeks from the finish, I received a call from my husband saying he couldn't see well. He was in and out of it, even in his speech, and I needed to take him to the emergency room. He was admitted for an MRI on his brain. I sat alone in the waiting room wondering what the day might amount to. Although concerned, that day was a turning point for me as I realized that this journey has made me stronger: spiritually, physically, AND mentally. What once would have crushed me, I was now able to be concerned about but under control and hopeful. I used to think that it was impossible for me to be a healthy, fit mom and wife. Taking care of me seemed selfish and difficult. But what I've come to know is that taking two hours a day for myself to be healthy, inside and out, is a gift not just to me but to my family as well. I am better for them because I'm healthier. What I believe is you can't get mentally healthy without getting physically healthy, and when you start to become physically healthy you will always start to become more healthy mentally. Most people who are physically unhealthy, either over or under weight, tend to be because of trauma, pain or stress in life. So, when you begin to heal and get better physically you can't help but have it affect you mentally.
What I've come to understand firsthand is that Life Time gets “it.” They understand that a healthy way of life isn't just eating the healthy food in the cafe that my kids so enjoy, seeing the chiropractor, getting a therapeutic massage, having a trained person stretch my muscles, doing cardio, or lifting weights. They understand it's more than the friendships you make with the members and the classes you take. They know it's not just a personal training or sweating it out in the sauna or hot tub. They understand it's not just about cardio and calorie point tests, or talking about your allergy test results with the dietitian. They understand our children and our lives are precious. They understand that everyone comes in with a different challenge, a different stage, and season of life. And they meet you where you are at, they encourage and challenge you, but never force you. They understand helping someone achieve physical greatness means helping them in all areas. They understand it is a TEAM effort and just as one part of the body affects the other, each part of their team affects the other. I believe they can firmly say to their Eagan team, job well done!!
As I walked up the stairs for the final 90-Day workout today I was excited, sad and nervous. I'm excited to set new goals with Bob and hope to compete in a body building show in the fall. I now know and believe that I have the ability to persevere, that even if my circumstances don't change, I am changed in a healthy way. I now believe I can be the healthy mom and wife my family needs me to be. I truly believe that God can use anything to get us healthy and bring us to the place we need to be. And I believe that, for me and this season in my life, He is using Life Time almost like a small angel to help me and my family get healthy in all areas.
This 90-Day Challenge has changed my life and my family’s life. It has brought healing to emotional brokenness as well as life, security and trust back into my children's hearts where they were once fearful of new people. It has given us a healthy lifestyle that we don't just need and have to do but desire to do. People ask me if I’m ready for these upcoming weeks. And although I am a bit nervous I know in my own way, I've already won. Every time my kids ask me for a healthy snack, I've won. Every time my husband asks me to make him one of my lunches, I've won. Every time my kids ask to go to the gym or show me their muscles, I've won. And every time we hit a bump with my husband’s health and I can be supportive and ease through it for my family, we've won! But the day my husband told me he was all in to do the 90-Day with Bob in the fall and wants to win, I knew then that I’d already won!!! So, regardless of the final outcome, I know for a hundred reasons I've already won and our healthy family has just begun!
Although I'm sad to be at the end of my 90-Day journey, I know this is just the beginning of my Life Time journey. I often think about Life Time's slogans: "You can do it all in your lifetime" or "The healthy way of life” company. I used to ponder what that meant and if I believed it was true. I can now say, without a doubt, that these are definitely true. I believe with the passion and drive Bob has helped instill in me that I CAN and will do it all in my lifetime. And I believe with the care and concern of the staff there that, far beyond the physical, Life Time IS a healthy way of life company!
Final Statistics:
Start of 90-Day weigh-in:168 pounds / 41.1% body fat
Final weigh-in:133.2 pounds / 16.2% body fat
Lost 54.3% of body fat

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Sunday
Jul062014

Melissa M. – Overland Park, KS

 

BODY. TRANSFORMATION. CHALLENGE. As I half-heartedly scrolled through my inbox, those three words jumped at me from the screen. I love to challenge myself. I always have. I love the drive and motivation behind some healthy competition. I opened the email from Life Time and glanced over some of the details of the Challenge, all the while thinking, "I am ready to take myself to the next level of fitness, and this Challenge will get me there."

I struggled with weight for my entire adult life, and though I was able to get down to a healthy weight several months after my almost three-year-old son was born, maintaining that weight was starting to become very difficult. Those unhealthy habits from most of my life started creeping their way back into my life. That’s when I joined Life Time Fitness. I needed to be around other people who were motivated and passionate about healthy living. I needed to peer out the corner of my eye and see someone else pushing and driving to do a few more reps or last just a little bit longer in those mountain climbers. And then I received the e-mail about Life Time’s 90-Day Challenge just a few weeks after I joined, and I knew that I was up for the challenge. I went to the personal training desk the very next day and talked to Terrance Saunders about the Challenge. I met with him on a weekly basis for weigh-ins and training. Terrance helped guide my nutrition to be sure I was getting enough calories from the proper sources (lean protein, lots of fish, some fruit, tons of veggies and good, healthy fats), along with muscle building and fat burning supplements to fuel the types of training I would be doing: circuit training, cardio and heavy strength training.

 

BLOOD. SWEAT. TEARS. I had them all. I got off to a rocky start at the beginning of the challenge by slicing off part of my index finger with my 9-inch chef’s knife; then two weeks later, I sliced into the same finger with the same knife and required stitches. (I then “grounded” myself from using the knife until my finger was completely healed.) This injury inhibited my ability to tightly grasp any weight, but Terrance worked around the injury, and I was still able to train with some very intense workouts. I started with a 3-4 days/week commitment to training at Life Time and then increased to 6-7 days/week after 3 weeks. I became friends with my Zumba instructor, who shares a similar story in weight loss. My children ask me every day if we’re going to the gym because it has become such a regular “fixture” in our schedule for the day and they love getting their exercise in the child care area. For motivation, I enlisted the support of lots of friends and family and started a group in Facebook to share my stories, my struggles, my victories and everything in between. This group (which includes Terrance and my Zumba instructor) provided endless encouragement and inspiration. I would print off their quotes, and they are taped all over my home so I can see them every day!

‏Around week 4, I hit a complete breakdown. It was only 4 weeks in, and I felt so overwhelmed by all the cooking, eating and cleaning I had to do in the kitchen because I eat 7 times a day! At that point, I was still preparing separate meals for myself than what I made for my husband and 2 sons. I was convinced that I could not carry on for another 8 weeks and then for a whole lifetime after that! I reached out to Terrance, and he provided some excellent tips on batch cooking to lighten the daily load. He also gave me recipes for some meals I could easily take with me on the go, which was extraordinarily helpful because I am usually “on the go.”  I started preparing the same meals for my family as I prepared for myself, and they loved all the healthy food I was eating! In addition, I started letting people at Life Time know that I was involved in the Challenge, so I had cheerleaders everywhere I turned - my friends who exercise with me, the childcare staff, the people at the front desk and even other trainers!  I felt like I had so many people believing in me that I was back to believing in myself!

‏In week 8, we took a 2-week family vacation to Florida. That was definitely the most challenging period during the 90 days. We rented a house so that I could cook most of my meals. I packed 3 full-size coolers full of my own food, my Vitamix blender (for my protein smoothies), my food scale and my workouts. I allowed myself a couple glasses of wine throughout the week as a “cheat meal,” and one evening my husband grilled a fabulous filet mignon. Otherwise, I ate on point, ordered fresh fish when we dined out and exercised every single day on vacation! What a difference from my vacations of the past - full of overindulgence in food and wine, lying around and taking a break from exercise. And, honestly, this vacation was way more fun!  

‏In week 10, I allowed my older son to pick out whatever he wanted to eat at every meal for a whole day. I shuddered at the thought of what he might choose, but he chose broccoli for every meal (including breakfast), fruit and almonds for snacks (raw almonds) and even fish! At that point, I realized, not only had I changed my lifestyle, but my whole family changed their lifestyles as well!  

‏LIFELONG. HEALTHY. HABITS. Now as I prepare to finish the challenge portion of my 90-Day Challenge, I know the real challenge is what comes next. I am absolutely thrilled at my accomplishments of losing over 30 pounds and achieving over 45% change in body fat percentage.  I registered for my first half-marathon this fall, and Terrance made arrangements with another trainer to have my active metabolic test done so I can train efficiently to run. I will continue to train with Terrance at Life Time and even recruited a few friends to do some group training with me. I owe Life Time Fitness and Terrance many thanks for challenging me, for believing in me and for holding me accountable. As I look back over my journey during these last 90 days, I realize that words hold much power for me. The words and phrases I see, hear and tell myself everyday become my beliefs. My beliefs from my entire adult life prior to this Challenge (“I will never be a runner.  I will never be ‘thin.' I will never be able to do pushups with my knees off the floor.”) have vanished and have been taken over by the most powerful words in my vocabulary: “I CAN.” I see the posters at Life Time every day, and now I completely understand how true the phrase is: “I CAN do it ALL in my LIFETIME”!!!!! 

 

Sunday
Jun292014

Carrie P. – Westminster, CO

I made the decision to undertake this Challenge because I had basically become lazy. After 10 years of coaching runners and competing myself, I had “retired” and was no longer obligated to run several days a week. I also lost my ability to “run to eat,” a way I had basically been able to enjoy whatever I wanted because I was working out so often.

Having always been fairly healthy, I didn't think it would make that much of a difference. I still hit the gym a few days a week, and - being petite - I never looked like I got out of shape or put on any weight. But I had. And I had honestly lost the urge to do much about it. I looked OK, and my clothes mostly fit. So, it was O.K.

I took a photo with one of my favorite comedians in November 2013, and I couldn't believe what I saw. I looked totally frumpy, and I had a gut. A big gut. I had to crop the photo before I would share it on social media. I had never been in a situation like that - ever. I made an internal pledge to eat better and work out harder but always found a reason not to be as compliant as I should have been.

By nature, I am a procrastinator. I work extremely well under deadlines but flounder without them. When the 90-Day Challenge was promoted in January, I seriously considered it. I wasn't sure my husband would want to sign up himself. He's always supportive of me, but I feared he would say that I didn't need to do this because I looked “fine.” Thankfully, he was 100% in and signed up himself. I had not only support but accountability - every single day.

Right before the Challenge started, I suffered a serious eye injury and nearly lost my sight. Thankfully, I had a great team of doctors who saved my vision, but I was immobile for two weeks. Once I was out of bed (holding my head to the right at a 60* angle), I wasn't going to be cleared for workouts for a few weeks - well into the Challenge. I tried not to act too defeated, but I was definitely disappointed.

We met with LT trainer Scott Corbin to get started. I specifically wanted to work with Scott because he knew well where I had been before - in fantastic shape, and incredibly healthy. I knew he'd push me when I was able to work out again and would provide just enough “tough love,” to use a cliche.

We focused a lot on nutrition. My husband and I had completely binged throughout football season and knew we had plenty of space to get back on track. Knowing I couldn't work out (barely do a light treadmill walk) for another week to ten days, I was going to need to focus on clean eating to see changes.

Disclosure: I am an incredibly picky eater. I vowed to try new foods outside my comfort zone during the Challenge - within reason. We focused on a few key foods - of course more fresh veggies and more whole grain. We joked that this was going to be “all about the quinoa.”

And it was. Neither of us had any preconceived thoughts on it, and I am a huge fan of couscous, so I embraced a new food. Good or bad, it became our staple. It was simple to prepare, we both loved it, and it goes with everything. It added protein to my diet - an area I had let slip, and it forced me to experiment with new veggies and recipes.

Within the first few weeks I dropped several pounds - mostly from the changes in our diet! I slowly added cardio and strength back into my routine and saw changes in my body. My biggest problem was my patience. I'm a big fan of instant gratification, and it was going to take some time to get back in shape. I started working out two mornings a week before work as well as on the weekends.

It was tough to get in the early morning workouts with my family and work obligations, so Scott and I had sessions to give me some new multi-plane exercises that would get me in and out a little quicker in the mornings. Scott provided exactly what I needed. He pushed me much harder than I would push myself, and I was accountable to him. I had a deadline each week.

Most of my friends and colleagues do not understand why I undertook the 90-Day Challenge. They thought I looked good and that I definitely didn't need to lose any weight. While I appreciate that, I knew I needed to get back into shape, and carrying around 10 fewer pounds would definitely make running much easier. Plus, my clothes didn't fit quite as well as I would have liked back in January.

This week I put on my favorite pair of pants, and they looked incredibly frumpy - not because they were too tight in places, but rather they were too big and basically were falling off! This is a problem I can live with.

The biggest takeaway from my 90-Day Challenge is pretty much what I used to tell my beginning clients. You don't start with a marathon. You start by walking, then running - with good form. We didn't try to do everything all at once. We made many small changes that added up.

We redeveloped the habit of healthy eating, and our cardio and strength routines supplemented our renewed lifestyles. Three months later, both my husband and I remain committed to out lifestyle tweaks and look forward to summer by the pool in new suits for both of us!



Sunday
Jun222014

Shawn Z. – Algonquin, IL

Starting Body Fat: 18.1%

Ending Body Fat:  5.8%;

Total Lost:  67.96%

With the Midwest experiencing one of the worst winters in decades, it was difficult enough to get out of bed let alone get in a freezing car and drive to the gym. Unfortunately, bikini season is not thwarted by winter’s freezing temperatures. So, like it or not, it was time to kick-start a fitness regimen that would help to get me in bathing suit ready form.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, even with every excuse including weather, I rarely miss a day at the gym. This does not mean I’m super fit, but it does mean I’m dedicated. So, when I walked in just like I do most every other day, it wasn’t a celebratory or bizarre event. It wasn’t until I skipped the locker room to stand in line to weigh in for this 90-Day Challenge did it start out as something different than the norm. I almost jumped out of line. What was I doing here again? I reached for my phone…. “This challenge is for men and women who are looking to get ripped, get toned, look great at the beach, get six-pack abs, gain more lean mass and lose body fat percentage.” Fine, I thought to myself (deep breath). Bikini season awaits.

Let me digress for a moment and mention that I had previously entered into every 90-Day since February of 2013, and aside from the first one, never made it past week 3. I lost the true purpose of the Challenge, which should have been to find a new plan - a sustainable plan - that would enable an overall new way of fitness.  Instead, I spent more time fixated on numbers, and I personally lost focus. This year, I proclaimed it would be different, and - for whatever reason - it already felt that way.

I stepped on the scale and saw results that were not awful and also not completely unexpected. My body fat was average, but not where I wanted to be. I set a realistic body fat % goal coming out of my weigh-in and when asked what my specific goal was over the next 90 days in non-numerical form, my answer was “I want to lose fat, I guess.” 

I had just finished Alpha training and asked myself why a 42-year-old, 100 lb woman needed to work on cleaning and pressing (unless it involved laundry) and other movements that more resembled strongman events than a sustainable form of exercise. I was fairly confident I didn’t miss a call from the Olympic committee about needing a lightweight to round out their strongman team. So, why was I doing something that felt awkward and unnatural? I made the decision that I needed more personal focus and decided personal training might be the answer to help achieve my goals over the next 90 days.

Once on board, my personal trainer informed me that my initial goal to “lose fat, I guess” wasn’t a very specific one, but the clock was ticking and off we went. We started training, and I spent the first couple of weeks just going through the motions. He had a plan for me, even if I didn’t know exactly what that plan was.

Particularly on the days without my trainer, I felt awkward and self-conscious in the weight room. Others chuckled as I grabbed my 10 lb dumbbells or benched with just the bar. I would re-read my training manual every 2 seconds and find something I didn’t want to do. I fought to do things my way and wondered why I felt like every time I did legs I had to do squats, why I needed to do pull-ups (I can’t do those), and I’d mentally cross things off the list. While I was certainly working with weights more often, I admittedly was not doing all the sets or at the weights prescribed, and I found myself struggling through every workout.  I also wondered what happened to all the cardio in my program…. Was there a page missing? Did I lose that page? Regardless, I haphazardly went through my workouts and did what I felt like most days. 

Although I wasn’t 100% committed, I did see small gains the first few weeks but quickly hit a plateau. I wasn’t really progressing in terms of increasing the weight I could lift and wondered if this “personal training” thing was working.  It was week 3, and I hit my usual frustration point. I asked my trainer what was wrong.  Why wasn’t I seeing results? I was lifting (sort of). I had given up part of my extensive cardio routine. When he questioned my diet, I answered, “I eat PRETTY well.” As soon as I said it, I realized it wasn’t true. I started a food diary, which helped me understand the magnitude of the problem.

While I initially thought lack of cardio and weights were holding me back, I came to realize the bigger problem was food. I needed to re-evaluate what went into my mouth. If I was serious about change, I had to be committed, and it had to start in the kitchen. I looked into Life Time’s 15-day D.TOX plan. Maybe this was the jump-start I needed – training myself to eat properly.  I entered D.TOX with one of my friends (another trainer). We read the manual and did our prep. About one month into the Challenge, the real fun began. At the same time, I added a few measureable goals for myself: to increase muscle and add strength, and to perform at least one unassisted pull-up. These changes proved to be the catalyst for what would result in my personal transformation. 

On the D.TOX front, I did not falter once.  Not once, even with the arrival of my Girl Scout cookies, my daughter’s 18th birthday and 2 family events. As far as training, I followed everything that was written down on my sheets of paper. Everything.  Even the things I really didn’t like. I put my headphones on and shut out the chatter around me. I stopped asking “why” on things I didn’t want to do, stopped the eye rolls and deep dramatic sighs when asked to do something I really didn’t want to do, and just followed the instructions I was given.

At the end of my 15 days, I weighed in and my body fat had changed 3%. I thought, “Are you kidding me - 3%? That’s it??” I felt mislead. I felt like I was promised some body- altering potion between more focused training and D.TOX that would produce marked rapid results and quite honestly it had not worked. Strangely enough, the trainer doing weigh-ins that day seemed thrilled. She told me my body fat would likely keep decreasing as the weeks went on if I mindfully followed a maintenance plan and kept lifting. I heard this but wasn’t really listening (for the moment), stormed out of the room, went home, and promptly did what any rational adult would do: ate a piece of cake that was approximately the size of my head.  For a brief moment, I felt better. Then I asked myself what I was doing. I stepped back and put everything in perspective. The marginal decrease in body fat might not have been the exact outcome I was expecting, but I reminded myself I’d pledged this time was going to be different. A minor setback in the form of an unrealistic expectation was not going to be my undoing. I put my fork down.

I thought about what the trainer said and kept up with my lifting and clean eating for another week. This time when I stepped on the scale, I was shocked to find that my body fat was down again. She was right! It was at that point I had surpassed my body fat % goal. I was thrilled. I truly thought my journey had come to an end.  Then I remembered the pull-up:  I had to do one. I had momentarily forgotten that part of my goal. I walked over to the pull-up machine, grabbed on and just hung there almost paralyzed. For a moment, I heard myself think the word “can’t.”  And then I remembered something I had read:“Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else. It’s the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs and the voice inside you that yells “can’t.” But you don’t listen. You just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper “can.” And you discover that the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are.”

The voice in my head told me that although I might not be able to do this today, I would eventually do this if I worked for it. I still had 46 days. I was actually only half-way through the Challenge and just weeks into developing a sustainable lifestyle of healthful eating and exercise. During the first half of the Challenge, while I wasn’t quite there in terms of strength or overall muscle, I had developed and started to master a new outlook on food. The focus was on more good food, protein equivalent to my body weight daily and more water, which left me less hungry and resulted in fewer tradeoffs. The continuous logging of food through FitBit also helped to keep me accountable. 

Since I felt like I had cleaner eating behind me, I became more serious about lifting.  My weekly workouts consisted of four days of weights (2 upper and 2 lower body) with 20-30 minute bursts of cardio, two days of group fitness (kickboxing) and one free day which included any weighted exercises I felt I needed more work on (or wanted to do), yoga or walking. And while the results did not come overnight, shortly thereafter, I started to observe measureable gains. My weights and strength were increasing. My body had started to respond to this new plan. 

During the same time, I enrolled in the 10K-a-Day Step Challenge, so my cardio changed slightly to ensure I got my steps in. I also enrolled in the Life Time sponsored GFI (group fitness instructor) class in hopes of being able to teach. This course, not only from a practical perspective, but from a theoretical perspective, helped to put all the pieces together for me. For example, when my trainer would say, “This works the biceps brachii,” I actually knew what that meant! To say I was committed and busy? That would have been an understatement.

At one point during the 90-Day Challenge, even after I really had progressed to a fitness level I never thought possible, I told my trainer that I felt I had more work to do. He asked “Work to do for you or someone/something else? Are YOU happy now? How do YOU feel?” It was then it finally hit me. How do I feel? I feel unbelievable. I feel like I should feel. For the first time in a very, very, long time, I feel like me. It was at that moment, I stopped. I temporarily stopped obsessing about weigh-ins and logged measurements. In fact, at that time, I didn’t intend on formally weighing in again because I realized I had far surpassed MY goals. And as more time elapsed, I also realized the changes I made were not temporary. I did, however, continue to weigh in to stay accountable, and my body fat continued to decrease without any marked difference in training or diet. I had honestly found the fitness recipe that was working for me, and I no longer needed the scale to tell me so. I had transformed into a fitter version of me.

Other folks started noticing as well. This was initially startling to me as I don’t spend time looking at myself in the mirror. Typically I grab my go-to, 3-sizes-too-big Adidas track pants (circa 1994), which tend to cover up any measureable “gains.” So, when a friend approached me with an unsolicited photo she took of me doing a pull-up (I could do those now), I couldn’t believe how my body had transformed. And all I could think was … this is how I want to stay.

This 90-Day challenged me in so many ways that will shape my fitness for years to come. I far surpassed my goal not only in numbers, but also with what I have learned and can practice every day. I reflect on so many achievements over the last 90 days that have changed my confidence level more than anyone will ever know or understand. It’s very empowering. My whole body and being have changed in ways I never thought possible.   

I do want to thank 2 people who helped me on this journey. One is my personal trainer, Adam. Never once did you give up on me. You pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go. You celebrated my gains and helped turn “can’t” into “can.”  I will never forget the look on your face and the tone in your voice when I did my first pull-up. The power of your training and friendship is without compare. The second is my friend and D.TOX partner, Jemal. You never let me give up. You have always been my strongest advocate and have always had the right thing to say, the right time to say it, and the right size shoulder when I needed it. I can’t say enough about your support always. Thank you to everyone at the Algonquin Life Time for their support throughout my journey. I could not have done it alone and appreciate everyone’s commitment to my transformation.