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Denise D. – Burr Ridge, IL

I don't think I have ever met a person who hasn't struggled with his/her weight at one time or another. My journey is a good one, but there were many hurdles to get there. In January of 2011, I fell in downtown Chicago in the middle of Wacker Drive on black ice. I tore both of my quad muscles from each knee. I will never forget the reaction of my surgeon when he said “ both knees, really?!!” This injury required surgery, in patient rehab and weeks of physical therapy. My surgeon said I was looking at a good year or more before I could walk properly and go up and down stairs without issues. While in the hospital, I felt like my legs would never be the same. This was by far one of the worst injuries to rehab from. To this day, I say this accident was a blessing because I met my best friend Cheryl while in the hospital. Cheryl lost her left leg above the knee in an accident 20 years ago, and she was in the hospital having her stump operated on.  The minute we met, she inspired me. She had a positive spirit, and you could tell nothing stopped her. I knew even though my injuries were bad, I still had my legs.

My weight became even more out of control after my accident, getting to a whopping 315 lbs. In January 2012, I looked in the mirror and said “enough is enough!!!!” I started to work out at home on my elliptical to make sure my legs were strong enough to get on machines. I lost a little over 20 pounds and knew I was ready to get back to the gym and training. I sent Cheryl an email and said “I am going back to my trainer Michelle and joining Life Time!” When I called Michelle, she was enthusiastic as always. I told her I was very limited with my knee injuries, and she said “That's okay, we can work around them.” That is always Michelle's attitude--if there is a will there is a way. I was so intimidated to walk up the HUGE set of stairs at the gym, and getting on the treadmill was a chore. I literally had to pull myself up because my knees were so weak.  But Michelle and I started to train two days a week, and I became stronger and stronger. There were many times I did not think I could do what she was asking of me, but I trusted her judgment and did the best I could.  There were so many times during my journey that members would stop Michelle and I and say “WOW you look great! Keep up the good work!”  I was also very encouraged by the team of trainers. Many of them know me well and have consistently told me how great I look and my hard work and dedication is paying off. This has helped me stay motivated and focused and shows me that the culture at the gym is extremely positive. Even though I was not their client, they encouraged me and helped me stay the course. I completely changed my diet to consist of vegetables, fruit, chicken and fish. I was working out 6 days a week, and the weight was flying off.  

By The end of June, I had lost 70 lbs.  I was elated with the progress and could not be happier with Michelle as my trainer. In August, I was down 91 lbs., and Michelle asked me to do the 90 day challenge.  I signed up and said “I'm not sure if I can win, but my biggest goal was to get under 200 lbs”. I started the challenge at 224. During August, I started team fitness and fell in love with the classes. The people are so inspiring, and Michelle has no mercy on us. When it comes to training, you could not ask for a better person to get you to your goal. The last 90 days have been challenging, but I am happy to say--with Michelle kicking my butt and my best friend cheering me on--I won the Burr Ridge top female. I not only met my goal to get under 200 but got down to 187.8, losing a total of 128 lbs. since February.  I thank Michelle after every workout for making me work so hard and for giving me my life back.  I never thought I would walk again and now I am participating in Team Fitness three days a week and training 3 days alone.  I am so thankful to have a trainer that makes a full commitment to getting me where I want to go and for helping with nutrition and any obstacles along the way.  I have heard so many people say they can't lose weight for many reasons. I had a bilateral knee tear that required surgery, I have fibromyalgia, and I started at 315 lbs.  If I could accomplish this, so can YOU!   

Thank you Michelle, for your dedication, encouragement and friendship along the way. Thanks to my best friend Cheryl for being my biggest cheerleader always telling me I can do anything I put my mind to. Thank you Life Time for creating a culture at Burr Ridge that inspires me to do my best. I am so happy to be 128 lbs. lighter and healthy again!!!!!  

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