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Entries in 150 lb+ Weight Loss (4)

Sunday
Aug042013

Michele M. - Allen, TX

In 2010, I would have never thought I could (or would) compete in an elite athletic event like the Alpha Competition and place in the middle of the pack…and this competition doesn’t even account for age! Yet in May 2013, I did it. I completed the gauntlet and placed well. This has been such an important journey and to say “I did it”…well, that’s priceless. 

In 2010, I was 323 lbs, 44 years old, very unhealthy  physically, yet outwardly a highly successful global business woman working 24x7x365.  Fitness was not in my vocabulary.  Neither was ‘balance’ (life balance or certainly not balance on a bosu or TRX). After a doctor revealed to me that I was ‘morbidly obese’ and my statistics showed the need for many medications--and told me that I had about 6 months before a big health event would likely happen--I knew I had to change. I knew I had to fundamentally, foundationally change my life – or risk losing it. You can read more about my story here and here.

I started the journey on my own thinking that I could research my way through this and use Internet crutches to help me in addition to significant reduction of calories + addition of just working out – 3 hours a day if needed. That didn’t work. 

I started working with Bruce Cooper (trainer and mentor through the whole process) and Cindi Lockhart (nutrition and lifestyle coach) from Life Time Fitness and engaged in every program they had to offer, including all the diagnostics (Cardio/Calorie point, blood work, lots of weigh-ins and body fat tests), guided zone training cardio program, personal training for strength and core development, pilates and yoga for stretching and lowering cortisol, meditation for calming my mind before bed,  nutrition sessions and grocery store tours, cleaning up my environment at home with elimination of cleaning chemicals and plastics, and Run Club. 

I lost 195 lbs and went from 55%+ body fat (they couldn’t really measure me due to my size) to 15% body fat in 2.5 years. I am a totally new person on the inside and the outside. There are friends and family who I’ve known for years who don’t recognize me until I speak and then they make the connection of voice to new body.  It’s fantastic. 

Check that box…. The next question Bruce asked me was “what’s next?” “Alpha”, I replied. Right. So  now I am 47 years old and engaging in the fitness regime that according to the Alpha leadership is for 20-30-year-olds. I lift heavy things. I sprint.  I throw. I squat. I box jump. I do ‘air pushups’. I row. I throw big tires. I pull up. I push prowlers. And I do all of these 7-10 times for each of 7 sets with 15 seconds recovery between sets. I bench press, leg press and squat more weight than many of the men in the club now. (I love their expressions when I use their top weight as my warm up weight – heh!)

The Alpha Competition neared, and I frankly doubted myself. I was prepared, and I was strong. I had trained but competing against 20-30-year-olds who had been athletes all their lives was probably crazy.  With the help of Trevor Stringer, my strength and Alpha trainer, and a lot of hard work and sweat… I did it. I placed 5th in our club, which was ahead of some younger people and even some trainers. Not too bad for a first timer athlete and former almost-ready-to-die-morbidly-obese-never-competed-athletically person! 

As a note: I still do all the diagnostics religiously every 6 months to ensure the inside fitness is measured against my outside fitness. I fully believe in the power of data and knowledge to help continuously improve performance. 

Moral of the story? If you believe it, you can do it. It’s about focus and a new way of living that will carry you for the rest of your life. Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way. Make a commitment to yourself that you are worth it. Then continuously enjoy the surprise of each day as your fitness levels become greater and stronger. You can do this. You CAN do this. You can DO this. You can do THIS.  

Sunday
Sep092012

Michele M., Part 2 - Allen, TX

I met with my Lifetime Fitness personal trainer, Bruce Cooper, last week to review progress over the past 22 months to see where we’ve been as we near the end of my journey to much better health and weight loss.  This is an important thing to do when you are on a transformation journey of epic proportions.  In 22 months, I’ve lost ~170 lbs, of which 144lbs was fat.  Let me say that again… 144lbs of that was FAT.  Actually, it could be more actual fat – his calipers didn’t fit across my thighs, so it was a bit of a guesstimate.  Here are the facts for the journey: 

  • Starting weight – 323, current 156
  • Starting BP – 180/108, current 106/60
  • Starting resting HR – 99, current 48
  • Starting waist – 48 inches, current 27
  • Starting hips – 60 inches, current 37
  • Starting chest – 44 inches, current 32
  • Starting body fat% - 55%+, current 21%
  • Starting dress size 22, current size 4

Blood work showed elevated insulin, cholesterol, triglyerides, CRP, -- basically a ‘health event waiting to happen”, Current- all either optimal or close to optimal. 

When I started working with Life Time Fitness on my transformation, I couldn’t get down on the floor (or back up) without help.  I struggled to lift 3 lbs weights above my head while stepping onto a step with no risers.  I had no idea what a ‘core’ was.   Today I am bench pressing, body weight lifting, running with the Run Club, HIIT training, and so full of energy and well being, … who would have thought this girl was inside that woman 22 months ago?

So how did I get here?  Well, a similar story to many of you… I got bad news from my doctor who told me I was going to need lots of medications to fix all the issues I had created for myself due to basic neglect of my body.  I was a fast paced, highly successful management consultant running a very successful practice,  living on the road travelling 200K+ miles per year, 4-5 nights in hotel, 12-15 meals out per week, 90+ hour weeks, blackberry (phone not food) in hand, always on, always ready for whatever my clients / company needed. 

My doctor suggested medications to fix my issues.  I knew there was another way … so I went to LTF to  work out and tried to limit my calorie intake.  And that worked for awhile –about 30 lbs in 3 months.  Then the weight loss stopped.  One day, Bruce Cooper, an LTF trainer, was casually asking me about my goals/schedule and we clicked instantly.  I decided that I, indeed, did need help.  I brought in my anatomy books and he patiently showed me what we were working for each set of exercises/movements.  We did the CardioPoint and CaloriePoint metabolic assessments to set my training zones and calories…And the weight loss started to pick back up again.  He asked me to see a LTF nutritionist with the vague idea that I was still likely not eating optimally, nor enough.  He was right.  I started taking basic supplements, eating more (!) and the right foods, … and the weight really started shedding off.

After a couple months, we did the Women’s Longevity & Vitality blood work and the Stress and Resilience Test and that showed a significant issue with cortisol, thyroid, C-reactive protein, adrenal fatigue.  Bruce engaged Cindi Lockhart, LTF nutritionist, to interpret the meaning behind the numbers and help figure out our next steps.  We added several supplements, pulled my cardio waaaay back to just a couple times a week for 30 mins each, added yoga, meditation, mandatory time in the sauna for detoxification, and eliminated gluten from my diet while adding even more veggies to my daily routine.  Get ready for the shocker… I was eating more, working out less, relaxing more, sleeping better – AND losing weight even faster than before.  Six months later, I was another 50 lbs lighter, my Women’s Vitality retest showed major improvements, and I had even more energy than before.

My diet consists of only whole foods.  It is approximately 40% fat, 30% carbs, 30% protein.  Most of the carbs come from vegetables and fruits (mostly vegetables).  All meats are grass-fed or organic – no processed meats.  Protein comes from meat, cheese (goat), eggs, beans  -- lots of beans.  Fats come from olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, bacon (mmmm, bacon!), almond milk/coconut milk, and red meat.  There is very little of anything processed in my diet.  No gluten, and no dairy.  Even on the road, I am able to keep to this whole food nutrition plan due to knowing what to ask for in restaurants and navigating airports.  I also carry my own food for snacks and times when I know late working hours will be required. 

One worry I had in this journey was that my skin would contract as my fat shrank.  While skin elasticity is partially a dimension of genetics and good nutrition, I started early on with LifeSpa to help me with products and services to help condition my skin along the way.  Heidi Cooper (esthetician) and Mandy Bishop (massage) were instrumental in getting me started on Phytomer products and assorted services to ensure my skin contracted along with the rest of my body. 

So now ~170 lbs lighter, blood work showing close to optimal on all accounts, I am here to tell you it can be done.  Over the 22 months, I stayed in my job – in fact was promoted twice – I travelled 250K miles around the world.  I did it while eating in restaurants and living my life.  Yes, I made fundamental changes in how I see food, make choices, find time for workouts, and focus on my Self in addition to the needs of my job/life.   I lost the weight and gained a new perspective on a healthier way of life…..on the road and at home. 

From my perspective, the Life Time Fitness programs and services, and specifically Bruce Cooper and Cindi Lockhart, have changed my life forever.  I also believe they have saved my life.  Truly.

Be sure to read Part 1 to Michele's success story!

Sunday
Dec182011

Victoria G. - Mansfield, TX

In the spring of 2009 I admitted to myself that my weight had gotten out of control and I just had to do something about it.  I was close to 300 lbs at that point, my hip was always aching, and I was tired all the time.  I had just moved from a job where I was working 80 hours a week to one with more normal hours, and I was determined to take advantage of the "extra" time to focus on my health.

I started losing weight, slowly at first, by logging everything I ate in Livestrong.com.  It didn't take me long to realize, however, that I couldn't lose as much weight as I needed to just by restricting calories - I was going to have to start exercising.  I started walking every day, and that helped, but it still wasn't enough.  So, in October of 2009, having never been in a gym before, I joined Life Time and asked for help.

I was self-conscious being one of the bigger women in the gym, but I tried not to dwell on it, telling myself that it wouldn't be for much longer.  I immediately signed up to work with a trainer twice a week, and we focused on balance, strength, cardio fitness...basically everything I had none of!  Those sessions were hard for me, no doubt about it, but they started paying off quickly.  On the other days I worked on my cardio alone, either on the treadmills or the bikes, or I worked with the weight machines by myself.  I stuck to my calorie plan, and with the regular workout regimen, I started consistently losing 2lbs a week.  For about 7 months I was at the gym 7 days a week, unless the gym was closed!

By spring of 2010 I was down to about 170 lbs!  With my trainer's encouragement, I started running, which I had never done in my life.  Crystal worked with me to get over my fear of running on the treadmill (I know, I know, but it was a real fear!), and I ran my first mile on the treadmill in May.  She offered to run a 5K with me, so I signed us up for one on May 30th.  My time wasn't impressive (almost 39 minutes), but for a first time runner I was proud and happy just to complete it!  And she ran with me the whole way, pacing me, keeping me going.

I still had a few pounds to lose, so I kept at it, and by about July of 2010 I had reached, and actually exceeded my goal weight of 150 lbs (145 lbs down!!).  Now, a year later, I consider myself to be on maintenance.  I still go to Life Time, but my goals are different.  Now I want to be stronger and more flexible, so I have added Yoga classes and spin classes to my schedule.  Both have really complemented my running, which I have kept up with.  (In fact, I joined Life Time's running club too.)  I love knowing that at Life Time I have access to anything I could possibly need to cross-train, to constantly focus on improving.  And I am trying to inspire others to focus on their health and fitness.  The "after" photo is of me and my buddy Victor, also a Life Time member, at the first 5K we ran together a few months ago!

I never thought that at 51 I would be this interested in my fitness, and sometimes it is a challenge to work everything into my life that I want to do, but I don't ever want to go back to the way I was.  Ever forward!

Saturday
Jul162011

Erin K. - Florham Park, NJ

For most of my life, I have been overweight. It’s been a daily struggle for as long as I can remember. Years of childhood and adolescent teasing, judgmental looks from strangers, even flippant or unintentionally mean comments from friends and family were part of my daily life for more than 25 years. Of course, I had tried seemingly hundreds of diets and weight loss programs, but just never made it stick for longer then a few months. About 3 years ago, I decided that I was tired of feeling like I was a second-class citizen, even among my friends and family. I was tired of being limited by my size. I was tired, honestly, of being told that I had “such a pretty face”… So I decided to start exercising and started on a weight loss program.

After working out on my own for a few months, I joined Life Time Athletic in Florham Park. Seven months into my workouts at Life Time, I had lost about 80 pounds. But I had started to struggle, and was losing motivation. I had hit a plateau. I knew I needed help, because I still had more than 100 pounds to lose until I was at a healthy weight. My brother, who works at Life Time, suggested I meet with a personal trainer. So on June 15, 2009, I walked into Life Time and walked up to the Fitness Services desk. I took a deep breath and told the first person I saw behind the desk that I wanted to start working with a trainer. As they say, “The Rest is History!”

The man at the desk that day was Paul Melanson. We got to talking, and I told him that I had already lost a bunch of weight, but I was struggling because I had still had so much more to lose, and didn’t know what to do next. He listened to my story – I mean, he really listened. He made me feel comfortable enough to be honest with him about my struggles, which is something I had never really done with anyone before. After I opened up, he told me that he was sure he could help. We decided right then and there that together we could map out some challenging, yet achievable goals, and really start to see results. The next day was my first session with Paul, and the first day of my new, healthy life.

Paul put together a cardio program for me to follow using a HR Monitor and the results from my CardioPoint assessment. I committed to doing my cardio 5 days a week and training 3-4 days per week. After the first week, Paul had me start working one day a week with another trainer, Mike Tremel. He said this would add variety to my workouts, and introduce me to a different style of training. All of this was done in an effort to keep me motivated, keep me on plan, and help me see the results I was looking for. Working with Mike has been truly one of the highlights of my weight loss journey. He has a way of keeping every workout fresh and challenging, but always managing to keep me smiling and laughing, too. His approach is truly one of the best I have seen around, and I know he honestly cares and wants to see me succeed on this journey.

Together, Paul and Mike have been what I consider my “Earth-Bound Guardian Angels”. When we started working together, I was shy, insecure, and unwilling to try new things. But something changed in me after our first few sessions. Paul and Mike pushed me to try new things that I never thought I could do. They gave me the motivation I needed to try things even if I was positive that I would fail. They stood by me as I continued to build my confidence and began to come out of my shell.  For me, this has been almost as important in my development as the physical results. For more than 25 years, I faced near-crippling self-confidence and self-esteem issues. After working with Paul and Mike for the last year, I now feel like there is nothing I can’t accomplish – eventually.

So far in my weight loss journey, I have lost 177 lbs. I am so close to hitting my ultimate goal – which is something I had always considered an impossibility. I honestly believe that had I not met Paul and Mike back in June 2009, I would not be where I am today. They saw something in me that day and chose to stick with me on this very long, sometimes painful, but always challenging road. For that I am forever grateful. Mike and Paul have very different styles and very different personalities – but I think that’s been helpful in keeping my workouts fresh, exciting, and fun every week.

Working with “my guys” has shown me what it truly means to change someone’s life. They have done it for me in ways that I can’t even really explain. I look at Paul and Mike and see how the world works in wonderful, yet mysterious ways. Two years ago when I started on my latest attempt at losing weight, I don’t think I really believed I could make this kind of progress. But they showed me that I had it in me to make it work this time. Its because of “my guys” that I have changed my life, and now want to do the same for others. Almost a year to the day when I started with Paul, I passed my exam to become a Certified Personal Trainer. Now, I can do for others what “my guys” have done for me – change someone’s life for the better.

Yours in Health,

Erin K.