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Entries in Allen, TX (2)

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!