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Entries in Burr Ridge, IL (4)


Ryan S. - Burr Ridge, IL

The Motivation or “Too Fat for a Bouncy House”

“Dad, you gotta come in the Bouncy House with us!” pleaded my oldest (7-year-old) son. It was my youngest son’s first birthday, and we had rented a Bouncy House for the party. I was approaching 250 pounds for the first time in my life, and the inflatable castle bore a 210-lb. weight restriction.

Kevin, the rental guy, assured me I’d be fine, but there was no way I could take that gamble. I could go on to lead a distinguished career curing cancer and discovering intelligent life on Mars, BUT if I collapsed a Bouncy House from the sheer enormity of my size, I would FOREVER be known for that and that alone….

“I’m sorry, Ryder, it’s really just for kids.” It was pretty hard not to sense his disappointment, and with my recent weight gain it had become a pretty common scene. Anything with a moderate amount of physical exertion had become a Herculean task. Trip to the zoo? How about a movie instead… Walk to the park? How about we play on the Xbox?… I had become an excuse aficionado, but for some reason I had finally had enough. I was about to turn 35, and I had 3 boys under the age of 8. I needed to get healthy for them, so they could have the dad they deserve.

The Beginning or “Jumping into the Deep End of the Pool”

I decided to ”rip off the Band-Aid” and began by eliminating as much garbage from my diet as possible. No more soda and alcohol. Now the only beverage I would drink is water and plenty of it. Trips to the drive-thru were gone,, too. For the first month I decided I would eat until I was full but only if I was eating healthy, useful foods. I focused on lean protein, healthy fats, and unprocessed carbohydrates. I did moderate cardio to get myself back into the swing of things before I introduced weight training to my process. I started with 45 to 60 minutes of cardio every evening, alternating between the treadmill, the stationary bike, and the elliptical.

The Middle or “There’s No Turning Back Now”

By the second month, I had begun to notice some changes and to gain a little bit of my self-confidence back. I was doing an hour of cardio daily without issue and began to incorporate a weight training routine as well. My daily 60 minutes of cardio was followed by 60 minutes of weight training. I did a 3-day rotation, cycling Back & Biceps, Chest & Triceps, and Shoulders & Legs. My daily hour committed to the “New Me” had now become 2 hours per day, and I didn’t mind it at all! I was really starting to feel committed to the Challenge and the lifestyle change that was evolving. I had further refined my diet, limiting proteins to egg whites, chicken breasts and fish. My carbs only came from green vegetables like sautéed spinach and steamed broccoli.

The Burnout or “How Did I Ever Think This Was a Good Idea??”

By Week 8, I was feeling great. My weight was down, my energy was up, and I felt like a reenergized version of myself. And then by Week 9, I was miserable. I had completely burned out. Almost overnight, I felt emotionally spent. I didn’t think I was making any more gains and just felt as if this was all for nothing. A week earlier I was looking forward to the next day’s workout, and now I was thinking about throwing in the towel for the first time. Then I talked to Steve and John, 2 of the trainers at my Life Time. They listened to what my process had been and the struggles I was having. They suggested I change my routine, specifically incorporating 2 things I had never considered before: Intermittent Fasting and Training in a Fasted State. Thankfully, I listened.

The End or “Ryan 2.0”

The change in routine was exactly what I needed. In order to train in a fasted state, I had to switch from daily late-night workouts to daily morning workouts. I had never been a morning person and was dreading the switch. But it was amazing – I not only enjoyed working out in the morning, but I looked forward to it. There was an amazing sense of accomplishment I had never expected having run 5 miles before most people were even awake for the day. Without question, I showed the greatest gains of the entire Challenge during the final 30 days.

I awoke each morning at 4:30 a.m. and was at Life Time by 5 a.m. for my workout. I began a 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Schedule, consuming all my daily calories between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Forever a night-owl, I saw my bedtime change from 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. to 9 p.m., going to bed just after my wife and I tucked the kids into bed.

The physical improvement in my health and appearance have been nice, but they are just footnotes to the real transformation that has taken place: my identity. I have far more energy to expend on my children than I ever dreamt I would have. No longer a night-owl, I’m up each morning with a brand new attitude, ready to attack each day and the opportunities it offers instead of dreading the challenges it may present.



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!!!!!  


Erin D. - Burr Ridge, IL

A letter to Personal Trainer Keeley Johnson:

Hi Keeley,

The results are in.... 35 lbs down... and my blood panel number changes are ASTOUNDING! Time for crowing!! :-)

My A1C in February 2012, when I wasn't doing anything to manage my diabetes, was 9.5. Solidly in the diabetic range.

My A1C in June 2012, after I had been working with you for about 2 months, was 6.7. A huge change. Still considered officially diabetic.

My A1C that I just had, was 5.9. This puts me OUT OF THE OFFICIAL DIABETIC RANGE.

I still am diabetic; once you have the disease, that's it for you. And this range is still considered "pre-diabetes," so not optimal. So I still have to take some medicine and keep up the decline. But LADY. What an improvement! My doctor cut my glucose medicine by HALF. I am taking the minimum that a person can take. And he says that if, in 3 months, my A1C goes below 5.5, I don't have to take medicine for diabetes at all. AT ALL!!

My cholesterol in Feb 2012 was 250. Triglycerides 180+. Wow.
My cholesterol now? 182. Triglycerides 120. HDL 55, LDL 106. These are now OPTIMAL numbers. Like what HEALTHY people have!

My doctor took me off the cholesterol medicine I was taking, and we'll re-evaluate in 3 months. If my cholesterol is still this low in 3 months, I may never have to take cholesterol meds again!!

My blood pressure over the last few years has hovered around 150/85. Ouch. Not awful, but pretty darn bad.

In June? 121/80. Awesome!
Yesterday? 114/72. Whoa!

My doc cut my BP meds in half. IN HALF!!

All those stupid ads about "one weird trick" or "one silly secret" or whatever are such BS. A little hunger all the time, a lot of damn work on the treadmill and with your trainer til you think you're going to die, and then more work until you realize you're not going to die, and a wonderful guide like you--that's all it takes.

Seriously, Keeley, thanks. I know a lot of this is me, :-) because I was really ready to make lasting changes--more ready than I've been in the past. But a whole lot of this is YOU, too, and I'm so thankful you're in my life. I really think that in some ways we've saved it.

Let's keep kicking butt together!!



Six Women, Four Months, 100 Pounds - Burr Ridge, IL

A true story

This is about six women who work together at a successful small business in suburban Chicago.  To celebrate the company’s achievements Chris, the CEO, would spring for such perks as breakfasts, lunches and a bottomless candy dish.

Success, of course, went to the group’s waists, but they were enjoying their achievements and camaraderie.  Spandex and blousy tops hid the embarrassing part of the company’s success, for a while. 

In January of 2012 Chris began to recognize the need to re-think some of the incentives that had been so enjoyable.  To start, she signed up everyone at Lifetime Fitness, taking advantage of a “Bonus Bucks” promotion to schedule personal training sessions. 

They were all—Chris included—a bit skeptical at first.  Chris had been a member of LTF for over ten years, working out faithfully (pretty much) once or twice a week using free weights, machines and group classes.  She was also a dedicated cyclist, but still she had been unable to prevent creeping weight-gain.  Chris had come to suspect it was an annoying but unavoidable part of the aging process, but she didn’t want to accept this without a fight.  So she and her group put themselves in the hands of the personal trainers at LTF, who provided information, guidance and feedback aimed at achieving specific weight-loss and fitness goals. 

Not all trainers are created equal, so it’s worth mentioning that John Clark stood out as exceptionally skilled.  He varied the training sessions, introducing Hydro Training, boxing, Pilates and strength training, targeting specific issues with infectious enthusiasm.  What he taught his charges about the interaction between diet and exercise provided insight, not just for the week but for a lifetime.

Danielle Pender also merits special mention for infusing her Zumba classes with charismatic doses of energy and passion.  Her classes are always crowded, but this merely adds to the energy in the room.  Chris often carried an extra pair of shoes in her gym bag, and on one occasion she felt compelled to offer them to a girl who’d left her shoes at home in order to spare her the disappointment of missing Danielle’s class.

Springtime reckoning

Four months after they began, the six were more than 100 pounds lighter and had lost a combined 20 inches from their waistlines.  Perhaps most important, they’ve made changes in their lifestyles incorporating exercise and healthy eating.  And their success has helped them realize a new level of positive energy.  They’ve truly earned their success, but the women agree that the personal trainers and group fitness instructors at LTF provided the key spark.