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Sunday
Dec022012

Charles B. | Fall 2012 90-Day Challenge Male Winner

Lost 86.8 pounds (-29.3% of initial body weight)

My name is Chuck. On June 6, 1992 I married the woman of my dreams. I weighed 180 lbs. Over the course of the next 20 years, I gained over 120 lbs. Most home scales only go up to 300 lbs., it was a truly sobering moment when I stepped on the scale after the holidays and I saw the dial go past the zero pound mark for the second time.

I have dieted many times in my adult life and been moderately successful in losing weight, but I never succeeded in keeping the weight off. I had joined Life Time Fitness in 2011 and signed up for the 90-Day Challenge, but my heart wasn’t into it. After my scale moment in January I knew I needed to throw myself into this years’ challenge completely. I knew I would face a lot of obstacles and hoped that I could maintain my commitment. It turned out that commitment wasn’t my problem.

I was lucky enough to get paired up with an amazing trainer, Ashley Engelhardt. She is quite possibly the most positive person I have ever met in my life. She tried to make me understand that while cardio is important, it is strength training that helps the body to increase its metabolic rate, which in turn helps keep weight off, but I knew better. So I focused on cardio, worked out hard and I lost over 80 lbs. I also developed tendonitis in my left foot that hurt so bad I could barely walk. I hadn’t built any additional muscle so my metabolism was still slow and in the same amount of time that I lost all that weight I put it right back on. Many trainers would have walked away in disgust, but not Ashley. I could see in her eyes how upset she was. I knew that the failure was mine, not hers and I was determined that this time I was going to listen to everything she said.

I receive emails from Life Time and I always take the time to read them. I save many of them but this one stuck out. It was called lift weight to lose weight. I read it and immediately texted Ashley to ask her if she wrote it. Everything she had been trying to make me understand was right there in the article. Well sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks. I feel better than I have in years. I have lost 11 inches off of my waist.

I hope that everyone who reads this will join me in signing up for Commitment Day, 1/1/13. This challenge is not just about 90 days, it is about the rest of your life and how you choose to live it. I choose to look ahead and realize that if I can do this, then I can do anything I put my mind to. So I decided that if I could lose all this weight in three months, then I could surely get myself ready to tackle the NYC Triathlon. I am already signed up and Ashley has promised to work with me. If you take nothing else with you after reading this, remember I was that guy lying on the couch. If I can do it, I know that you can too!

Sunday
Apr082012

Edwin H. - Garland, TX

This is Edwin, and I just wanted to share with you what group fitness and Life Time has done for me and my lifestyle change.  When I first joined the club, it was October of 2010. It was a point in which I was trying to take back what was mine, my life. When I first joined, I was so intimidated by the people in the classes and within the club. I thought, I cannot keep up with them, why am I even here wasting my time. As the days became weeks and the weeks months, I started to see a change. From my first fitness assessment, I went from 40.6% body fat, to 23.5%. I went from taking coming to classes and training sessions from 3 days a week to 5. My heart rate during activity has dropped and I have such a quick recovery time. And I started to see it all started after doing my first indoor Triathalon! It was at this point that I knew I could do it!  I attribute this to the work and classes of Abrea, Jasmine, Mark, Drea, and John Stock (trainer) at the Garland, TX location. I can remember not being able to comfortably do squats and lunges to now doing them with ease. I can remember barely making it on the treadmill at a pace of 4.0 for 20 minutes. My fitness transformation has been amazing. I can now run several miles and just feel great! I was never able to do this and if it were not for my determination and the personal care that each of the aforementioned teachers and trainers have put into my success I would not be able to do it! A year ago I would not have even of thought it, but now I am getting ready for the Original Mud Run in Ft. Worth on Oct. 29. It is a 6.4 mile run with obstacle courses! I can definitely do it! I am even determined to compete in the Toyota Race for Cup in 2012. Hey, I am even starting to think about getting fitness certification so I can teach classes and be a motivation to those that are where I once was!

I just wanted to share what you guys have done for me and to let you know that you guys are truly appreciated!!!!! Look at me, I am a living example of your hard work and why you do this everyday! Attached are two pictures. One picture is what I looked like when I first started my journey. The second picture was taken a week ago. To date, I have lost 108 pounds! Thank you so much Lifetime. My change is something that will stay with me for a "lifetime."

Sunday
Apr012012

Greg S. - Florham Park, NJ

In 2008, after 20 years of marriage and three beautiful children, I was faced with separation on the way to divorce.  I was lost mentally, and emotionally.  I had always worked out 5-7 days a week, but somehow over the years had managed to put on about 30 more pounds than I needed to be carrying on my 6 ft 1" frame.  I had more time on my hands than I bargained for once I moved out of the home I had shared with my wife and family.  While I would have my kids with me nearly 50% of the time, that would still leave idle time that I could use watching the paint dry on the wall, just kidding, or I could create new goals for myself, and have a destination.

My workouts had become quite stale, I needed variation. I had taken up spinning classes, been a soccer player since my teen years, and had been a lifeguard as well.  I knew I could run, swim and bike, why not a triathlon?  So I got back in the pool, picked up my first road bike and started training using a book called Triathlon for Dummies.  With my newfound focus over the next 6 months, I dropped those 30 pounds, to the point where I actually had to replace many of my clothes, and actually lost more weight than I intended. I had to learn more about nutrition and properly fueling my body both before, during and after workouts.  All of my training the first year was on my own, with no guidance, or support.  I found that the workouts put my mental and emotional well being in a good place as well, so I could be the best father possible, while still working through the challenges of divorce.  My girls got to see my focus, and were very supportive.  I successfully completed 3 triathlons, all sprint distance, that first year.

At the end of 2008, Life Time Fitness opened in Florham Park, NJ. I joined as soon as it opened, and quickly found the VO2 Max (CardioPoint) testing to further my understanding of how to efficiently work out while training and racing.  Through the winter, I was spinning three times per week, and continuing my other workouts as well.  I was meeting new friends with similar training goals at Life Time, and ultimately joined a local Team in Training Triathlon team to both assist with access to Triathlon coaching, as well as fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as my father is a survivor of Leukemia.  Again, great focus, new friends and learning more about triathlon.  I became the top fundraiser that year for the Wyckoff Sprint Triathlon for TNT, and knew I would be committed to the group for some time to come. I completed 6 triathlons that second year, including my first Olympic distance races.  There was yet another hurdle in June 2009, as my then 16 year old, Katherine, was hit by a car while bike riding on vacation. This was after we had both swam for an hour in the pool, I was going for a run, she felt like doing more, and jumped on a bike without a helmet.  Long story, but she suffered a severe concussion, was airlifted to a trauma center nearby, and went through a long recovery aided by wonderful rescue workers and medical staff both nearby the accident, in the hospital and upon our return home. My outlook on life had changed completely.  Every day is a gift.  Like Dad, she battled through, and was working out again within three weeks of the accident with a plan to climb back on a bike, with a helmet the following year to celebrate her recovery.

Year three of  triathlon led me to preparing for my first 1/2 Ironman Race having three  years before never completed a 5K, let alone a 1/2 Marathon run.  As I ramped up, I participated in the Rutgers Unite 1/2 Marathon to get my mind around doing the distance prior to my 1/2 Ironman Race.  I shocked myself with a 1:48 time in the half marathon, when I was hoping for a sub 2 hour time.  All the preparation with Team in Training, and staying on a very predictable training plan was a huge help.  In parallel, Katherine, now 17, had decided to conquer her demons from the accident,  she was not only getting back on a bike, but intended to do a sprint  triathlon with me as well.  We were signed up together to do the Wyckoff Triathlon, again as members of Team in Training to pay tribute to my Dad, her grandfather and as a thanks for her recovery.

Once out of the  swim leg, I waited for Katherine to finish her swim, nearly as fast as  mine although different wave starts, and we then completed both the bike  and run right alongside each other grinning ear to ear.  What an amazing day to be a father!  This was two weeks after the Mooseman 1/2 Ironman, also with Team in Training.  Mooseman was quite the adventure, as it was pouring rain from start to finish, certainly not part of my race plan, yet I kept a smile throughout, pleased to cross the finish  line.

In September 2010, I competed for the first time in a Triathlon as part of Toughman 1/2 Ironman relay team with some friends.  We ended up posting a time of 5 hours 12 mins for a second place finish in the relay.   I did the bike leg, beating my best 56 mile time by almost 20 minutes.  I came in so much faster than expected, that our runner was in the Port-o-John when I came into transition.  The real challenge is the training commitment; race day is anti-climatic for me.  As I'm now in year four of doing triathlon, I'm proud to call myself a triathlete.

This past winter, I began swimming with a Masters Swim group at Life Time to challenge myself to improve my swim.  I feel like I'm floating in place compared to some of the swimmers that come out for the group.  The good news is after my first triathlon of 2011, the Columbia Tri; I knocked a full 5 minutes off my previous best 1500 meter open water race day swim.    I've also begun the process of helping others embrace the triathlon lifestyle and give back to Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as I was invited first to join as a training captain, and recently elevated to coach.  I continue to fundraise, with over $20,000 raised to date.  I'm even thinking about running my first full marathon over the next year.   My 11 year old just completed a 5K, her fourth one so far, and she's now training for Toughman Kids 2011.  My 18 year old ran her first 1/2 Marathon this past April.  I'm so proud that this has provided not only focus, and good health, but a great example to my children.

Sunday
Mar252012

Travis B. - Eagan, MN

What I’ve written has come together in pieces. But as I sit here now I find myself, coincidentally, writing a nutrition story while devouring Norwegian salmon, brown rice, organic cauliflower, broccoli, and bok choy. This coincidence is involuntary, like many nutritional choices that occur more naturally these days. Things weren’t always this way. When I was a kid I’d cry if my parents didn’t buy me 6 McDonalds hash browns for breakfast. As I grew, my food choices remained similarly poor. It was a few years ago when I thought it’d be a good idea to start making smarter choices. At that time, a few emotional, spiritual, and physical turning points in my life led me to start thinking of what it would be like to step outside of the body I was in, and start believing in the power of my own mental capacity. This is a power everyone has, to stop relying on bodily impulses believed to be natural and common. The decision to be active, or to be more health conscious are incredibly more powerful than synapses sending nerve impulses that cause laziness, apathy, and a belief that we need to eat and drink things that aren’t good for us. It sounds simple, but we all struggle. Nobody is perfect, and that’s the beauty of it. Struggle shapes us. Whether we come out on top, or in an unhappy place, comes back to a choice.

Mine was to start down a healthier path. There was an obvious solution, and one many come to eventually, to become more physically active. I’ve considered myself an active person for many years, but falling in love with distance running was something I wouldn’t have ever guessed myself doing. The joy of running is an indescribable feeling. This passion evolved, and I eventually became highly invested in wanting to become a better runner. Cross-training and nutritional coaching were two areas required of myself to improve performance. I joined Life Time Fitness and was fortunate enough to have found help in both of these areas.

Working with a personal trainer, Raquel Schwab, attending classes, and spending time in other disciplines saw my running performance at an already noticeable difference. The next step was to take care of my body by giving it the right things to eat. I met nutritional coach Kristin Hogan and she, being an athlete herself, already had a plan in mind. She assessed my existing diet, and noticed that I was caught up in a mindset that many athletes have believed to be true for years, that carbohydrates were the best source of energy for higher endurance activities. What I learned from her made sense right away: proteins and fats were a more sustainable source of energy than fast burning carbohydrates. We made it a goal to cut out foods of this category, and increase the amounts of protein and fats I eat. The results were staggering. I went from running both high and low distance runs at a dramatically lower heart, from about an average of 180 beats per minute now to approximately 160 beats per minute, and still falling. I found myself running at paces and distances I’ve never reached before, and not being nearly as sore or exhausted afterwards. My body fat percentage dropped from 19% to now 6%. My amount of lean muscle mass has increased, and is still improving. I eat more food now than I ever have before, weigh less and perform better. This is all because I’m eating the right type of foods and supplements.

In 2010, I could not get past the 4 hour marathon mark. Fresh out of 4 months of nutritional coaching, personal training, and heavy cross training, I ran Grandma’s Marathon in the summer of 2011 at a time of 3 hours 21minutes, 45 minutes faster than I planned! My marathon time further improved in the fall at the Chicago Marathon to 3 hours 15 minutes. In those 3 months in between, I ran a half marathon at 1 hour 32 minutes, a 10 miler at 68 minutes, and completed an Olympic distance triathlon in less than 3 hours. These results just came naturally with a healthier lifestyle and smarter approach to training.

In 2012 I want to further my knowledge with more nutrition coaching, heavy weight training, and a new detoxification approach with my friend Kristin! Outside of running, increasing muscle mass and keeping up with varying cross training such as yoga, swimming and biking are very important. I hope to improve my marathon time to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I’d also like to run multiple marathons and many other races with friends to help motivate them to achieve their goals. I’d like to continually improve nutritionally, learning new ways to cook, discover new products, and eat clean whole foods. Its amazing how much fun I have going to the grocery store and talking about this stuff! (I know, cool right?!)

Outside of exercise, my mind and body have never been more sound. Daily energy levels are higher than ever, allowing me to accomplish more, and get the most out of every day activities such as work, my studio practice, and spending time with family and friends. Less sugar and more sustainable energy sources have truly made a difference not only in the physical realm, but mentally as well. Improving my diet and feeling physically better than I ever have before has given me so many reasons believe in myself. My confidence in every day situations, as well as my ability to push past obstacles and keep on improving is what I consider to be one of my greatest achievements, and an even greater ongoing endeavor. I’d like to continue to improve how I think and act outside of exercise. I want to exercise confidence and positivity and share it with others, everyday, in any possible way I can.

Stepping back and reflecting, I can now see this journey as a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” scenario. I’m not sure what the whole is yet. A conclusion may never be reached, and that’s the best part of all of this. I’ve enjoyed better race times, lower blood sugar, lifting weights, and a great many other things. But I think I’ve been given the chance to share my experience in hopes that others will write a story of their own. Read this and the many more fantastic stories people are sharing with you. We’re all in it to help one another. I have been blessed to have found such help, and the most wonderful people who have shared their wisdom and stories. It is my greatest hope that others may share the same experience as I.

Sunday
Mar182012

Michael H. - Shelby, MI

Name: Michael H., a 43-year-old Sales &  Marketing Manager from Michigan. I am married with one child (13 year old son).  Founder of a Michigan nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to Michigan families that have children with cancer.

Background I have always been physically fit my entire life.  About the time that my son was born, which was in 1998 I injured my back playing basketball.  The injury was to my L4 and L5 vertebrae.  The injury was significant and gradually continued to worsen.   The back injury and the birth of my son was the start of the decline of my physical activity.  Spending every waking moment with my son was all I wanted to do and the discomfort of the back injury made this easy to do.  As my son began to grow up I had become accustomed to living a sedentary lifestyle.  During a span of about 8 years my weight had ballooned to 340 lbs.  Being 6' 5", I carried that weight well.  While I knew I was overweight I never really began to realize the severity of my weight gain until I started to see the warning signs of carrying excessive weight.  These signs included, snoring, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, lack of energy, chronic hunger and at times an accelerated heartbeat.  In addition to these warning signs the additional weight was not helping my back, which further worsened.

Weight loss: The life changing moment for me came one evening in 2007.  While attending a charity event I began to profusely sweat at an uncontrollable rate.  This was a very scary experience.  Within days I decided to visit a renowned back surgeon at the University of Chicago.  He informed me that I would need a spinal fusion, but due to the seriousness of this procedure he suggested extensive physical therapy.  He also informed me that the damage was already done and that I could not injure it any further.  At this point it was a pain tolerance thing.  When I came back home I made the decision to bypass physical therapy and I joined Lifetime Fitness in Shelby Township, Michigan.  I knew this would be a physically grueling commitment.  I immediately started making better food decisions and began working out again.  The first 6 months was the most physically challenging and painful training sessions I have ever endured.  Some days I could barely walk out of the gym because my back was in such bad shape.   During this time I focused mainly on strengthening my core and cardio.  I eventually incorporated weight training after strengthening my core. I work out 6 days a week.  I rise every morning at 4:00 am and by 4:30 am I am on the gym floor doing my routines which consist of 1.25 hour of weight training and 1.25 hour of cardio.  This is my daily routine. I have lost a total of 123 lbs.  I have kept it off through a diligent commitment to my workout routine and healthy diet.

Advice for others: Commit to making a lifestyle change. If this is going to be a "diet" then this will be temporary and you stand a likely chance of gaining your weight back and then some.  Set realistic goals and make friends at your local gym.  They will continue to keep you motivated.