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Entries in Transformation Challenge (4)


Austin D. - Fairfax, VA

January 27th marked my 29th birthday. Typically by this time, my New Year’s resolution is a faint memory, and I’m back to my guilt-free bad habits. This time was different. I was 30+ days strong quitting smoking cold turkey, and I was feeling great! I wanted to become “the best me in 2015,” and I felt like momentum was on my side. My wife had mentioned the 90-Day Challenge 4 or 5 times over the course of a week, but most of it went in one ear and out the other. Nevertheless I gave her the nod and figured as long as I weighed out I get my money back. What can I lose? 

My family (parents, wife and son, age 2) joined the Life Time Athletic Center in Fairfax, Virginia, in April 2014. Initially, I was the only one that did not use the facility regularly. My wife participates in the 6:00 a.m. Boot Camp fitness program three days a week and enjoys the group fitness classes. My parents consistently participated in the Team Weight Loss program three days a week, and my son enjoyed the swimming pool and the child daycare. I really did not have any excuse not to get more actively engaged in improving my physical fitness. It was just something I never scheduled. 

Tragically, it wasn’t until the passing of my wife’s younger brother that I made the conscious decision I was going to give this my all. I dedicate the last 90 days and this Challenge to the lasting loving memory of my wife’s beloved younger brother, who passed unexpectedly February 7th, 2015. He was 23.

The Challenge was something my wife had previously spoken to him about. During weigh-in weekend seeing the advertisements for “I can do all in my lifetime” really struck a chord close to my heart. I would do this for Jean-Luke. You never know when your time will expire. There is no better time than right now to take control of your life.

I understood that if I were going to take this seriously, it meant giving up a lot of the comfort foods that had helped me with my smoking urges… and it also meant no alcohol. I seriously doubted if that was even possible for me. 

Not knowing where to begin, I reached out to the excellent training staff at Life Time for advice. One of the first recommendations was to take a metabolic assessment, which I did. The Life Time trainer explained the importance of target heart rate training. They also did my overall physical fitness assessment, which provided the baseline from where I was starting. She answered all my questions and also went as far as to email me a copy of the Life Time “Live Well, Eat Well” manual so I could get a better understanding about nutritional tips that I should consider to reach my fitness goals. The “Live Well, Eat Well” manual was an invaluable tool in assisting me in my health journey. I completely changed my diet and started eating regularly scheduled meals 5 times a day. I realized the benefits instantly! 

I can honestly say this 90-day Challenge has made a significant difference in my daily life. I am now in a regular routine. My wife goes to the 6:00 a.m. boot camp, and I typically go at the end of the day after our two-year-old son has gone to bed. The fact that my club is open 24 hours a day makes it super convenient. I work out at the gym 5 days a week and try to get a light cardio or yoga class on the 6th. I must admit that I enjoy the classes. 

Dedicating myself to this Challenge was one of the hardest things I’ve done, and the first two weeks were brutal. I didn’t know which was harder - pushing myself past the point of exhaustion in the gym or watching people eat things I couldn’t. It got easier. I found healthy replacements to my much needed munchies, and I didn’t miss them anymore. and the results started to pour in.

During the Challenge I went from 14.9% body fat to 3%. If someone would have told me that was even possible six months ago, I am not sure that I would have believed them. I’m confident that the initial metabolic assessment and support from the Life Time training staff made a significant difference for me. I always work out with my heart rate monitor and my LT connect app to track my workouts. 

The 90-Day Challenge has made a significant difference in how I live my daily life. From maintaining a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and incorporating a good physical workout into my schedule I am very glad that I participated and had the opportunity to “meet and beat” the 90-Day Challenge. 



Melissa S. – Austin, TX

I saw the sign. That’s how it all started. There was something in the word “transformation” that stopped me in my tracks. Three months ago I felt like my mind, body and spirit were confused and lacking direction. I was tired of failing to keep it together. I had never been healthy, but after gaining weight through two pregnancies and experiencing gestational diabetes, I knew that if I did not do something drastic, things were only going to get worse. Weight gain, brain fog, mood-swings, low energy and always feeling like a victim to my cravings -these things were controlling my life. After doing some soul-searching, I made a decision and then announced this decision to my friends and family. I signed up for the transformation, and from that point on my commitment was fueled by the vision of what I wanted for my life.

I first began seeing real weight loss when I adopted the Paleo diet about a year ago. With little effort, I lost 37lbs. I felt great, had better skin and plenty of energy. However, over time I found that my emotions were controlling my level of commitment. I hit a plateau and found myself drinking heavily, experiencing anxiety and feeling out of control. I realized that it wasn’t just my diet that needed an overhaul.

The first month, I felt unstoppable. I started the 90-Day challenge by cleansing my diet of sugar, alcohol, sodas, processed foods, etc. It was enormously empowering to attend birthday parties and celebrations with people who were shoveling pizza and cake into their mouths and not feel tempted. As I said before, the vision of what I wanted was so powerful and tangible that there was no food and no amount of peer pressure that could take it away from me. That month I took back control. And while it wasn't easy, it was simple. I had to make the time to prepare my foods and walked 45 minutes each morning before eating breakfast. I was on fire and full of energy. I was very fortunate to have Sam, a certified trainer, show me how to properly lift a variety of heavy weights without injury and work out more efficiently.

In my second month, I took things a step further and introduced regular yoga practice. This increased my strength, flexibility and ability to focus and meditate, thus clearing my anxious mind on command. One thing that stood out about the second month was my husband’s involvement. He had always loved me the way I was and insisted on eating fried, carbohydrate-laden comfort foods. When he saw my results and the transformation that was taking hold of me in every respect, he became more supportive than ever and even participated himself!

My relationship to food had officially changed. I no longer saw food as a hiding place in dark times. I rather saw food as a way to nurture and heal my body and mind and give it what it desperately needs to thrive - not just survive! I realized that I had been abusing my body with inflammatory foods and toxins that were causing my body to prematurely age, making me irritable and further degrading my health and happiness.

I would like to say that this transformative process continued steadily along an exponential curve, but that wouldn’t be honest. In the third month, I dropped from 10th place in the nation to 27th and was flooded with self-doubt and self-accusation. I wondered if I had really given it my all, and the immediate temptation was to view this as a failure and give up. On top of that, I became afraid that I had alienated myself or brought on criticism from friends because I had lost so much weight. I know this sounds absurd - because it IS absurd! It was during this time that I experienced a significant personal victory. I was able to recognize that I had been using the competitive aspect of this challenge to motivate me, and when I was no longer “winning” I had to reach deep within me to find if I truly believed in my heart that I was worth all this effort. I had to know and believe that even if I did not win a prize or recognition for my efforts, that MY transformation was itself the ultimate reward.

Now that this 90-Day Challenge has come to a close, I reflect on the most notable changes in my life. I now know that I run the show. I now see someone in the mirror that I had never had the courage to believe could exist. I am stronger mentally, physically and spiritually. I have incredible clarity about my life and how to get what I want from it by defining my goals and making a plan to attain them. I have surrounded myself with those who inspire and encourage me and who let me borrow their belief when I had none for myself. I want to thank Sam, the wonderful crew in the child care center, my friends and my family for boundless support.

If you considered joining this challenge and for some reason did not, I encourage you to reconsider. This challenge is for those who still have a dream and a vision for their lives. If you are satisfied with where you are and have no desire to change, then it is not for you. But if you have the itch for a transformation that is about more than just your weight or body, and if you believe that there is so much more you could be and do in this lifetime, then rearrange your life to make it happen. You will be so glad that you did! Feel free to borrow my belief.  


Ben T. - Kingwood, TX

My journey began a long time ago when I was in middle school. It started out as an unhealthy one with bad eating habits and a lack of motivation to change them. I was always one of the heavier kids in school, and I was even jokingly called “The Candy Man” because I had a bit of a sweet tooth. With all of those factors in play, one might say healthy eating and exercise were not part of my life. With more unhealthy habits and zero motivation to exercise, as I got older the weight just kept piling on. I then got married to my wonderful wife, Erin, and began a career as an Air Traffic Controller. Air traffic controlling is a demanding job that requires high levels of responsibility, making it one of the most stressful jobs. Unfortunately, stress is one of the leading causes of unhealthy eating habits and excess fat storage. My wife and I had a son in 2010, and when he started to walk and run, I found myself struggling to keep up with him. That is when I realized that if something did not change soon, I wouldn't be there to enjoy life’s precious moments with my family as we grew older.

I then took the first healthy step in my journey when I joined Life Time Fitness in January of 2012. When I joined, I was at the heaviest I had ever been - 248 pounds - with high blood pressure, and I couldn't even run a mile. The personal training staff eagerly jumped in and helped with fitness tips and nutritional guidelines, and taught me how to set my own fitness goals. The trainers told me about the 90-Day Weight Loss Challenge. This struck me as the perfect opportunity to start by setting a competitive goal. With a healthier diet and a lot of cardio I won first place at my Life Time location and came in 10th in the nation. My blood pressure dropped, and I felt great, but I needed a new goal. At that point I decided to try for a duathlon, then a triathlon, and then a marathon. After tackling all of these goals, I then ran two half-marathons and achieved a qualifying time for the Houston Marathon, which I plan to run in 2015.

As I kept my journey alive, the holidays were not so kind to me. At the end of 2013, I found myself slipping back into bad eating habits. At that point, I decided to make another change in my lifestyle and set a new goal. Soon after the New Year, I saw the sign for the new 90-Day Transformation Challenge. I signed up immediately, and again the Life Time personal training staff was great at getting me motivated to make the change. Dustin at Life Time Kingwood suggested that I should add supplements to my diet to help balance my body’s needs. I started by taking L-Glutamine, fish oil, and multivitamins and could instantly feel a difference in my energy levels. I also did research to discover what I was really putting into my body when I ate the way I had been in the past. I compiled a new diet that consisted of all natural things like lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries. I took away all processed and complex carbohydrates, like rice, grains, and pastas, and recorded everything I ate. I used a food diary application on my phone to record all of my calories in and calories burned. My main goal this time was to lose fat and gain more lean muscle mass. Running, stair climbing, swimming, and biking were my main sources of cardio, and this time I added weight training to my routine to create a perfect balance. All of that together jump started my metabolism and helped my body burn fat more quickly.  

I started the transformation challenge at 207.5 pounds and 21.4% body fat. 90 days later I am proud to say that I am now at 166.7 pounds and 4.4% body fat.  Not only do I feel and look better than I have in my entire life, but I have completed another goal and can’t wait to find a new one. I think that the most important thing for anyone, regardless of age, gender, or weight, is to find what works best for your body. Set goals that inspire and motivate you, and never let anybody tell you that you can’t do it, because YOU CAN!!!


Matt M. - Burr Ridge, IL

My name is Matt, and I've been a Life Time Fitness member since 2002. For many of those years, I would come to the gym and jump on the elliptical or Stair Master machines, and struggle through torturous minutes of cardio and sweat some serious bullets, but I never saw any results. I hardly did any weight training because I didn't know how to properly do resistance training, and I would over-do it, rendering myself so sore that I would stop, rest for days, and go back to strictly cardio workouts.

Enter Josh Halvorson, a Personal Trainer at Lifetime Fitness in Burr Ridge, IL. He was promoting the 90-Day Body Transformation Challenge and asked if I'd like to join. I agreed and signed my wife Lynn up as well, thinking it would be a good way to learn what the rest of the club has to offer and have some fun working out together.

My wife and I weighed in and consulted with Josh about our goals, and he developed a plan and instant advice about where to start. I was very much overweight (238.3 lbs.) and my body fat percentage was high (19.9%). 

Over the course of the next 90 days, my wife and I did the Team Fitness workouts with Josh Halvorson three to four times per week in one hour sessions. The workouts have been a BLAST! We've learned about all the different types of machines and how to use them, worked out our "cores" using the Bosu ball, the Viper, or all around exercising using our own body weight as resistance. We've also used the kettle bells, the new Octane Elliptical machines (which are GREAT cross-training machines that really get your heart rate up!) and other free weights. I've found interesting ways to build muscle groups that I didn't even know I had. We did the cardio evaluation to learn about our specific zones to burn fat and stayed in the zones for the desired times. 

Throughout our workouts with Team Fitness, Josh kept the experience fun and interesting. He would demonstrate the exercises, answer questions, and evaluate our technique for proper form, so we didn't hurt ourselves. He kept us moving at a good pace to keep our heart rates up and to pack in as much content as we could in the hour-long Team Fitness workouts. We would sweat buckets, and it felt great! 

The weight started falling off of me, and my energy level shot way up. My mood got much better. My clothes fit better. I slept like a baby at night, which made me feel totally rested in the morning. The healthier way of eating put a new spring in my step! Even my skin feels better. My wife and I really supported each other to make all the Team Fitness workouts, and we feel better than we have in years! 

Before I started Team Fitness, my blood pressure was high. Now it's down to 110 over 70! I am now down to 221 lbs. and 13.1% body fat (and dropping ), while my lean muscle mass is going up, up, up! Thanks Lifetime! And thanks Josh!