As I sat on my couch in January scrolling through pictures and stories of previous 90-Day winners, I wondered what this journey could be for me? How could I pull it off? After all our family had gone through in the last year, should I really commit to this? Would my kids behave in child care? Would they feel safe? Would my husband be supportive? What if he had more rough patches with his health? Money has been a struggle the past few years, so would this be wise? There were so many things to think about. I spent the next several days praying and talking with my husband. We both felt peace on moving forward, and I am an all or nothing personality, so after researching a little more about the Challenge and competition side of it, I decided I wanted to be all in. What better way to start the year of health and healing?
I have been thin most of my life. However, after getting married and the life challenges we faced, my once non-existent battle with weight became an endless ride on the weight roller coaster. My husband and I have had a long journey of serious life stresses and, as most people do in times of stress, I either turned away from food or to food. My weight over the past seven years has been very high and very low. When it was high I would talk myself into some fad diet or crazy workout routine. As is often the case with fads, my weight would end on a high and soon with life stresses would again swing back to overweight.
This past year has been one of the worst in our lives. It was a very long journey and many terrible events that lead to finding out my husband has bipolar disorder. One thing that was imperative, and what I believe saved my husband’s life was working out during that time. Every counselor or psychiatrist he has been to emphasizes how important it is for him to get physical exercise. We knew money would be tight with all the medical bills, and Life Time Fitness graciously paid for our membership throughout the entire summer. It has been and continues to be a very painful and life changing journey. Mental health illnesses are very real, serious, and often misunderstood. After receiving that diagnosis, we deemed this year as a year of health and healing for our family.
Through a friend, I found out about the legendary Bob Holper, (Pro Body Builder, ISSN Nutrition Specialist, NASM certified personal trainer) and his expertise and decided I wanted to work with him for my 90-Day Challenge. Little did I know that this journey would be so much more than physical.
The first meeting with Bob was to go over my 90-Day plan. Specifically, we discussed workouts, nutrition and Life Time supplements. I realized then that Bob was knowledgeable on so much more than just workouts. I also knew from his gentle spirit and sincere care for what’s going on deeper than just the physical that I could trust him with every aspect of this journey. He educated me on the supplements that would help me have the greatest success and most healthy lifestyle. Over the course of the 90-Day Challenge I would take a handful of Life Time supplements: Vegan max protein, dynamic greens, glutamine, creatine, lean source, L-Carnitine, Relora, vitamin C, vitamin D, women’s multivitamin, multiprobiotic, Cal/Mag, fish oil, and some natural herbal supplements that helped with the stresses of personal life as they rose and fell during this journey. I would also start nutrition by learning how to eat cleanly.
At the start of my 90-Day journey, I spent time learning good nutrition values and how they affected my body. Bob had me create my own menus every week, and he looked over them. He would laugh at how precise I was. I wanted to know that at the end of this journey, there wasn’t one thing I could have done differently. My workout plan consisted of six days a week doing cardio, and lifting with Bob 3-5 times a week. I also would use the sauna daily. Even on my rest days I would come in to use the sauna, relax in the hot tub, or get a massage. I just loved being at Life Time. When he told me to do something I did it, no questions or doubt in my mind. He made sure I understood what I was doing and why I was doing it, and I did it just the way he said and then some! I would spend a day each week planning and preparing my meals, putting them each in individual containers. I also put my daily vitamins in baggies for each day so I could grab and go with my busy mommy lifestyle. I was completely committed to the 90-Day Challenge and still committed to balance for my family. And it was, and is, possible!
Bob’s making me plan out my meals and figure out my nutrition numbers was so wise and one of the best gifts he has given me in this 90-Day journey. He wanted me to learn and to understand what and why we were doing this, not to just follow a printed out pre-done menu. He wanted me to have a permanently changed lifestyle, not just a 90-Day changed lifestyle. We continued to discuss these things throughout the 90 days.
I couldn’t honestly talk about my journey without giving the Life Time staff a lot of credit. They make the journey possible. At the front desk as we walk in, Debra, has been such a blessing and encouragement to my kids and me. We are there early each morning, and she always greets us with a smile. She is sure to give the kids hugs or high fives when we enter and when we leave. It is a highlight for them! When we walk past the cafe, we get waves and hellos from Mary and Jane. I think my kids feel like superstars when we enter. I can’t begin to say enough about the child care! These workers may only see my kids for two hours a day, but they still have a huge impact on their lives. They are always so kind and have so much love and smiles to give to my boys. It’s so reassuring to leave them some place I know they are safe and loved. For a tired mom and wife who has a lot on her plate, the two hours I get to be healthy are so much easier when I know the kids are happy and safe. For these two little boys, who have experienced more emotional trauma in their life than any kids should, I can’t begin to put into words how therapeutic it is for them to have a loving, consistent environment that they can come to.
My journey would not have been the same without Bob. He has been invaluable throughout this challenge. He not only cares about the physical component of his clients but also the mental. He knows that they go hand in hand, and I can see he truly cares for the people he trains. He is such a motivator and encourages me to always do my best and reminds me that is all I can do. He has shown me a new vision for my life physically, and has encouraged me to push myself further than I ever thought I could. He cares about how my kids are and even stopped down one morning before our workout to meet them. They call him Bob the (muscle) Builder! My kids have seen me change and watch what I do and eat. It makes me emotional at times when they show me their muscles or when they first asked to start eating the food I’m eating. I will never forget the afternoon that I went to give my oldest a not so healthy snack and he said, “No mommy, I want a healthy snack.” This journey is truly transforming our family! No one necessarily knows our story and that is nice in its own way. They just care because they do.
I was afraid that this process would be nothing but grueling, yet once I started week four was here before I knew it. I couldn’t believe how fast my body was changing! And I don’t think Bob could either. As we were lifting arms one day, he said to me he doesn’t know another girl who can lift 50 pounds of weight on shoulder press other than his girlfriend. This was all new to me, so I just thought I was doing what everyone does. It was truly a compliment to receive from Bob. Week five was a challenging week as I would end the week of hard training, starting two-a-day workouts. I was nervous about it at first, but then once I started I was actually sad to stop. I loved the intensity and drive to push myself a little more. One day when I was checking in I mentioned it was my second workout of the day, the front desk clerk told me I was the third person in an hour to tell her that. Then I knew the competition was heating up. It just made me push myself even harder and take it that much more seriously. I loved the drive and fire it lit in me. That week I lost 3% body fat!
Week seven came with many nerves for me. Bob was gone on vacation, and I was so worried about how I would do. As I walked into the gym to lift weights, alone for the first time, it felt like everyone knew I had no clue what I was doing. Although no one really was paying any attention to me, it sure felt like it. But I made it through that week and had one of my best weigh-in results. I lost a total body fat of 3.5%. Week eight was a big week for me, too. I lost another 3.5% body fat and my husband was starting to notice changes daily. I was loving my meals and enjoying the process. It was so nice to see and know I could really maintain this lifestyle. Bob told me he thought I might be able to get into the teens of weight loss percentage and lose another three inches. I was feeling great and couldn’t believe he thought I could do that. When we started the 90-Day, I weighed 168 pounds and had a body fat percentage of 41.1. I asked Bob what body fat percentage he thought I could realistically get down to. He said he thought getting down to 25% body fat would be really good. Now, still weeks from the finish, I was already there!
As I headed toward the home stretch of the 90-Day, I was getting compliments from people daily. I had some awesome moments of realizing my changes were becoming more obvious. One morning I was walking into the locker room and one of the other members said to me, “You have such a nice body. I wish my body looked like that!” I honestly had to look around; I had no idea she was talking to me. During week eight one of the trainers came up to me and said, “I just want to tell you that you look amazing. I seriously had to look twice because I didn’t know who you were!” I almost cried. I couldn’t believe it! It’s amazing how fast the body can and will change if you truly work hard at it and understand it.
In the last three weeks of my 90-Day journey my husband started having health issues again. I remember sitting in a bathroom stall crying. I didn’t want to go up the stairs and see Bob and cry. So I was trying to get myself together. When I got up to Bob for my weigh-in, I broke down. I was so sad that this was happening again. Bob was very understanding and talked to me about what was going on throughout our workout. I left that day realizing I didn’t just have a coach in Bob, but a friend. He truly cared and understood that even in the midst of this, my life was still happening.
From a competition standpoint, the final three weeks would be the hardest. Two weeks from the finish, I received a call from my husband saying he couldn’t see well. He was in and out of it, even in his speech, and I needed to take him to the emergency room. He was admitted for an MRI on his brain. I sat alone in the waiting room wondering what the day might amount to. Although concerned, that day was a turning point for me as I realized that this journey has made me stronger: spiritually, physically, AND mentally. What once would have crushed me, I was now able to be concerned about but under control and hopeful. I used to think that it was impossible for me to be a healthy, fit mom and wife. Taking care of me seemed selfish and difficult. But what I’ve come to know is that taking two hours a day for myself to be healthy, inside and out, is a gift not just to me but to my family as well. I am better for them because I’m healthier. What I believe is you can’t get mentally healthy without getting physically healthy, and when you start to become physically healthy you will always start to become more healthy mentally. Most people who are physically unhealthy, either over or under weight, tend to be because of trauma, pain or stress in life. So, when you begin to heal and get better physically you can’t help but have it affect you mentally.
What I’ve come to understand firsthand is that Life Time gets “it.” They understand that a healthy way of life isn’t just eating the healthy food in the cafe that my kids so enjoy, seeing the chiropractor, getting a therapeutic massage, having a trained person stretch my muscles, doing cardio, or lifting weights. They understand it’s more than the friendships you make with the members and the classes you take. They know it’s not just a personal training or sweating it out in the sauna or hot tub. They understand it’s not just about cardio and calorie point tests, or talking about your allergy test results with the dietitian. They understand our children and our lives are precious. They understand that everyone comes in with a different challenge, a different stage, and season of life. And they meet you where you are at, they encourage and challenge you, but never force you. They understand helping someone achieve physical greatness means helping them in all areas. They understand it is a TEAM effort and just as one part of the body affects the other, each part of their team affects the other. I believe they can firmly say to their Eagan team, job well done!!
As I walked up the stairs for the final 90-Day workout today I was excited, sad and nervous. I’m excited to set new goals with Bob and hope to compete in a body building show in the fall. I now know and believe that I have the ability to persevere, that even if my circumstances don’t change, I am changed in a healthy way. I now believe I can be the healthy mom and wife my family needs me to be. I truly believe that God can use anything to get us healthy and bring us to the place we need to be. And I believe that, for me and this season in my life, He is using Life Time almost like a small angel to help me and my family get healthy in all areas.
This 90-Day Challenge has changed my life and my family’s life. It has brought healing to emotional brokenness as well as life, security and trust back into my children’s hearts where they were once fearful of new people. It has given us a healthy lifestyle that we don’t just need and have to do but desire to do. People ask me if I’m ready for these upcoming weeks. And although I am a bit nervous I know in my own way, I’ve already won. Every time my kids ask me for a healthy snack, I’ve won. Every time my husband asks me to make him one of my lunches, I’ve won. Every time my kids ask to go to the gym or show me their muscles, I’ve won. And every time we hit a bump with my husband’s health and I can be supportive and ease through it for my family, we’ve won! But the day my husband told me he was all in to do the 90-Day with Bob in the fall and wants to win, I knew then that I’d already won!!! So, regardless of the final outcome, I know for a hundred reasons I’ve already won and our healthy family has just begun!
Although I’m sad to be at the end of my 90-Day journey, I know this is just the beginning of my Life Time journey. I often think about Life Time’s slogans: “You can do it all in your lifetime” or “The healthy way of life” company. I used to ponder what that meant and if I believed it was true. I can now say, without a doubt, that these are definitely true. I believe with the passion and drive Bob has helped instill in me that I CAN and will do it all in my lifetime. And I believe with the care and concern of the staff there that, far beyond the physical, Life Time IS a healthy way of life company!
Start of 90-Day weigh-in:168 pounds / 41.1% body fat
Final weigh-in:133.2 pounds / 16.2% body fat
Lost 54.3% of body fat