Kelly O. – Beachwood, OH
“I am a warrior.”
This sentence was written by my dad on a hospital placemat about 15 times on October 23, 2014, the day after his emergency bypass surgery as a result of a heart attack. My dad’s hero from the Vietnam War sent a motivational message right before surgery telling him that he is a warrior. When my dad had pain, he wrote this reminder on the placemat to give him strength. His handwriting got consistently better each time.
My dad had no history of heart problems. His cholesterol and blood pressure are perfect. He is average weight if not slightly below, eats ridiculously healthily, and works out daily. His routine annual exams never caught that five arteries were significantly blocked. There were no signs. The heart surgeon said that a “normal person” would not have survived his massive heart attack. My dad’s good health saved his life.
As I write this essay during the last week of my 90-Day Transformation Challenge, I cannot help but think how wonderful it is that a health club offers a contest that can “kickstart” a lifetime of healthy living that may someday save my life too. I’d like to share my story…
I was in Minnesota for business. There were many nice people staying at my hotel who were all in training at Life Time’s headquarters that week. They all talked very highly of the club, and I vowed that when I returned to Cleveland, I was going to join. I entered Life Time in Beachwood, OH, two days later and was greeted by Amanda Groth, Personal Training Department Head. She wanted to know all about me and took the time to ask many questions, so that she could fully understand my goals and needs. She listened to me tell her that I have never been so heavy and out of shape in my life, that I’m often depressed about being separated after a 14-year marriage, that I have a high stress job, that I need to find another hobby besides drinking wine every night, and most importantly, that I want to be a better person for my two amazing boys (10-years-old and 8-years-old). She was sympathetic, she gave me hope, and she told me about the 90-Day Transformation contest. Amanda matched me with Karl Jacobson, who had trained the national winner of the 2012 90-Day Transformation Challenge. I was in!
Karl and I talked through how often I’d be able to come to Life Time to train with him based on my busy schedule at work and home. We started off with two 30-minute sessions per week, which I quickly increased to three. The third session I added was every Saturday morning at 7:30 am. Those who know me understood I was pretty serious about my fitness challenge at this point because I am NOT a morning person. Poor Karl, who had to put up with me every Saturday morning – his positive attitude, professionalism, sense of humour, intelligence, and candidness carried me through this Challenge.
In addition to the personal training sessions, Karl drew up a plan each month for the cardio that I was to do on my own. He taught me about the importance of interval training. He provided me with a list of suggested foods and educated me on the timing to eat these foods. I never ate breakfast before I met Karl. He took me down to the LifeCafe and recommended what shakes would be best for me (the mocha madness is incredible). He made working out fun! I became more active. The kids and I went on bike rides. We did things outside together. We started a garden and picked fresh vegetables. My boys had to know if I hit my 10,000 steps each night (another great Life Time challenge), and if not, we walked until I did! My dog is even happier because she now goes on walks every day. I have become a better me.
There were challenges along this journey. I developed shin splints. My scoliosis caused me to have a sprained shoulder and a hurt back, I had a 100 degree fever for two weekends in a row, and my dad is recovering in a hospital in California. The person I was before this challenge would not have been able to handle these obstacles gracefully. This transformation has allowed me to discover my inner strength that had been hiding inside me all along. I am so grateful for my supportive boys, family, friends, the Life Time staff, and most importantly Karl who believed in me since day one, and is without question the reason for my success. I’ve gained health and happiness. I’ve learned to fight for the good life because I am worth it. I am a warrior!