Melissa M. – Overland Park, KC
BODY. TRANSFORMATION. CHALLENGE. As I half-heartedly scrolled through my inbox, those three words jumped at me from the screen. I love to challenge myself. I always have. I love the drive and motivation behind some healthy competition. I opened the email from Life Time and glanced over some of the details of the Challenge, all the while thinking, “I am ready to take myself to the next level of fitness, and this Challenge will get me there.”
I struggled with weight for my entire adult life, and though I was able to get down to a healthy weight several months after my almost three-year-old son was born, maintaining that weight was starting to become very difficult. Those unhealthy habits from most of my life started creeping their way back into my life. That’s when I joined Life Time Fitness. I needed to be around other people who were motivated and passionate about healthy living. I needed to peer out the corner of my eye and see someone else pushing and driving to do a few more reps or last just a little bit longer in those mountain climbers. And then I received the e-mail about Life Time’s 90-Day Challenge just a few weeks after I joined, and I knew that I was up for the challenge. I went to the personal training desk the very next day and talked to Terrance Saunders about the Challenge. I met with him on a weekly basis for weigh-ins and training. Terrance helped guide my nutrition to be sure I was getting enough calories from the proper sources (lean protein, lots of fish, some fruit, tons of veggies and good, healthy fats), along with muscle building and fat burning supplements to fuel the types of training I would be doing: circuit training, cardio and heavy strength training.
BLOOD. SWEAT. TEARS. I had them all. I got off to a rocky start at the beginning of the challenge by slicing off part of my index finger with my 9-inch chef’s knife; then two weeks later, I sliced into the same finger with the same knife and required stitches. (I then “grounded” myself from using the knife until my finger was completely healed.) This injury inhibited my ability to tightly grasp any weight, but Terrance worked around the injury, and I was still able to train with some very intense workouts. I started with a 3-4 days/week commitment to training at Life Time and then increased to 6-7 days/week after 3 weeks. I became friends with my Zumba instructor, who shares a similar story in weight loss. My children ask me every day if we’re going to the gym because it has become such a regular “fixture” in our schedule for the day and they love getting their exercise in the child care area. For motivation, I enlisted the support of lots of friends and family and started a group in Facebook to share my stories, my struggles, my victories and everything in between. This group (which includes Terrance and my Zumba instructor) provided endless encouragement and inspiration. I would print off their quotes, and they are taped all over my home so I can see them every day!
Around week 4, I hit a complete breakdown. It was only 4 weeks in, and I felt so overwhelmed by all the cooking, eating and cleaning I had to do in the kitchen because I eat 7 times a day! At that point, I was still preparing separate meals for myself than what I made for my husband and 2 sons. I was convinced that I could not carry on for another 8 weeks and then for a whole lifetime after that! I reached out to Terrance, and he provided some excellent tips on batch cooking to lighten the daily load. He also gave me recipes for some meals I could easily take with me on the go, which was extraordinarily helpful because I am usually “on the go.” I started preparing the same meals for my family as I prepared for myself, and they loved all the healthy food I was eating! In addition, I started letting people at Life Time know that I was involved in the Challenge, so I had cheerleaders everywhere I turned – my friends who exercise with me, the childcare staff, the people at the front desk and even other trainers! I felt like I had so many people believing in me that I was back to believing in myself!
In week 8, we took a 2-week family vacation to Florida. That was definitely the most challenging period during the 90 days. We rented a house so that I could cook most of my meals. I packed 3 full-size coolers full of my own food, my Vitamix blender (for my protein smoothies), my food scale and my workouts. I allowed myself a couple glasses of wine throughout the week as a “cheat meal,” and one evening my husband grilled a fabulous filet mignon. Otherwise, I ate on point, ordered fresh fish when we dined out and exercised every single day on vacation! What a difference from my vacations of the past – full of overindulgence in food and wine, lying around and taking a break from exercise. And, honestly, this vacation was way more fun!
In week 10, I allowed my older son to pick out whatever he wanted to eat at every meal for a whole day. I shuddered at the thought of what he might choose, but he chose broccoli for every meal (including breakfast), fruit and almonds for snacks (raw almonds) and even fish! At that point, I realized, not only had I changed my lifestyle, but my whole family changed their lifestyles as well!
LIFELONG. HEALTHY. HABITS. Now as I prepare to finish the challenge portion of my 90-Day Challenge, I know the real challenge is what comes next. I am absolutely thrilled at my accomplishments of losing over 30 pounds and achieving over 45% change in body fat percentage. I registered for my first half-marathon this fall, and Terrance made arrangements with another trainer to have my active metabolic test done so I can train efficiently to run. I will continue to train with Terrance at Life Time and even recruited a few friends to do some group training with me. I owe Life Time Fitness and Terrance many thanks for challenging me, for believing in me and for holding me accountable. As I look back over my journey during these last 90 days, I realize that words hold much power for me. The words and phrases I see, hear and tell myself everyday become my beliefs. My beliefs from my entire adult life prior to this Challenge (“I will never be a runner. I will never be ‘thin.’ I will never be able to do pushups with my knees off the floor.”) have vanished and have been taken over by the most powerful words in my vocabulary: “I CAN.” I see the posters at Life Time every day, and now I completely understand how true the phrase is: “I CAN do it ALL in my LIFETIME”!!!!!