inspiration stories

Michele O. – Burr Ridge, IL

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Michele+Ostrowski+Before+PhotoSo, I’ve won!  I lost 35 pounds in the 90 day challenge at Life Time Fitness.  I have been coming here to Burr Ridge, IL for about eight years but I have been a fair weather work out enthusiast…no, in fact I hated to “work out”.  I still find it hard to believe, but now I “work out” every day.

What is your background like?  How did you gain the weight before deciding to lose it?

I have been obese my whole life.  I used food for my escape, my reward, my friend and my revenge.  I had and have a very stressful life; I work full-time and also have a part time job in the health care field.  I have had disasters in my life including a painful divorce, a near business failure after a devastating flood, legal troubles, health issues, and a predisposition to dark moods.

What got you started on your journey to lose weight?

Thankfully, in the last year, life has shown me calmer waters.  I started with my pilates class after a free birthday lesson Lifetime gave me a year ago.  I liked it and started going two times a week.  I also found my bliss: ballroom dancing.  The more I danced the happier I became.  One day after pilates, I was leaving the club in my peppy “Get Physical” shirt and a friendly face engaged me.  He asked how “getting physical” was going, and he ended up being my trainer, Wes Giacobbe.  He introduced me to the 90 Day Challenge since I told him weight loss was one of my goals.  He asked me to think about my goals and how badly I wanted them.  By this point, I really wanted to lose weight.

Why did you want to lose weight?

Cognitively, I knew that weight loss was needed.  I wanted to meet men but at 41, the age pool is highly competitive and the extra weight was not helping my cause.  I have some bad genes in my family and was at risk for diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia along with the metabolic syndrome; obese women are at more risk for cancers as well.  At work in the health care field, I felt a little hypocritical telling people how to live when I couldn’t put my own words into practice.  Even though my doctor told me to lose weight, my hobby would be much more pleasurable and less problematic for my knees, and all the cute clothes were in the small sizes (for a shopaholic – this is a big deal), it still took me many years to find my pivot point.  It’s a point, not necessarily the one and only in my life that I felt calm and steady enough to start making large personal changes.

How did you lose the weight?  What kept you motivated?

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do this alone.  Jesse Schroeder, Wes Giacobbe,  Diana DeCicco, Briana Dockins, the other Pilates instructors, and even other trainers like Michelle McCormick were always very supportive of my journey.  The secret to success is persistence.  Wes and Jesse were there when I “fell off” the wagon and had to keep getting back on track.  I have come to discover that this weight loss process (and eventually maintenance) is going to be a lifelong project requiring constant vigilance.  I am going to treat it like a chronic disease and hopefully, with maybe a “check-up” now and then I can lead a healthier life.  It was critical for me to have little goals, like weekly weigh-ins, and larger goals like an ideal weight.  It was also nice to have intermediate goals like the ½ way mark and a new dress to fit into.  Trying to stay positive and getting into a tolerable routine were also helpful secrets to success.  Staying motivated for me meant, not wanting to disappoint the people noticing my weight loss, having the intermediate goals of new clothes and better dance opportunities.  Journaling my food is a very helpful motivator.  Weighing in and discussing food problems with the dietitian was also helpful.  Being able to talk to and email my trainer (even when he wasn’t “on the clock”) was a huge motivator for me as well.

Were there any struggles or challenges along the way?

There were lots of challenges for me during the three month challenge.  Stress at work, birthday celebrations, vacations, holidays, work out doldrums, mental fatigue, hunger, and resurgence of bad habits were just among the few stumbling blocks.  The biggest challenge was the visibility of my struggle, my journey.  I deal with people all day long and my weight was almost always the first thing they commented on.  They all wanted to know how muchdid I lose and how much was I going to lose.  It was as if there was a special number that would make it easier for them to approve the change.  They wanted to know if I were sick, stressed, taking some type of drug, etc.  Each and every time I had to explain myself – how was I losing the weight, why was I, what was I eating, etc.

How do you feel now 35 pounds lighter than you were 90 days ago?  What have you learned along this weight loss journey?

Michele+Ostrowski+After+PhotoAll in all, I feel good.  I feel better able to move around.  I feel energized and accomplished.  I made my own goal for the 90 Day Challenge and meeting that was almost as satisfying as winning.  My clothes all fit differently.  (That’s the bad thing about the weight loss – all my female parts disappeared – What a MAJOR bummer!?!?!)  It was like the Marine Corps for a bit there in the 90 days but the hard work pays off.  Just make sure there are milestones and endpoints.  “If it is to be, it is up to me” – that is what I learned was the starting point to life change like weight loss.  Find support, some people are lucky enough to have a supportive friend, spouse, team class and for those of us who don’t, know there are trainers here just for you.  Starting mood neutral and more so if happy or positive, makes this journey much more viable.  So start there, but also know that success on the journey increases the mood as well!  Thanks to Jesse and Wes and the Life Time team for the start of the rest of my life!

The Success Stories testimonials presented are applicable to the individuals depicted only and may not be representative of the experiences or results of others. Life Time Fitness does not guarantee any individual results. Factors such as diet, genetic makeup, overall health and physiological differences may influence results. Please consult with your physician before embarking on any new nutritional and exercise program. Nothing contained herein is intended to substitute medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment of your physician. Individuals were not compensated for testimonials. Results not typical.