2014 Spring Weight Loss Challenge Winner
41.3% of body weight *
*Results not typical
A couple years back, I had enough of the way I looked and felt about myself. I decided to enter the Life Time Fitness 90-Day Challenge. It was a test of will and dedication that I knew I could handle and win. Top five in the nation is where I placed after completing the contest with what I thought was a solid showing. However, underneath all the praise and compliments I received there was a feeling of failure because I did not take 1st place. Sounds crazy, I know, but the competitive drive inside of me outweighed the accomplishment I had achieved. I was solely in it for the money. The term, “It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet”, was what I considered an overused cliché in the fitness world. I’d think, of course it’s a life change…the life being lived obviously isn’t getting it done, so change it if you want something different. Never understood why everybody dieting needs to hear that all the time. Well, as it turned out, the fitness world is right. My goal was only to win; I didn’t make a change in my lifestyle, and gained every pound back and more. So, once I heard there was another 90-Day Challenge to enter, I felt that need to win which burns inside of me and tried again. This time I set two goals, not only to win but to work towards a change in the lifestyle after it was over.
For me, competition is where it’s at. Without a challenge, a bet, or a vacation to prepare for, I have little drive. That fierce desire to win can be dangerous; but if controlled and kept in check, it can be a big advantage in a contest like this. I researched past winners a bit. I read the stories. Found ways to incorporate their plans into one that would be successful for me. Last fall, a guy named Bernard won the challenge by losing 125 pounds. In the spring, Frank Pace lost an amazing 42.48% of his starting weight. Such numbers are thought impossible, apparently not. This information set my intention; beat them both.
I suggest this before starting any diet/lifestyle change. Write down everything you enjoy. What makes you happy? Certain restaurants, friends, sports, television shows, your car, whatever….fill up your sheet of paper, list them all. Now go through and honestly ask yourself what purpose they all serve. Good, bad, indifferent…does not matter, write them down. Obviously the bad must be eliminated for now. Everybody knows why they’re overweight. Don’t lie to yourself, you know why. The rest of your list needs to be part of your plan in some way. Certain music you enjoy, of course that’s your playlist. TV shows, that’s what you watch on a treadmill when possible. Friends, see more of the positive ones less of the negative. Everything on that list can serve a roll in staying upbeat and focused. Adequate amounts of rest was a big one for me. The best way I found is to set a bed time. Watching TV and falling asleep on the couch is a bad habit. It contributes to late night snacking while nobody is around and limits quality sleep. Can’t wake up and workout when you slept like crap. Get the TV out of the bedroom also. Don’t need it in there. Go to bed. Waking up early and ready to get at it is a strong point of mine. Never has been a problem for me to wake up at 4:00 am and start my day. This is when my daily workout routine would begin. Early morning is a great time to be at the club. Always the same faces getting their work in. No crowd, place is yours for the most part. Very little social interaction; an occasional head nod and back to work. Everybody in there is focused on getting it done in a short period of time. Find what works best for you to burn the calories you wish to consume that day. This first workout, I do in a fasted state. With no carbs in your system since noon the previous day, your body only has one source of fuel…fat. Wait for an hour after to eat something and you have created a fat burning machine. In the evening, I’d often sneak in another workout.
The dietary plan I followed was roughly the same as last time; the one you often hear about, but failed before. Clean carbs only, and a limited amount of those. Oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice, sweet potatoes…you’ve heard it all before, but it’s critical to allow a couple weeks for your body to accept its new fuel source and help you avoid failure. The twist I put on that plan was to consume any carbs eaten, before noon. My protein intake was also changed a bit. Only fish or shrimp allowed no fat cuts of beef or pork. Some vegetables are proven to also supply protein, like broccoli for instance. That and spinach supplied the majority of my vegetables. I love both, so easy enough. No dairy. No sweets. No alcohol! I drank nearly two gallons of water a day and took the maximum suggested amount of B-12 and multi vitamins. What I believe makes my plan more successful than most is that I also counted my calories daily and committed myself to never consuming more than I burned. Simple concept, burn more than you take in….you’ll lose weight. If what you take in is clean….you can burn massive amounts of weight. Bingo. You have a recipe for drastic weight loss, without putting yourself in an unhealthy state.
For me, winning will always be the best part of any competition and what I enjoy the most. I know that and except it as who I am. This time though, I found more enjoyment in my results. Along the way I was more in touch with the improvements and progress I was making. The compliments had more meaning. The Life Time staff is stacked with great trainers and supportive people in general. Those friendships are an added reason to get in the gym. Moving forward, this time I plan on using that support as a reason to keep at changing myself. I have set a new goal. I have set a healthy weight and body fat percentage to reach and more importantly, maintain. Attendance at Life Time is the only way for me to keep at it. Even if not at such a torrid pace, I will get there. It doesn’t need to be my sole focus; a few times a week may prove to be enough. As far as my goal of surpassing the past winners, I was one for two. Took care of Bernard, but couldn’t quite reach the near 43% Frank posted. My goal of winning this year’s has yet to be determined. Win or lose this time however, I know that I gave my all and nobody entered can take my new found health away from me. Thank you again to Life Time for all of your help and support. Of course I will hate to not have won….but I’m a winner regardless; I found a lifestyle change to believe in.