2011 Weight Loss Challenge Winner
*Results not typical
My success story actually began as a story of failure. Over the past 3-4 years I somehow grew to over 270 pounds. I didn’t see it happen – I made all the excuses. Finally I knew it was out of control and I had to do something. I was 50 years old, had an MRI on my leg (which revealed a torn ligament), and I was taking 2 blood pressure medications at the time. I was being threatened by the owner of the Company I work for, Brian Elias, of Hansons that I couldn’t return to work until I went to the doctor. I was going to the funeral of one of my closest friends. Although he unfortunately passed away from cancer, and I know that I couldn’t do anything that would prevent cancer, I also knew that I needed to take care of everything I could to make sure I never put my family through such pain – and we all knew the pain as 3 years prior we buried our 21 year old son.
I knew after many previous attempts to lose weight and get healthy failed – and every “gimmick diet” that I needed help. Being a member of Life Time it was time to really take advantage of it. I still don’t know if it was luck or fate, but I left the home of my friend’s wife following his funeral and went to Life Time and met Lo Robert, a personal trainer who took the time to meet with me, and right then we were making a plan. When I asked how long it would take she told me 2-3 pounds a week. I told her that was not good enough for me and I told her if she can let me know what to do I would do it, no questions asked. We agreed that night to one simple philosophy – if Lo says so I just do, no questions no excuses. This still has not changed.
Next came Erica Wasser, the dietician who had what had to be the most thankless and difficult job, to get a picky bad eater to follow a diet. What a surprise. My worst fear was she was going to tell me what to eat, lots of food I wouldn’t like (if I liked the diet food I already would have been eating it). She didn’t tell me what to eat but taught me how to eat. First Erica listened to what I liked then tailored an eating schedule (not a diet) based upon what I like. She even took the time to go on-line to the restaurants that I order from and we selected the meals together. The same deal was made – Erica taught me how to eat and I would do it. I took 2 copies of the schedule menu gave one to my wife, Suzanne, the other to work. I gave the menu to my lunch partner at work, Melissa, and I just ate the food that she got for me.
Now it was time for the hard work and drudgery to begin. At 277 pounds with a torn ligament in my knee what could I do? Lo said to get a heart monitor – Lo said to so I did (had to keep my word). It was a slow start but I made it 30 minutes on the treadmill and thought that I waited too long. Lo thought otherwise and she was able to keep me on track. Erica was right on, also, and I began to see results, it was a small result but a glimmer of hope.
Soon came the Life Time Weight Loss 90-Day Challenge. Lo told me that I had to enter it as I was the most competitive and determined person that she has trained (she was right). I told her if I entered I had to win. We joked that day saying “the national winner is Greg Shulman trained by Lo Robert”. I knew that I also had to have a goal here. I set a goal for myself and off we went. Wrong again.
What I thought would be work turned to fun very quickly. I looked forward to the workouts. Eating right I had more energy. The results came quicker and quicker and I wanted more. Next thing I know I was working backwards through my closet looking for clothes that fit (now they were too big not too small). I knew I could push myself to my limit, but that never worked. Lo could do better – she pushed me well beyond my limits. I still hear Lo’s voice over and over again saying “2 more –you can do it – 1 more…” She never lost faith and was able to truly get me to do the most that I was capable of doing. I now knew how valuable a top quality trainer was and how lucky I was to have one. Soon 30 minutes turned to an hour, machines like the Stairmaster that I couldn’t even stay on for 5 minutes became part of my regular routine.
This also grew for me to being there with the people closest to me. They may not have been there physically but Suzanne, my sons Jason and Brandon and my daughter Alison were with me the entire way. I would start the workout and like most people at Life Time put on my headphones. It wasn’t just my headphones but my song list included special songs that I associate to each person in my family. It was like they were there cheering me on. On top of that at both work and at Life Time people were saying what a great job and transformation that was occurring. Not a single one of these people knows how much a simple kind word like that goes. Every time I passed Erica at Life Time (or at the store when I saw her shopping) she took the time to stop and tell me keep it up. I could tell it was genuine and she really cared – I wasn’t just another person. The contest continued and there I was near the top of the leader board. I really did have a chance to win. I shared this with one person outside of Life Time, Brian at my office. He had only one comment – we have winners not losers here. Little did he know this became much bigger than the contest. Yes there was a trip involved but this was not about a weekend but about the rest of my life. I was already a winner. I could do more and more with my family. I also got one of the best prizes ever one Sunday morning after working out I saw my parents. They told me how much better I looked. When I left my father ran out of the house just to say that he had never seen anybody lose weight so fast. It doesn’t matter how old you are having your father tell you how proud he is always is a special moment.
With all this support, the great advise, guidance and the right amount of pushing from Lo and Erica I was reaching goal after goal. The one goal I set was to lose 90 pounds. I thought losing 90 pounds in 90 days was impossible but I did know what I could do – I could do what EVERYBODY else could do. I could lose 1 pound a day. I knew everybody could do it but I was going to do it EVERYDAY. I also knew that in the contest there were countless people doing amazing also but I only worked at beating 1 – me. Everyday I had to do more than the day before. Burn 10 more calories, 1 mph faster on the treadmill… Lo shared with me once that she had to work hard just to find new exercises for our workouts. Again just the challenges I needed. On Fathers Day I told one more person that I was going to reach all my goals and win the contest. After my regular Sunday workout I spent a few minutes at Jason’s graveside and told him that we were going to finish this. After 3 long years it was time to shed the biggest weight of all – losing Jason at the age of 21. We agreed that if anybody deserved a long weekend away and some time at a relaxing spa it was Suzanne. It was simple, if he wanted her to begin enjoying life again he was going to push me the rest of the way. It was no longer for me – I got everything I could ask for already, my health. I never even told my wife about the prizes, if I didn’t get them I already won. The rest would be a surprise for her.
The workouts continued a little more everyday, Lo and Erica were keeping their end of the deal and the beginning of the next step was in sight. Encouragement was coming from everywhere. Nothing felt better than my kids saying how proud they were (teenagers saying they are proud of dad just doesn’t happen everyday. Their friends noticed – how unusual. Again they were with me everyday in the music I was listening to and now I was going to be there for them.
Yes the contest ended, yes I was fortunate to win the contest BUT I went from being 50 years old with a torn ligament and could barely walk, 2 blood pressure medications, about 280 pounds to 51 years old, no medications at all, walk and run great and ready to not end the contest but to begin the rest of my life (and start it with a vacation that nobody deserves that more than my wife).
I will always look back at that one day that I decided to trust this to Life Time and be ever- grateful to Lo, Erica and everybody who just even said good job as they all helped me get to my goal. Everybody at my office – Brian and the Hansons family thanks for all the support. To my family thank you for being there for me so I can be there for you. Now it is time to start the rest of my life, donate a lot of clothes that I will never use again to charity, and thanks to everybody my life just got a lot healthier and longer.