past winners

John S.
2016 Spring Transformation Finalist

82.29% change in body fat percent *
*Results not typical
John S.

I’m 53 years old and started this contest just above 240 pounds. My fitness goal for the past 25 years has been to return to the 200 pounds I weighed when in the Navy. Although I’ve always had a problem maintaining a healthy diet and working out consistently, my excuses for putting on the extra weight were I work in an office and sometimes allow a 40-hour work week to extend into 60. “I don’t have time to make it to the gym today” and “fast food will be fine for lunch.”

My sedentary lifestyle could be illustrated by two of my favorite pastimes, reading and watching movies. Since most theaters offer free refills on the XL size popcorn I habitually visit the concession stand twice prior to the previews wrapping up and the feature starting, which is probably why I’ve been borderline on needing diabetes medication and have been off and on prescriptions for hypertension and elevated cholesterol.

Yet I have maintained a degree of fitness by hiking and jogging, never experiencing much of a problem taking weight off. On the other hand, I’ve had much less difficulty putting the weight back on, usually with an extra pound or two after all was said and done, making the graph of my body mass vs time look like a sine wave with ever-increasing peaks and the troughs only touching the 205 mark for a couple of days. Knee pain caused by the extra weight meant more time spent on the elliptical trainer instead of outside jogging on the greenways.

This is my fourth 90-Day Challenge. Until this one though, the competitions were for the most part 30- day challenges for me. I’d drop 15 to 20 pounds relatively quickly, hit a plateau and lose motivation. Instead of protein shakes and supplements I relied on diet pills and a low-carb/no-carb diet to help drop the pounds. Because no healthy eating habits were ever established, nor a consistent exercise regimen, I’d gain back all the weight I’d taken off over the course of the next four or five months.

Last year my trainer Emmet, a competitive body builder, laid out a complete plan for me regarding nutrition, cardio and strength training. Did I listen to him? Yes. Did I take his advice? No. I did it my way. Then four or five weeks into the Fall Challenge I was ready to call it quits. Again.

Aside from his strength training and nutrition tips, several other things stuck with me. “You can suppress your appetite by moderate cardio, even walking.” And “you can burn a lot of body fat walking for an hour or two a day, sometimes I get ready for competitions just using walking for my cardio.” That advice resonated with me, especially when Ryan, my Metabolic Coach, pointed out that even at moderately high levels of cardio activity, my body was burning fat almost exclusively. I wondered if that meant I could burn even more body fat with longer and more intensive cardio sessions without losing muscle mass.

So in addition to my strength training, it became a routine for me to walk 15-45 minutes before work, 15-30 minutes over lunch several times a week and at least another 30-45 minutes on the elliptical trainer after work, adding in an occasional Spin class and climbing stairs to mix it up. As the weight came off, the discomfort in my knees subsided. I did discover however, that if I pushed the cardio too hard during my workouts I ended up eating a lot more than I needed to afterwards, which ended up being counterproductive.

My wife and I bought everyone in the family inexpensive fitness trackers and enlisted all of them to sign up for the 90-Day Challenge with me – previous attempts were by myself. My wife and a family friend invited me to participate in several core classes as well which helped reduce the waistline.

Healthy eating became a priority. I drank plenty of water and ate my food slowly – actually enjoying my nourishment. What surprised me the most was how easy it was to prepare 5 or 6 quick nutritious meals and even account for calories because my smartphone had an application that synced with the fitness tracker.

I’ve been under 195 pounds for the past month and have never felt better in my life. The pounds haven’t been falling off as rapidly as they were in February but the body fat continues to drop. I had a physical the last week of April and my doctor was impressed I’d lost over 50 pounds since I last saw him. No drugs needed for cholesterol nor hypertension.

I thank the LORD for being healthy enough to even start this 90-Day Challenge as well as all the friends and family that have helped me along. The encouraging words I continually received from Ryan, James, Jon, and Johnny5 at Life Time were especially helpful. As for Kyle, you were the best, sir.

Thanks Life Time.

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.