2014 Spring Weight Loss Challenge Winner
31.12% of body weight *
*Results not typical
“Mom, we need to talk.” Those are words that can freeze the hearts of mothers around the world. In a split second multiple scary scenarios were whizzing through my mind at the speed of lightning. I looked at my son and daughter sitting together on the couch staring at me with stone faces and serious eyes. For an instant I could hardly breathe — and then they began to speak to me in their slightly choked voices: “Mom, you are about to turn 60, we love you and we want you to be here for a very long time, so we insist that you get a handle on your weight problem.” Relief quickly spread through me; nothing was wrong with them, there was just something they needed me to do for me. I could deal with that — so I took a deep breath, opened my heart and mind, and listened to them. What they told me was nothing I hadn’t already thought to myself on numerous occasions, but when it comes from the people you love the most, your own children, it was thunderous.
My weight had crept up unhealthily for about 6 years. I was now over 200 pounds, and it was time to take control. My daughter Abrah has been a member of Mansfield’s Life Time Fitness since the day it opened, and she had won the 90-Day Weight Loss Challenge for the Mansfield club the year before. She knew there was another challenge about to start and she wanted to sign me up for it. She took me shopping for new running shoes and a Polar Loop so that both she and my son Zack could track my activity. Zack presented me with workout clothes, special socks, and a set of living healthy books by Kimberly Snyder called “The Beauty Detox Solution” and “The Beauty Detox Foods.” I joined Life Time and that same day signed up with Jen Crutcher for the 90-Day Challenge. My kids laid the groundwork; now all I needed to do was to get started.
I put on my black tights and sports bra (had never worn either before in my life) and stepped on the scales in front of 2 strangers — Jamal Turner and Mathew Kasel. My daughter stood beside me and wouldn’t allow me to be embarrassed. Jamal and Matt were so sweet and funny they made me forget that I was slightly mortified. I could barely look at the weight that registered on the scale. I just remember groaning when I saw it. Next they had me hold 2 handles that were attached to the scale so that they could do a % body fat test on me. I was at 51% — more than half my body was fat. The light bulb went on and right then, at that very moment, I made a 100% commitment to myself. I told Abrah, Matt and Jamal that if I was going to be in this competition I was going to win it. And so my journey began.
I didn’t live in Mansfield so I could only make it to the club on the weekends. The trainer that took my “before” picture, Eileen Verayo (who is the size of a small peanut and had more energy than the “Eveready” bunny), assured me that weighing in on the weekends would not be a problem and that all the trainers would take care of me. There is an old African saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.” In my case, it took an entire gymful of trainers to get me to the end of this challenge. Abrah and Eileen helped me set up my first workout goal, which was to start walking. I purchased a used treadmill, set it up in front of the TV and started walking — slowly. I would walk for an hour before work, 2 hours directly after work, and then another hour right before bedtime. I had the treadmill set at 2 miles per hour so I was putting in 8 miles a day. I decided to drink only water, I cut out all salt, and I followed the “Sacred Heart Diet.” I went back to the gym 2 weeks later with high hopes. After all, I had followed a strict diet, no salt, gallons of water and I had walked 8 miles a day for 13 straight days; that’s a total of 104 miles. Surely, I thought, I’ve at least made a dent in my weight. Abrah took me to the gym;e I spotted Eileen at the weigh-in desk and I stepped on the scales. The 3 of us just stared at the numbers. I had lost 22 lbs. which was 9.8% of my weight. I was shocked and ecstatic. Walking was working! Those numbers put me at number 2 on the national leaderboard, and I never got out of the top 10 after that.
I’m an 8th grade school teacher, and I started walking during my “off” period which is at the end of the day. I told all my students and my faculty members about the competition and they were fascinated with it. Our school is situated around our football field and my students could look out the windows and see me walking around it. I walked every day — even in the rain. Our coaches began to send some of the athletes out to join me for a few laps. Occasionally a teacher would send a student who had finished their classroom work outside to walk a lap with me. Suddenly the whole 8th grade started supporting me. One of the girls’ coaches had her team line up and yell for me when I would pass by. As the weight continued to fall off, the students became even more encouraging and complimentary. I enjoyed getting in shape.
I started taking the Life Time Fitness vitamins, both the Women’s AM and PM, and my energy level was high. Over the next month I discontinued my structured diet and started eating a half-cup of blueberries for breakfast, raw vegetables for lunch, cooked vegetables for supper, and I would have either tilapia or chicken twice a week. I would drive to the Mansfield club on Friday night and put in 3 hours on the treadmill, come back Saturday and put in 5 hours on the treadmill, and then do another 4 hours before I left on Sunday. I was walking at 3 miles an hour and my incline was at 2%.
At 6 weeks into the competition I had lost another 17 pounds. Matt weighed me in this time and he encouraged me to start varying my workouts. He was afraid that just walking was going to become ineffective if I didn’t work on other muscle groups. I started carrying hand weights with me as I walked and I thought that would be enough. But it wasn’t. When I weighed in 10 days later I had lost less than 5 pounds. Matt was right. So I cut back on my calories, and I began walking 15 miles every day. I was sure that this would work, but when I got to the club the next week I had lost only 1.2 pounds, the least amount of weight ever. Troy Montgomery was the one who had weighed me in this time and he could see the disappointment all over my face. He sat me down and started going over my nutrition plan. He told me what my daughter had been telling me for weeks: I needed more protein and, like Matt had told me 2 weeks earlier, I needed to vary my workout. So I found the greatest little machine in the front right corner of the club that is used to work out your arms. You just sit in it and pedal with your arms like you would a bicycle. I also started swimming like my daughter had been suggesting. At first I had to stop after every lap but I got better. I would walk for 2 hours and then swim for an hour, sit in the hot tub for 10 minutes, work on my arm machine for 30 minutes, and then start the whole thing over again. I wish I had started with the varying exercise routine sooner. I started eating almonds 2 times a day for protein, and I switched up my meals. I ate high protein at breakfast, added a grilled chicken breast to my salad at lunch, and then ate my cup of berries for my nighttime meal. The higher protein worked even though it was higher in calories — I still have trouble understanding that concept. I would really like to stress to anyone reading this testimonial that you don’t have to actually live in the same town as a Life Time Fitness to get full benefits from it. I can’t imagine not going to the club on the weekends. There are so many things going on; the variety is amazing.
As the 90 days wore on, eating and exercising became more of a habit and less of a novelty. Although the last 2 weeks were hard on me mentally, I’m glad that the contest lasted for as long as it did. To help me stay focused, my son started calling me at 4:45 in the morning to make sure I was up walking before school, and my daughter would call me every night to be sure I had spent plenty of time working out that evening. They both sent me lots of texts. Abrah would send me pictures of people working out and say, “This is your competition; they are working hard, are you?” The last 2 weeks of the competition, Matt would text me to see how I was doing and to check on me and my progress during the week. The 90-Day Challenge has changed my life. I encourage each and everyone reading this to sign up. I encourage every son and daughter who has a parent they love who is struggling with weight to have the courage to confront them and let them know that their health matters to them. Three months ago I weighed 70 more pounds than I do today. Thank you, Abrah and Zack. Thank you, Matt, Eileen, Troy, Jen and the rest of the staff at the Mansfield Life Time Fitness for cheering me on these past 3 months, and for being there for me as I weighed in that last time. I appreciate you!