2014 Spring Transformation Challenge Winner
*Results not typical
The Life Time Fitness 90-Day Challenge was not only transforming to my body, but I discovered the strength within me to transform my mind and life as well! It was beyond an incredible experience for me, reminding me how great life can be and feel when you’re healthy and fit from the inside out. Through the ups and downs of this journey, I learned to refocus my life, my priorities and, most importantly, I learned that exercise is a magical element to my well-being and now-much-happier life.
Like most moms, my life was beyond busy and over scheduled. My primary focus was on my family, my full-time volunteer duties, and running my own custom design cake business. At the end of the day, there was little time left for me or the things that would have allowed me to take better care of myself. Then a family tragedy back in 2010 occurred, where my sister lost her child in an auto accident. No words can describe what this does to a family. If left me heartbroken, devastated and searching for more. Within the grief, fitness was the last thing on my mind and the grief triggered my instinct to feed my soul with food (mostly unhealthy carbs). Once I started down this road, it took on a life of its own.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2013 when I decided to join the Life Time Fitness in Parker for the AMAZING outdoor pool, but it ended up that we found SO much more! My boys, now 7 and 9, were in heaven with the many activities available to them. I even started working out and did some training sessions with Jennifer Hoban, who I had an instant connection with. I tried the T.E.A.M. Boot Camp classes with Jon Getz and met the Life Time Fitness Nutrition Coach Janelle De Buzna when I participated in the Detox program. But when the pool closed, so did my workouts and once again I put my fitness on the back burner.
Then in December, I learned about the 90-Day Challenge from my trainer, Jenn H., which as a very competitive person was music to my ears. It couldn’t have come at a better time, with my increasing weight and out-of-control sweets eating. Really seeing myself in my “before” picture was the jump-start for my motivation. About to turn 43, the lack of exercise, the emotional eating I had become accustomed to, along with my changing hormones, all quickly caught up with me, and I found myself in the worst shape of my life. Feeling miserable in my “skin,” I decided I’d had enough! I was fully ready for the challenge and to finally make some changes.
I got serious and created a detailed month-to-month plan, outlining very specific and aggressive goals for each month in regards to my eating and exercising. I wanted to lose 30 pounds and drop my body fat by 12%. I tried to anticipate every single challenge or excuse that I might be faced with during the 90 days, including my schedule, my preexisting hip, neck and knee pain, and how this might limit me, as well as special occasions that were frequent in my close family and always involved foods I’d need to avoid.
My goals beyond the numbers were to release all the negative thoughts in my mind that might keep me from doing this, to become lean and strong (I wanted to see some muscle), feel great about myself, increase my energy and joy in my daily life, get back to clean eating habits, and do this all in the most natural and healthy way. And of course, I wanted to win the Challenge!
I went from eating a diet filled with pasta, bread, tons of dairy and sugary treats (easy to do since I’m a baker) to going to a 100% clean diet with no processed food, caffeine, alcohol or meat. I started back up with the T.E.A.M. Boot Camp class with trainer Jon Getz 3 days a week, which gave me an incredible total-body workout. I LOVE this class and have already signed up for more! I also recruited a workout buddy and did cardio like Tabata and HIIT routines 2 days a week, or picked up a group fitness class. “Try-It Tuesdays” gave me a great chance to try different classes and meet different trainers at the gym, and kept things interesting and fun throughout the challenge! I also pushed myself to do these at 6am every Tuesday!
All these great changes were good, but they put my body in shock, and only 5 days into the challenge I came down with a horrible head and chest cold which ended up lasting close to 5 weeks. Every day I wanted to sleep, but I forced myself to the gym. Plus, my neck and hip issues became worse with each and every workout. I kept pushing through, thinking “no pain, no gain.” I couldn’t stop, after just starting. However, a month into the challenge, I was in constant pain and the inflammation in my body was so out of control. I hadn’t seen a change on the scale since week 2 and was close to quitting.
Then I received Flourish, the Life Time Fitness newsletter, and read an article about making it to the halfway mark. I was shocked and frustrated, and felt defeated facing the fact that I wasn’t on track to reach my goals by the midway point. After reading the article, I realized I HAD made many positive changes and I decide to stop focusing on where I wasn’t and focus on where I was. I also realized I needed to adjust my plan. Reading this article helped me rediscover that change begins with the power of my thoughts!
With a more positive attitude and determined outlook, I started aggressively working with my holistic doctor/chiropractor, and reached out to Life Time Fitness’s most amazing nutrition and weight loss coach, Janelle De Buzna. Janelle quickly set a plan into motion with dietary recommendations and supplements that were in alignment with my doctor’s action plan for me. She gave me the tools needed to track each meal and suggestions that will forever change the way I balance my meals going forward. She also had me add in the dry sauna after every single workout. I worked up to 20 minutes and then increased to 25 to 30 minutes toward the final weeks.
Searching for answers to my unending pain, x-rays showed I had major issues (compressed vertebrae and a twisted spine and sacrum, to name a few). This forced me to stop all impact exercises and running. Jon worked with me to modify every Boot Camp workout along with corrective work at home; my pain began to drop drastically. I was amazed that I could still get positive results despite my physical limitations. By week 8 my body took a huge breath and said, “Thank you!” Another AMAZING thing that happened in week 8 was I got my menstrual cycle back after not having it for 14 months, a sign that my overall health was getting back on track and a great reminder of how beneficial exercise and diet are to overall health.
Now that I was listening to my body and doing everything Janelle asked of me, my body fat and weight were also finally starting to respond. I started noticing less fat in my belly and definition forming in my arms and legs. I had more pride, confidence and physical strength. I walked through the club and it felt like a second home to me. My husband said I was glowing! I even treated myself to a new pair of shoes. I also bought the Vivo Fit at Janelle’s suggestion to track my calories, steps, and even my heart rate. It’s been an amazing tool to help keep me moving, motivated and on track.
Between weeks 8 and 10, my schedule was crazy and stress was on the rise, which may have been the cause of my body fat going down one week and then up the next. I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride. I was meeting with Janelle weekly, and she made some minor adjustments to my eating plan and encouraged me to keep going. I also added metabolic testing with my trainer Jenn H. to determine my heart zones and how effective my body was at burning fat. This has already been an invaluable tool for more effective workouts.
I was increasing my focus and pushing myself on days when I had nothing left to give, and then just as I was starting to feel amazing and on track, I was struck by the death of a dear family member and the following day, another loss of a lifelong friend. This threw me into deep sadness and brought me back to the feelings of helplessness when I lost my nephew. I felt myself yearning for my unhealthy comfort foods to feed that broken soul. Getting consumed by the pain of loss, I forced myself out on a snowy Sunday afternoon to try my first-ever Slow Burn Yoga class. To my surprise, I loved it, and it was exactly what my soul and body needed. It brought me inward and allowed me to escape momentarily from the grief going on around me. I left that class knowing I had a new method for dealing with my sadness instead of emotional eating, and it was called Yoga! That class also taught me that a small change can sometimes make a big difference.
Then, just when I made it through the two funerals, another family member passed away. I couldn’t believe this was happening again. But I felt so grateful for the Life Time Challenge, because it reminded me that now I had healthy outlets for my grief and I was already forming new habits. Through these losses, I realized that life will always keep throwing me curveballs, and I just need to stay focused on not letting them knock me down.
I am so grateful to Life Time Fitness for creating an opportunity like the 90- Day Challenge. This Challenge allowed me to discover my inner strength, wisdom and power that had been hiding inside of me all along. Everywhere I came up against a new challenge or frustration, there was a positive solution through my new Life Time community. I was constantly encouraged by my “J” team, Jenn H., Jon G., Janelle and even Jeff May, one of Life Time’s general managers. I was able to prove to myself that I can get in shape no matter the obstacle. I proved I have the willpower I need to say “no” to bad food choices. I now schedule myself and my workouts into my life. I am proud of my accomplishments, and I know that the excuses and stories I would tell myself in the past were the walls that I needed to break down and rebuild into doorways. So now when I walk through the doorways of my life, it is with my inner strength and inspiration that I have been truly TRANSFORMED.
In the end I hit my goals and I lost 24 pounds (150.6 to 126.5) and I lowered my body fat percentage from 26.2% down to 14.1% — a 46% change in my overall body fat!! As it ends up, the numbers are just a tiny piece of a much bigger journey, a journey that changed me forever.