- Next Level
- Weight Gain
- Weight Loss
Check back again – Nick’s story coming soon!
“He doesn’t really know me”. “Pick out a stupid picture, whatever.” “Sure, like that’s going to be me.” “I come from a long line of short, heavy, but strong, tough women from northern New York, my build is what it is.”
I’ll do this, but it’s not going to make that much of a difference. I mean seriously, I’ve only gained 6 pounds since the last challenge. Ramblings of a stubborn woman, who is never wrong…
Flash forward 13 weeks. Better than I was before, better… stronger…faster…(oops that’s the six million dollar man intro, that’s ok, it applies!) Humble? Uhmm, No. Thinner? Sure. Stronger, leaner, harder, Most Definitely.
May have been slightly, mistaken. It’s hard. Nothing worth anything is ever easy, I know this. Loren says if it were easy the gym would be packed. If it were easy we’d all look like that darn picture.
My trainer does know me. My trainer does know what “buttons” to push, how to motivate, how to cultivate an attitude of determination and never surrender. My trainer is Terrance Bond. Staying fit will always be a continuous journey for me. Working out with Terrance at Anytime Fitness provides me the tools and strength to make this journey. It can’t be about “just this one goal” it has to be about the process, the direction, the focus. What is measured can be repeated. This journey will take my lifetime and the tools I gather along the way will help me stay on the path.
It’s hard. But the ends justify the means, right? I look good. I feel good. Did I mention I look good? Pushing me to the limit is not easy. I’m stubborn and whiny. “What’s the baby gonna do”?, “why are you holding on?” “if you hold on, the fat holds on.” Just a few of the little sayings Terrance has. Interjected at the right time, weight gets lifted, jaw tightens, breathing is labored, calories are burned and fat is shredded…
It’s hard. But it’s harder alone. Thank you, Terrance. I have more work to do and there is always the journey. For now , I know that I don’t have to travel alone.
“Overweight, chunky, thick, and my favorite “big-boned” had all been used to describe me while I was growing up. There is no nice way of putting it, I was heavy and had been most of my life. While I was pretty active and competitive in sports, playing basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball, I was by no means the picture of perfect health. It was hard being the heaviest one in my group of friends and never feeling comfortable in my own skin. I realize I have had body image issues since I was in Middle School trying diet after failed diet. In fact, I think I have been “dieting” since I was about 12 years old. Who diets at 12 years old?! I have tried the Slimfast diet, Sugar Busters, and even found some success with Nutrisystem (only to put the weight back on), but nothing seemed to teach me the fundamentals of healthy eating in combination with exercise.
I think my final breaking point was after I re-gained 40 pounds that I had lost on Nutrisystem in College. I knew that eating pre-packaged meals to lose weight and keep it off was no way to live the rest of my life. One day after Zumba, I heard a previous Challenge veteran talking about the Body Challenge and how much success she had with the program. After bombarding her with questions about the exercise routines and diet I thought “Maybe this could be my solution!” As it turns out, it was one of the BEST things I have ever done for myself.
When I originally signed up for the Challenge I set what I felt was a reasonable goal weight of 160. I figured if I made it to 160 I would be around my post-Nutrisystem weight, which at that point was the thinnest I had ever been. I wanted to be able to feel confident about myself and tighten and tone everything. I honestly wasn’t 100% sure what I would be able to accomplish in those twelve weeks, but I knew it would be better than feeling sorry for myself and trying to wish away the weight. What I never thought would happen was meeting my goal weight and looking so incredibly different! I went from a starting weight of 188 pounds and a size 12 to 154 pounds and a size 6! I’m the smallest I have EVER been in my entire life! I am still astounded by the results. Someone actually referred to me as “little” the other day, little! I never thought the “big-boned” girl would ever be referred to as little. The combination of healthy eating, cardio, and lifting has transformed by body completely! I have definition in my arms and legs, a much smaller waist, no more love handles, and best of all… no stomach rolls! Not to mention I am in the best shape of my life. Half way through the Challenge we ran the Falcon 5k and I managed to place second in my age group. If you asked me back in September if I would ever run a 5k, let alone place in one, I would have called you crazy and then taken a bite of extra cheesy pizza. Even after reaching my goal weight I am still so incredibly motivated. I have since lowered my goal weight even more and have no intention of giving up. I even want to participate next year to keep myself motivated and in check.
The Challenge has given me a whole new perspective on dieting and exercise. While I enjoyed exercise before I started the Challenge, my love for it has grown tenfold. My daily visits have become something that I look forward to and I feel lost when I’m not in the gym taking a class, lifting, or doing extra cardio. I find myself scouring the internet for 5k’s to run and maybe even 8k’s in the near future. Of course the other important component to my success was the diet. The diet portion initially had me very scared. I’m an extremely picky eater and I thought the diet would be difficult for me to follow. Although I was scared, I threw myself in to it and watched my diet completely transform. I eat and actually enjoy healthy foods I wouldn’t previously have given the time of day. I’m eating more fruits and vegetables and I have even dabbled in the world of tofu. Yes, tofu. Tofu noodles were my savior during the Challenge! Low in fat and carbs, these babies taste just like regular pasta when a little bit of seasoning is added. When I go to the grocery store I now know what nutritional information to look for on foods and what I should avoid. I have learned the difference between good and bad carbs and I also managed to grasp the concept of portion control! That has always been my biggest adversary in the dieting game. I know what 3oz of Chicken looks like and I’m actually full after eating it! I’ve also become somewhat of a low fat/low carb recipe wizard in the kitchen. My co-workers especially seem to appreciate my healthy cooking. In fact I have started a healthy eating trend at work. Far gone are the days where the other graphic designers and I would go out for lunch. Now our break room refrigerator is full of cutesy lunch boxes filled with healthy lunches and snacks. We all keep almonds and fruit on hand to fight the hunger cravings and resist the temptation of the monthly Birthday celebrations. No cake for us!
It’s amazing the support I have received from USA Elite trainers, the other Challengers and staff of Anytime Fitness. I don’t think I would have been anywhere near as successful without them. The veteran Body Challengers and Anytime staff were always encouraging especially if I didn’t see the numbers I was hoping for that week or just felt exhausted. They would make sure I knew how great I was doing with words of encouragement and comments like “skinny girl.” They even tossed out suggestions like, “make sure you’re drinking ALL of your water every day,” or “try cutting back on your carbs a few days out of the week.” It was also great sharing recipes we all discovered on Pinterest. It was like Christmas when I would come in the gym with a new recipe or another Challenger would have healthy cookies for us to try. All of those early morning lifting and cardio sessions before work would have become monotonous if it weren’t for my team. I could count on them to be there with me and for me. They are like an extension of my family and I must say we ROCKED this Challenge!”
“Terrified, I will never feel this way again. I will get my life back…this was my first journal entry on February 4, 2012. My heart was racing, but it wasn’t from cardio. It was because I was afraid. I didn’t know what to expect that first day of group training, but I knew it was the first day of the rest of my new improved life. I cried the whole way to the gym, because I was excited and terrified at the same time. I felt like I was completely alone and questioned what I was doing. I was questioning myself, could I do this, would I embarrass myself, would I hold my team back and make people angry, could I really make a life change? That first day I was faced directly with my fears. We had to see how many sit ups we could do. Looking around, everyone was easily doing this simple task, but then it was my turn. I had one minute. This seemed like the longest minute of my life, as I laid on my back attempting to do just one sit up. Unfortunately, I was unable to do even one. I was mortified and realized how much I needed to change. One of my goals was to be able to do at least one sit up by the end of the challenge. Weeks went by and suddenly something clicked. I was sitting alone on my family room floor and decided it was time to try. Shockingly, I could do it! At that time I did two and decided to stop. Two days later I did eleven. Now I do five sets of ten! This is just one of the major changes in my life. I never thought I would be the person who enjoyed going to the gym. I go to the gym at least 2-3 times a day now. I can’t seem to get enough. I’m a realtor and I rearrange my schedule to make sure I get in my gym time. Before I started the challenge my drug of choice was Cherry Coke. The employees at Sonic knew me by my first name. I would get a Route 44 Cherry Coke when I was upset or even when I was fine. Now, if I feel stressed or upset I head to the gym and jump on the elliptical. I haven’t had one Cherry Coke and most importantly have no desire to anymore.
I am married with 3 awesome children, and always showed my love through food. I never realized how damaging I was being to my family. My bad habits would eventually become their bad habits, and I want so much more for them. Now I can show my love by jumping on the trampoline, something I would never do before for fear of breaking it, with my 8 year old son. I also show my love by doing Zumba and working out with my 19 and 15 year old daughters. My husband and I are going to do a half marathon together in September! These things they will remember for a lifetime as opposed to the package of Oreo cookies that could harm them for a lifetime. I never realized the eating habits I was creating. My family now knows that food is fuel, and we should put good fuel in our body to make it work properly. I know these facts should be common sense, but I can honestly say I never really looked at a label, except to see the number of calories. I now look at the entire label and actually understand it. When the challenge started I was a size 22 who dreaded shopping. Just recently I was elated to see I am now a size 14. What an amazing feeling to shop with my girls in a ‘normal’ store and actually be able to get something for me too! As I was waiting to check out with my size 14 dress in Forever 21 I was overcome with emotion and started to cry. My girls started to tear up too because we were so happy.
I can’t thank the incredible owners of Anytime Fitness, Stacey and Taz enough for having this program. Everyone was so helpful and always had words of encouragement. Kerry the H2I, did just that. She always had words of encouragement. The trainers are amazing. Arielle has pushed me to do things I never imagined I could do. With her support and encouragement, I am leg pressing 320lbs! I never imagined I would love lifting as much as I do. When I doubted myself, Arielle, always knew I could do it. She is such a motivator! I can honestly say that she saved my life. Ryan, another trainer at the gym always had something positive to say and pushed me during group workouts. He was always available to answer any questions and helped me when I injured my Achilles. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to climb Mt. Trashmore with my injury at the last group workout. Ryan worked his magic so I could conquer Mt. Trashmore too. CJ came in the gym one day when I was on the elliptical and said he wanted me to be the most active member at the gym. At that time I was 4th. Just those simple words of encouragement inspired me to work even harder. I am now and have been for the last month and a half the most active member at my gym.
My entire mindset has changed. I go to sleep at night saying to myself…I am a fat burning machine! This has taken the place of my old negative self-talk. I feel like the last 12 weeks have transformed my body and my mind. Although, I still have a long road to go, I am no longer an inactive person, filled with self-doubt, letting life pass me by. I am now an athlete with so many possibilities that life has to catch up to me!!”
“Although I did well last year I entered the 2013 Total Body Transformation because I am the person that needs a challenge to get and keep me going. Also, my ‘new’ wardrobe was getting tight again and I swore to myself that I would never be large again. After last year’s challenge I really wanted to jump right back into the TBT. I also want to make my ‘SAILOR’ proud.
My goal was to start my downward weight loss journey, to get healthier and be able to work out hard. My attitude changed greatly. I don’t care right now how much chicken or protein shakes I eat, or how it tastes: food is only ‘fuel’. I learned to shop on the outer sides of the store.
When I had to shop for large size clothes the smaller sizes always looked so much cuter. Now they fit, however, there is no cute stuff in my size again (LOL).
The truth is I can’t wait to work out with Michelle four times a week. It worked well for me to change trainer, just like Loren told me. BTW, Michelle kicks b….
There are 3 words when you prepare: planning, planning, and planning. It is the whole key, and of course, giving up my glass of wine or margarita. I quit drinking and found another solution like Crystal Light Margarita mix that tastes just as good with no calories. Also, vegetables are your friends and dressed up they taste great.
I still go out with my friends, and I just eat clean. You can always have a couple of bites without eating more than the other people. Eat every 2 hours and you will never ‘over’ eat.
Like I said, I just can’t wait to workout with my trainer. I love her energy and support. We had a one-on-one contact and I could call, text, or send her pictures of the things I was eating, or the outfits I wanted to buy. Even when bought new outfits for the glamour shot, I asked Michelle which one to wear for the pictures. She knows the goals of everyone, not just the contestants in TBT, but other people in the gym too. She uses this to encourage you and meet your goals.
To USA Elite Trainers, Anytime Fitness Redmill, Cj, Kay, and Michelle thank you for all the support and the push to stick with it.”
“It’s hard to put into words what this challenge means to me. In one word this challenge means life. Before I started this challenge I was a terribly unhealthy 320 pounds, the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life. I couldn’t run around with my kids for more than five seconds before I was winded, I couldn’t tie my shoes without a struggle, I couldn’t enjoy Busch Gardens thoroughly with my family because I couldn’t fit on the rides, I couldn’t stand for longer than 20 minutes before needing to sit back down, and the list goes on and on. This challenge has given me my life back!! I’m now able to run around with my kids, we can all jump on the trampoline together, I go jogging with my husband regularly, I can actually fit on roller coasters now, I can tie my shoes so much easier, and I COMPLETED A 5K!!!! I never could have completed a 5k before this challenge. I’m finding out new things I can do that I couldn’t do before every single day. In the beginning of this challenge I could barely do any squats or lift any weights, now I’m doing squats all the time and lifting 5 times what I could. This challenge has been life changing. I have learned how to eat properly and the importance of exercise. I will take these lessons with me for the rest of my life. My quality of life has improved tenfold. You can’t put a price tag on that. My goals for the challenge have be reached and passed. I gave myself a goal of losing 55lbs during this challenge and I lost 57, more than I ever thought possible. This challenge has given me the motivation to keep going and continue to meet even more goals. My next goal is to lose 50 lbs by my birthday in August. I have signed up for two more 5k’s this year and have started training with my best friend to complete a tough mudder challenge in 2014. I feel like I can do things now that I never dreamed of and it’s all because of this life changing challenge. Seeing my children’s excited faces that I can play with them more actively now, and my husband’s proud smiles, and my parents and friends telling me I’m inspiring them, are the sweetest rewards in all of this and mean the world to me. So I say thank you to everyone in the challenge and all of the amazing trainers. This has been the best group of people, the amount of support has been astonishing, and the results from everyone’s hard work have been amazing to witness. While I still have a long way to go, this challenge has transformed me completely. I am forever changed because of these last 12 weeks.”
“Hi, I’m Heidi Batten, and thirteen weeks ago I entered the Anytime Fitness Body Challenge. If it weren’t for Tonya Russell, I would not have entered at all. Tonya challenged me to do it so I entered not really giving it much thought. Honestly I figured “what the hell,” because I will try anything. I really didn’t know what would happen and if I made it through the entire program I might actually lose a few pounds.
I’ve finished the challenge and I am actually amazed that I lost close to 25 lbs. My next challenge is to make it to the Fitness Level of Body Fat Percentage. I really am motivated to keep on this journey of working out and eating healthier. I have found that I can make better choices, I’ve really cut back on my alcohol consumption, sweets, and snacking. I feel as though all the cardio I’ve been doing has helped my Asthma a lot not to mention when I’m upset or stressed going to work out seems to put me in a better frame of mind.
I must thank Tonya for getting me on this path and Steve for pushing me when I was being lazy and his constant motivation with his little voice saying to me “no hands on the treadmill”, and to Nick who always has something nice to say and is so very supportive of all the Kempsville Team.
The Trainers were just amazing, I just can’t put into words how much they meant to me on my path to a healthy life.
I truly believe I would not have gotten very far in this journey if it wasn’t for them but I must also praise my teammates from Kempsville. We had the most cohesive team not to mention the most supportive. I know I did my very best on Team Challenge Days at Mount Trashmore because I didn’t want to let anyone those folks down. Vicki always had encouragement whenever I saw her and never hesitated to call and let me know how well I was doing. I am just so grateful I was able to be with all the great guys and gals that were on my team. No matter if I win anything I did make some pretty nice friends along the way.
I want to thank Stacy and Taz for sponsoring the Challenge and all the staff at Kempsville as they made it happen for all of us and they just have a phenomenal staff.
Now it’s the end of the Challenge and I am amazed at how far I came, I did reach a personal goal, which I did not have when I started. I have finally fit into a pair of my favorite jeans that have been waiting for me to on over the past several years. I had a the hardest time trying to find something in my closet that actually fit the new me for my Glamour Shots since what I was going to wear was actually to large to wear and they were not just a few short weeks ago.
I seriously cannot believe how far I came since I’ve always have been the Fat Girl and now I’m not.”
I have been very fortunate to never have a true weight issue. In my 20’s and 30’s if I put on a pair of jeans and they felt a little tight I would watch what I ate for a couple of days, do my usual aerobic routine and in a few days the weight would be gone. Well, once the 40’s hit the weight did not come off so easily and I actually had to work at losing weight. I had been a member of Anytime Fitness almost since opening day, but no matter how often I went to the gym I was neither losing any weight nor gaining any muscle. So I decided to take the leap with a Personal Trainer, Ryan Bielat, And USA Elite Trainer. I had never worked with a trainer and did not quite know what to expect. Not only did Ryan push me to do the extra rep when I really wanted to quit, he taught me the correct way to plan out meals by eating the right foods, taught me the best times to eat, boosted my confidence and encouraged me every minute of each session. I worked out with Ryan for three months and thoroughly enjoyed every session. During one of the training sessions Ryan and I discussed the upcoming 2011Total Body Challenge. I was hesitant to commit at first because I did not think I would enjoy the whole group workout and questioned whether I would have the stamina to keep up with the group. Eventually, Ryan wore down my hesitation and I signed up. Not knowing what to expect, I attended the information meeting then anxiously waited for the first Saturday workout session. Words cannot describe how excited I was after completing the first workout. It was tough, but I had survived and it really was not as bad as I had anticipated. Now, I only had 11 more weeks to complete. But honestly, the weekly group workout had plenty of variety, was geared to all levels of fitness and a lot of fun. Like the name of the challenge, Total Body, all of your body parts were put to the test each Saturday for 12 weeks.
I did not enter the 2011 Total Body Challenge to win. I entered the challenge to continue a productive workout routine, gain more stamina, and tone up my over 40 body. But more importantly I was able to spend 12 Saturdays with a great group of people who made getting up early a lot of fun.
Originally I wasn’t planning on entering the body challenge. It was only after my trainer, Ryan Bielat, kept pestering me to enter that I agreed. I’m glad I did. After training for a year at anytime fitness, I had lost focus on my nutritional and fitness goals. I figured by paying money to enter the challenge, it would keep me motivated. My goal was not necessarily to win, but to improve my overall fitness and health. At forty-one years old, I don’t think I’ve looked better in my life. Hearing the trainers and fellow contestants tell me how good I was looking was a huge motivation. Especially Jody, Rich, Robert, Tammy, and Alex. Working out three or four days a week with former champions Bill Garvey and Bart Morrison was a huge factor in reaching my goal. Those guys know what they are doing and offer great motivation on a daily basis. My trainer, Ryan Bielat, gives great encouragement and is always there for me. He is always pushing me and offering advice. For me, the body challenge is just the beginning. I still have more fitness goals I want to reach. I know with the support and help of the staff and members of anytime fitness, I will reach my fitness goals. Six pack here I come!!
Kimberly lost 21 pounds! Full story coming soon.
Kelvin lost 29 pounds! Full story coming soon.
Jimmy lost 27 pounds! Full story coming soon.
J.J. lost 27 total pounds. He’s still training – full story coming soon!
Arlene lost 27 pounds, and was a winner of Total Body Transformation Season 5!
Abby’s full story coming soon!
“I still remember the horrible, sick, empty feeling in my stomach when I walked out of the doctor’s office almost a year ago. He stated Nina, your only 37 and on the way to becoming a diabetic, not to mention you need to start blood pressure medication to make sure you don’t have a stroke. He asked me if I intended on living a long life because at the rate I was going I would be dead by the age of 70. I sat in my car and cried, feeling sorry for myself, wondering how I let myself get to this point. I used to be so active, a nationally competitive ranked swimmer with a scholarship to college. As I looked back, my life was going just as I had planned. I graduated from Physical Therapy school, found a great job, got married and had a beautiful daughter. Then the unimaginable happened, my husband and I were divorced and it felt like the world fell out from underneath me. I did not believe in divorce and was raised to think it was unacceptable. I felt so ashamed, sad and like a failure.
I can look back now and see the divorce was the beginning of a downward spiral. I somehow went into survival mode and threw myself into the two things I knew I did well, my job and being a mom. When I finally stopped crying about everything, I made a choice to forgive myself and take the first step to move forward in my life. I had been stuck and had settled for a long time. In that moment I decided to create a possibility to live for. I created the possibility of living a joyous, loving, active life. Now all I needed was a plan to get me there. As I was driving home I noticed the old movie store was turned into a gym – Any Time Fitness. I pulled over and joined. I knew I needed help and I put my hope and trust into a young man named Travis with USA Elite trainers, who gave me an orientation to the gym. He was kind and gave me a lot of information to help me get in shape and start to lose weight. I began to look at myself from the inside out and with his help my journey to health began. I saw that I was strong, not weak and I slowly started taking control of my life. I stopped feeling bad about myself and realized I gave my power away, nobody had taken it from me. I had to honor and love myself to get it back. Soon after that Travis left the gym to go away for school. I was placed with another USA Elite trainer named Joe that ended up being the catalyst to my success. He has a genuine love for what he does and for helping people reach their fitness goals. He encouraged, pushed and motivated me to become the person that I am today. He pushed me further with my weight training and cardio than I ever thought was possible. I can now squat 225lbs. and run on a treadmill at 9.0 mph.
Joe suggested I enter the Any Time Fitness Body Challenge. He said I was capable of winning if I committed to it. I was scared, I had been playing life so small for so long because I was afraid of failing. I decided to enter the contest, what a great way to throw myself over the edge. I made a promise to myself to enjoy the process regardless of the outcome. Take advantage of the support I would receive, never realizing the rewards that were coming. Participating and performing everyday to my best ability during the challenge was a victory for me. I have broken through long standing obstacles with my family and my body image. Not to mention I made a truly wonderful friend that had helped me through the ups and downs of the challenge and will hopefully be a part of my life forever.
I have pushed my body further than I knew it could go and then Joe pushed it a little further. I have learned what to eat, when to eat, how often to eat and what portion size is right for me. The Elite trainers gave great tips on how to fuel your body throughout the day. For the first time in my life I feel like I have the tools and knowledge to maintain my weight loss; which is a joyous and relieving feeling. Being able to go into any store and put on a size 2 vs. a size 12 and have it look good, is a feeling that is hard to put into words. It allows me to be fully expressed in my voice and my new found body.
This challenge has allowed me to reach my goals of fitness and weight loss at a safe and rapid pace. I never realized the overall impact it would have on my life and the complete happiness I feel. I used to hide in a crowd with big clothes and a small voice. Now I have a new found confidence in my body, attitude and will for life. I can’t wait to try new things, one being entering a fitness or body building show. That would have been completely out of my realm of possibility a year ago. Along the way I have inspired my colleagues and motivated them to make health and fitness changes in their lives. I want to be a support for others as they start their own journey to becoming healthy.
I have grown to love this gym, the trainers, the staff and the new friends I have made along the way. This is only the start of my journey, I am excited to say bring it on, I am ready!”
“I heard a quote that stated: “10% of your destiny is locked within yourself; the other 90% is discovered in the relationships of your life.” I am a strong believer that you can never have enough people in your world…especially those who believe in you, desire you to be all that you can be, and will cheer you along your journey.
Being part of the Total Body Challenge has helped unlock my potential. I have battled with my weight for years…having small successes along the way…but never really accomplishing the ultimate healthy lifestyle that I wanted and desired. However, positioning myself with a group of people that had the same goal, being equipped with information and having the knowledge and support of amazing trainers has truly changed my life.
This is my story…
As I mentioned, I had battled with my weight for years and over that time had tried all different diets without lasting success. In September 2009 I had an “Ah Ha” moment…I was about 140 pounds overweight (weighing in at 308 pounds) and in relative good health…but I knew that if I didn’t address my weight that my health would eventually suffer. So I made a decision to do something about it and began to workout at the gym, Anytime Fitness…the best gym ever!!! I started doing cardio workouts on the treadmill every day. The first week was tough because I had to adjust to getting up early but as the weeks went by it did get easier.
In December 2009 I heard about the Total Body Challenge. I had seen some previous contestants working out at the gym and the success that they had achieved and I realized that if I wanted to reach my goal that I needed support and people to help me.
I must confess that I was really nervous entering the Challenge because I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t sure if I had the endurance, stamina and ability to compete. The first orientation day put all my fears to rest. I realized that I would be given the tools to help me and the support was overwhelming.
During the Total Body Challenge I learned a new way of exercising and eating. The trainers were with me every step of the way and I was amazed at the immediate results. I learned the importance of protein, carbohydrates and fat portions for each meal as well as the need for the right size portions of meals. I was taught the importance of eating the right foods at the right times…I was being re-educated about nutrition and I couldn’t believe the difference it was making in my weight loss. I also learned the importance of water consumption and when to increase my cardio work-outs and supplements in order to achieve the maximum results.
It’s now May 2010 and my weight is down to 197 pounds…it’s amazing!! The Total Body Challenge has changed my life!!
So as far as the beginning quote is concerned…yeah…I do believe that 90% of your destiny is discovered in the relationships of your life…being part of the Total Body Challenge has proved that to me! My USA Elite Trainers have helped unlock my destiny:
CJ…thank you seems so inadequate…but THANK YOU!! You took an area of my life, when it came to my weight and health, that was really weak and vulnerable and you spoke HOPE into it, you BELEIVED in me and you saw POTENTIAL even when I didn’t. You have such a passion to see people fit and healthy and I just want to personally thank you for dedicating your life to that…because my life will NEVER be the same!!! I am forever indebted to you… I am so grateful for you…I am forever CHANGED!!!
Ryan…you are an amazing trainer and I want to thank you for your support, for pushing me (without breaking me), and for your commitment to my success. You truly are the wind beneath my wings and you allowed me to soar higher and go further than I thought I could…so THANK YOU! Couldn’t have done it without you….you’re the best!!
I was fortunate enough to have great people that walked this voyage with me…my Total Body Challenge team mates each taught me something and helped unlock my destiny:
Dina……..her steadfastness and love for life.
Nancy………her tenderness…she is the quiet achiever
Robin……..her tenaciousness and indestructible spirit
Judy……..her ‘never quit’ attitude
Richard………his endurance, encouragement and cheeky smile
Anthony……..his quiet strength and compassion
Edvin……..his passion and drive
Derrick……..his fortitude…”giving it a go”
Lynn……..his energy and stamina
Thanks for being on the journey………it was so much fun!!!! I absolutely believe that the BEST days are AHEAD of us!!!”
“A little over four months ago, I don’t think you would have found anyone more resistant to the idea of joining the body challenge than me. Basically I didn’t think I could really commit to it; I was unemployed, studying for the Bar exam, clueless as to whether or not I would be moving out of the area during that time, and just didn’t think I had the physical ability to really be competitive… and I need to be competitive. I was happy just doing my own routine, knocking off a few pounds here and there; why would I ever want to join something I couldn’t really commit to, let alone win?
Then Bill Garvey, the 2009 winner, and my step-dad started getting on me about joining, you know “keeping it in the family.” Then CJ cornered me in the gym. And then finally, my mom turned to me after noticing how much weight I already dropped, and was like, “so at this rate you’ll win the challenge without actually joining.”
I had started back at the gym right after New Years. I realize it’s a bit of a cliché, but everything in my world had sort of gotten flip-flopped around and it seemed like good timing. I just graduated law school, moved back home, and was settling into another hectic few months of studying and waiting. But more influential than all of this was that I was coming up on my 5 year cancerversary. I was just 21, a senior in college, when I was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Yes, that’s the cancer of the one main organ in your body that controls things like weight and your metabolism. Since then, I’ve had enough yearly surgeries and radiation treatments to systematically destroy any body. Throw in the added stress of four years of law and grad school, and a set of bad knees from my days as a proper athlete, and this spells a recipe for physical disaster. I know I’m a stress eater, and I know that I probably pack on more weight because I’m always a bit strung out. The final blow came last February when I was told I would always have cancer; I would always test positive for it; it would always be there, and I would just need to watch and wait. The weight suddenly packed on with rapid speed.
Then New Year’s came along and I decided that five years of letting cancer effect my life was quite long enough. My resolution wasn’t so much to lose weight, but rather to put my life back where it was five years ago, which just happened to also include taking off the weight. In the end, the timing for the challenge couldn’t have been better. A month into it, I unexpectedly got a clean bill of health; it was like all the weight and stress dealing with my health had been lifted off my shoulders, and for the first time in five years I actually had the energy and stamina to get back into shape.
Initially I used the challenge as stress management while I studied for the Bar; you wouldn’t believe how many people didn’t have the endurance for the exam, and spent the months leading up to it completely strung out on caffeine and junk food. After the Bar, the challenge became a distraction. To make things more interesting I started throwing in totally random lessons for things I’ve always wanted to learn: tennis, golf, aikido, and even a surf conditioning class. All of my normal stress and anxiety got channeled elsewhere. Next thing I knew, I got a job, passed the Bar, and suddenly crushed my pre-cancer diagnosis weight. New Year’s resolution was more or less achieved before May.
I had a few hurdles with the challenge; little things, like I don’t particularly like meat and eggs (I’ve gotten over this), I couldn’t afford to work one on one with a trainer, and with my thyroid meds, I can’t take any stimulants/metabolism boosters/ or proper fat burners. Nothing is more depressing than having one of those days where you’re completely exhausted, you get to the gym, and all your friends are hyper pumped off of stimulants. It all made me push myself just that little bit harder to keep up with everyone else.
My favorite day was the day after the second Mt. Trashmore challenge; that night everything clicked. Bill and I went for a jog outside. Now I suck at running, I’ve never been a runner; I can sprint and jump, but not really run. Bill paced me at an awkwardly slow speed, and I went from only being able to run for about 3 minutes, to an hour-long jog. Like I said, everything just clicked, and I now wake up every morning and jog around my neighborhood watching the sunrise over the ocean; I can’t imagine a better way to start my day.
I can’t really explain how good it feels to have so much going on your life all at once the way things have for me over the last few months. And then to tie it all together by getting back in shape, crushing my goal weights, and pushing myself to do physical activities I didn’t think I would ever do again, is all overwhelming. I can’t believe I ever resisted joining the challenge, and I want to thank everyone who pushed me into it and through it, all the trainers, Bill, and most of all the whole Great Neck team. You’ve all been awesome!”
“My name is Valleri Polk and this is MY STORY…
There has always been a part of me that hated my body, my looks, and my self-image. I have been overweight my entire adult life and have had zero success with weight loss in the past. As a repeat offender of fad and yo-yo diets, I knew deep down this was never going to be the answer. To get what I wanted, I had to be honest with myself and admit that only hard work and dedication would be the real answer to my weight problem. I also had to admit that I could not succeed at it alone. As an overweight out of shape plus size woman, facing exercise all together can be overwhelming. It can be humiliating, shameful, and embarrassing to say the least. But at this point, I had nothing else to lose.
The weight we carry is not only measured in pounds. It can be a thousand times heavier on our emotions than what our body, joints, and bones physically carry every day. It can drag us down from the inside out and to the overweight person, it’s a silent inner struggle that becomes crippling. As I turned 40 in life, I had everything. I had God in my heart, a loving husband who loved me for who I was and not how I looked, a great family and many friends. I had everything I could want from life except the love for myself. Turning 40 was not my problem; being FAT and 40 was the problem. My doctor was quite surprised at how healthy I was, except for my weight. I was not on medications for high blood pressure or high cholesterol, but I knew that if I did not change, it would only be a matter of time before I was. We all need to be at a good weight for our health, but I also wanted it for other reasons. I wanted to be able to golf with my husband, go to the beach and feel good about myself, put on a nice outfit and feel like I looked good. I wanted to be comfortable in my clothes. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. I wanted, no I needed, to love myself the way I loved others. I had to do something and sitting on the couch watching “The Biggest Loser” while eating hot wings and french-fries was not the answer. I realized I needed my own Bob or Jillian to teach me, to guide me, to push me, and to train me. I needed help.
My husband and I joined Anytime Fitness in April of 2009. After meeting with Tony Bonawit from USA Elite Trainers for our gym orientation, I knew HE would be the one to help me. The only thing Tony asked from me was my full commitment to his program. He assured me that if I was loyal to the program, I would be pleased with the results. Getting past my anxieties and humiliation of how I had let my body become over the years was extremely hard, but I moved forward and I began working with Tony 3 days a week while I pursued cardio 5 days a week. No more excuses. I committed fully to my plan, although I have to admit my first few weeks were horrible. I was ashamed of my inability to complete what seemed to be even the simplest of exercises. With Tony’s patience and knowledge, he quickly recognized my strengths and weaknesses. He created a strength training program, cardio program, and nutrition program to help me meet my goals and needs. He began to teach me the proper techniques to take care of myself in a healthy way. Each workout was tough and challenging, but he encouraged me and pushed me to do more every day. Now, I truly know I can do more and, I have learned to push myself. His support and genuine concern kept me coming back to the gym every day and actually looking forward to my workouts. My family has made sacrifices both financially, and by spending less time with me, but in the end it has all been worth it.
Losing weight was something I had wanted my whole life, but never really believed I could do. But, now for the first time, it was actually happening for me. That is when things really began to change and I started believing I could do this. For each small goal I reached, not only did I become healthier physically, I was becoming healthier emotionally. I was healing myself from the inside out. I was becoming worth the effort to myself, and as I passed each small goal, the big goal became achievable to me. I was actually starting to have faith in myself that I could do this, and that I would succeed at weight loss this time.
If you add up all of the years I spent beating myself up emotionally, adding pound after pound of self-doubt and lowering my self-esteem; the money, time and failures of the so-called diets……this year has been a breeze. All these experiences in my past were 100% harder than anything I have done this past year. As one of my goals, I had signed up in March 2009 (before I had joined Anytime Fitness) to run the March 2010 Shamrock Half Marathon, not knowing if I would even be able to walk it. At that time, I could not walk one mile, much less run 13.1 miles. Not only did I complete the half marathon, I was able to RUN the 13.1 miles in 2:42:06! Thank you to my dear friend, Nina, for running every step of the way with me and crossing the finish line by my side.
For the first time in my life, I have learned how to put myself first and that it’s okay. All the years I spent taking care of others, I neglected myself physically and emotionally. I find, now that I am focusing on myself, I have become healthier on the inside and out. I have so much more to offer to the ones I love and I am finally truly happy with myself. I am more confident, strong, and proud. I feel I have found the missing piece to my inner self, and it has made me whole. I have God, a great husband, friends and family, and now I have love for myself. It is the best gift I could have ever given myself. No one else could fulfill that for me, only me, and now I finally have it.
The Total Body Challenge
In January 2010 USA Elite Trainers and Anytime Fitness began their third year of the Total Body Challenge. After nine months of training with Tony and working hard, I knew instantly this was just what I needed. This would be the ultimate push on my journey to my weight loss goal. It was the motivation I needed to work even harder than before. It was my moment to shine, my “Super Bowl’ of workouts, my “Biggest Loser” moment, the chance to prove to myself that I could succeed and WIN no matter what the challenge or no matter how hard it got. It was my chance to compete physically with others and WIN, and I wanted to WIN. I set out with the lessons I have always told others but never applied to myself….”if you really want something in life you have to name it, claim it, and go for it”. So I signed up for the Total Body Challenge: I named it MINE, I claimed it MINE, and I decided I was going to go for it….WIN the title of the 2010 Total Body Challenge. I wanted it and worked hard for it every day. Never losing sight of what I wanted, I gave my workouts 110% putting in extra hours at the gym and taking advantage of the free classes at Anytime Fitness and USA Elite. I listened and applied all the knowledge the trainers from USA Elite had to offer. I wanted to WIN and was willing to do whatever it took. I realized others were working just as hard as I was and if I did not win, it would not be from lack of trying on my part. For the last five weeks of the challenge, I was doing cardio three times a day and pushing myself beyond limits I didn’t even know I had. Participating in the extreme workouts of the Challenge brought me results at an accelerated rate. During the 12 week Challenge, I was able to lose almost the same amount of weight that I had already lost during the first nine months of my weight loss transformation. My experience with the Total Body Challenge was one I will never forget.
Throughout the Total Body Challenge, I met and connected with other members of Anytime Fitness and USA Elite. Their camaraderie and support inspired me and motivated me to continue to work towards my goals. Their encouragement helped to make the Total Body Challenge fun and enjoyable. Working together as a team to achieve our individual goals made it an event I looked forward to each Saturday and kept me going throughout the weeks. I look forward to the long term friendships that I have formed with my new gym family.
When I began The Total Body Challenge in January 2010, I weighed in at 220.5 lbs. Participating in the 12 week challenge helped me lose the last 64.5 lbs on my life changing, weight loss journey…but that is not my whole story.
My whole story began the day I walked into Anytime Fitness, April 8, 2009, determined to change my life. I was 5’5″ tall and weighed 287 lbs………Today, May 12 2010, I am so proud to say that I weigh 156 lbs. That means in only 13 months, with exercise and proper nutrition, I was able to lose a total of 131 lbs. When I began, my body fat was at an incredible 60% and today it’s down to 20.1%. I have lost a total of 92.25 inches from my body. To put that into perspective I have lost the equivalent weight of my best gym buddy Nina Mungo. I was literally caring around an extra person for all those years. I started out wearing a clothing size of woman’s 24/26 and today I can shop in any store, not just plus size stores, because I am in a size 6/8. All of this in only 13 months! I am proof that YOU can do this too. Anyone with determination, hard work, proper training and nutritional education can win this battle. With the support from your loved ones, anyone can succeed at weight loss.
At the end of the 12 week Total Body Challenge, whether I WIN or not (notice I did not say lose)…I AM A WINNER…JUST LOOK AT ME…I made it, I did it…I have made it to a healthy weight that is appropriate for my height and body frame. I did it. Me!!!!! This was something that no one else could do for me, and I finally accomplished it. Anyone could give me the tools, encourage me, push me, support me; but ultimately, the rest was up to me and me alone….and I did it. Working with Tony Bonawit from USA Elite Trainers and with Anytime Fitness has taught me how to live a healthy well-balanced life. The lessons I have learned will never be forgotten. I will never go back to the lethargic lifestyle of just not caring about myself again.
For all that I have learned and achieved, I have to say thank you to God first and foremost. Without Him, nothing is possible. Thank you to my wonderful husband Shannon who has loved me for the past 22 years, no matter what size I was. To my BFF (best friend forever) Connie, my two sons Brian and Andrew, my friends and my family: Thank you for always supporting me, even when I was not so nice. I want to say thank you to my Anytime Fitness family, USA Elite, and to the greatest trainer ever, Tony Bonawit. Without your support, I would have never made it. You have changed my life by helping change me. I am forever grateful. I am still the same Valleri, but now I am 100% Valleri. The happy, strong, healthy, proud, and confident Valleri that had been buried deep beneath the 131 extra pounds for the past 20 plus years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This is not the end…….. but the beginning of the rest of my life, and I am ready to live each day as the blessing God has given me. I will never take it for granted again.”
“This is a story of my journey over the past two and a half years concerning my battles with weight loss. I often felt worthless due to being overweight and being criticized all my life. So I made a decision to take control of my life in order to become more confident in myself. I realized my weight was a major problem in February 2006. My desire to lose weight became stronger when I was diagnosed with diabetes in June of 2006.The decision to change my life was a big step because I was uncertain about how to lose the weight effectively. I had been on several diets, which did not work or were just a temporary solution. These diets would work over a period of time, but eventually they would stop working and I always gained even more weight. I did not know how important exercising was in order to take the weight off while also learning the importance of nutrition on a daily basis.
On that first day back in February 2006, I can remember how much it hurt to do just 30 minutes of walking outside. I can’t recall how many days when it took everything I had to do a short amount of exercise without getting any shin splints or cramps that would stop me in my tracks. As the days passed, I increased my time and the amount of miles that I would do each day. One thing I did realize was I needed to do more to achieve the goals I set for myself. I began to do free weights and resistance training each morning after doing my cardio. My biggest obstacle was learning how to change my eating habits. I decreased my calorie, fat, and sodium intake on a daily basis at first. When I found out I was diabetic, I had to figure what I needed to do get my sugar down and to keep everything else in check. I went to a nutritionist and was given a diet plan to follow. It took me about a year to get 68lbs off with the exercise and dieting that I was doing. Unfortunately, I began to plateau and started gaining some of my weight back in November and December of 2008. So I made the decision that I needed to do something new to start losing the weight again. After realizing that I was not losing weight anymore, I knew I had to change my plan of action. As the New Year approached, I decided it was time to hit the gym and start working out to start achieving the goals I set for myself. One day at the gym, one of the trainers mentioned something about a body challenge that they were doing for 12 weeks. I was very interested, but I was concerned about the cost and having the time and dedication in order to be successful. In order to change what I was doing, I had to push myself more than ever.
USA Elite Trainers gave me the proper tools to guide me in the pursuit of my goals. Therefore, I decided to sign up for the Total Body Challenge. Participating in the Total Body Challenge was the best thing I could have done for myself. On the first day it was very exciting but very scary at the same time, because I didn’t know what to expect. My diet and exercise program were about to change drastically. I learned how to eat smaller meals throughout the day while also obtaining various exercise routines. We did a Saturday workout every week, which showed me different ways of doing things that involved exercising. I received a lot of information regarding the different vitamins, powders, and supplements you can use to help in the weight loss program. The one thing that we were reminded of each day was it is a lifestyle change and you can maintain it lifelong.
The Total Body Challenge helped me push myself to new limits I never thought I could achieve. It did have a lot of ups and downs but I was able to push through it. I am very grateful to my personal trainer, Tony, who helped me strive to be the best I could be and still continues to do so. He was there to support me through my bumps along the way and was always there for me when I needed him. I would like to thank all of USA Elite Trainers, Anytime Fitness, CJ, Loren, Jenn, Tony, and Stacey for also giving me the knowledge and the will to be successful throughout this entire process. I have lost a total of 51lbs while doing the Body challenge and have lost a total of 103 lbs all together during this weight loss journey. I want to be an inspiration to other people who have been struggling with weight loss their entire life and letting them know they can succeed to.”
“To the awesome owners and trainers of USA Elite Trainers & Anytime Fitness:
Thank you so much for all you hard work and encouragement throughout this 12 week Total Body Challenge. Initially, I was apprehensive and not sure if I could maintain the stringent diet and exercise program. Being a single mom working two jobs, I didn’t know if I could devote the time necessary to get results. But the trainers were always encouraging and positive which made me want to do my best. I started out feeling guilty for being away from home and doing something just for me. Now, I realize nothing is more important than taking care of myself and striving to be in the best shape possible. The boot camps by USA Elite Trainers were killer but I always felt good about myself AFTER they were over. With your help, I have met my personal goals of losing weight, increasing my strength, and learning to follow a healthy diet. It has become a new lifestyle for me. Thank you so much!”
“February 2009 marked the beginning of my life-changing journey. I had been gaining and losing weight over the past 15 years. When 180 lbs. flashed on the scale, that was it, something had to be done. Size 12’s were becoming impossible to wear and going up a size was not an option. Joining the gym was the only option.
Upon joining Anytime Fitness and my consultation with Loren, it was clear having a trainer would provide me more success than going about it alone. After signing a three month contract, I was on my way! My nerves were shot at the beginning, overweight and zero confidence, but Loren made me feel comfortable and at ease with the process. He provided me with my personalized diet plan, cardio schedule and supplement plan. All these factors, worked in conjunction with each other, made the inches start melting away! Loren being by my side, pushing me, telling me “good job” or “come on, one more” or “you can do it” has helped me get where I am today…so far my weight loss is 20+ pounds and 11.5 inches total, 6″ from my waist alone! Amazing! I have more energy; feel great and loving life!
USA Elite Trainers are an amazing group of dedicated people! They make you feel important and always have compliments to keep you going. It’s like they know when you need that little boost of confidence! Signing with one trainer allows you access to the entire team of trainers. They are always there to give support, advice and encouragement when needed. If you’re committed to changing your life, inside and out – this group will get you there. They practice what they preach and that speaks volumes to their character! Thank you Loren and USA Elite Trainers – you have helped me change my life!
P.S. At the end of my three month contract, I signed up for an additional nine months with Loren and am continuing to lose weight and feel great!!”
In the words of Charles Buxton “Sometimes success is due less to ability than zeal. The winner is he who gives himself to his work, body, and soul”. I can truly say I’ve pretty much lived my whole adult life by that quote. I may not be the strongest or fastest person in the huddle, but I’ve never given up a fight or quit even in the face of adversity, and even if that meant finishing last. My life has been defined not by the destination, but by the paths I’ve taken and journey itself. Every day of my life presents new challenges and experiences, some good some bad, and some ugly. I savor and bask in the good but when the bad and ugly rear their ugly head, that’s another story. Battling with my weight and nutrition has terrorized me since my mid teens and had become a dark side to my life, an emotional rollercoaster if you will. I will begin with what got me here today.
September of 99, I retired from the Navy. I was fit and a healthy 145 pounds ready to face my new life as a civilian. While in the Navy, I was never alone when it came to physical fitness. I always had the support of those who pushed me and held me accountable for my actions. Now 10 years later that weight had ballooned. During those 10 years I often wondered at times how I got that way, so I realized I had to do something. I tried many diets, worked out sometimes, and went on with life. In July of 09, I was starting a new job, so I went out and spent a lot of money on new clothes, size 16 and 18’s and X Large to be sure. At that time, I was tipping the scales at 170 and figured that’s just what it’s going to be. Convinced myself that I wouldn’t gain any more weight, life went on. Fast forward to January 2010. Woke up one morning, put those size 18 slacks on and could barely button them. All those new clothes I bought were fitting tight and became uncomfortable. I stood in front of my mirror, shoulders slumped, stomach sticking out, and thighs bulging. I put my head down, began to cry and couldn’t stand looking at myself. I jumped on the scale and it read a hefty 180. This was the major tipping point that led me to Anytime Fitness and my personal trainer and savior, Tonya (Jillian).
First and foremost, I entered this challenge in a last ditch attempt to save my life. Winning the challenge would be a wonderful bonus and achievement, but I had to focus on me and was desperate and willing enough to make the positive changes that would keep me buoyed. I was self-destructing at a rapid pace and the only person that could save me was me. All I needed was a support system around to push and motivate me and remind me occasionally why I was there. When I entered through the doors at Anytime Fitness in January, I immediately knew I was in the right place at the right time. I sat down with Tony and we conversed about why I was there and what I was feeling inside physically and emotionally. I told him I was at a loss for words for my demise. Explained to him it felt like the wind was taken from my sail and that I had failed. Tony was compassionate but yet firm enough in telling me that if you want it bad enough, you got to work for it. There was no magic pill and it will not happen overnight. It was at that point I briefly started to question my mental and physical toughness to compete in a challenge. He looked right at me and said “You can do it Karen; you did 20 years in the Navy”. That was the second personal tipping point that drove me to hire a personal trainer and enter the challenge. I was now more than ever determined and motivated to prove myself wrong and that I could really do this for all the right reasons.
I asked Tonya to be my personal trainer and it was a done deal. I explained to her what I wanted to accomplish, my near term and long term goals. I gave her the rundown of my past with food and exercise. I told her I wanted the Boot Camp treatment and to run me into the ground. She took good mental notes and even chuckled at a list of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” foods I’ve been stuffing in my mouth the past several years. I told her that I liked the good stuff on the list but it didn’t necessarily mean that I consumed them in mass quantities.
And so Tonya received her assignment and we went to work. My first session with Tonya shocked my body into a frenzy. I didn’t realize how out of shape I was until after that first workout. All I can remember is being winded, sore, sweating profusely, and falling off machines from fatigue. Embarrassed, I would just get right back up and ask her “what’s next”. Sometimes I crawled to the next station. She told me this process starts with small steps and in no time, my muscles will bounce back. I said back to her “what muscles, all I can feel and grab is fat”. I’m sure at this point, Tonya had to be wondering what the heck she got herself into with this lady. Throughout this transformation, I learned to not question my trainer or what I was doing. I just did it because I trusted Tonya knew exactly what she was doing with me. If she said “just try to give me 10”, translation to me was … go for 12. That is the approach I took the past 12 weeks of the challenge. If I did those few extra reps, then I knew I could overcome some of my fears and begin rebuilding my self-esteem and confidence. Her feedback to me has been invaluable. After week two of the challenge, my body starting shrinking. Seeing the fruits of my labor made me a believer in finding success in small steps. By the time week five arrived, I was feeling revived and energized. With my new found confidence and the Will to be the best I could be, I began to push myself harder. Week eight week is where I could really see the changes. Everything I was doing made perfect sense. I was starting to glow and life in general was so much better. This challenge has taught me so much about myself. I won’t lie, I hit some emotional lows during this process. There were a few times I became discouraged and defeated. Because of Tonya’s tenacity, those thoughts were short lived. To complete this challenge, I resolved myself to remain committed, focused and persevere through the most difficult challenges. By the time week ten arrived, I had shed the skin of doubt and defeat. There was no looking back.
My goal for this challenge was to finish and finish strong. Finishing this challenge means a great deal to me. It will become my foundation to continue building on. I believe I’ve reached my weight goal, but if I didn’t, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing until I get there. I’ve made huge leaps and bounds since that first day in training. This challenge is only the beginning. I have a lot of work left to do, but I believe in myself and will accomplish my goals. Having a positive attitude is a great start and will carry me a long way. Attitude is a large part of figuring out if you want to succeed and be happy whether it be at home, work, or in the gym. I learned early on that there are three S’s to success; Sacrifice, Study, and Share. I made the necessary Sacrifices to complete this challenge, I Studied and practiced what my trainer taught me, and I Shared that knowledge with others in the gym struggling to find their way as I did back in January.
I especially want to thank CJ, Tony, Joe (Hollywood), fellow challenge participants, and the staff at Anytime Fitness for their unwavering support and advice during this challenge. Thank you for pushing me when I needed a push and for the encouragement to keep fighting. You guys at USA Elite Trainers are awesome.
Lastly and most importantly, I want to recognize and thank Tonya from the bottom of my heart for being there and saving my life. She took this wounded soul under her wing and helped breathe new life into these old bones of mine. Because of you Tonya, I have a renewed sense of commitment, determination, and energy to stay the course. I now have the wind back in my sails and it feels great. You taught me resilience in the face of adversity. You’re an angel and I look forward to continuing my journey with you.
When I started the TOTAL BODY CHALLENGE, I weighed my heaviest weight ever. I had been under extreme stress for the past several years due to the death of my parents and switching jobs after fifteen years. I’m the only not to blame for not taking care of myself. I had decided to start 2009 with a new attitude…” it’s all about me”. I wanted to get back in shape to look and feel better. I wanted it be healthy again. What great timing when I got the email from Anytime fitness in January about the 12 week TOTAL BODY CHALLENGE that was about to begin. I signed up without hesitation and I felt like this may be exactly what I needed to be successful.
The body challenge kicked off 01/31/09. I was motivated with my eating and workout plan that CJ had given us. I wrote down everything I ate, counted calories, carbs, proteins, etc and weighed my food. The first four weeks of workouts really surprised me. I felt tired after walking on the treadmill for twenty minutes. I could do about eight mountain climbers, and I could jumping jacks for about twenty minutes. I had realized how out of shape I really was. However I stuck with it and I started to notice that I was building strength and endurance. I was losing weight, I had more energy, I felt more mental clarity, and I was sleeping like a baby. The intensity of the workouts increased. Somewhere around the sixth or seventh week, I was starting to doubt myself. I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the class. It’s almost like CJ could read my mind as he said to the class “don’t give up”, you can do this. CJ continued pushing on; I found out that I could do this. All of the sudden, it was almost over! Where did the time go? Now as I sit here writing my story, I must say that this body challenge has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I’ve lost over twenty pounds in twelve weeks, but most importantly, I’ve learned new habits. Diet and exercise have become a regular part of my routine and will continue to be for the rest of my life. I just want to say THANKS to CJ and the rest of his team who provided awesome workouts, motivation, and tips to help me be successful.
I started this challenge with the hope that I would kick start my weight loss goals. My goal was to lose about 30-40lbs during the three month challenge, but my overall goal is to lose an additional 30lbs by this time next year. During the challenge I was provided education regarding the proper supplements to take and the appropriate dietary intake for my body. USA Elite Trainers made themselves available for any questions. With the guidance provided, I became more aware of serving sizes, just exactly how much fat is in foods, and how to manipulate food that I was already eating to accommodate the strict dietary guidelines.
I started out slow with my exercise regimen and gradually began to gain endurance. I started out walking briskly on the treadmill and using the elliptical for cardio, before I knew it I was running intervals. I began to explore alternative methods of working out. I began to integrate outdoor activities into my regimen. I purchased bicycles for both my fiancé and myself to integrate healthy activity into both of our lives. After the first Body Challenge at Mt. Trashmore, I was determined to conquer the stairs. I eventually was able to run the stairs with ease. During the challenge we ran a 5K. Finishing my first 5K was inspiring and made me want to participate in other group runs.
My struggle during this challenge was balancing my work, full-time college schedule, and the exercise regimen. For the first two months this was manageable and gradually became harder. I found myself slipping towards the last few weeks of the semester. I found it difficult to fit exercise into my schedule and preparation and planning for meals became more difficult. I still maintained the recommended caloric intake, but was limited in my work outs. Despite the challenge of time management, I was able to lose 25lbs. Although this was not my goal for this challenge, I did gain knowledge and understanding needed to continue with losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Lost 20 pounds in 12 weeks! Still training, story to come.
Lost 51 total pounds in 6 months! Still training, story to come.
I hired CJ in April to train me for Ms Fitness USA pageant. CJ not only prepared me physically through intense series of workouts, but he also developed a nutrition plan as well as a supplementation guide so I knew exactly what I was eating and taking to reach my goals. He provided me with an enormous amount of motivation throughout the way. He also taught/guided me through the different walking and posing stances that where required. I really enjoyed working with CJ because even on the days that we didn’t train together he still called to see how I was doing; his actions really showed me he cared. His ability to airbrush (tan) me for my competition made the world of difference. To train for so many weeks and have him handle everything I needed to be prepared; posing, tanning, last week prep, water, supplements and how to wrap it all together was unimaginably important. All of this brought me to compete in the OCB Presidential Cup in Washington D.C. I placed 4th in the Ms Fitness category. From there I went on to compete in the Ms Fitness USA Finals in Reno, Nevada. I placed 13th and made my dreams come in the process. I will continue to use CJ as my trainer for future competitions and I would recommend him to anyone that is trying to take their fitness to the next level.
“This is a story of my Journey. Some parts may make you laugh and some may make you cry. Please know by writing this, it is not only my hope to inspire people, but to let people know they are not alone in their struggle with weight loss.
Let me start off by saying, my weight has been an issue for me for many years. Every doctor I would go to would always say the same thing to me; I had wonderful blood pressure, my heart rate was good, and so was my cholesterol. I was extremely healthy, just over weight (Morbidly obese to be exact). I was tipping the scale at 343lbs. How could healthy and obese be used in the same sentence (I always wondered.) I heard this so much over time I guess I believed it. The reality is you can not be healthy when you can not even bend over to tie your own shoes or stand for short periods of time without having extreme pain in your lower back. I couldn’t even walk twenty feet without being short of breathe. The list of problems I had could go on and on.
I started to become very depressed about my weight. I was good at keeping it to myself though. No one close to me really even knew how depressed I was. Someone once said, “Inside every great comedian is a very sad clown.” That was me! I could make people laugh, but inside I was so sad. I had gotten to the point that some days I really did not even want to wake up. I would lie in bed and look at my husband and think about how he deserved so much better then me and wonder how he loved me as much as he did. I would think about my children and how embarrassed they must be to have such an over weight mother. When my son moved to Florida I couldn’t even get on a plane to fly down to see him because of my weight. I knew the airlines would charge me extra. Often, I would cry myself to sleep and soon found myself falling deeper and deeper into depression. People do not realize that a battle with weight for some is the same as a drug addiction or alcoholism to many others.
My husband one day suggested to me that we join The Anytime Fitness Gym that had recently opened up down the street from us. He wanted us to join because the doctors said it would be great for him and help with his dialysis’ treatments. See, my husband has kidney disease and is need of a transplant. I wanted to do it for him, so I agreed. I thought to myself that this was probably going to be just another place where I would be judged. We are taught growing up not to judge a book by its cover but let’s face it we all have at one time or another. A lot of times people think because you are fat you are stupid and lazy. I never really thought of myself like that. Now, I guess I really was because I did not know anything about nutrition and I never wanted to exercise. I have to say, I was really wrong about the gym. From the moment we walked in, we were greeted with a warm smile! I never felt like anyone here would ever judge me. After all, everyone there seemed to be after the same goal: to get fit and healthy. The trainers talked with us and showed us around the gym. I started to think that this might be good for me. This would be a place where I could go and fit in. Everyone in the gym from the trainers to other members gave encouragement. I can honestly say they wanted everyone to reach their goal.
The turning point for me was the day my husband and I went to the transplant center to see if I could be a donor for him. I couldn’t even be tested because of my weight. How horrible I felt. This is my soul mate, love of my life and I couldn’t even be tested to try to give him extra time on his life. What does that say about me? What if this was one of my children and as their mother I couldn’t even try to save them. I think this is what made me want not only to lose the weight but get healthy not just physically but mentally. It’s kind of funny, I wanted to save him and he actually saved me in a way.
One day at the gym I notice they had a sign up about the Body Challenge. One of my gym buddies suggested I do it. It would be a struggle for me at my weight but what a great way to see how dedicated I really was to take this journey. I signed up got a trainer and said several prayers. C.J. the owner of Elite trainers recommended a young man named Josh. They ask me what my personal goal was and what I wanted from the Body Challenge. I told them five simple words” to get my life back”! These two men will never know I will be forever grateful to them. When this started he said we would have a love hate relationship. I never experienced the hate part. How could you hate someone who literally is saving your life? The first day I worked out with Josh he wanted me to look in the mirror to watch my form as we did the exercises. I kept putting my head down; I really didn’t like what I saw. If he only knew how I wanted to run out of the gym in tears because I really hated myself. It’s funny you know your over weight but the way you perceive the way you look is not actually the way you look. There were many things I couldn’t do at first because of my size. I couldn’t get down on the floor or even do ten crunches without stopping. I was so out of shape! The first group work out was tough, everyone was down on the floor; I at this point still couldn’t get down there. Next week with Josh I told him the following week I would be down there with everyone else. I crawled from one mat to the next but I accomplished that goal. I was not faster or stronger but my Motto became “I don’t quit.” I wanted Josh to know I would give him 110% and no matter what he told me to do I would do it.
When all three gyms met at Mt. Trashmore for our first work out it was one of the hardest things I ever did. We were up and down on the mats. BY the time everyone else was getting back down I was just getting up. They wanted us to run the mountain in a minute. Both times I never made it all the way up there but “I don’t quit”. After the work out I decided I would not let this mountain beat me. I would get up that mountain even if I had to crawl. Stacy and My husband went up there with me. I was so proud of myself; I made it. The next big thing was a 5k. I can not tell you how scared I was. A 300 pound woman doing a 5k I really didn’t know if I had this in me. With the little voice in my head saying “You don’t quit “and great support I finished, maybe last but I did it. I remember crossing the finish line and just crying I never thought I would have been able to do this.
Week after week I accomplished a little something, from jogging around the building to doing thirty crunches without stopping. I took nutrition classes, even a kick boxing class. I finally began to like myself again. Josh would push my body to do things I would have never thought was possible. He had me get on the stair master (I referred to it as the stair bitch) it reminded me of a woman on PMS. Time after time I would get on it and pray I wouldn’t roll off backwards. One day I did ask Josh if we could do the elevator instead of the stairs but there is no elevator in the gym unfortunately.
When C.J. and Josh told me Cardio first thing in the morning I thought they were crazy. Bad habits are so hard to break but that’s what got me in this shape. Now my routine is leaving the house by 4:30am do hour of cardio in morning at gym, go to work back at gym by 4:00pm for more cardio and work-out. I’m not going to say it hasn’t been hard. Many days I left that gym in tears because my mind hurt as well as my body. There were parts of my body that I had forgotten I had even hurt. I would have ice packs on both my knees, sore arms even my butt hurt. I began to realize the changes in my body and really how much better I felt. The weight and inches came off and I really started to like who I have become. I soon realized the hardest job we ever have is LIFE. It’s nice to want to get up every morning and see what you can accomplish.
We all have demons, mine was my weight. It is important to understand my journey is far from over; this is just the beginning, I still have a long way to go. The difference is I know I will be successful because this process really does work. It takes dedication and work and “I Don’t QUIT!”
This essay is dedicated to many people because of them I began to really live again.
First, to the owners of Anytime Fitness Stacy and Taz for having such a wonderful gym.
The Elite Trainers: C.J. for always seeing something inside of me that I had forgotten was there and never giving up on me. Joe and Tonya for always being supportive and giving extra encouragement especially on our Saturday morning group work outs.Kel for teaching me to love myself again and teaching me ever little thing is a big accomplishment. To” Big Daddy” Josh, you will never know how much I am in debt to you for all you have done. I have the up most respect for you and I believe God put us together for this reason. You literally saved my life.
To my Gym sisters, Val, Nina, and Karen, thank you for giving so much support and guidance. There were days I could not have gotten through this without you. It meant more than you will ever know.
To two of the best friends anyone could ask for, Relyn and Debbie. You guys will always have a special place in my heart. You never judged me, just supported me on my journey.
My wonderful Husband, who cooked, cleaned and was in charge of my ice packs. Thank you for believing in me.”
This first and foremost thing I have to say is, I LOVE this gym. When I start going two years ago; I was super nervous about joining. I had never been part of a gym other than my local rec-center. However, once I stepped my foot in the door I knew I was going to be a member forever. I love the hours, the staff, and all the machines they have to offer. Before I started the body challenge, I actually started my fitness journey two years ago, when I topped out at 215 pounds. I was over being fat and I could not stand the way my clothes were fitting. I was also in a place where I needed to strengthen my body, mind, and soul. The reason I decided to do the body challenge this time was because I had seen the challenge go on for two seasons and every time wish I had joined. This season I thought would be perfect because it would give me a chance to introduce myself back into the work out scene. Before I had decided to enter the challenge I was disappointed in myself because I had gained back twenty pounds that I had previously lost. Another reason, is because I wanted that extra push to lose weight while my husband was on his six month deployment. The body challenge was to give me focus, and also give me the education that I needed for nutrition in the hope that I could finally get to my goal weight of 145 pounds. Even though I did not reach my goal during the body challenge; I am proud of myself for what I did accomplish. I was able to get back into my routine of working out six days a week, and getting on track with my nutrition. I struggled and fought it for the entire time and thought I could do the counting and nutrition on my own, but I lost the battle. I finally had to entrust in myself that I can do whatever I put my mind too. When I finally trusted myself, and actually listened I began to lose the weight.
My attitude about eating, shopping, and working out is completely different than it used to be. My attitude actually changed two years ago when I began my weight lose journey. Even though I fell off the eating right and working out band wagon for a little while, I was still aware of what I was eating. However, because of the body challenge I am so much more conscious of what I eat. I keep in mind, “clean eating” and remind myself every day what that means exactly to me. “Clean eating” means to me eating food that taste good, but that is healthy and going to make me full to where I will not think of food. I have found that if I am hungry then that is when I make poor choices in food selection. Since joining the body challenge I am also more aware of my work outs of what I do, how many times a week, and how long they are. My shopping for food has also changed. I now go with a list, and anything on that list is in the cart and if it is not on the list it does not go in the cart. I have also noticed that I spend twice as much time in the grocery store because I am now comparing nutrition labels. The one lesson that sticks out that most I learned about the program was the diet and “LISTEN TO YOUR TRAINER.” I can write that I regret not listening to my trainer sooner, but that will not get me anywhere at this point. I have to be proud of the accomplishments that I have done thus far, and keep working towards my personal goal. The body challenge changed my lifestyle by helping me trust myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to. I feel like that was my biggest problem during the body challenge. I was afraid of letting go of the old person, and introducing the new. I did not trust myself to know that this program works. I felt like I had failed so many times in that past that nothing was going to work. I was the mindset that if the last few times did not work, way would this be any different. I finally had to let go of that fear and not only trust myself but my trainer as well. I had to trust myself I knew what I was doing, and push myself harder. The one big thing that helped me in my lifestyle was the food journal. It is amazing how much food you can consume in a day; and how the calories add up. The food journal helped me get back on track with a healthier diet. The trainers of USA Elite were the biggest support during the challenge. They encouraged you, and were always eager to show you the correct ways of doing things. I felt that each participate had a great connection with a trainer, and the support from the other participates were very encouraging. Even though I did not make my goal weight during this challenge this is not the end for me. I still have two and half months to make my goal weight that I wanted to make before my husband comes home from his six month deployment. The greatest lesson that I learned from this experience is to listen to your trainer, and trust yourself that you can do anything that you put your mind to.
Last May, I went kayaking with my family. The first kayak they put in the water I didn’t fit into. They had to bring me a bigger one. . .you can imagine the humiliation as I struggled to get out of one tipsy boat and plant my big butt into another. One would think this would have been the breaking point, but over the summer I gained at least ten more pounds. By November, I tipped the scale at 196 pounds and stood 5″1′. I wasn’t sleeping well at night and I was always tired. I was depressed. I suffered from heartburn that my doctor said was caused by morbid obesity. I wasn’t special. I had all the same complaints of any other overweight person. When friends asked me to go out, I would respectfully decline. I certainly didn’t want to be out in public where people could see me. One thing you want to do when you that overweight, ironically, is disappear. My brother is a retired Navy Seal and passionate about physical fitness and a healthy diet. His girlfriend is a Crossfit instructor and equally passionate about good health. After visiting them Halloween weekend in Boston, I came home feeling ashamed. How had I let things get this bad? I immediately signed up for training sessions with Ryan. I had had enough. It was time for a change. Obesity runs in my family and I’m at an age where I felt things were either going to get worse or I could turn it around and choose a different path; a healthier path for the rest of my life. About the time my training sessions with Ryan ran out, the Body Challenge was beginning. This wouldn’t be the first time I had paid a gym at New Years to enter a weight loss competition. But this time was going to be different, and it was. My goal at the most basic level was just to stick with it. I had been through many resolutions before and I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I had made in the past. There were habits that needed to change and I had to have the determination and focus to follow through. I remember after the first Saturday workout, I swore I would never do one of them again. I had always worked out alone and much preferred that to group workouts. But, the following Saturday I was there and every Saturday that followed. This time was also different in that there wasn’t a weight or a pant size that I was dying to see. Instead, I focused on “ten pounds more.” The process itself held my attention. On Sunday nights, I packed breakfast, snacks, and lunch for the week. I also packed the supplements. Every night, I would grab the baggies and throw them in my lunch box. I would fill my protein shaker and put them into the fridge. The next morning I could grab and go. No excuses. Packing my gym bag the night before was also essential. I found that it was very difficult to sleep through my alarm clock and skip my morning trip to the gym if everything was packed. Trust me it was NEVER easy. I am NOT a morning person. That damn alarm would go off and I would snooze for at least thirty minutes, if not an hour. The entire time I would literally toss and turn. Stress would climb my neck as I rationalized why sleeping in and working out later would be ok. Then, I would throw back the covers. Grimace as I got out of my bed, because my legs would be killing me from drop set lunges, and I would hobble into the bathroom and get ready for the day. Some of my most emotional and poignant moments were when I struggled to get off the toilet in the morning. These moments will always make me think of Ryan. Nevertheless, I had done it. New habits and expectations were in place. I was succeeding. As I sat at my desk during class, I would log into Anytime Health and record my meals and weight. Some days I even recorded in the journal how I was feeling and what I was struggling against. Wendy’s quarter pounder, fries, and large Dr. Pepper were replaced with home-cooked fish, brown rice, broccoli, and water. My evening meal of Eddy’s Butterfinger Ice Cream and Doritos with cheese melted on them had been replaced by chicken and broccoli. Life had changed a lot and it was showing.
Simultaneously with the Body Challenge, I had entered the Biggest Loser Competition at school. A bunch of teachers were weighing in on Fridays. I was able to more closely monitor my success with this competition as I could see my weight loss versus the other competitors throughout the competition. People at school were noticing. It wasn’t long before they stopped addressing me as Kristi and were instead calling me Skinny Minny. If there is one lesson I learned throughout both of these competitions, it is positive reinforcement makes a world of difference. There was no way I could get a candy bar from the vending machine now. Skinny Minny was going to have to curb the old Large Marge tendencies . . . I ended up winning the competition at school It was rewarding for me to walk into class and tell my students that I had been doing sprints in the gym parking lot at 4:30 in the morning or swimming laps at the rec center before school. I’d tell them about the weights I’d lifted and the pain in my aching muscles. They listened to me munch through my morning Kashi, my carrot stick snacks, and shake my protein bottle to life. They patiently waited as I dashed down the hall to use the facilities because of my water consumption. They were definitely taking this journey with me. One morning, I was getting ready at the gym and throwing on my work clothes for the day when I realized I had made a mistake. The skirt I had packed was clearly too big. I was shocked! I had just worn this skirt the weekend before. I didn’t have any choice but to wear it. During second block with my seniors, I showed them the gap between my new waistline and that of the skirt and they gave me a standing ovation. Totally not kidding. Seniors. On their feet. Smiling and clapping for me. It is a memory I will always carry with me. It is not just the people at school that were noticing the change; people at the gym were complimenting me on my progress as well. Earlier I mentioned my dislike of Saturday morning workouts, well, over the weeks things had changed. I looked forward to seeing Rich and Rob. Leslie and April. Hope and Tammy. Bill and Alex. These were my people. CJ had pointed out during one of the Mt. Trashmore workouts that we were grouping together with our gyms. . .well, of course we were! We weren’t individuals trying to lose weight anymore. We were a group of friends, busting it out in a circle, supporting one another. I can’t begin to express how much they all came to mean to me. If one of them missed a Saturday, the next time I saw them at the gym I would ask them where they were. I expected them to show up. It wasn’t just Saturdays anymore. I came to expect and look forward to seeing them at the gym throughout the week. Ryan had told me in January that I would get to know the people in the competition; that we would get to know one another and work out together. I didn’t believe him. I am glad I was wrong. I have come to firmly believe that my success with the Body Challenge program, with this particular New Year’s resolution, were my fellow competitors and my trainers. Every single one of them played such a large role in my motivation. It hasn’t even been a week since the competition ended and already I miss them. I would be remiss to end my essay without a shout out to Arielle and Ryan. These two were AMAZING! They were a constant source of information and support. No one made me feel guiltier for eating badly than Arielle. I would confide in her that I had fallen off the nutrition wagon and she would demand, “Why did you do that? You’ve been working so hard!” Man, I’d feel ashamed. Her disappointment was enough to get me back on track. Sprinting with her across the gym parking lot before the sunrise and as the sun set, these are the memories that weight loss are made of. . .I can’t thank her enough for all she did for me. And then there was Ryan, poor Ryan. I can assure USA Elite Trainers that he earned every penny over the last four months. I drove him crazy. Both at the gym and after hours over text, Ryan was the backbone of my motivation. He would take light weights out of my hand and replace them with heavier, despite all my complaining. He has had to put up with everything from my wrath to my whining and ALWAYS did it with a smile. Now as I transition out of the competition, he continues to be a good friend and support system. I couldn’t have done any of this without him.
Today as I got ready for school, I threw on a pair of pants. They were too big. I was running late and didn’t bother to change out of them. As I left my bedroom, I thought, “I need to get the 14’s out of my closet.” It wasn’t until later in the day that I realized that I was actually wearing size 12 pants. And so the journey will continue. I will work out and eat well. Hopefully, I will continue to lose. And most importantly, when I go to the gym, I will see my friends.
Shannon lost 44 total pounds, along with 31 inches and 12% body fat in 12 weeks! She’s still training – full story coming soon.
Brittney Stone entered the Total Body Transformation 2013 and lost 45 pounds in twelve weeks! Listen to her story! Trained with USA Elite Trainers – Chad Havunen out of Anytime Fitness Haygood and Natural Bodyz Fitness Center in Kempsville.
Full story coming soon!
“My journey started back in October 2011, when I looked in the mirror and said, “it’s time to lose some weight”. Over the past seven years, I slowly let my body go and never noticed I was getting fat. The real shock came when I went to the doctor’s office and the scale read 201 pounds. I had no idea that I was so out of control, and I started to cry. A friend of mine who had recently lost a lot of weight told me about USA Elite Trainers. I figured I would test the waters and go in for a consult. There I met CJ. He instantly made me feel like I could accomplish losing weight, and he was confident that I would see results fast. My initial goal was to lose 30 pounds by summer. I started with the mindset that if I am going to do this, I will commit myself 110%. The decision was an easy one. I told myself “this is it”, and I signed up.
I started training with Ryan Bielat the following week. From day one, his high energy and his belief in me captured me. Ryan pushed me and believed that with commitment and hard work, I would be able to surpass my goal. For the first three months, Ryan said not to weigh myself and to stick to the diet and workout plan laid out for me. As the Total Body Challenge approached, Ryan asked me if I wanted to participate. I hesitated since I did not know what my results had been to this point. In early January, I finally weighed in for the first time, 181 pounds! I was shocked and overwhelmed with pride! In three months I had lost 20 pounds, but as CJ told me this is just the tip of the iceberg. With the deadline to join the challenge rapidly approaching, Ryan asked me once more if I wanted to enter. Again, I was hesitant, but he assured me that I still had the weight to lose and the motivation to go all the way. At that point, entering the TBC was a no brainer, YES!!
The Total Body Challenge opened my eyes to health and wellness. The diet was strict; the workouts were intense; and my competitors were fighting hard to win. Without the support of my friends, family, and Ryan, I would have never been able to achieve this goal. Everyone has supported me through this process and has motivated me to keep going. Now that the challenge has ended, I feel confident. Even if I have not won the TBC, I have won the personal battle to get fit. After losing an additional 28 pounds during this 12 week challenge, I realize this IS just the tip of the iceberg. I have lost a total of 50 pounds since I started with USA Elite Trainers. I feel confident that I can still lose more. When I first went shopping for clothes since my weight loss, the satisfaction finally hit. It was the best feeling! When I started in October I was a Size 16 and X-Large. Now, I have purchased my first Size 8 and Medium clothing items. I am literally half my size, and it feels amazing! My new life of fitness has only just started. This experience has changed my life forever. This story does not have an end, but it is to be continued…”
“My reasons for entering the Body Challenge are many. My dad had diabetes, high blood pressure, and an enlarged heart. In February 2010 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and two short months later, he was gone. I am certain that be- ing overweight and not exercising took a toll on his health, possibly contributing to the onset of the cancer. Watching my dad’s health deteriorate made me very aware of my own mortality. I felt very unhealthy for a very long time, even telling a friend once that I felt like if I didn’t do something about my weight I would die at a young age. I feared that I wouldn’t be around to see my kids graduate, or know my grandkids.
My doctor was concerned that I was pre-diabetic, was monitoring my blood pres- sure, talking to me about taking meds, and suggested gastric bypass. I have de- generative arthritis in both ankles, and had been getting steroid shots for about two years to take the edge off of the pain. My ankles were huge (my kids had fun mush- ing my skin, playing with the synovial ?uid that had built up). My doctor told me that my only options were to continue shots until I couldn’t stand the pain any- more, or to have surgery, fusing the joint. I would lie in bed at night with throbbing ankles, feeling broken. I planned to get the joint fusion in 2011. My body was a mess, and I felt like I would never improve, that I would only get older and suffer more. I felt like a disappointment and an embarrassment to my my husband, my kids, my mom, and myself.
My life changed when my best friend gave me a 7 day free trial at Anytime Fitness. I decided it would be fun to hang out for a bit, but had no real intention of continu- ing on. Then I met Jen at the Mt. Pleasant branch, who immediately made me feel welcome. There was no judgement in her eyes, only encouragement. I discovered Zumba, cardio-kickboxing, and group training with Linda from USA Elite. Jen, Linda, and former Body Challengers started talking about the 2011 Body Challenge, and even though I was completely out of shape, they assured me I could do it. I signed up! At the very ?rst meeting, CJ said something that really inspired me. He said that he has a gift for looking at a person and seeing the ?t and healthy version of that person. That was when I knew this was the program for me.
My frequent gym time came to a screeching halt in the Fall of 2011. I had to have a complete hysterectomy and my gall bladder removed. The ?rst question I asked my doctor about recovery was, “when can I go back to the gym, and to Zumba?” I found myself watching Zumba and Insanity infomercials, longing for activity! I counted down the weeks, then the days, and the day my six weeks of captivity/ recovery was over, I was in the gym! I missed it so much, but keeping in touch with gym buddies through Facebook helped. I gained a little of my weight back during the six weeks, and knew that I’d be doing the Body Challenge again to get completely back on track.
I entered the 2012 Body Challenge to continue what I started in 2011 – to get ?t and healthy, to be a role model to my kids, and to and prove to myself I could tackle any challenge. After all the support and encouragement my husband, David, has given me during both Body Challenges, I so badly want to give something more back to him. I am in it to win it! A free annual membership would mean that David could also come to the gym. He takes high blood pressure medicine, and getting ?t would mean going off of it. He said that if he started working out, he would bring my 16-year old son as well, which not only gets them both living an active lifestyle, it would give them much-needed one-on-one time (which is hard to come by with two other siblings).
My goal this year was to lose another 50 pounds. I jumped in with both feet im- mediately. I read the Body Challenge books over and over, listened intently to every bit of information given to us, planned, and worked out harder than I have ever done before, faithfully following each phase. I took (and still do) every class available, and visited another place for two extra rounds of Zumba every week. Four Zumba, two cardio kickboxing, and one abs class per week, and usually 5-6 additional hours of cardio every week, trying out every form of cardio available to keep my body from getting used to any one thing, I not only reached my goal of 50 pounds, but surpassed it for a total of 64 pounds! About three weeks ago, my goal changed. My new goal was to reach a total loss of 100 pounds by summer. Phil told me I could do it by the end of challenge. He asked me if I wanted it, to which I replied “Yes!”. “Then do it,” he said. I amped up the workouts, and when I weighed in on May 5, reached a total overall weight loss of 106 pounds!
My life has changed in so many ways. After my success with 2011’s Body Chal- lenge, I stopped getting steroid injections, and with this year’s additional success, I no longer take painkillers for my ankles at all! My ankles are almost as small as they were two decades ago! I can hold my head high, and know that my family is proud of me. Exercise is a lifestyle, not a fad. I actually become grumpy and out of sorts if I go too long between workouts. My diet is much cleaner, I cook more, and have learned so much about alternate food choices. I’ve come to know that the lowest carb tortillas are found at Farm Fresh, the lowest carb/high protein yogurt is at Kroger’s, and Harris Teeter and Trader Joe’s offer a wider variety of more unusual food choices. It is so important to talk to others who eat healthy to share ideas, recipes, substitutions, etc. It not only inspires more creative thinking about food, but helps me stay on track with clean eating. Treats are just that…not a part of my everyday menu.
My daughter and I started walking before school during last year’s challenge. This year, my oldest son wanted to go on before-school bike rides. We only have two functioning bikes, so when my daughter wanted to go too, it meant two before- school bike rides for me, which works out well. I came home last week to all my boys (husband and two sons) working out with weights. I’m very happy that they’re taking an interest in being more active.
The kids have gotten in the habit of looking at food labels now. At ?rst, it was for me, but I’ve noticed them commenting things like, “Wow! This has a lot of sugar!”, and making better food choices in general.
Memorable milestones moments during the program: Falcon 5K – beating my 2011 time by nine minutes! About a month ago, my husband picked me up and twirled me. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but this was the ?rst time in 18 years I was light enough for him to lift me! While I was in bed reading, my husband came in and said, “you hardly take up any space in the bed anymore”. Chaperoning a ?eld trip to D.C. last month: My son told me that his friends wanted to know if I was going to make us jog around D.C. all day (they’ve seen me heading to the gym A LOT!), running to the top of the Lincoln Memorial, realizing I was not even out of breath! At the Air and Space Museum, I rode the ?ight simulator. Again, this doesn’t seem like a big thing, but not long ago, I wouldn’t have ?t in the seat, or been able to buckle the seat belts! While changing shirts, my daughter walked in and said, “Mom! You’re so skinny!” Realizing that my children (and the oldest is 16) have never known me as small as I am now. Post-team challenge at Trashmore – on the way home, I felt very emotional, felt like I was ?nding the girl I used to be with every new bit of weight loss. It’s a hard feeling to describe. In my head, I have always had the energy and desire to do so many things, but was depressed because of the knowledge that my body could not physically carry them out, and really doubted things would ever change. Now, I can JUMP! I can DANCE! I can RUN! It is such a freeing feeling, and I never knew I’d enjoy sprinting! Without exaggeration, at least one person every day (usually more than one), tells me I look great, asks about how much weight I’ve lost, and how I did it. I am a walking commercial for Anytime Fitness and USA Elite Trainers! It is exciting for me to be able to share my journey, and encourage others. I talked about the 2011 Body Challenge with one of my co-workers all year long, and she joined the gym and did the Body Challenge with me this year! My husband, my mom, and my boss telling me how proud they are of me. Being told that I am an inspiration. I am so happy that I can pay it forward- inspire people as others have (and continue to) inspired and motivated me.
There is no going back for me. I look at the “before” pictures with mixed emotions: remorse, disbelief, and determination, because I will never be that person again. Knowing that all of the staff are here because they truly want others to be healthy was an amazing discovery. The trainers have a way of getting in and staying in my head. When things are tough, I hear CJ, “You can do anything for a minute”, “If you feel like Jello, that’s good because Jello is no-fat”, “You have a minute to win it!”. Sometimes it’s Phil’s voice, “Do you want it? Do it!”, or George, “You’ve got this!” And Jen Dick, encouraging us during our Saturday workouts, participating during the around-the-building lunges, the Mt. Trashmore workouts-always right there with us. And our team-such awesome motivators! Keeping in touch with teammates through Facebook, Anytime Health, and MyFitnessPal, we shared every trial and triumph throughout the program. We shared recipes, advice, meal plans, shopping tips, and so much more. The friendships we have made won’t end with the Body Challenge.
Words cannot express how grateful I am to be a part of this family, to have been a part of the Body Challenge for two years, and for all the continuing support. Thank you is not enough, but please know that I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to take the Challenge!”
“I have always been the bigger girl in my family and amongst my friends. I never tried anything physical because I never thought I could go through with it, that my endurance level wouldn’t last to pull me through.
At my heaviest 268 pounds followed by the death of my husband, at 37 years old I decided that I needed to make a change for me to be better and healthier. Having devoted the last 4 years taking care of my late husband through his illness, coping with depression on my side but still keeping a smiling face through the pain and making bad choices regarding eating and exercising I decided that it was time to focus on me.
CJ approached me on my first workout day, which was actually my first day out in the public following my husband’s death. Poor guy, he was none the wiser when he asked about my family obligations and I started crying. We made arrangements to meet up that following Tuesday and I signed up for personal training. With great sacrifice, it’s a decision I never regretted.
Now I was hearing about the Body challenge and there was a great deal of buzz about it around the gym but never once did I think I would be able to do something like that. CJ sat down with me one session and told me I should enter, that I could do this. I was reluctant and told him I would think about it and get back to him. What was holding me back was the thought of my first few sessions with all the feelings of nausea, the body pains from using muscles I haven’t in years and the fact that I had absolutely no self confidence that I could ever accomplish something so great. The last day for the signing up came and I was on the treadmill doing my thing when he handed me a form and told me to sign, that I’m doing this. Mind you I never entered or competed for anything before, so reluctantly I signed up and the transformation began. Little did I know I was transforming from the inside out.
The main reason I did this was because I needed to focus on something positive for me in my life, I needed a distraction from the sadness I was dealing with. When I entered the challenge I was 210 pounds only able to jog at a speed of 4.0 on the treadmill for 60 to 90 seconds. Now I do a speed of 6.0 to 7.0 for 15 minutes straight without feeling like I’m about to pass out. My personal goal will be to enter as many 5k runs as I can until I am unable to physically to do so. On April 28th, 2012 I met my goal; I entered and jog/walked a 5k in 35 minutes coming in fourth place for my age group. There is no amount of words to express the joy, excitement and fulfillment I felt having completed that race, it will be the first for many more to come for me.
The trainers have played a really big part in my success. My workouts with CJ, Terrance, Steve (aka Daryl), Courtney, Loren and Nick were intense, there were times where my arms and legs felt like rubber and I did not think I could go anymore but I kept at it and kept pushing through the fatigue with their encouragement and motivation. There were nights that I would call Terrance regarding my confusion regarding eating clean, knowing what to eat and when to eat certain foods. Terrance was very straight forward in his approach with me, it was either you’re doing it or not, no in betweens and that no nonsense attitude is what I needed for me to gain a better understanding of healthy eating.
I now know a new way of living and that way is healthy and active. The most important thing that I’ve learned throughout this challenge is that I am capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to. Finding the strength within and knowing that sometimes you have to be a little bit selfish, putting ME first isn’t a bad thing. As CJ once told me, “if I’m not happy with me, I can’t make anyone around me happy”. I’m now for the first time happy with how I look, happy with the way I feel and happy with the confidence I have gained because of this journey.”
MY “OH S***” MOMENT
One year ago I got on the scale and it read higher than it ever had before. At 165 pounds, I was only eight pounds away from the amount that I weighed on the day that my son was born. After Nolan was born, I was able to quickly lose all my baby weight and as I sweated off those “mom pounds” I would console myself with the knowledge that it was perfectly acceptable to gain weight like that when you are pregnant. However, on May 1, 2011 – having gained back all the weight that I had worked so hard to lose after my son was born (and then a couple extra for good measure) – I had no legitimate explanation. I had nothing and no one to blame for the extra pounds – except ME.
Well, being the forward-thinking and super awesome woman that I am, I joined Anytime Fitness and began to take back control over my weight. Over the next six months, I worked off 35 pounds at the gym (mostly on the elliptical machine). At 130 pounds, I could see my goal weight of 120 pounds just around the corner. At first I felt great, but soon I realized that something was missing. Around the holidays I noticed that despite putting in the hours at the gym, the pounds were starting to creep back. I felt like I was doing all of this hard work for nothing. What I was missing was the knowledge and discipline required to follow my exercise program through with a proper nutrition plan. That was when I decided that I needed a fitness education.
In my infinite awesomeness, I sought out experts in the field and came upon USA Elite Trainers. Of course I noticed CJ Havunen around the gym (he’s kind of impossible to miss), but soon the other trainers started to take me under their wings as well. I would ask questions, and they were never “too busy” to help me out. I started taking Tonya Russell-Radvanyi’s ‘Ab-alicious’ and ‘Glute-tastic’ classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I made dozens of new friends and the gym started to feel like my home away from home.
AN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS…
As my comfort level at the gym increased, I was surprised to find that I became more and more frustrated with my inability to continue losing weight. I was stuck and as a stay-at-home-mom with a pending $50,000 school loan, the funds simply were not available for the personal training that I felt I needed. That was when Steve Smith told me that I should join the Anytime Fitness Body Challenge (yeah, just like that). At first, (like the girly-girl that I can sometimes be) I was insulted that he could not see how awesome I already was. The rational side of me recognized that I did not currently appreciate my own personal beauty and that Steve had, in fact, offered me the very thing that I had been looking for: inexpensive personal training.
THE ANYTIME FITNESS BODY CHALLENGE
The very first thing that all Body Challengers do is set goals. My first thought was that I wanted to get down to my goal weight of 120 pounds, but CJ insisted that we dig a little deeper and list multiple Challenge Goals. I gave it a lot of thought and decided to take on my arch nemesis: skinny jeans. Just thinking about skin-tight jeans had me balking at the idea that I would have to take skimpy ‘before’ pictures, but Tonya put me right at ease (and if I had known then what I know now, that would have been the least of my worries!!). Next, I stepped up on the scale and squinched my eyes shut as Tonya wrote down the dreaded number: 133 pounds. (OK, I may have peeked a little…) I pored over my fitness and nutrition books, adding charts and graphs and schedules to help keep me on track (making sure to save some for later so that I can continue on with the principles of fitness and nutrition I have learned). I bought foods that I had never heard of based on their nutritional value rather than flavor alone. I started utilizing supplements to complement the hard rigors I was putting my body through and to speed recovery on particularly difficult days. I received my fitness education.
SETBACKS and BREAKTHROUGHS
Despite CJ’s encouraging words, I WAS intimidated by “the mountain” and I kept having to fight my “I can’t…” attitude. But as the weeks wore on and the workouts increased while the calories decreased, something amazing happened… I was able to dive off of my weight plateau, soar past my goal weight of 120 pounds, and I had to create a new goal of 115 pounds. As I dipped below 115 pounds (the smallest I have ever been since childhood – seriously, come on – CHILDHOOD!!), I was forced to reassess what I was capable of. My “I can’t” attitude turned into, “trying never hurts”. For the past few weeks, I have been receiving so much positive feedback from fellow gym members, the trainers, and even perfect strangers that I did something I never thought I could do. I bought skinny jeans. Moreover, I look (you guessed it) totally AWESOME in my skinny jeans. I will not refer to this Body Challenge in the past tense because I want to feel this way for the rest of my life. It has transformed my attitude once again. I am capable, I am powerful, and I CAN because of the awesomeness that is ME!!
P.S. Special shout out to Vickie Storm who’s unrelenting spirit and loving support have been invaluable not only to me and the Kempsville Bone Krushers, but to every Body Challenge participant and I truly believe that she inspires everyone she meets.
Cindy lost 50 pounds, and was a winner of Total Body Transformation Season 5!
“Growing up I was in a family where just about every other family member was diabetic or has died from it. I could remember always seeing my father and sister giving them self a shot two to three times a day. As a child it really did not affect me because I felt that I would never have that problem because I am stronger than them so I could eat and do whatever I wanted. March 2003 my father passed away he was in his early 50’s. I guess he just could not control it anymore but still I did not take that as a sign and change my way of living. In November 2009 I was rushed to the hospital because I was vomiting blood, eye sight was blurry and my heart beat was out of control. I was told that my blood sugar level was 650 when it should have been no more than 75 and my A1c level was 14 which is off the charts. The doctor told me that I was lucky because with numbers like that I should have been in a comma he also told me that I would be insulin dependent for the rest of my life.
December 2009 I returned to anytime fitness there I was told about the body challenge and how I could benefit from it so I signed up. My main goal was to drop some pounds and I was also determined to prove the doctors wrong and to show everyone who’s diabetic that you can live long and strong. Being a new diabetic I also signed up at the VA hospital for some diabetic nutrition classes combined with the knowledge that I was receiving from the trainers I was sure that I could get my life in order. After just a month and a half I returned to the doctor 30 lbs lighter and much better eating habits. The doctor did not know what to say. My sugar level was normal my A1c level was 4 and I no longer need to take insulin shots and it’s because of this body challenge I learned how to read labels, learned about good and bad carbohydrates and without a proper diet there is no point of working out. I have always been one who never would ask for help or advise but I have learned that every fighter no matter how good they are we still need someone in there corner to support and motivate them to perform at their greatest potential and that’s just what I got from the trainers , whenever I had a question about a workout or about a meal they were there for me, when I lost all motivation and I wanted to just quit the trainers was there to keep me going and with all the knowledge I have acquired I can help others beat diabetes as well.”
“You know, life can be very funny. Every day we make choices in our life uncertain of how they will affect our future the only guarantee is that those choices will affect us eventually, whether it is in a positive or negative manner.
Throughout my life, the choices that I have made both good and bad, led me to Anytime Fitness and USA Elite. The bad choice being my unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise and the good choice of getting myself up off the couch and into the gym.
I had wanted to get into the gym for a long time. It had been over 25 years since I had done any type of regular exercise program. But you know how life can sometimes get in the way. Before you knew it, the years were passing me by. My choice to “wait till tomorrow” to start an exercise program was causing life to make a choice for me.
Having a mother who died from cancer and a father who died from a massive coronary and myself having been a smoker, I had a lot of negative family history stacked against me. I had always believed that you have to play the cards that you are dealt, so it did not totally surprise me on that day in 1994 when I went to the doctor because I wasn’t feeling well and was told that I had cancer which had already metastasized to my lung. My only thought was that I had to somehow get through this. I didn’t want to die, I wanted to LIVE! So I chose to fight and do whatever I had to do to get healthy again. I had just met a wonderful woman (whom I would later marry), and we had three young children that were counting on me to be there for them. I had no choice but to put on my big boy pants and do what I had to do. It was a rough year for me, between chemotherapy and two surgeries to remove tumors and part of my lung, but I made it and was deemed cancer free in 1995.
Having survived my cancer and doing my fair share of living in doctor’s offices and hospitals back then, I made it a point to avoid doctors as much as possible in the here and now. In January of 2009, my wife convinced me to go get a checkup. As expected, I didn’t like what he had to say. I had now followed in my father’s footsteps. I was overweight, my cholesterol and triglycerides were elevated, my blood pressure was extremely high, some of my major arteries were clogged including one to my heart and he was ready to put me on medication for type II diabetes, high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia. He stated to me that I was now in a medical situation that I too, could have a massive coronary just like my dad! I felt like I was at death’s door again. My nutritional choices and lack of exercise had finally caught up to me. How could I possibly go home and share with my wife this news after all we had been through with me not even 15 years prior, that my dream of living a long life with her was again in jeopardy? I asked the doctor how long he would give me to change my diet with exercise to see if I could avoid medication for all of my health problems. He gave me three months to try this on my own. It was then that my wife and I made our first lifestyle change. We started making healthier choices for meals and we met with Stacy and joined Anytime Fitness. At my next office visit with the doctor, three months later, I was happy to hear that my numbers had changed drastically and that I wouldn’t have to take medication as long as I continued down the correct nutritional path. My doctor was amazed that I had self-corrected my health problems in just three months and encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing.
My wife and I were both on a good path with our weight loss. As a result of this, I noticed improvements in all aspects of my life. I was more energetic, more focused at work and I actually looked forward to going to the gym and doing my workouts. This, along with the health benefits and staying off the medication, made me want to continue with this.
When I decided to enter the Body Challenge, I thought that I was about 10-15 lbs overweight and that it would challenge me to get some weight off and to further enhance my fitness goals. I started at 254 lbs and when I was told that my first goal was to get down to 232 lbs, I thought that it was a bit unrealistic but attainable. Little did I know that Tony Bonawit (USA Elite) had other plans for me. I really thought that Tony was crazy when he told me that my next goal weight was going to be 218 lbs. I hadn’t been 218 lbs since the 80’s. I couldn’t even picture what that would look like.
So I started down this fitness path with a lot of help along the way. I soon found out that I know nothing about nutrition and/or fitness. With the help of my wife, who really helped me with the serious lifestyle changes I needed to make at home with my diet modifications, as well as Tony, C.J., Joe and Tonya coaching me along the way, I started slowly seeing results. I became even more confident that I could do this. The goal of entering in the Total Body Challenge changed to, I was going to put the work in that was required to compete in the TBC. Everyone around me was working hard and I made the “choice” to step my game up. I continued with eating better and making better choices. I started to maximize my time at the gym. When I say I started slowly, I mean that I really wasn’t as committed as I needed to be in the beginning. I wanted it – but was only working at a mediocre pace to get there. I wasn’t sold on the whole diet thing. I was cheating fairly often. But now my cheats were protein bars and rice cakes and stuff like that. The choices were better but I knew that I still had more in me.
For me, I love going to the gym and working out. But what I learned was that it takes more than just lifting weights. Working out for a couple of hours a day did not guarantee the fitness goals that I wanted to achieve. I soon realized that there were 22 more hours in a day that I needed to make use of. Choosing the right foods and when to eat was something that was proving to be more difficult than just pushing iron around. But with the help of Tony and C.J. and lots of patience on their behalf, I learned that making further eating modifications was going to be an essential part of pushing me to where I needed to be. One of the greatest things that I learned during this journey was how to maximize my efforts I learned that I didn’t have to spend hours upon hours at the gym, but I did have to insure that I was working with the proper intensity. I learned that if I went hard for forty-five minutes of cardio, it could be just as effective as 90 minutes of cardio. I learned how to give my time at the gym everything that I had.
On day 60 of the challenge, I passed the goal that Tony had set for me. We established a new goal weight. Again, Tony and USA Elite challenge me to better myself. This time when Tony gave me the number, I didn’t blink. I lowered my head and decided to work even harder and with more intensity. If Tony thought that I could achieve that new goal, then I was going to work hard to show him that I could. Throughout all of this, Tony always believed in me more than I believed in myself. I became stricter with my diet. I didn’t think about what they told me to do – I just did it.
With the help of my wife, friends before the TBC and with the friends that I have made since starting the challenge, the USA Elite and Anytime Fitness team, my “choice” to compete in the TBC was the best choice that I could have ever made. This just proves that there are no excuses. If you make the “choice” you can overcome health issues or any other situation that may be preventing you from getting started on a path to a healthier you!
I know now, so much more about “choices” than I ever knew before. Every choice we make can “make or break” us. I am now resolved to making the types of choices that will “make” me. As a direct result of my motivation to get healthier, my wife by my side to help lead me down the path and the great coaching staff at USA Elite – I am in a great place today at over 60 pound lighter that I was when I started and have a good foundation to work with. My new motto is “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did”. With the help of Anytime Fitness and USA Elite, I think I lived up to that this year.
“256 POUNDS…and I really wasn’t concerned. I had once been at 278 and with most of my friends gaining weight as they got older it seemed that I was the only one who looked better now than ten years ago. I could jog a couple of miles without a problem as even and flirted with weights now and then. I felt great most of the time and believed the despite the extra weight though I was healthy. But the truth was I looked horrible in pictures and it was only a matter of time before my weight, bad eating habits (fast food, sweets, etc) and a family history of diabetes caught up with me health wise.
My parents and I run a family business and I run my office from their home. They were members of Anytime Fitness and my mother talked with C.J. She was concerned about my weight and while I maintained in the 250 pound range for the last couple of years she knew I was still too heavy. He told her to send me in to talk with him.
I had been thinking about getting a personal trainer for awhile but was too lazy to do the proper research and kept thinking that all I had to do was work a little harder and hit the fast food joints a little less. With her prodding I made an appointment with C.J. around the end of November 2008.
I liked C.J. right away as he seemed very personal and with his build I knew he knew what he was talking about. I told him that with all my years of reading up on fitness and running endless miles of pavement and swimming miles at the rec center and eating right (sometimes) I knew what I was doing but just needed a little guidance.
At that point in the conversation I believe C.J. thought he was just dealing with another clown who thought he knew more than he did and in the end was going to start out strong only to once again become board with the routines and quit when instant results did not come easily. He was almost right….almost.
I would have thought the same thing as I basically told him I had been working out for my entire life yet looked like someone who never did. I signed up three months of training to start after the New Year as not to impede on my holiday party season. I even stopped by a fast food joint on the way home for dinner as a last meal (it wasn’t but I always liked to tell myself that right before another failed attempt at dropping weight).
I attended the gym a couple of times during December and one day noticed the poster featuring Bart Morrison as the winner of the total body challenge. “I could do that” I said to myself. Over the next couple of days I thought about it more and kept looking at the before and after pictures of Bart whenever I was at the gym. I noticed we both had similar builds (the before one) and then it became clear…….CRYSTAL CLEAR. I COULD DO THIS!!!
That was it. I could not wait to get started. I was going to be the next winner, NO! I was going to beat Bart’s weight loss and kick total butt at the same time.
We did meet C.J. had a book for me that outlined my entire workout, eating regimen, supplement page, and everything I needed. A blueprint to a healthier life. All I had to do was read and follow. It was the exact guidance I needed. I found as C.J. went over everything that for years I was doing it all wrong. Eating the wrong foods at the wrong times in the wrong amounts. I was exercising the wrong way and doing the wrong exercises. For all those years I did everything WRONG. What a waste of time. WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!
Well it was time to get it right.
We had our first personal training session (also my first personal training ever) and I was hooked.
I really enjoyed it even though he beat the hell of me. I was ready to come back for more. I was going to win that damn contest if it killed me.
Because of the limited times I had available to train, C.J. asked if I would mind having Loren Sisson (one of his trainers) work out with me for the next session. I did not mind mixing it up with someone new and besides, I had met Loren earlier that week as he offered to help me out when I was working out alone one day. I found him to be very professional and mature beyond his years. We hit it off immediately. One of the aspects of training with Loren that I liked was that he challenged me on a constant basis to “bang out that extra rep” or to try out a different exercise.
With Loren’s expertise in changing up both the degree and various types of workouts, and C.J.’s overall guidance (he was always watching out of the corner of his eye) I began to see small but suttle changes. My weight started dropping, clothes got looser, family was noticing.
But as good as I thought I was doing, C.J. knew I was still not really giving it everything I had. I was lazy with the cardio as I preferred to run in the afternoon and evening so that I could sleep in most days. After another morning of not seeing me along treadmill row he made his move.
Ironically I was on the treadmill when I missed the call from him. When I finally got in touch he let me know in not so many words that he knew I wasn’t really giving it my all and that I had a great chance to make major changes in my life. I just needed to work harder and start earlier.
I felt really bad about that conversation because I had indeed promised him when I first committed to the program that I would work hard. I really felt like I was letting him down. Then I decided to make some changes.
I added a couple of extra days with Loren (all in the morning) and stopped the minor cheating on my diet plan (yes I did sneak in an Ice cream cone or slice of pizza here and there) but I could not sneak in past C.J. He can just look at you and know. He would have made a great KGB officer.
With new dedication in cardio and a couple of extra workout days, my weight loss suddenly picked-up…….incredibility. Pounds seem to come off with ease even though the work itself was hard. Once I had fully “drank the Kool-Aide” and followed the Program there was not stopping me. I was a machine, a beast, a hurricane, a tornado in a trailer park.
As the weeks went by my results were nothing short of astonishing. I went from thigh 38 size jeans to loose 36’s. Even before the tags came off the new jeans I had to take them back for 34’s. I went from avoiding the mirror at all cost to trying to find new places in the house I could put more up.
And through it all I managed to ask millions of questions (most of which I had to re-ask several times over as I never wrote down the answers) bug the crap out of everyone, break equipment (accidents I tell ya, accidents) sweat gallons and gallons, and make improvements on an almost daily basis.
One of my favorite things to do was to try crack Loren up with an ill-timed joke or story. All too often another client would be within earshot and on a good day weights would hit the floor unexpectedly along with some laughter. To those I offended I apologize.
As the total Body Challenge comes to an end I find myself about 58 pounds Lighter and much more muscular. To say I look like a different person is a gross understatement. I AM A DIFFERENT PERSON.
I have to give thanks to C.J., Loren, Jenn, (ELITE USA) Bart Morrison, Anytime Fitness, my family (especially to Mom who got it started) for all their support. I could not have done it without them.
I fully credit the program that was created for me by C.J. for not only changing my life…….but saving it. Thank You.”
“My journey began in January of 2009…my yearly physical. I had just weighed in at 297 pounds! I knew I had been gaining weight over the last 5 years, but I was still somewhat surprised that I had gone from 220 pounds to tipping the scales at almost 300 pounds. I had tried various diets and exercise programs in the past without much success. I was also the proud recipient of a new prescription for high blood pressure to add to the four scripts for various other ailments ranging from cholesterol to knee and back pain. My wardrobe consisted mainly of sweat pants and the XXXL rack at the Big and Tall outlet with the occasional stretchy Dockers thrown in for good measure. Even shopping for shoes had become a chore when D and E widths were difficult to find at the normal shoe stores. Physical activity consisted of channel surfing and lifting chicken wings and cocktails at the local pub (not that there is anything wrong with that!). How did I let this happen? I was ready to make some lifestyle changes and return to the better quality of life I had enjoyed just a few years ago.
I enrolled in a gym, Anytime Fitness, after noticing a poster of a friend in a before and after picture hanging on the gym wall. I had not seen him in ten years and the transformation was amazing! I retained the services of a personal trainer provided by USA Elite Trainers and my journey began in earnest.
Five months later, I had lost weight and inches and gained strength, but I was still having trouble controlling my eating habits, getting to the gym, and following my cardio schedule. Then the Body Challenge presented itself and I decided that maybe I was finally ready to make a commitment to give 100 % of myself and enter a more competitive and fun regimen. I attended the first meeting and again I had doubts that I could not commit to a program after so many failed attempts in the past five years. I wanted to get down to a manageable weight, a weight where I could feel healthy and regain confidence and self-esteem. After the second meeting with my trainers and teammates I knew there was no turning back. I was in it to win it!
These last three months I have learned the meaning of commitment to myself and especially to my workout crew and trainers. What I have accomplished would have been a very difficult task without their support and encouragement. I learned about healthy eating habits, about using supplements to maximize your workouts, and about repairing my body after workouts. This information has caused a lifestyle change for me. I learned that there is place for everything in life and being healthy is a priority if I want to enjoy my life to the fullest.
My goal is to win the competition and get my weight down to 210 pounds. At this writing, we have not had our final weigh in, but it should be close. Will I win the competition? I don’t know, but I gave 110% and so did many of my teammates and that’s all that really matters.
I have met wonderful people who have supported and helped me change my life 360 degrees. The Body Challenge may have been the most important and meaningful event I have participated in within the last twenty years. It has truly changed my life. The knowledge I have gained regarding diets and work outs as well as the skills passed on to me by USA Elite Trainers will stay with me forever. No more Big and Tall stores, XXXL racks, or channel surfing all day. I am fully prepared to enjoy my lifestyle changes and my new quality of life for many years to come.”
“My journey began out of a desire to better myself. I had long since let myself grow increasingly out of shape. I was eating poorly, had very few physical activities in my life, and have been a smoker for years. I used to get winded running the stairs in my office! As my son’s first birthday approached I took a look at myself and realized that I wanted to make some changes. I wanted to regain my health and fitness levels from years ago so that I could enjoy the upcoming years with my son. I was uncertain how to attain my goals and thought the Total Body Challenge would give me the motivation I needed. It turns out that I was right, the Total Body Challenge provided me with exactly the type of motivation I needed to get into the best shape I’ve been in since my early twenties. I am a naturally competitive person and watching the other Challenge participants working hard on their own goals further motivated me each week. After some time I realized that I craved my morning workouts, and as much I complained about them, I looked forward to our Saturday group workouts. They made me work harder than I would have ever pushed myself on my own, and although I felt like I was dying during them, I went home describing to my wife how good I felt afterwards. I have never been one to do any type of cardiovascular exercise; it was the Body Challenge that forced me to do cardio and now I have learned to make it a part of my life. The desire to make cardiovascular exercise a part of my life is by far what pleases me most.
“During this challenge I have learned life habits that I will be able to maintain for years to come. I have seen greater gains than I expected at the beginning. With USA Elite Trainers diet and exercise programs, I have learned what to eat, when to eat it, and how to exercise properly and effectively. I have made cardio part of my weekly routine and developed a repeatable routine that I know I can carry into the future. Besides the obvious physical changes to my body, I feel better, I’m more energetic and attentive, and I sleep better at night. To say that I am pleased is an understatement, and I can’t wait to continue my journey!”
The road to the challenge began about a year ago, when I was diagnosed with some health issues. I was very fortunate to discover thyroid cancer and be treated in the early stages. I think sometimes this wake-up call was a blessing. I am now a regular at the gym, received professional training and gained the confidence to join the body challenge.
Less than a year ago I weighed almost two hundred-fifty pounds, on a five foot nine inch frame. I felt terrible, I didn’t sleep well and pushing a lawn mower in the summer was the extent of my exercise plan. After most of my thyroid was removed, I was repeatedly told that I would gain at least twenty pounds and wouldn’t be able to take it off..ever! I knew I had to take control of my life and my weight before I lost further control.
After a few months of training with Linda, I got into a fitness routine. Linda told me about the challenge and we both thought it would be a great motivator to help me on my journey to better health and weight. I never would have believed how much I would learn about nutrition and what I would accomplish during the last few months. I had some plateaus along the way but life is always going to have challenges, and I learned how to handle and overcome them.
Prior to the challenge, junk food, cookies and chips to got me through stressful days. Now, I always keep fruit and yogurt around as a healthy snack. I am eating more often, and I don’t get the hunger that I did before. Work lunches continue to be an important part of the job, but now my choices are sensible. Even my after work exercise routine is an enjoyable part of unwinding from my day. I feel like I am missing out, when I don’t go to the gym! Now my hard routines are now easy day routines. I have more energy and my wife is very happy to have the husband she married back.
My wife and I have also changed our morning routine with a healthy breakfast every day. I now read food labels, look at more than just the calories, and am starting to understand nutrition much better.
I knew my lifestyle has changed permanently when I took a week’s vacation towards the end of the challenge. I ate sensible, healthy meals, but never felt like I was depriving myself. It was also the first time I made a point of visiting the hotel gym during a vacation. It felt great knowing I could maintain my progress, while away on vacation.
These changes to my life are permanent! I know that those empty calories will just make me feel bad, and put on pounds. It feels great to walk into the gym and have a reputation as “a regular”. The support from Linda and C.J. was incredible. Linda did a great job of motivating us and helping Mt. Pleasant become “the best” team. Although we only had three members participating, we always encouraged and supported each other while visiting the gym. I would never have been able to accomplish this journey without my guide, Linda. Thanks for this life changing experience!
I grew up as a son of a Registered Dietician, something that I don’t always share as I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life. My mom always gave me the basic skills in choosing healthy foods and eating a balanced diet. When these rules were applied they work but I was missing the physical activity that goes along with the diet. On October 11,2009 after me and my girlfriend broke up that was my final wake up call I had to fix me and who I was as a person. At that time I weighed the most I had in my life at 262 pounds. I had little to no energy was depressed on how I had let myself get and didn’t want to do much socially because I was embarrassed about my appearance. I really started to feel my former self slip further and further away. I didn’t like how I looked in pictures and I was tired of being out of breath just doing everyday activities. That’s when I joined Anytime Fitness and decided to change my diet. After losing almost 20 pounds the first month that’s when I decided to get a trainer to help me get to that next level. During this time they were promoting the challenge and it felt like a great opportunity for me to push myself more. At the same time my little sister had just begun the process of a painful divorce and I thought we could do it together to help her get motivated and get her self esteem back. The program was a great way to push our self each week and have some accountability. The trainers motivated us constantly to go above and beyond as they continued to raise the bar.
They always came up with great routines and different ideas in working out which will prove to be helpful in the future. It became hard for my sister to continue with her schedule at home and work but I was too committed to back out and wanted to get the most from the program I could. I may have started this to help her but it really became about helping me in the end. I started this journey to take my life back by exercising, dieting, and to get back my self esteem. As I said this last 12 weeks was a good way to help keep me on the right track. As of today I have lost over 50 pounds but this is a life style change for me which is still a work in progress.
All of my life I have battled morbid obesity; in fact, I reached a mind blowing 437 pounds by the age of thirty-two. I grew up in a family whose belief was, live to eat rather than eat to live. My grandmother fed me bread and butter; crumb cake with butter and buttered toast. It seems butter was a big staple. I recall her telling my mother, “A chubby kid is a healthy kid.” Growing up and attending school in New York was torture. The kids used to ridicule and tease me because I was the “fat kid.” In 1986, during my High School years, we moved to Orlando, FL. I thought I was moving away from the bullies, however, the plague of obesity moved with me and so did the bullies. The pain of constant harassment was more than I could bear and I dropped out of high school and enrolled in an adult program to finish classes for my school diploma. Finding employment as an overweight adult was equally as challenging. Do you ever recall being the last to get picked when teams were choosing sides? I certainly do; the “fat guy” was always the last one picked.
In 2005, I met my wife Cathy, who helped me reach the turning point of my weight loss. She gave me the encouragement and the drive to change my life. I started to eat healthier and become more active. I managed to drop some weight doing fad diets but it wasn’t enough. I started to see the effects of Yo-Yo dieting and the roller-coaster ride of weight loss and gain. Another eye opener was the death of my mother at the age of 58 due to diabetes and obesity. I thought to myself “I will not go through the same pain and suffering my mother did!” I managed to drop some more weight due to depression, but came to realize this was unhealthy.
In the summer of 2010, I came to my breaking point and resolved to shop around for a gym and personal trainer. I went to several gyms asking questions, taking notes and researching programs. I walked into Anytime Fitness-Great Neck; where I was greeted by CJ, the owner of “US Elite Trainers” and we sat down to discuss my weight loss goals and how a personal trainer and Anytime Fitness could help me achieve them. I remember pointing to the Body Challenge poster hanging on the wall and asking CJ, “who are those people and what is the Body Challenge?” CJ thoroughly explained the program and once again asked, “So Jody what is your goal?” Pointing to the poster, I replied, “I want to see 250lbs and my image on that poster.” I truly wanted to be the winner of something I strived for all my life…LOSING WEIGHT and BEING HEALTHY! CJ agreed that was a great goal and encouraged me to get started! In August 2010, I started training with Ryan, 3 days a week, for an hour each session, which lasted 6 months. The personal training program included a diet regimen, which I strictly followed. I started to see results with a few weeks, which was very motivating to me. I was finally starting to come out of my broken shell I carried for 39 years. I came to realize that proper diet and exercise was the key to success. Ryan taught me exercises and cardio routines that I never thought I could ever achieve! During my training I, mentioned to Ryan how I needed to be able to run a mile and a half to qualify for employment with the Sheriff’s Department, a career objective I have been pursuing all of my life. In January 2011, I did it! I ran a mile and a half in under 15 minutes, which would meet the departments qualifying time! I successfully ran my first marathon, the Falcon 5K. Feeling a bit more confident regarding my weight loss, I enrolled in the 2011 Body Challenge without hesitation, believing I was on the right road to reaching my ultimate goal and the winner of my personal lifelong war on obesity. I aggressively started the challenge motivated, focused and determined, and remained so throughout the 12 weeks. I allotted time for the gym every day and stayed true to the diet guidelines of the challenge. Words cannot accurately describe how I felt the day I stepped on the scale and weighed in at 196lbs…that’s 241 pounds for my total weight loss and 40 pounds just from the challenge alone! I couldn’t have done this without US Elite Trainers and Anytime Fitness. My special thanks go to my wife, Cathy and my personal trainer, Ryan whose motivation and encouragement gave me the strength to persevere and stay the course through difficult days. Now having the knowledge given to me by my trainers I can now continue to pursue a healthy lifestyle and maintain my fitness, to achieve further goals in life.
Ken lost 44 total pounds, along with 13 inches and 2% body fat in 12 weeks! He’s still training – full story coming soon.
Brent is still training – full story coming soon!
“My name is Jason Hatcher, I am a 35 year old single father of two and I am going to let you know how my last few months have been. Before I do I need to give you a little background of myself. Growing up I was always considered athletic and an “in-shape” person. I played multiple sports in high school and even in college. Working out was not my most favorite thing to do so when college was over my workouts stopped. I was still active at sports but was not eating right and running was almost nonexistent. Fast forward almost fifteen years and I am a 325 lb. mess. I had gained an entire other person, 140lbs of unnecessary weight. The last couple years had been really tough for me. I went through a divorce, depression, and a lot of bad habits had gotten worse. I was coping with depression with alcohol and smoking cigarettes. It made everything all better, but what it really did was make things worse. It was the middle of January of 2012 when I was sitting at home alone and really started reflecting on my life over the past few years. I was very emotional and needed an outlet. I remember calling my mom upset because I didn’t have my kids and I told her then I needed a change, a drastic change. So I called a friend who I knew just opened his own Anytime Fitness and he basically said, “Hatch you will be amazed at what you can accomplish if you just put your mind to it.” So the journey begins.
I came to Kempsville Anytime Fitness to sign up the following day. I was determined to get my old self back and be happy. I wanted to be a better role model for my kids. I decided that day I was going to be committed to something good. While I was signing up for gym membership I was asked about doing the body challenge. I thought it was a great idea, but wasn’t sure about the money. After a couple days of thinking and a little push from CJ, I decided to make a whole new commitment. Three hundred dollars is a cheap price to pay for a healthy new start and happiness. I signed up for the body challenge and immediately people were excited for me, people whom I had never met. It was a new felling for me. So during my first two workout sessions with CJ we talked about proper eating and workout habits and I told him them I am very competitive and that I was going to win the whole thing. Well know I have a whole new attitude. I have already won and will continue to win every day.
On Feb. 4th of 2012, was our first official day of the competition. I had set a few goals that first day and have reached every single one of them. Some of the small things, which were huge to me, sitting in a booth, roller coasters, getting haircut and apron fitting, hair wash and back not getting wet. You forget how too much weight is a burden. I went from a 46 pants to a 38 and a 3xl shirt to XL. My goal was to lose 75 lbs. for the challenge and 100 pounds by June 15, 2012. I am extremely happy to say that I hit my 75 lb. mark on the final weigh in day. I am currently 250 lbs. and feeling better than ever. I cannot wait to lose the next 25 and see how I feel. Throughout the competition I noticed several little changes but on final measurement day I was amazed at the number differences not only in weight, but percentages, inches, and caliper measurements. It was a big accomplishment, and I did it.
I have learned so much from the trainers and research I have done on proper eating and exercise. I have learned the “secret” to good health is no secret. Proper diet and exercise is the only way to go. With that comes great commitment. You have to want to make a change and I DID. I ran my first 5K ever and them the following week ran in the Shamrock 8K. I was amazed I could even do it. I am currently training to run the Rock and Roll half marathon in September. I feel better than I have in years and look and feel 10 years younger. I had a huge support system with USA elite trainers, Anytime Fitness, my K-ville Bone Crushers, and friends/family. I have a whole new addiction and it’s a healthy lifestyle. I am no longer taking medications, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigs. When I need to get away, I use the gym and love every bit of it. I was amazed at how open and friendly people are at Anytime and I have continued to show support to other people at the gym. Perfect strangers can be good motivators. I have a whole other family when I go to the gym. I am the happiest I have ever been and more importantly my kids have noticed a huge change in me and that brings complete joy to my world. My daughter loves the fact she can put her arms completely around me and lock her hands. This challenge has given me my life back and I owe a lot of people. I will always be there for whomever to get them through.
I want to give special thanks to Taz and Stacey for doing this every year. You are saving lives. To all the trainers who worked so hard to keep us motivated, especially my Kempsville trainers. I love you guys even though I didn’t on Saturdays. I want to hug all of my teammates for being so supportive in the gym and at challenges. I could not have done it all without your support. My friends and family have been so supportive and I love everyone who was there for me. I will support the challenge and the participants every year. This is my NEW life and I am sticking to it.”
David lost 8% body fat, 12 lbs., and gained 8 lbs of lean mass in 12 weeks!
Jason lost 65 pounds, and was a winner of Total Body Transformation Season 5!
If you told me that someone can lose 50 pounds in just 3 months, I would have said you were full of it. But, it is more than possible when you eat the right food with portion control, plus do more cardio then you would think you could do.
I was always someone that lifted weights and played sports, but never had the body I thought I should have. Then this past year I think I went to the gym and worked out for a week total. By doing this, I got to an all-time weight for me and the worst shape I’ve been in for years. I would lie in bed and picture the way I wanted to look and say tomorrow I will start that journey, but then I would wake up and make some new excuse not to do it. I was getting very frustrated at myself because my clothes were not fitting well at all.
But that all changed about 3 months ago when Loren convinced me to sign up for this challenge and get in shape. So after a few times of him telling me about it, I caved in and signed up. He was telling me that I would get in the best shape of my life and I was thinking he really is a good salesman for telling me I’ll get in the best shape ever. Well I was completely wrong on that one. My goal was to get between 192-198 pounds and get back into a size 34 waist. Well, at the time of this journey being over I would weight about 173 pound and those 34 inch pants are now too big.
When I got the nutrition plan I looked at it and said there is no way I can figure this out. I never was one to read labels on the food I was eating but after about a week of racking my brain it all made sense. I realized in a short time that I’ve been eating wrong my whole life and got mad at myself. But now, that has all changed for me. Now I know how to eat much better and keep the body I worked so hard to get.
My whole outlook in life has changed in the last 3 months. I was embarrassed of the way I looked which gave me little confidence. Now I can’t wait for the warmer months so I can were tighter clothing and show off the new improved body. My friends have even seen a new person in the way I carry myself and look much happier.
I can’t thank the trainers enough for helping me and pushing me through this program. I’m sure they got tired for all the questions I had but I got into this program and wanted to know as much as I could to get the best results. I’m glad that all the other participants in were so encouraging toward each other through these tough Saturday 7am workouts. Once again I would like to thank Loren for helping me get the body I wanted for my whole adult life and now have. I can’t wait to get the before pictures from 3 months ago so I can frame them and look at them when I don’t want to work out and get motivated and say never again will I look like that again. And to now end this, I need to thank all the trainers, participants, and Anytime Fitness Haygood for all their support.
“I woke up one morning not too long ago knowing something was wrong. I wasn’t sure as to specifically what it was but I could sense it. It just didn’t make sense because I was eating right, exercising regularly, and my weight was down as low as it’s ever been in the last 25 years. With no feasible explanation of my acute onset of lightheadedness and dizziness, my curiosity led me to Patient First. The nurse checked my blood pressure three times before delivering news that I thought I would never hear…I had hypotension. It was caused by the high blood pressure medication that I’ve been on for years. Long story short, I finally reached the point where I no longer needed medication for hypertension.
This experience has been truly amazing for me. My desire of wanting to be there for my family for the long haul and my need for wanting to mold an all-around better “me” is what drove me to enter this competition. It was also the fuel that kept me going when the competition got tough. I went from wanting to drop 20-25 pounds and hoping to learn a few work-out tips along the way to dropping 56 pounds by making healthier and permanent lifestyle changes. I used to work out 5-7 times a week neglecting the importance of nutrition. Through the total body transformation I have learned that in order to get the most out of my work-outs, I need to pay close attention to the food that I put in my body. I realize that I have always had the power to do this. I now truly enjoy reading the nutritional fact labels knowing the dos and don’t, also comparing my old choices versus new choices, damn what was I doing. I now know about supplements, what I need and when to use them. I thought I was being sold when first introduced to Prometalean, but as hard as it has been to lose bodyfat, it has been a special weapon! I would rather spend my money on supplements to help like the Prometalean and Coastal Pro protein than the medications I have been on for high cholesterol. With that said, I no longer have to take medication for my hypertension or high cholesterol! It literally makes every minute, cent, and drop of sweat I put into this competition worth it. The knowledge and experiences that I’ve gained are truly priceless. The only thing that could make this moment any better is to know that I have inspired at least one person that was in my shoes three months ago.
I truly believe that my team (USA Trainers) deserves something for an awesome job on mentoring and knowing when to push and then pull, is not easy. Thank you Kevin and Michele, should have a tip jar on your desk. The fitness staff top notch in my book, encouraging throughout and beyond the competition. To Cj, many thanks – you are a gifted man with this program and your passion for this passes on to us all. I think and hope I made some lifetime friends.”