Finalists / Stephanie M

Stephanie M.

Woodbury, MN

Stephanie Morris Front

I DID A PULL-UP!!! Like a real, honest to goodness, strict pull-up. I’m tempted to leave my essay with that, because I’m so proud of that accomplishment. At the Minnesota State Fair, there are booths in the military area where people can try to do as many pull-ups as possible. I always had this dream that I would do it and get my name on the board. The only thing is . . . I had never done a pull-up. Ever. To be honest, I didn’t know if I was ever going to. I’m turning 40 in July so I kind of wondered if it was too late to gain that kind of strength. As I gradually gained muscle and lost fat, I came closer and closer. Then one night, just before bed, I decided to give it a try. I knew I was close, so I asked my daughter to record me just in case. I’m so happy I did because I did it, pajamas and all! I looked like a fool, but it was still awesome!

Beyond that, I worked harder and longer than I ever have in my life. I had moments of wanting to give up, but I never gave in. I have yo-yo’d so much over the years and something about this time around had me in a different mindset. I work as a school social worker, which can be extremely stressful and there were days when I really wanted to just go home, sit on the couch and eat junk. But instead, I went straight to the gym. Most of the time I felt better and more relaxed when I left the gym, but there were days when that stress still had me in a bad mood despite a good workout. Even on those days, though, I could still walk away being proud that I stuck it out despite my emotions pulling me to that couch.

Getting to the gym was not always easy. I sometimes went to the gym three times in a day to get everything in. As a parent, especially a single parent, you sometimes have to get creative and break things up. I would go to the gym before work to get some cardio in, then would do weights after work. I had some evening meetings and work for my part-time jobs and had started taking a community ed class during this time (not the best timing) so I would get a walk or a few bodyweight workouts in before, then hit the weights after. I even went to the gym after putting my cat down, teary eyes and all. Nothing was stopping me. I also dealt with physical injuries throughout the 60day including plantar fasciitis, patellofemoral syndrome and tendonitis, which, in the past, would have completely derailed my training. However, I was able to modify my workouts in order to keep on track. I was also able to try some new fitness classes such as spinning and yoga. While the weight room is where I’m most comfortable now, it was still good to shake things up and try group fitness as well.

Greg, my Life Time personal trainer, knew I wanted to work hard and was able to modify my workouts as needed, offer encouragement and advice, and most importantly, he helped to hold me accountable. I definitely didn’t want to show up to our sessions having not followed through on my workouts for the week, which helped to push me through on the especially tough days. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Life Time’s BCAAs. I used the L-Glutamine and Pre-Workout supplements as well, but the BCAAs were my best friend through this process. Not only did they help with keeping me from being too sore, but they taste FREAKING FANTASTIC! I don’t even bother mixing with water, I just dump the powder straight into my mouth. It’s not classy, but mmmm it’s good!

My first 60day, which started about a year ago, was pretty successful and allowed me to believe in myself and recognize that I did have the ability to make significant changes in my habits, which I had previously doubted. I did yo-yo a bit between 60days and easily fell into old habits once it was done. This time around I had a lot of success with fat loss, but more importantly, I gained about two pounds of muscle! Through my three 60days I’ve discovered that I need to regularly keep track of my nutrition, even when I’m not trying to lose weight. I have a history of binge eating disorder and it is incredibly easy for me to fall into old, unhealthy behaviors. The 60days have given me the opportunity to learn more about myself and what I need to do to achieve long-term success.

I gained so much confidence and was able to prove so much to myself over the past eight weeks. I even asked a friend to bring a backdrop over and take my pictures so I could show off my hard-gained muscles I had lost all hope in seeing. Prior to this, I would have never, ever asked someone to take my picture in a bikini! I still can’t believe I did that! I am so excited to build more strength and see how much muscle I can gain. I am crazy excited to go into my fourth decade this summer stronger and fitter than I ever have been and, of course, to show off those pull-ups at the fair in August!