“Grandpa Perry, you have a big belly.” Wise observation from a three-year-old grandson. His parents would shush him from making those kinds of remarks and try to stop him from climbing on my belly. But his innocent, direct statement was true; something needed to be done.
Like most obese people, I wasn’t always overweight. I played various intramural sports: softball, volleyball, floor hockey, basketball, football, and soccer in high school and later in the Air Force. I was in relatively good shape until I got out of the Air Force, got married, and started going to school full time while working full time (sitting behind a computer). I started growing the belly.
My grandson wasn’t the first one to say something about my health. My doctor warned me as he started prescribing pills for high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. He said that I was aging faster than I should and that if I didn’t do anything, I would be taking insulin shots. He was prophetic. Family and friends also encouraged me to change my ways. I tried several diets, talked to dietitians and health coaches, and got knowledge in my head, but didn’t change my heart or my actions. I just bought bigger clothes.
In the fall of 2018, my wife and I found out about the Life Time club being built in Gainesville, VA, about three miles from our house. We met Josh and Tyler, liked what we heard, and signed up. I weighed in at 294.7 pounds.
In March 2019, Life Time opened and I started my first class, GTX Burn, with Natalie at 5:00 am. Normally I don’t get up at 5:00 am; I tend to be a night owl, averaging about 5-6 hours of sleep per night. (I’d worked midnight shift in the military and sometimes as a software contractor. I had completed three degrees by staying up late to write programs, term papers, and study for tests.) But I stuck with the early morning class. (They stuck with me, cheering me on to complete exercise sets or to hold a plank.) Natalie encouraged us as a group and pushed us to not give up. Doing the cardio workout initially, I was happy if I could break a 20-minute mile; but I stumbled when running on the treadmill. (My cross trainers weren’t helping.) Natalie met me at a local shoe store to help me pick out new running shoes. In a couple of months, I broke the 15-minute mile.
The 60day kicked my weight loss and lifestyle changes into a new gear. During that time other Life Time staff influenced those changes. Josh had introduced me to a protein mix which I now use as a primary breakfast option. I met with a dietician, Jess, who had me keep a log of my daily eating, drinking, and sleeping. I found out I needed 7-8 hours of sleep; I should set a goal of drinking 150 ounces of water a day to help reduce weight and stifle hunger urges; and I should prepare my own food instead of eating out. (I used 60day recipes from Coach Anika, like the Mexican skillet, and bought fresh vegetables from local farmer’s markets.) Other trainers like Stan, Scott, Tyler, Johnathan, Thomas, and Mark explained things like: the purpose of energy/protein bars, how to use battle ropes, and the right way to do exercises. Tyler told me to think of the body like an ice cube with a fire underneath. Cardio keeps it burning but weight lifting makes the fire bigger and it lasts longer. Sheed’s barbell strength training made the idea practical. I took one yoga class, felt like I was just flopping around on the mat, but the trainer was very patient. I began swimming and using the saunas. Coach Anika’s emails were also very helpful when I followed her two-week D.TOX.
The very caring staff includes those not in a direct training role. Sophia is a great front-desk smiling, encourager at 4:45 am when I am trying to figure out why I am awake so early and coming in to work out. Edgar is always cheerful as he refills the towels and cleans the locker room. These are just a few who made the Life Time 60day a daily, pleasant experience!
The 60day’s impact is showing in my health. I lost over 30 pounds and am now below 255. My endocrinologist told me to reduce my insulin by 10 units, and to continue dropping by 5 units if my fasting blood sugars stay lower than 90. I broke the 14-minute mile in my latest retest. I redid my AMA and my heart rate zones increased. (I can’t walk into zone 2 anymore.) My VO2 went up from 19.2 to 28.8. I’ve downsized my trousers from a size 54 waist to a 46. My primary care doctor will be shocked to see that I am responding to what he has been warning me about for years. I can’t wait to see his face. My ultimate goal is to lose at least 100 pounds. At last, the belly is shrinking. In three months, I celebrate my 60th birthday. With these kinds of results, I hope to “challenge” other seniors in my community to pursue a Life Time lifestyle. I also want to hear more of my grandson’s wise observations, like “Grandpa Perry, where did your belly go?”