To win this challenge at Life Time Fitness I knew it was going take dedication and support. I asked my girlfriend to join the Challenge with me, not because she needed to lose weight, but because I knew I was stronger with her support. Together we have pushed each other to succeed, climbing the leaderboard each week. We held each other accountable for everything. We reviewed the stats of previous winners and calculated approximately what it would take for each of us to win. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
Life Time assisted us in achieving our results in many ways. We both work two jobs and find that it’s easy to accommodate our schedule because Life Time’s open 24 hours a day. Most of the time we go at 8am, but we have been in there to start our workouts as early as 4am and as late 10pm. Many times, we even went twice in one day during this Challenge. The knowledgeable and friendly staff gave us guidance to push us through our plateaus. One of the greatest things about Life Time is that there is always equipment available, even during peak periods, so no matter what exercises we had planned for that day, we were able to accomplish them all in a timely manner. We all should give thanks to the people who we see every day maintaining and fixing the equipment to ensure this stays true. When our workouts are complete we utilize the sauna, hot tub, or pool for relaxation and then shower to head back to our busy lives.
I struggle with personal image issues. It has always been easy for me to put on weight and a struggle to take it off. I stayed active while I was young through playing baseball, basketball and football and running cross-country. I joined the U.S. Air Force when I was 18 and was stationed at Minot A.F.B. in North Dakota where summers are short and winters are long. Working 16 hour days, I found myself putting on a lot of weight eating whatever was quick and easy. The only way we had to warm things up was by the engine heat or vents, and during the winter months we could keep things cold outside. Most days, by the time I would get home, I would be exhausted and starving which led to overeating.
I got out of the military at the end of 2007 at 5’6” and 200 lbs. In fall of 2008, I started college and set a goal that by the time I graduated I wanted to be “ripped.” I began working out in the community gym. I tried many different diets and they would work for a little while, but eventually gained back the weight if I strayed away from the diet plans. I started running every day whether it was outside, treadmill, or on the elliptical. By the time I graduated in 2011, I was 140 lbs and could wear a men’s extra-small shirt from American Eagle. My friends and family were glad that I was focusing on trying to be healthy but they also said I looked too “skinny” or “sickly.”
After graduation, I shifted my focus onto muscle development. I read the articles, bought the supplements, listened to all the advice I could get. I had to increase my food intake to fuel the workouts. By 2015, I found myself right back at 200 lbs. I no longer looked “lean”, had a good amount of muscle, but was unhappy with how I looked. I still hadn’t achieved the look I was going for and now was struggling to lean out and not lose the muscle. I tried to increase my cardio intensity and started having issues with my knees. My joints just couldn’t handle the additional weight I had put on. It got to the point that I could no longer run outside or even on the elliptical without pain. Not being able to do cardio only compounded the issue.
I saw the transformations of others and I knew then that I too could do it. I’ve worn my bracelet every day as a reminder. I went to a doctor for my knees and started seeing a physical therapist. Every day I’ve pushed myself harder than the day before. The biggest factor in my transformation has been diet. To lean out, I’ve learned it isn’t only about calorie restriction; it’s about metabolism and portion control. Instead of eating 2-3 meals a day like before, I split them up into 5-6 meals a day, eating a balance of protein and healthy carbs to provide the fuel my body needed to continue burning fat while building lean muscle. The girlfriend and I made time to work out no matter what was going on, even while on vacation in Vegas. We stuck to our diets and exercise plan through the entire 60 days, and if we wanted something beyond that we had to work for it. I had to make a trip out of state for a family emergency. While nostalgic about the food I grew up on, I really wanted a hotdog from a place I went to as a kid. We had brought our bikes on the trip with us, so we biked over 20 miles there and back so we could share that memory together.
Now that the Challenge is completed, I feel and look healthier, the joint pain is gone, and problems that I had with digestion are gone. Even though I’ve completed the 60-Day Challenge, I see this as a Lifetime challenge in which I will continue to strive for my health in every aspect.