I have to admit it. I had let myself go. Years of relentless focus on work, taking on more responsibility, larger territories and bigger teams had taken its toll. Not allowing time for exercise, making poor meal decisions and relying on caffeine to get through the long stressful days. I thought I was doing the right thing, but I was only making myself weaker and less effective. I kept buying new clothes as I outgrew the last set. I had trouble sleeping and pain in my joints. I was exhausted all of the time. When hiking with my friends, I could no longer keep up. All of the things that I loved now just hurt and left me discouraged. I disliked the way I looked. The weight was showing in my face and I was too embarrassed to take off my shirt. I didn’t want to go out because I felt miserable. I didn’t want my picture taken. My wife had to attend social events without me. I stopped going to the doctor. My cholesterol was high and he wanted me to take meds. I had been strong and fit when I was younger. I had run marathons, summited 14’ers, skied black diamonds. I was sure I could get back in shape. Year after year, I made up mottos and repeated them to my wife, (Lean and Mean in 2015) but nothing changed. Then something did.
When my son was born 16 months ago, I realized some very sobering facts. When he is 20 years old, I will be 65. I will be turning 47 in just a few months, the same age that my father had a major heart attack. How could I take my son skiing or teach him to surf when I couldn’t do it today? Would I be there for him at all? I felt a renewed motivation to get in shape, but I started to have severe back pain. As my son Sterling got heavier, it made it difficult to pick him up and play with him. I felt like I was failing as a father. I spent almost the entire month of October in bed or on the couch. As much as I needed the Challenge, my entry into the contest happened totally by chance. My wife was looking into swimming lessons for our son and I suggested Life Time because they had awesome facilities and a top-notch aquatics program. When my wife and Sterling were added to my membership, we were given 50 LT BUCK$. My account manager, Mike, encouraged me to use the money for the challenge. Even though I was a mess and the weigh-in was just two weeks away, I committed to it. A couple of days later, I was in so much pain while driving, I had to pull into an Urgent Care. They gave me pain and anti-inflammatory meds and ordered a CT scan. The scan showed posterior disc herniation at L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1, spinal stenosis and osteophytes. I was terrified and the only recommendation was pain management. To me, endlessly treating the symptom didn’t make sense. I wanted to correct the underlying condition. I also saw a primary care doctor to make sure I was healthy enough to compete. He wanted to put me on a statin and medication to lower my A1C. My total cholesterol was 264, triglycerides were 279 and A1C was 6.7. An A1C higher than 6.4 meant that I had Type II diabetes. I committed that if I didn’t improve by the end of the challenge, I would take the meds.
About 45 days into the contest, I had new labs and my total cholesterol was down to 219, triglycerides were 116 and A1C was 6.0. My goal was to lose 60 lbs and I lost 60.4lbs. I felt amazing, had my energy back, my confidence and I was pain free. I was able to hike, bike, run and play with my son. I was a better father and husband. I was back in the family photos. Solving for my back was the most crucial factor and a combination of Massage Therapy from Joshua at the LifeSpa, Yin Yoga with Heather, learning correct posture, the right supplements to take and how to foam roll from Jeremy, and Pilates with Rae and Emily helped strengthen my core, put me back in touch with my body and alleviate the pain. During the Challenge, I ate only organic whole foods and drank only water. I ate mostly protein, healthy fats and veggies and had very few carbs. I strength-trained 6 days a week and did some cardio every day. I also incorporated swimming laps and classes like barbell fitness and cycle. The Challenge is so effective because it is just right length to have a sense of urgency every day, but also long enough to fully establish new habits. The weekly InBody weigh-in gives you all the specific info needed to see how you are progressing and make adjustments. The leaderboard provides the competitive motivation and accountability. Expert staff provide support on Try-It Tuesday’s from nutrition, supplements, cardio, to strength-training. Life Time has every available option that you need to succeed — all under one roof. It is so efficient; you get more time to devote to your fitness goals. While this challenge is over and I made great progress, I still have more work to do. To support my new goals and keep me accountable, I have already signed up for the Spring Challenge. If you are struggling like I was, don’t hesitate to sign up. The only regret I have is not acting sooner.