What motivated you to start at AFS?
I was a pretty serious athlete when I was younger. After I stopped playing organized sports, I never changed my poor nutrition habits. As a result, my weight kept increasing over the years no matter my level of physical activity. My weight peaked in 2017 after I got promoted into a very stressful job and suffered a serious knee injury. My weight and inactivity from the injury, and my work-related stress, caused me to develop high blood pressure. This was the sign I needed that it was time for me to take control of my exercise and nutrition for good.
After surgery and several months of physical therapy I started looking for a gym or a trainer who could help me transition safely from PT into a more rigorous exercise routine. I found that and so much more at AFS! I was able to start with a customized program to build strength before progressing without restrictions into the Weight Loss Solution classes. As things have come up with my knee, all of the fitness practitioners have helped me modify the in-class exercises as needed so that I can participate safely. That guidance and coaching has helped me exercise safely and properly so that I can build strength and lose weight.
What was your biggest fear before you started?
I was obviously concerned about re-injuring myself. I also feared that I would be in over my head at AFS. I was at my physical rock bottom and I also wasn’t sure how my knee would limit me in the classes there. I was also nervous about the “gym culture” at AFS and whether I would stick out for being so overweight and out of shape. I’m happy to say that those fears were completely unfounded! Everyone at AFS- from the client intake folks, to the front desk staff, to the fitness practitioners, AND the other clients, are absolutely wonderful and make AFS one of my favorite places to be. It is a community of support where people care about who you are, invest in your wellbeing, push you when you need it, and help you excel in ways that you would never expect.
How do you define your success?
The thing that defines my success the most is that the way I see myself versus how I feel are much more closely aligned. Before, it was really jarring and frustrating for me to still feel like the same person and have the same interests as I did when I was athletic and in better shape, but to have a body that didn’t perform or respond in that way anymore. I also hated seeing myself in pictures before, and now I can say that I love seeing pictures of myself because what I see better reflects how I feel on the inside.
There are other more tangible measures of success for me, of course. I’ve had to purchase an entirely new wardrobe in smaller sizes twice since starting at AFS. Shopping for clothes is no longer a thing I dread! I’m also at my lowest weight since my freshman year of college, which is fun to think about.
What was the biggest obstacle you overcame to achieve your success?
Mindset! I had some moderate success with weight loss and nutrition in the past, but my motivation to continue always fizzled out after just a few months. I wasn’t going to have sustained success until I got my mind right (in the words of Trainer Kemper Sosa). I needed to be ready to invest in myself, and I needed to be ready to fully commit to a long-term lifestyle change. Approaching weight loss as dieting or any kind of “quick fix” hadn’t worked for me and clearly wasn’t going to moving forward.
I also needed accountability, and Trainer Chris Early has been a wonderful accountability partner for me. I am basically the poster child for the concept that you can’t out-train a bad diet. I worked out fairly consistently for a few years at another gym here in town, but never bothered to work on my nutrition, so I never saw any real, sustainable weight loss results.
How is your life different now?
For starters, I was able to go off my blood pressure medication after just 5 months at AFS, which was huge. The best part, though, is that I am finally more comfortable in my own skin and body. Everyday things in life are just easier for me. It is also much easier for me to enjoy life. I can travel much more easily – fitting into an airplane seat without spilling over into the neighboring seat or needing a seatbelt extender, was a huge non-scale victory for me! I have so much more energy and stamina to do the things I like to do, like cycling. My sleep quality has also drastically improved. I think the biggest mental change for me, though, is that certain activities are no longer off limits. I can fit in roller coaster seats again, and I don’t have to worry that I might exceed the weight limitations of activities like zip-lining, skydiving, or kayaking. I no longer have to plan my life around what I can’t do.
What do you expect of yourself in the future?
I hope to continue developing accountability to myself, and keep recommitting to this lifestyle. I don’t intend to fall into my past behaviors of seeing some success, only to get complacent and undo everything I worked so hard to achieve.
I still have weight loss and fitness goals that I am working toward. Ideally, I’d like to lose at least 40 more pounds of body fat. More importantly, I hope to get a little bit better every single day and to start enjoying things in my life that I wasn’t able to for so long due to my size and lack of fitness.