How long have you been going to AFS and what motivated you to start?
My weight has been a struggle for me ever since I was a teenager. I’ve tried the diets, the big gyms, you name it, but nothing has been able to stick long term. About two and a half years ago, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been. Although intellectually, I knew what I had to do, I didn’t have the motivation to start and stick to it. I actually heard about AFS from my doctor, who was a Plymouth client. We were discussing the reasons losing weight is so difficult, and she mentioned AFS. I went home that night and looked it up online, and knew I had to try it. I met with Corbin (the sales manager at the time) and he didn’t just give me a sales pitch, but asked a ton of questions, trying to figure out the best fit for me. It was that meeting that really made me realize AFS is different, and I’ve been a client ever since!
What was your biggest fear before you started?
Not being able to stick with it long term. For the first year, even more, at AFS, I was constantly worried I would get tired of going, bored with the workouts, stop listening to my trainer’s suggestions, fall back into bad habits, etc. – but none of that happened. I don’t even remember when that actually stopped being a concern in the back of my mind, but now, instead of worrying about losing interest in AFS, I wonder how I ever lived without it.
How do you define your success?
Well, there’s the obvious – my scale weight has gone down. But more, I can see it in the mirror. I’ve gotten used to the feeling of pants being too loose instead of too tight, and my wardrobe has turned over at least a few times. Additionally, I feel stronger. I can easily move a piece of furniture, put a new jug of water into the water cooler, or climb a flight of stairs with a load of groceries without feeling winded. There are mental successes too. I don’t cringe at photos of myself anymore. I feel successful when I meal prep, try a new, healthy recipe, or figure out how to adapt an old favorite. Each time I’m able to do a new exercise in class, I feel it. I feel healthier, and good about myself and what I’m doing for my body.
Tell us a little bit about some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to achieve your success. How were you able to conquer these challenges?
I’ve suffered a few injuries during my time at AFS, the worst being a broken ankle a little over a year ago. Although I’ve had to get over the initial frustration about each injury, my trainer Jen, and all the fitness instructors, have been incredible about giving me alternative workouts and modifications in class to make sure I still get a complete workout. After I broke my ankle, I made sure getting to class remained a priority – even if I couldn’t do much other than crunches on a stability ball. My mantra was that I needed to stay in habit, and I’m pretty sure that was one of the key parts of not letting that injury end my success.
Even now, I still have some limitations, and I’m constantly reevaluating how my body is feeling each workout. But the trainers are amazing, and always willing to give me a modification when something is just not feeling right. Yet they also know when, and just how much to push me, helping me conquer the mental blocks as well as the physical ones. I’ve learned that swapping out an exercise in class is not a sign of weakness – often these changes are harder than the original exercise!
What factors have allowed you to stay consistent and sustain your success over time?
Just showing up has been a huge part of my success. Some days are definitely easier than others, but even if I’m dragging, I know I’m doing better than if I hadn’t come at all. My schedule can vary week to week, so I’ve discovered it’s important for me to plan my AFS time into my schedule just like anything else. Sometimes that even means saying, “Sorry, I can’t do that, it’s gym time!”
Learning to meal prep has also been so important. I’ve never been one to come home after a long day of work and want to spend a lot of time cooking, but in the past that has led to a lot of takeout, easy to make processed foods, or snacking on junk. I remember the first time I realized it was just as easy, if not easier, to eat my pre-prepped meal as it was to pick up something unhealthy, and I was thrilled! Additionally, I have some food restrictions on what I can bring into work, so I had to learn to get creative with protein sources and manage my time better so I could go home for lunch. Now that I prep my meals and snacks on Sundays, there’s a huge difference in how I eat throughout the week.
Finally, relying on the support of my trainer, as well as the friends I’ve made at the gym has been essential. There have been so many times I’ve sent Jen a text saying, “Help! I can’t stop eating the candy!” or just shot a picture of the cookies and donuts on the counter in the staff room at work. To have someone in my corner who is going to help me stop and think about if I REALLY want to eat that, or even to just listen to me complain about all the temptation, is huge.
How has your mindset evolved over the years?
Before AFS, whenever I started a weight loss journey I had always thought of it as just that – a journey, with an endpoint, at which point I’d be able to go back to old habits. I know the term “lifestyle change” is often used, but for me, I couldn’t really think about it that way. It was more about making slow, small changes and relearning new habits, so that I didn’t feel like I was “losing” anything. Exercise and food prep are no longer “tasks” but rather, enjoyable. I can feel my body dragging if I go a few days without a workout, or after eating too much unhealthy food. I still sometimes catch myself snacking on junk food just because it’s there, but I’m working on that, and it’s getting better. More, the way I relate to others around food, exercise, and nutrition is different. I work with young children, and I’ve found my mindset around healthy living has moved into my work, trying to come up with creative and healthy food options for them, as well as healthier treats for my staff. I’m also working to teach them healthy eating habits that I didn’t learn as a child. Spending time with friends doesn’t have to mean eating out or drinking, but can also involve staying in and cooking something healthy, going for a walk, or even taking a class at AFS!