7 locals who achieved their health goals share how they lost weight, got stronger, became more flexible, overcame bad relationships with food, regained self-confidence and stayed motivated through it all.
January 2021 Issue
Introduced and Coordinated by Erin Cline
According to a popular meme, the first rule of 2021 is to never talk about 2020.
Enticing proposal. However, we probably shouldn’t listen to a riff off of Brad Pitt’s line in Fight Club, especially since 2020 gave us a lot of material for making drastic changes. Maybe, instead, we could structure our 2021 game plan according to another classic 1999 film: The Matrix. Rather than trying to forget the past (as the meme jokingly suggests), we choose a mindset—like the red pill in The Matrix—to see necessary truths for knowing how to exponentially improve our lives.
Look at it this way: We can either bury the pile of memories from a year we’d love to forget, or use that plethora of experiences as opportunities for rising in life-altering, empowering ways.
The decision, of course, is yours. And you will not be judged for how you choose to move forward—at least not by us. Always do what’s best for you. But as you consider your options, our Q&A session with seven locals is here to help you decide.
These inspirational, determined people embraced their most disliked qualities to muster up grit for pursuing something grand: Health Transformation Goals. By facing their personal challenges and believing in the power of their strength and self-control, they achieved revitalizing results.
As you read through their stories, consider this for your own future: Are you going to follow the first rule of 2021, or choose a mindset for creating positive changes based on the truth?
Now, enough of the dated movie references. Here are our role models for being unstoppable this year!
Hometown: Wheeling, WV
Goal: To be overall happy and healthy.
What was your greatest motivator—the catalyst—that got you going? My biggest motivator was myself. I knew I had gained some weight, that I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I wanted to get back to my normal weight and size. I pushed myself to start going back to the gym, eating better and taking better care of myself.
For your game plan, what was your timeframe and what methods, services or products did you use? I didn’t really have a game plan other than to get to the gym and try to eat healthy during the week. I have a gym membership at LAVA 24 Fitness and take their LAVA fusion classes at least four times a week. The classes are cardio and strength training circuits, which I love because it is quick and effective. My favorite thing is the feeling within the gym, from the trainers and staff to the others in my classes, LAVA feels like a close family where everyone wants the best for each other.
How did you stay strong, positive and committed while pursuing your goal? Staying strong and committed was and still is hard. For me, losing the weight and toning up did not take very long. I started seeing results within a month. But staying strong and committed is hard. What keeps me going is taking pictures. I took pictures when I first started LAVA fusion classes and then took pictures every few weeks or so. Also, the trainers at LAVA push, encourage, help and hold me accountable. But, when I started to feel like giving up, or I wasn’t making progress, I looked back on those pictures and saw the huge differences, which made me motivated again and not want to give up. There are days where I have worked an eight hour shift, and I am exhausted and do not want to go to class, but then I look at those pictures, and it reminds me how far I have come and to keep going.
What were the easiest and hardest aspects of your journey? Did you ever consider quitting? The easiest part of my journey is going to class. I do have my days where I don’t want to go, but I have fallen in love with the classes and LAVA 24 so going is the highlight of my day. It is my time to focus on myself and release stress. The hardest part of my journey is eating healthy. I went from eating fast food and going out to eat almost everyday to cutting out fast food completely and cooking at home. The drastic change was hard. I have learned that balance is key. I follow the 80/20 rule, which means I eat healthy 80 percent of the time, and the other 20 percent, I enjoy myself and eat what I want. I am still young and want to enjoy life so I don’t deprive myself. If I am craving pizza, I eat pizza. If my friends want to go out for dinner, I join them and don’t worry about what I am eating. There were times I wanted to quit because I was not seeing results, but once I stopped worrying so much about food and the number on the scale, everything just fell into place. I just keep looking at those pictures and moving forward.
What are the most exciting changes you’ve noticed from this experience? The most exciting changes I have noticed are my physical appearance, along with how I feel mentally. Physically, I have gained strength, I have more muscle definition, and my clothes fit better. Mentally, I am much happier, have less stress and anxiety, and I am more positive. Overall, I am happier and healthier than I was a few months ago.
What’s your best advice for others who are setting out to achieve their own personal goals? Stay patient, stay committed, and give it time. Don’t try to rush the process, or get frustrated when you aren’t seeing results as fast as you would like. It is a journey; it is going to take some time, and that is okay. Don’t give up because right when you’re about to, is when changes start happening!
Finally, what’s your most valuable takeaway from this life-changing transformation? I am much stronger—both mentally and physically—than I think I am. I’ve proven to myself I can accomplish my goals and do anything I set my mind to.
Retired | Bluffton, SC
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Goal: Improve my golf game by increasing my range of motion.
What was your greatest motivator—the catalyst—that got you going? I noticed a loss of distance with my golf game. It was becoming harder to make a full turn when swinging.
Playing 4-5 times a week caused muscle pain and stiffness, thus forcing me to reduce my rounds of golf.
For your game plan, where did you go to achieve your goal, and why did you choose that particular place? My workout instructor for six years, Jay Goodwin, got certified as a Stretch Zone Instructor. He became the GM of the Bluffton Stretch Zone when they opened 18 months ago. Stretch Zone has a free introductory session and assessment, which convinced me that my range of motion and loss of flexibility was my problem.
How was the process? What aspects made it challenging and/or easy? Practitioner assisted stretching follows specific methods and protocols which properly position, stabilize, isolate and manipulate muscles. It’s very safe and comfortable, especially since you are controlling the degree of the stretch.
What are the most exciting changes you’ve noticed from this experience? After several sessions, what was originally a tight stretch, became very routine. Longer term, I got back to playing golf daily with much more comfort and better results with my game.
Did your journey meet your expectations, or go beyond them? I recently had a knee replacement, and my physical therapist could not believe my range of motion two days after surgery. Six months of Stretch Zone had a benefit that I did not expect. I was back playing 18 holes of golf in the sixth week post surgery!
For those who are setting out to accomplish a similar goal, what advice or suggestions do you have for them? Anybody who is active and wants to avoid injuries and increase performance, I strongly recommend taking advantage of the free assessment and 30 minute stretch they offer at any of the Stretch Zone locations.
Finally, what’s your most valuable takeaway from this life-changing transformation? My takeaway from 18 months with Stretch Zone is a much better range of motion, better posture, reduced stiffness and soreness and feeling much younger than my age.
Hometown: Ojai, CA
Goal: Feel like me again. My ultimate goal in weight loss is 30 pounds, to start!
What was your greatest motivator—the catalyst—that got you going? My greatest motivator for getting back into the gym and on a schedule (which means everything to me on a weight loss journey) was the way my pants were getting tighter and tighter every time I sat at my desk at work. My pants were getting so tight, I started cutting the sides. True story.
For your game plan, what was your timeframe and what methods, services or products did you use? My game plan was to quit my job and get back to being happy, which included being home with my family and going to the gym again. SO, I quit my job, and I got a personal trainer at Pulseology Fitness with the help of my husband. The journey started slowly. I was going to workout just 3 or 4 days a week with my personal trainer Dee and try the Keto diet. I gave it a try and on round three in a month, I gave up. It was not for me, or my body. I then started talking to Dee about the Small Group Personal Training (SGPT) classes they added to the gym, which were new to me after being away from the gym for about two years. I really enjoy the active workout classes the most, so I gave the SGPT classes a try—and loved it. Then I hit a plateau, so Dee introduced me to the P3 plan, (measuring your food, and you can eat carbs!) and it included five complementary SGPT classes. I was so in, mostly because I liked the classes, but I needed to try a new way of eating as well. My timeframe was to see as many results as I could in one month. I lost 11 pounds and inches everywhere!
How did you stay strong, positive and committed while pursuing your goal? I stayed committed to my measured meals by eating at home as much as I could. I can get tempted very easily with food. I was able to stay positive because I felt like I was able to eat way more than any meal plan before, which included moderate glasses of wine. I stayed strong by being in the workout classes, watching the others kicking butt, too, listening to the music and receiving support from friends and others in the classes. What also helped me stay committed was watching my first three pounds go down solid during my first week. My brain said, oh yes, finally something, anything, I got this! I can maybe actually do this!
What were the easiest and hardest aspects of your journey? Did you ever consider quitting? If so, how did you bounce back? The easiest part was getting back into the gym. Since I had so much more time on my hands, I was actually excited to get on the treadmill and read my emails. And the hardest aspect of this new journey on P3 was trying to get my head around measuring my food. I thought this was crazy and that I would never have time to measure all my meals. How do you measure a piece of wheat toast? Or turkey lunch meat? I also disliked logging my food into an app in the past and wondered how this was going to be any different. Those were the biggest things to actually overcome.
Another hard aspect was after my third weigh in, I had a moment. My inches did not move and my body outline in a 3D image was horrifying. This was my first time seeing this particular image. I was so taken off guard by it, I cried in my car. I then went straight to McDonalds. I was hangry, and McDonalds was the only thing I wanted. After I ate my favorite selections and started feeling better, I told myself that was going to be my cheat day, and I would be going to the gym in the morning to do extra cardio for those nuggets.
What are the most exciting changes you’ve noticed from this experience? I am most excited to see the changes in my face. I can’t hide my face in a picture like I can hide my arms with a loose sweater. I also like the way my gym clothes are fitting more comfortably every day. When you start your day frustrated because you hate the way your clothes fit, your day normally stays with that mindset. I am appreciating how the changes look on me daily, and that is making my attitude towards everything better.
What’s your best advice for others who are setting out to achieve their own personal goals? Take it one step at a time. Get into the gym, and warm up your mind. Then talk with someone about what your gym offers. Do not overwhelm yourself. Don’t make goals that seem unachievable when you haven’t worked out in two years. Don’t allow yourself to get disappointed. And, it is really okay to try things outside of your comfort zone. I believe that is how I have been able to succeed in this journey so far.
Finally, what’s your most valuable takeaway from this life-changing transformation? I can do it again! I can get myself back! I can actually do it! I thought it was impossible at times, but nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough.