Editor’s Note: In our October/November issue, we introduced you to four women motivated to move toward a healthier life. All four women faced different challenges — hormonal shifts, stress, overworked schedules and a lifetime of unhealthy habits. You can read our first story at yellowstonevalleywoman.com. This is our 12-week check-in to see the challenges these women are overcoming.
Orangetheory Fitness Coach Kailee Hansen, Lynn Harper and Primal Living Coach Kristen Ballard
LYNN’S PROGRAM: High-Intensity Interval Training 3X week
LYNN’S NUTRITION: a ketogenic, low-carb, high healthy fat diet, >100 g. carbs per day
Under the orange glow of the Orangetheory Fitness studio lights, Lynn Harper is rocking the rowing machine. Her fitness coach, Kailee Hansen, is right there next to her, shouting words of encouragement. Lynn is in her element.
“Lynn’s weightlifting and rowing form have gained some major fire,” Kailee says. “I just want to encourage her to safely push her limits with paces on the treadmill. My role as her coach is to encourage her and keep her believing that she is worth the effort and that she can accomplish anything.”
When it comes to nutrition, Lynn’s coach, Kristen Ballard, says she’s watched Lynn get over the hump of, “but what CAN I eat?” Kristen says, “She seems more confident in her abilities to make this a permanent change. Once we got past the initial pushback and doubt, she has really embraced this way of eating.” Bottom line, Kristen says she knows Lynn feels better when she’s eating nutrient-dense food and staying away from what she calls “the processed junk.”
With the mental changes have come the physical ones as well.
“I think the physical changes are obvious with her,” Kristen says. “She has lost that ‘puffiness’ in her face, which is usually always a sign of inflammation. She is getting leaner and has said that she’s starting to see some new muscle development, which is always exciting.”
Now that Lynn has reached the halfway mark, she feels indebted to these women standing by her side, helping her to reach her goals.
“I have both these little angels on my mind if I try to go back to my old ways,” Lynn says. While she always has an eye on her plan of attack, over the past three months she’s learned she can’t be militant about it. It just doesn’t work for her. “If I am counting calories or macros and always thinking about what I can’t have to eat, I stress out and emotionally eat. If I constantly weigh myself and I am not losing weight, I stress about that too,” she says. “The best thing for me is to keep the mindset of what I put in my mouth to fuel my body and focus on the quality of food. Then, I let my clothes do the talking about my weight loss.”
Angie Seifred, Billings Athletic Club, Julie Koerber and Karli Bies R.D.
JULIE’S PROGRAM: Spinning 3x week, personal training/strength 2x week
JULIE’S NUTRITION: a balanced diet that keeps gat grams under 55 and calories at 1200
On a Thursday morning at the Billings Athletic Club, music can be heard thumping through a dimly lit second-story room. Disco lights flash and right there in the front row, Julie Koerber is pedaling her heart out, her feet hitting the beat during one of the club’s Social Cycling classes.
“I had no idea that I would love spinning,” she says. “Before I even stepped foot in the class, I automatically assumed it would be too hard with too much cardio endurance needed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging, and many times I need to dig deep, but once that class is over, I feel such a sense of accomplishment. It keeps me craving more!”
“Julie has grown so much in her commitment to a healthier lifestyle,” says Angie Seifred, Julie’s fitness coach. “She’s finding the activities she enjoys and has even added an extra day of exercise most weeks. Most people want to see quick results and Julie has come to understand that by staying committed to a program, you will get those results steadily.”
Most weeks, Julie divides her time between Social Cycling and weight training with Angie. She says if you asked her six months ago if she’d enjoy spending time five days a week at the gym, she would have laughed and said, “No way.”
“I think before this challenge, I put barriers up. I didn’t think I was athletic or had endurance of any kind,” she says. “I realize now, I was just doing the wrong kinds of exercise. I am a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be.” Instead of trying to fit exercise in as she did in the past, Julie starts her day with it, no excuses. “Can you say oxygen and endorphins? I love it. It helps me be far more productive in my work day.”
Going hand in hand with the amped-up workouts comes a determination to write down literally everything Julie uses to fuel her body that day. Before this challenge, she says she was on a cycle of losing a few pounds, only to gain it back with poor choices on the weekend. “It was exhausting,” she says. Now, when she and her family hit a local eatery, she says, “I log on to the My Fitness Pal app to see if what I am planning to eat fits within my day. It’s so much easier to say, ‘no,’ before you’ve taken a bite than to have remorse for a poor choice after the fact.”
It’s all a part of the journey that she says she knows is so much more than a six-month challenge.
“This is my new life and it’s one that I am loving. I know I’m not alone. Every single person at the B.A.C. has been so generous with their time to answer questions or give fitness advice,” Julie says. “When it comes to nutrition, Beth Hall is putting the pieces together with weekly lessons so that I can learn to make solid food choices for life. Gratitude doesn’t begin to cover the sea of emotions I feel for all the people who believe in me more than I believed in myself at first.”
Kinesi Coaching Studio Owner Rebecca Douglas and Jennifer Nieto
JENNIFER’S PROGRAM: High-Intensity
↓ 4.5% body fatty Interval Training 3X week
JENNIFER’S NUTRITION: a low-carb, high-protein balanced diet with healthy fats, 1,500 calories
“It’s the halfway point already?” Jennifer says as she reflects on how the Motivated to Move challenge has affected her life these past 12 weeks.
“I have learned that I can do this. I thought this was going to be way too tough for me. Everything I’ve tried in the past, I’ve failed at it all. I really have,” Jennifer says. “This is the first time where I feel like, every single week, I am getting stronger. Every single week, I can do something more.”
That means around the lunch hour at least three times a week, Jen is checking in with the coaches at Kinesi Coaching Studio for her interval training workout.
“It brings up a lot of happy emotions and pride. I am so incredibly proud of her,” says Rebecca Douglas, Jen’s fitness and nutrition coach. “This is not easy, especially when there are other people in her life demanding her attention.”
When Jennifer started, she felt like she had way too many responsibilities to juggle as a wife, daughter and mother of four, to really make time to hit the gym or meal plan. With grit, she’s learned there’s a better way.
“It’s really inspired me to take more time for myself and make myself a priority,” she says. “It’s driving me to continue.”
While Jennifer has learned how to carve out time for fitness, it has been a bit trial and error with her nutrition. The first six weeks started out with a specific list of foods she should target. Since then, she’s shifted into a system that counts her macros, in other words, her grams of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
“I can eat anything as long as it fits within the macro count,” Jen says, adding that it’s helped to have that flexibility and big-picture view on her day. “If my family wants to go to Panda Express, I can look up the menu and see how many carbs and proteins are in what I want. Then, I can figure out what I can have. Sometimes, it is only half of a serving, but at least I can still eat with my family.” Aside from keeping an eye on her macros, Jen also tries to stay away from carbs at night, since whatever isn’t burned typically turns into stored fat.
With a strong plan in play, if you ask Jennifer what life will look like after the Motivated to Move program, she says, “The program comes after the program. I am going to make myself a priority and it is going to be my lifestyle. There’s never a finish line, it’s just ‘What’s my next step?’”
YMCA Health and Wellness Director Kassia Lyman, Ana Mayorga
ANA’S PROGRAM: Using cardio/strength workouts to create a daily deficit of 400 calories
ANA’S NUTRITION: a balanced diet focused on food groups, water intake and healthy fats
When Ana stepped on the body scanner and watched it calculate dozens of different body points at the 12-week mark, she sighed heavily, looked at fitness coach Kassia Lyman and said, “See, I told you.”
As Kassia talked about all the good things happening with the scan, Ana said, “I haven’t liked the numbers since we started.”
As a 22-year-old who has struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember, she says, “Overall, I am seeing positive changes, but it is hard to not just be obsessed with one number.”
Since her last weigh-in, she’s plateaued on both her weight and body fat percentage. “I don’t feel like I am doing it,” she says with tears in her eyes.
Truth be told, her scan showed that her workouts are paying off. Her lean muscle mass, a.k.a. strength, is on the rise. Kassia is quick to add that a scan can never show Ana’s biggest triumph, the creation of a whole new set of healthy habits.
“It is important to touch on the fact that this is all about lifestyle and Ana’s lifestyle has improved. That is improving,” Kassia says. Ana nods her head and starts to share a memory from Thanksgiving. “My family showed my aunt, who is very health conscious, the magazine. She pulled me aside one evening and said, ‘You are doing so great!’ She was very supportive. She and my mom bought me more than $100 worth of Tupperware for my birthday so I could pack my lunch every day.”
Slowly but surely, she’s learning to follow her grandmother’s advice of “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” Ana says, “Just the way that I shop is so dramatically different. I read the labels on everything to the point that no one likes to go shopping with me because I am that person.”
If Ana had a struggle, she admits that it has been hard to get her fitness and nutrition on the same page.
“We will have a really good week of nutrition and then have a really good week of physical activity,” Kassia says. “It’s been challenging for her to get those two consistently together.” Ana blames her personality of being a “terminal people pleaser.” If friends want to work out, she’s all in. If friends want to go out to eat, she will happily join them.
“Even though there are people who are working out with her and want to make healthy lifestyle changes, they don’t have the same goals,” Kassia says. “Ana’s goals are bigger and that means she has to work harder and give up more than they do.”
With this challenge at the halfway mark, Ana is quick to say, “I would like to think this will be something I am working on my whole life.” Kassia smiles and adds, “This challenge is not do or die, it’s either you decide that it isn’t for you or you have the perseverance to carry on. I know that Ana is not giving up and that is huge for her. I know if she remains consistent, it will happen.”
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