Client Spotlight – Stephanie L.

I asked one of my fave clients, Stephanie, to answer a few questions about her experience with weight loss, fitness, The TR, and most importantly, getting strong! Before you dive into her funny, thoughtful, and inspiring answers, take a look at Steph- BEFORE I even knew her, then when she started training at the TR, and AFTER a lot of hard work!! We are all so proud of you!

225lbs. in 2003
153lbs. in February 2011
145lbs. in September 2012

Stephanie has decreased her body fat percentage from 29.6% on 7/26/11, to 25.0% on 10/9/12 – her 47th birthday!
Here’s what Steph has to say:

When did you begin working out at the TR and what prompted you to start personal training?


August 1, 2011! I started a process of trying to get healthier years ago after my son was born. I struggled with my weight since adolescence, but it had gotten pretty bad. I took control of my diet and lost around 80 pounds, which I’ve maintained for 8 years now. But – that was pretty much all through diet. And while I was no longer at an unhealthy weight, I was still not fit or strong – and never had been, ever in my life. As a kid I was a bookworm, sucked at all sports and therefore avoided them. I joked with Heidi early in my training that I was still traumatized by the President’s Physical Fitness Test. I planned to spend my entire life avoiding exertion whenever possible 🙂 , but I guess something snapped when I hit 45. I was sitting at a desk all day, and I was really starting to feel weak and tired and schlumpy, and I couldn’t pretend any more – if I didn’t do something about it, I would be jeopardizing my future quality of life. I felt like, if not now, when?

But, I had never managed to stick to an exercise program on my own. I was the classic “pay for the gym membership then never use it” type. I’d work out every once in a while, never see results, get frustrated and give up. I knew that didn’t work for me. I needed structure and accountability. I also knew I didn’t know what the hell I was doing on my own, and that the internet probably wasn’t the safest place to look for guidance. I wanted an expert to help me, so that the time I spent working out would be productive and effective, and I would see results that would keep me motivated. Like most people, it’s hard for me to fit workouts into my schedule, and I definitely didn’t want to waste time doing ineffective stuff, or even worse, hurt myself doing stuff wrong. Personal training seemed like it might be the right path. I was nervous, because I felt so out of shape – unlike at the gym, where I figured no one was paying attention, I was going to have to really show a trainer how out of shape I was, haha. It was a little scary at first, but due to TR awesomeness I got over that quickly.

What do you enjoy most about training? What do you find the most challenging?

Well, the most challenging is probably just the schedule. Fitting sessions and at-home workouts in before or after work, and around my parenting responsibilities. It can be a tricky juggling act, and it really requires making it a top priority – and sometimes saying no to other things. But the good thing is that if you do prioritize it and you’re getting the guidance you need, the results you see make it way easier to make it a priority.

It’s hard to say what I enjoy most, but it’s probably the fact that with Heidi’s guidance, the progress I’ve made has let me see myself differently that I ever have before. Heidi helps me to push myself in ways I wouldn’t have known how to on my own, and so I can do things now that I’ve never been able to do, and never thought I’d be able to do. It’s pretty cool to think of yourself as strong for the first time ever in your mid-forties. 🙂 And to be excited to see how much stronger you can get.

How many times per week do you train and what does your home routine consist of?

1x per week with Heidi at TR, 2x per week strength training at home. An occasional Tabata/interval training session when I can fit it in. I also try to do a lot of walking.

What training accomplishments have you made that you are most proud of?

Well, when I first started, I told Heidi I wanted to be able to do “real” pushups, which I’d never, ever been able to do. It was very rewarding to finally get those. (It took a long time!) I’m also very excited about the progress I’ve made on my deadlift (best set as of this writing was 175×5) – I’ve learned that I LOVE lifting big heavy things, and watching them get bigger and heavier! But maybe even more than specific accomplishments, I feel proud that after decades of couch-potato-hood, I’ve finally found the discipline and made the commitment to invest in my health and future wellness, and set an example for my son that fitness is important and women can be strong. I feel proud when I do my scheduled workouts on days when I’m tired and mopey and just want to watch Netflix. Or when I have lousy workouts but struggle through and get it done, because that’s a lot harder mentally than when you have a great workout. I mean, I’m proud of those the next day. Maybe not when I’m actually in the middle of them, swearing or crying. 🙂

What goals are you currently working on?

I want to see how high I can get that deadlift! I’d definitely like 200 on that, but why stop there once I get it? 🙂 After that I could aim for 1.5x body weight, and then maybe the max that I used to weigh back in the day. And I’m excited to work on my bench press and squat, and see where I can get those. And I really, really, REALLY want an unassisted dead-hang pullup. Really bad. Some day!!

What has been your overall experience at the TR? How have you progressed, and what impact has this had on you?

Walking through the door at the TR has seriously been one of the best choices I’ve ever made for myself. Heidi could attest (although she’d probably be too kind to) that I really was starting from nothing a year ago. At that time a single push up was entirely out of the question! And it was all my core could manage to hold me vaguely upright. I knew I could improve, but I also figured, hey, I’m not a kid, I don’t really know how much is possible but any improvement will be a good thing. It wasn’t even on my radar that a year later I’d be able to lift considerably more than I weigh. Heidi strikes that all important balance of always being supportive, but still pushing me to do as much as I can – and that often ends up being a lot more than I thought I could. I know I wouldn’t have gotten nearly this far on my own, because I would have assumed it wasn’t possible.

So, there are all the awesome impacts of being in way better shape – I feel better, I look better, I’ve lost pounds and inches, I have more energy, I’m less stressed, and I have a great sense of accomplishment and peace in knowing that I’m taking care of myself and doing my best to make sure I have a healthy active future. But the ultimate impact is that I now believe things about myself that I didn’t before, not even when I was much younger — that I can be strong if I work hard, and if I keep working hard, I can get stronger! I’m not thinking, ugh, next year I’ll be another year older, I’m thinking, yay, by this time next year, if I work hard, maybe I’ll get that pull up! It’s a great sense of possibility and excitement.

What changes, if any, you have made to your diet?

Probably the biggest change has been being way more careful to make sure I’m getting enough protein, and being diligent about getting a good dose of protein in within 20 minutes of working out. Having already lost around 80 pounds several years ago, I feel like I know what kinds of foods my body needs to maintain a healthy weight, but training spurred me to do a bit of tightening up and making sure I wasn’t “drifting” on certain key foods that I know I should avoid. So, while I don’t ban any foods entirely from my diet, I’ve made an effort to keep sugar and starchy carbs, especially grains, to a reasonable minimum, and get lots of protein and vegetables in there. Maybe a few less cocktails as well – workouts are actually a lot more effective for de-stressing. 🙂

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