Saturday, December 16, 2017

Celebrate Yourself & Those Around You

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Welcome 2015 with the inspiration shared by these Center members. They are among many who have achieved tremendous goals. Along with your own triumphs, take these stories into the new year. Be empowered …

Lisa Christensen: The Goal Setter

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to become your best. For member Lisa, her mother’s passing, her own illness, and an injury sank her to a low level. Although she always maintained a degree of fitness, which included participation in run events, Lisa’s efforts became sporadic and unstructured. Her mother’s death in 2010 was the start of this general decline in fitness.

“I hit a level and was in a sorry state, a bad place,” admits Lisa. In fall 2013, she returned to her workouts to help pull through this time of crisis. “I felt I could not move through the ongoing emotional drain without being physically strong,” she shares. Her attempts to get in better shape were halted by shoulder and elbow injuries. She felt physically terrible, but persevered through physical therapy with cortisone shots.

At the start of 2014, Lisa still struggled, physically and emotionally. Fate intervened with an e-mail inviting her to register for a fall triathlon. For reasons she cannot explain, she signed up. It was the exact goal Lisa needed to emerge from the deep waters she was treading.

“I’m a structured, organized person. I work better with specific goals and deadlines. I needed to establish a workout pattern and commit to it. It had to be habitual, part of my everyday life, as opposed to only certain circumstances.”

Lisa (left) & Personal Trainer Sue.
Lisa (left) & Personal Trainer Sue.

Lisa began by increasing her cardio fitness, which allowed her the physical and mental motivation to advance. She started working with Personal Trainer Sue who kept workouts challenging but not aggressive. “Sue made it easier to see my progress with her encouragement and monitoring. She believed in me,” Lisa informs.

Sue indicates Lisa’s entire demeanor changed since their work began. Lisa is more confident and motivated, along with feeling physically better. Lisa’s progress and enjoyment radiates; she inspired her husband to join the Center. Her friend is motivated to train for the Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon, which is Lisa’s newest goal. Her sister-in-law in Salt Lake City is inspired to do an event. Lisa promised to fly out and join her for it.

Lisa tackles triathlon.
Lisa tackles triathlon.

Perhaps without realizing it, Lisa’s steps to a healthier lifestyle followed what experts recommend. She had aspirations, but remained realistic. She allowed a reasonable timeframe to reach her goals. She started small and sought support. And, she continues to challenge herself.

Feeling grateful, Lisa acknowledges, “The Center provided the environment needed to change my life, including Sue’s training. The power came from within, but it ‘took a village.'” As for that triathlon she registered for in January, she met the challenge– and enjoyed it, with Sue’s assurance of her strength and bravery.

Phil Deming: Better Than Ever at 62 Years Old

Phil with his woodworking, before he added fitness to his hobbies.
Phil with his woodworking, before he added fitness to his hobbies.

Simple but difficult. That is how member Phil described committing to exercise. After early retirement, Phil made fitness his new job. He was tired of struggling with an unhealthy weight and feeling out of shape. Weight Watchers® helped, but lacked

Fit Phil.
Fit Phil.

the fitness component his body craved.

A career in the pharmaceutical industry gave Phil insight on the science behind calorie consumption. Proper nutrition needs to be combined with exercise to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. He signed up for personal training with Katie at the Center, to whom Phil gives “a tremendous amount of credit” for his fitness success.

He lost about 63 pounds, a significant difference on his 5’4″ frame. His body fat is down to 18 percent. Most importantly, Phil feels great. “All the stuff they tell you will happen if you exercise … well, it happened. I do not require blood pressure medication any longer. I feel better than I did in my 40s and I’m in better shape now!”

Phil with Personal Trainer Katie.
Phil with Personal Trainer Katie.

Phil considers himself a cliché. He never had time in midlife to focus on fitness. Now, in his retirement, he manages to visit the Center at least five times weekly. He incorporates both weights and cardio into his routine. Fitness has become a lifestyle for him. His wife, a nurse, is also a Center member. They usually go together, even though they do different workouts.

“Age truly doesn’t matter. I may not add years to my life, but I definitely am improving the quality of my days,” shares Phil with enthusiasm.

Anne Fleischl: An Unexpected Triathlete

Anne, before.
Anne, before.

Obese her entire adult life, member Anne never believed change was possible for her. Anne suffered persistent chest pain. She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, degenerative osteoarthritis, asthma, and severe edema. She was physically disabled and relied on 14 daily prescriptions to survive. “I did not think I’d be alive to usher in my fiftieth birthday,” Anne admits.

Anne, proud of her accomplishments.
Anne, proud of her accomplishments.

Scared into action, she consulted a nutritionist and began improving her diet. Her mobility improved, which allowed her to work in the water with Trainer Martin. Gradually, they incorporated land exercises.

Training sessions involved learning the basics, such as how to properly stand from a seated position.  Anne recalls the work was slow and tedious. Her heart would race; she would become winded quickly. Her condition required frequent mini-breaks. “Martin encouraged me and kept my motivation high. His faith kept me going, even when I was discouraged.”

Anne noticed small victories from her training efforts. Her aerobic capacity increased. She could climb the stairs without a break at each step. Simple improvements in tasks most take for granted were apparent. As these accumulated, so did the bigger results.

Since the onset of her journey, Anne accomplished a 133-pound weight loss through diet and exercise. She strives to lose about 70 pounds more as she becomes stronger and fitter. Her health has improved tremendously. Her type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides have been eliminated! She no longer needs any prescription medication.

Progress was not always steady. Big goals often require equally sized challenges. Anne had to overcome shoulder impingement issues, plantar fasciitis, and knee pain. An infection hospitalized her for seven days. Each setback left her discouraged. “I was tempted to give up when my trainer would share support and encouragement. Martin never lost faith in me,” Anne shares.

Anne spent much of the summer of 2014 outdoors, enjoying life and being physically active. She no longer was trapped inside air-controlled environments. “Exercise was always a negative word to me. Now, I look forward to it. It’s fun and I feel much better afterward.” Anne celebrated her fiftieth birthday with what she states as a “renewed hope and passion for life.”

Anne training with Martin for the next competitive event.
Anne training with Martin for the next competitive event.

Inspired, Anne takes her journey to new levels. At the start of this year, she began training for competitive events. “Martin is a seasoned triathlete. He thought I might also enjoy this. I completely respect him and his opinion,” explains Anne on how she became a triathlete.

This year, Anne accomplished five events: Ride for Autism (25-mile bike); Pascack Valley Triathlon; Iron Girl Triathlon; Tour de Cure Diabetes (36-mile bike); and a 5K Cancer Walk. Already, she is registered for a sprint triathlon in June 2015. This novice athlete was immobile only the year before. Wow.

Anne relates, “It has been an honor and privilege to participate in these events. I have been blessed with the opportunity for a new chance at life.”

Rickey Cobb: For Life’s Sake

At 360 pounds, member Rickey focused on survival rather than weight loss. Advised by his physician to “do something and do it quickly,” Rickey got serious about diet and exercise. He was motivated to become well, which included controlling his diabetes and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Rickey, 170 pounds thinner.
Rickey, 170 pounds thinner.

“I needed to make this a lifestyle, not a simple weight-loss effort,” Rickey emphasized. A single dad in his 30s and 40s, Rickey’s priority was raising his two daughters. Now at 57 years old, with children grown, his goal is to be around to hopefully enjoy grandchildren someday. He devoted himself to proper nutrition and fitness for life.

“I tried several gyms, but never felt at home. The Center’s focus on wellness is the perfect fit for me. The facility meets all my needs. I enjoy the camaraderie here. The workouts are fun,” Rickey shares. He and his fitness cronies especially enjoy Cycling classes. They consider themselves cycle-fanatics, and look forward to powering through pedal sessions together on a regular basis.

Rickey underwent surgery in August 2014, but got back in action as soon as he was medically cleared. He admits this set back his “six-pack abs in progress,” but he dedicates time to core work to get all those ab muscles stronger. Despite the setback from surgery, Rickey now weighs about 190 pounds. That is a 170-pound weight loss.

His advice to anyone striving for change: Want it. “Anyone can lose weight. You just really have to want it. Adopt a new attitude.” This worked for Rickey who changed his way of thinking. He takes a more Zen approach to life these days. He also happily shares his secret to dieting. “You usually can eat whatever you wish, but you have to stay in constant motion. Move your body!”

Aside from mindset, he emphasizes the need to know exactly what you want to accomplish. Act according to those goals. Don’t just wish to lose weight. Decide to tackle arms, tone legs, strengthen core muscles. Be specific and never give up.

Working out has become one of Rickey’s favorite activities. In only a few years, he managed extreme weight loss and improved health. However, he remains very modest. Rickey acknowledges his fellow members, friends now, who also are making phenomenal improvements. “Kudos need to go all around. Others deserve recognition, not just me,” he insists.

Further evidence of his new Zen mentality: Rickey’s favorite time occurs at 5:00am while he watches the sunrise from the warmth of the Center’s spa pool. Sweet success.

Bob Silverman: Cancer Survivor

A diagnosis of stage 3 throat and tonsil cancer was daunting for member Bob. He needed surgery to remove the cancer and affected lymph nodes. He endured 30 radiation treatments, administered five days a week for six weeks. Bob had to put life on hold.

Lack of energy, loss of 30 pounds, and de-conditioned, Bob looked much older than his 63 years. He exercised around his radiation treatments, but often lacked the energy and strength needed. After 44 years of travel-agency ownership, Bob needed to retire.

Bob and his wife are Center members, although his workouts have been sporadic over the past couple years. Shoulder surgery was followed by cancer, limiting his fitness endeavors. The Center’s Cancer Wellness Program helped Bob safely get back in action.

“The Program was exciting for me. As one who always enjoyed exercise, I really missed it when I was sick. The Cancer Wellness Program gave me the opportunity to gain back that part of my life,” shares Bob.

Physicians routinely advise follow-up rehabilitation that evolves into appropriate fitness and nutrition programs. Often unaware of how to proceed, advice from healthcare practitioners goes ignored. Patients avoid prescribed follow-up therapies out of trepidation and misconceptions, without strength to investigate on their own.

The Center’s Wellness Programs, offered to those with special health needs, navigate the patient through this unknown territory. A team is created to deliver services in the right time and order. Each individual is able to work toward become his/her healthiest again.

Bob rings the bell at the cancer treatment facility. It signals his final treatment.
Bob rings the bell at the cancer treatment facility. It signals his final treatment.

“The Cancer Wellness Program was greatly valuable in increasing my energy and mobility,” comments Bob. He enjoyed the flexibility, and never felt pressured. Bob did what he could, when he was able. Cancer rendered him weak. For the first few months, walking around the block was the best he could do.

Personal Trainer Howard safely challenged Bob on the Exercise Floor. Bob needed to build muscle while controlling calorie loss. His special circumstances required unique training. He could not afford weight loss, which often accompanies exercise. His low blood pressure needed to be monitored, along with other vitals. With the Center’s medical professionals on-site, Bob had the peace-of-mind needed to regain his fitness level.

Howard created a fitness platform for Bob. Today, he continues to build upon it as he exercises on his own. He credits his recovery to the support of his wife, good friends, and his “team” at the Center who are now friends as well. “Every time, I walk out [of the Center] better than when I walked in,” he notes.

Bob encourages others who are struggling through illness to take advantage of the Program, and experience their own success. Illness, including cancer, does not need to define you. Bob is an inspiring example of hope.


Do not let the year close without a final thought on your own progress. Regardless of any goals achieved or challenges missed, you have journeyed another 365 days. Find the good. You are worthy of goodness. Recognize it in your travels, and live to create more of it.

You are powerful.

Image Credit


Related Articles:

Check Also

Fit for the Holidays

by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner Your timely reminder of the importance of exercise … Use this fitness …

Healthy Intentions, Unhealthy Results

As we approach year’s end, beware of healthy intentions gone bad ...

Leave a Reply