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Getting Started is Often the Hardest Step to Lifestyle Change

Sometimes we start to lose weight but never finish. Sometimes we start an exercise program but never finish. Sometimes we want to live our life in a healthy way — but unfortunately, we never start.

As a personal trainer, one of my greatest joys is watching clients morph into the person they want to be. These are the secrets of two of my clients who wanted to live healthy lives and aren’t afraid to finish, but most importantly, were not afraid to start.

Michael Hammond, of Naperville, has been a client of Reality Fitness since 2002 and my client for the last two years. He is a perfect example of the saying: “slow and steady wins the race.” He has used numerous trainers during his time at Reality Fitness and even participated in some of the “boot camp”-style training programs that were offered. Hammond’s consistency during the last 12 years is impressive. He never misses one of his sessions, and for the half hour that I have him, he works hard!

For Hammond, his inability to participate in life in the way that he wanted to was his motivation to getting started with his lifestyle transformation.

“Although it was over 10 years ago, I finally was tired of not being able to move without losing my breath, which included walking across the street,” Hammond says.

“I have learned a very simple formula for success: eat less and move more. Accountability has also been one of the keys to my success. Once I figured out it was not just reporting to my trainer, but thinking about what I wanted to accomplish, my necessary lifestyle changes became clear. Accountability has been very important to me.”

For Hammond, turning changes into habits have become part of his lifestyle.

“Making it part of everyday life has worked well for me,” he says.

Hammond has lost more than 50 pounds and enjoys spending his spare time with his wife, Marty. They enjoy doing local 5Ks and spending time with their grandchildren.

Gail Millas, of Berwyn, has been a client of mine for about four years. When I first met Gail, she would cry at the drop of a hat. Her pain levels in her knees were so intense that she was surviving on daily over-the-counter pain medication. In fact, her kidney functions had been reduced because of the high amount of pain killers she was using.

Her self-esteem was at an all-time low, and she avoided going to social events where she might see someone she knew. As a singer, she loved performing but could no longer get in front of an audience because of her poor self-image and lack of energy and strength. She was broken both emotionally and physically.

The single strategy that has been most helpful for Millas has been to have numerous plans in place.

“I have discovered that, for me, it can’t be just one single strategy,” she says. “I need to have numerous plans and strategies in place in order to be successful. If one isn’t working, I needed to be able to draw from the other tools in the chest.

“I’ve been on almost every diet and plan known to man. Some worked, some didn’t. I chose to utilize the individual tools from each plan that worked for me, and we created my own. The operative word being, we!”

The primary hurdle for Millas was an “I-think-I-can-do-it-myself” attitude and being willing to accept help.

“First and foremost, I accepted that help from my trainer, Carla,” she says. “She helped me to focus on what was most important at the various stages during my weight loss journey. We worked with my physical limitations and designed a workout/activity/eating strategy that would benefit me physically and emotionally. We analyzed what kind of workout style best works for me.”

Eating was a big part of it, too.

“She then studied my eating likes and dislikes, good and bad habits, and the difficulties and obstacles that often lead to failure when I tried to integrate healthy new habits into an out-of-control lifestyle.”

Millas is the first to admit that she is a bit of a perfectionist, and this has worked against her in the past. Perfection has no place in a permanent lifestyle change. Our lives are filled with ups and downs, and during challenging times, we sometimes stray from those things that we need most. I let my clients know that they will have good and bad days, but they have a choice with each new bite they take to get back on track.

Millas says it best.

“Striving for perfection is not the same as striving for success,” she says. “I’ve learned that I need to do this for my own well-being, and most importantly, my health.”

Millas has lost more than 90 pounds and enjoys spending time with her husband, Larry (who has also lost 20 pounds). They have begun evening walks, and over the weekend, she was successful at reaching another one of her goals. Gail has wanted to ride her bike with her husband and friends. On Sunday, she did it! She completed a 90-minute bike ride with the help of her friend Gwen. There is nothing that can stop her now!

Both Hammond and Millas would like to lose more weight over the summer. With their individual formulas for success, I have no doubt they will both be successful! I will keep you updated in the fall with their accomplishments, both physical and personal. They’ve already done the hardest part. They started!

If you are interested in getting “started,” I am having an informational meeting at 7 p.m. June 11 and at 8 a.m. June 14 about the 13-week lifestyle transformation that will be starting at Reality Fitness the week of June 16. Call 630-357-7087 to register.

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