I’m inspired by and attracted to individuals who are determined, motivated and focused on making their lives better and dreams come true. As a writer I’m fascinated with people and learning what makes them tick and act and react to life and how to build believable characters in my own stories. As a fitness enthusiast I’ve met and interviewed several people over the last few years who have dramatically changed their bodies and lives by focusing on improving their health and fitness levels. Their stories are inspiring, and quite honestly HOT! Their pictures look amazing and the interviews are always big hits. I’ve even had one interview with Ed Henley turn into a front page feature story in our local magazine, The Good Life.
Because of my fascination with determined individuals, the popularity of the Before & After Interviews, a desire to grow my readership, and my personal passion for fitness, I decided to do a year long series on local people actively pursuing impressive physical goals. I’ve partnered with several local fitness facilities and found an admirable and courageous group of men and women who are willing to share their journey with you and me this year.
Please meet the 2018 Health & Fitness Improvement Series participants!:
Ace Bollinger from my own dearly loved gym, CrosSport:
Weight goals: drop at least 50 pounds (currently 275)
Nutrition goals: Eat good food with a Paleo slant – reduce alcohol intake
Other goals: Get back in the gym regularly (3-5x/wk), gain back strength and muscle
Ace admits that the demands of running his own high-stress business, Bollinger Custom Home Builders, and the joys and life changes that came with marrying his wife, Amber, a couple years ago took their toll on his fitness regime. Ace used to go to the gym regularly for a lunchtime WOD (Work Out of the Day), but his attendance had become spotty at best. Mike Toigo, one of the owners and trainers at CrosSport, sat in on Ace and my first meeting and helped Ace set some realistic and attainable goals he could achieve if he is determined to do it. Mike reiterated, it won’t happen if Ace isn’t committed. Ace looked us both in the eye and affirmed that he’s committed to living a better, healthier life that includes getting to the gym 4-5 times a week for WODs and cardio workouts, cleaner eating and drinking – seems Ace and I are both a fan of the wine & whiskey and he also digs a good beer… or three with his buddies.
The changes won’t be easy, but the benefits will be worth it. Ace is sure the progress and improvements will come, “I know what I have to do. It’s like when you get up in the morning and have to get dressed. I need to do this... so I will.”
Jorge & Daniella – brother & sister team extraordinaire from Anytime Fitness:
Weight goals: to get down to 240 (currently 270)
Nutrition Goals: Eat more of the better kinds of foods
Other Goals: Build endurance
Jorge is no stranger to losing weight or setting high goals and achieving them. Seven years ago he was the Gold’s Gym Weight Loss Challenge second place winner after starting at nearly 320lbs and dropping to 247. He admits the weight came off too fast and he didn’t learn how to keep it off. After the competition was over, and he moved away from the valley to Seattle, he slowly fell back into old habits and the weight started to creep back up. After moving back to Wenatchee and watching his sister make a decision to get to the gym and be consistent with it, he decided to go too. Jorge’s starting weight when he started at Anytime Fitness was around 290, but this year he feels confident he’ll drop all the extra weight he’s been carrying far too long.
Jorge knows consistency and nutrition are key for him to not only get to the weight he wants, but to keep him healthy and fit and in a position to build his strength and muscle mass. He has been going to Anytime to work out four to six times a week and often does two-a-days, with a cardio focus for morning workouts and lifting focus later. He plans to work with his trainer Chris to find out what the good foods to eat are and in what portions to help him perform at an optimal level. He’s excited to drop the extra weight and really see what his body can do when it’s at its best.
Weight goals: to get down to 140 (currently 205)
Nutrition goals: To eat better
Other Goals: Not obsess over the scale number – look at the scale less
At 215 pounds, Daniella, decided she was tired of feeling bad about her body, tired of diets that didn’t work, and weight that kept hanging on, and ready to change her body and her life. Like her brother, Daniella is no stranger to the gym or slimming down, just to gain it back. She says she’s gotten down to as low as 160 before but just can’t manage to keep the weight off. She started going to Anytime Fitness consistently and has dropped some weight, but more than that has increased her strength considerably.
When I spoke with Rachelle, manager at Anytime Fitness, about the 2018 Fitness Improvement Series, she said Daniella’s body was right at the verge of dramatically changing. Daniella has established great routines and set her mind on some impressive, but achievable goals for the year. For her, variety is key to remaining consistent and keeping active. Once she established the habit of going to the gym, she started encouraging her brother to go with her and also mixed up her workouts to avoid boredom. She likes to watch videos on new exercises and routines and tries them out to keep things diverse. She works out six times a week, often twice a day, and plans to learn from Chris how to develop better eating habits. Daniella knows she really needs to get a hold on her nutrition this year, and once that’s in place her body will really start to change.
Jasmine Hutchinson – the bouldering beauty from Riverfront Rock Gym:
Weight goals: Nothing specific but wants to fit into a super small bikini this summer
Nutrition goals: Drink more water
Other goals: Improve overall hard sport climbing with a focus on: hard bouldering, campus board work, hang board work
Improve flexiblity (yoga once a week or more)
Jasmine, mother of two year old Ryder, is ready to get her climbing life back. She is grateful for her son and husband, Ryan, and with his support, has worked hard over the last several years to get through nursing school because she wanted a career that allowed her the opportunity and time to climb. Ironically, it came at a cost. With all of the demands on her time, she just didn’t have the freedom to climb when she wanted, like she wanted. But now that Ryder’s older and she’s a licensed nurse, she’s ready to get back to it!
Jasmine comes from a rock-climbing family and has been climbing since she was a child, something Ryder will do as well. She remembers participating in some competitions when she was a kid, but was more attracted to the lifestyle and culture than the competitive part of climbing. She spent a lot of time as a young adult climbing for fun and socializing with others, especially with her best friend and climbing partner, Ilah. Recently, though, Jasmine did participate in RRGs first local competition and won the women’s advanced division. To start off the year, Jasmine is participating in a fourteen week, elite training called Let it Burn. She is sure to improve her climbing strength and over-all skill level. Once the training is complete Jasmine plans to re-evaluate her goals and see where to go for the rest of the year.
Ceci – student, full-time employee and gym devotee of Crossfit 791:
Weight goals: Nothing specific just wants to fit in clothes comfortably and cut weight until she’s comfortable with her weight
Nutrition goals: eat better in general, snack on healthy foods, start a different way of lifetime eating
Other goals: 4 pull-ups and a continuous run of 400 meters or more
Ceci, a former co-worker, has been singing the praises of Crossfit 791 since she joined. Knowing that I was a gym enthusiast, she encouraged me to go and check it out. As soon as I stepped in the door, I knew why Ceci was hooked! The 8:30 AM class was gearing up and several people waved and smiled and welcomed me as they warmed up. Ceci gives the people, from the owners; Kim, Dawn and Lindsay, to her brother and sister-in-law (who originally convinced her to go), to the crew of gym-mates that she sweats with, credit for her enthusiasm and determination to continue. Even with all the different directions life pulls her as she balances family, school and work, she’s made a concerted effort to get to the gym three times a week.
Ceci admits that she never considered herself a fit person but has always been confident in her own skin. After high school, though, she gradually put on weight and got to the point where she just didn’t feel as confident with herself and how she looked. When her sister-in-law joined Crossfit and invited her, Ceci immediately felt welcomed and fit right in. Ceci knows the WODs will help her lose the weight she’s not fond of but she’s especially interested in building her strength and endurance, which has already improved dramatically. With a routine in place and a great gym and youth on her side, Ceci’s sure to see her body change this year.
Jamie & Morgan – work wives, gym-mates and The Gym LLC’s cheer squad:
Weight goals: Nothing specific but wants to be able to feel comfortable in a pair of shorts this summer
Nutrition goals: Eat better food in smaller portions
Other goals: get muscle mass up and more muscle definition
Morgan, a married mother of two elementary school-aged children, credits the start of her fitness journey to two primary things; a woman named Andrea Johnson and a change of perspective. “I was done feeling bad about myself. It was time to do something. I had watched Andrea and I knew what she used to look like. I knew if she could do it, I could do it too.” Morgan’s known Andrea, owner of The Gym LLC, for years and watched her metamorphosis from fat to fit. Tired of her negative body image and inspired by Andrea, Morgan joined The Gym last spring and feels more confident than she’s ever felt before and knows that with consistency over time even more changes will happen.
While we visited, Morgan re-iterated how Andrea’s encouragement and her best friend, Jamie’s parallel journey, help to keep her focused on her long-term goals even in the cold, dark winter months when motivation is low. She’s tired of people saying she has a pretty face as if the rest of her is unmentionable and looks forward to building a body she can be proud of this summer. One of Morgan’s biggest goals this year is to feel confident in a pair of shorts. It seems like a little thing, but neither she, nor Jamie can ever remember her wearing them. “I’m ready! This is my year!”
Weight goals: to get down to around 150 or to a weight that matches the image of she has in her mind
Nutrition goals: “Make more healthy choices than bad ones”
Other goals: 2 minute plank, get more toned overall
I met Jamie and Morgan at Agave Azul in Cashmere and all of us felt slightly awkward about meeting to talk about year-long health, fitness and nutrition goals while eating in a Mexican restaurant. But Jamie summed up all of our sentiments quite nicely, “I’m not going to stop eating or completely change how I eat. I make more healthier choices than bad ones, but if I come home and my fiance made me a delicious dinner… I’m eating it!” With that we all ordered our food, ate what we wanted while we chatted and left plenty of food behind when we were satisfied.
During the course of our meal and meet up Jamie confessed that she couldn’t ignore it when her best friend and co-worker decided to change her lifestyle. She knew she too had weight to lose and could make better, healthier choices about her activity level and food choices, so instead of resisting, she decided to get in on the fitness journey. About a month after Morgan started at The Gym Jamie joined and fell in love with Andrea and her training approach. “She’s a perfect combination of cheerleader and drill sargent! She knows what it’s like to do it the right way.” Jamie’s starting this year within in fifteen pounds of her “goal weight” but stressed that she’s not looking for a specific number so much as to get her physical body to match the image she has of it in her head. With her friend and fabulous trainer by her side, she’s sure to get to her goals.
Debbie & Riley – realize their goals with Actualize Sports & Fitness:
Weight goals: to get down to 150
Nutrition goals: nothing specific – simply to maintain current nutritional plan to eat with balance & moderation and better choices in mind
Other goals: to get more agile & build muscle and strength
Debbie came from a heavy family and never learned about fitness. With the pregnancies of her four daughter’s came pounds she couldn’t keep off. Debbie was a yo-yo dieter and knew how to work each fad diet ferociously. She was often “successful” but gained back weight when the diet ended. “There was no program to teach me how to maintain.” That’s where she hovered, “Not unhealthy but quite heavy,” for years. Then she and her husband bought the Express Employment Professionals business and she sat behind a desk every day. “That’s when the weight really added on.”
Debbie knew she needed to do something. She and a neighbor started walking but Debbie landed on her foot wrong and broke her ankle. “That was pivotal for me. I wondered if I was stronger or lighter, if I could have prevented it. I went on a journey. It was never about losing weight as much as being fit, strong and able to keep up with my grandkids. I am forever grateful for Blaine and his team Actualize Sports & Fitness and the support of my amazing husband and of course my amazing Lord. I marvel at where I am today. I feel great! Exercise and good food is now something I crave. I did not give up anything foodwise, just created balance. I feel healthier and much happier too. I [even] ran with my granddaughter at the beach this summer. Me! I ran, and it feels good! Here’s to continuing my journey!!”
Weight goals: to be up to 230 by September and reevaluate from there
Nutrition goals: To eat 5000 calories a day of healthy food, particularly veggies and lean protein
Other goals: position himself to be selected for collegiate football upon graduation
After switching his athletic focus in school from basketball, which the 6’ 3” freshman liked, to football where he found out he was a great tight end, Riley wanted to do everything he could to improve and get even better. “My goal is to play college football.” He knew Actualize Sports & Fitness and owner, Blaine, was the ticket. “I watched a couple guys at school get really good on the field and they said it was all Blaine, so me and my parents checked him out.” Blaine sat down with Riley and his parents and put together a plan to build Riley’s strength and speed and add on weight to better position him to achieve the goals he set for himself.
Already Riley has noticed significant changes in his agility and ability. He achieved his January bench press goal even before we met for the first time on January eleventh. He admits that even though the nutrition plan and eating nearly five thousand calories a day was a chore at first, he’s gotten used to it and is seeing the desired affects. His weight is increasing in a realistic manner and everything else is progressing nicely too. Riley has the world at his fingertips and with Actualize and Blaine by his side he’s sure he’ll build his body into its best possible version this year.