She was resigned to the weight gain and extra pounds. It was midlife with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. She almost gave up hope. Then Dina Goodman, more than a hundred pounds overweight, got tired of the excuses and tried one more time to drop the weight and this time it worked!
At the height of the pandemic Dina was working in health and human services, fielding call upon call from individuals in the throes of mental-health crisis because of pandemic grief or isolation. The stress from the secondary trauma had long since driven her back to food and drink and extra weight. Just before COVID hit she had actually found a “comfy” weight. Not as small as she wanted to be, but not so big that she couldn’t enjoy floating the river with Gus, her husband, or camping with her grandkids. “Comfy” was enough for a grandma with a husband who lavishly loved her no matter what the scale said.
The stress, the isolation, the pandemic, the failed attempts to medically mitigate her pain and thyroid issues all added pound upon pound until she was not only back to her weight before “comfy,” but beyond it. The pain was nearly unbearable. Forget camping with the grandkids, she couldn’t even get down to sit with them on the floor. There was no way she could float the river or leave Gus at the fire pit for a leisurely solo hike. She hurt too bad. Hope was almost gone, but something, likely a nudging from the Holy Spirit, compelled her to not give up just yet. She had another try in her.
She reached out to a friend who was sharing her weight loss journey on Facebook. The friend, Shannon, had joined a program designed by a critical care physician. It made sense to Dina and appealed to her. Shannon encouraged Dina to pray about it. Dina did pray, and on March first of 2021, she joined the program. The program focused on “whole health” and wellness. Though mild caloric restriction is part of initial phases of the plan, so are healthy food options, high protein, probiotics, vitamins and minerals. More than this, a large focus of the program is tackling mindsets that distort healthy food associations. Dina’s work in mental-health affirmed the program was going about things correctly.
After just three days on the program she was pain free and on the floor playing with her grandchildren! Gus pointed it out to her and she was amazed she hadn’t even noticed. The weight loss program mitigated her long-time pain; it was enough to keep her engaged. The high protein and “lean & green” meals knocked out her hunger and helped her identify when she looked too food for emotional support rather than nutritional value. It was fascinating and freeing to her. As a life long Christian she’d never thought of herself as an addict to anything, but through the program’s education, she realized her emotional relationship with food was, in fact, addictive in its nature. The pounds came off quickly and in less than nine months she was down nearly a hundred pounds. Her results aren’t typical for the program, but it makes sense to her, because of how dramatically, her mindset, not only her nutritional habits changed.
Sadly, the ravages of COVID took their toll on Dina and Gus. Both fell prey to the virus in November of 2021 and battled with COVID pneumonia. Gus, like so many, wasn’t able to overcome the virus’ hold. The man, loved and revered by many, went home to be with the LORD November 21st, 2021. Dina was left to grieve. She sees now how God was gently preparing her for Gus’ loss all those months before. A whisper of encouragement to carry on. A decision to embrace something new and change her mind and nutritional habits. With all of the preparation equipping her, she turned to Christ and to family and community support instead of food to cope with the grief and loss. A year into her health journey, Dina is just beginning her grief journey and life without Gus at her side. He always loved her, no matter what her weight was. He adored her for who she was, but she’s still grateful he was able to see her near her goal weight before he moved on to heaven.
Today, Dina is down 119 pounds. She found her healthy, “ideal” weight based off of her physician’s BMI charts. With the weight off and pain gone, she’s beginning to incorporate exercise and movement into her lifestyle. Short walks, bicycle rides, planks and resistance bands currently comprise most of her activities while she waits for hiking trails to open up. Dina’s current goal is to find her healthy, “ideal” caloric intake to match with her ideal activity level.
Dina is no longer “on plan” and foods other than just “lean & green” are allowed back in. For Dina her tastes have completely changed, what once was not enough cake, is now far too much and way too sweet. She allows herself small indulgences but notices what her body resists and what makes her feel ill or less than her best. She prefers the holistic approach to her food and cooking and is glad her family has embraced it as well. The family has always enjoyed cooking together, and they still do, but now the foods are better for them and the recipes they try are health and wellness minded.
Dina’s one more try was worth it. She found a healthy weight and nutritional lifestyle she can embrace and maintain. She enjoys coaching others into healthier life and mindsets now. She welcomes anyone who is curious about the program to reach out to her on Facebook. She trusts God to continue to prepare and equip her for all that’s in front of her and is grateful for all she has despite the loss of Gus.
** In the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan(Registered) is 12 pounds. Clients are in weight loss, on average, for 12 weeks. **
Wendy Jones was reluctant to change her health, fitness or nutritional lifestyle. Her mother, gone too soon at the age of 53, lost her life largely due to the use of Fen Phen. Wendy’s boyfriend, Tim, was of the mindset that if death is inevitable, it at least doesn’t have to come from starvation. With an aversion to dieting aids and a culture of eat-what-you-want surrounding her, Wendy took the blows to her health as they came and accepted the extra pounds as part of life.
Sure, she knew that just a little bit of walking, like she’d done for one short month in her thirties, was enjoyable and netted a noticeable weight loss; but the effort and the stress of changing her lifestyle wasn’t worth the pay off. She’d tried many of the fads, the shakes, the weight watching, the pressure to try this exercise or that fitness routine. It frustrated her and turned her off. She didn’t need someone telling her she was overweight, the mirror did that just fine. She didn’t need someone to push her to do an exercise her body raged against. She just needed … to move.
There was more to it than a move, but purchasing a home and moving last summer was the catalyst that got her health and fitness on track, on her terms, maybe for the first mindful time. It’s sticking too! On a keto diet often strict, but admittedly holiday dirty (or gracious depending on how she looks at it) Wendy has lost 45 pounds in about 6 months.
How did a move motivate the change? It started when her boyfriend, Tim, passed away. The reality that life was short and her weight and health were out of control overwhelmed her. She knew she ought to do something but not what. She was grieving and didn’t want to do anything. How did she stick with healthy changes when she never had before? The overwhelm of it all stopped most of the momentum before it ever got past her thoughts.
Wendy’s a teacher and COVID sent her home for far too long. Her fit bit told her she took fewer and fewer steps each day and her seat told her she was the dictionary definition of sedentary. Anything she lost all those years ago walking, were long since put back on, along with other pounds that added on over the years and COVID months. Her dizzy spells got worse with medications meant to treat the issues that were causing some of her weight retention. Headaches and lack of motivation made even going upstairs for a charger cord nearly impossible. But she had to move, and a lack of motivation to pack and haul food from an old pantry to a new pantry got her thinking about food.
She wanted to eat what was left in her house before moving to avoid packing it. One by one, the processed foods and packaged products came out and got used up. She noticed that nearly everything was somehow processed, refined or preserved. The fresh foods were gone soon enough and she was left to use what she had. It was enough to get her beyond thinking. She looked into keto. Less carbs meant more whole, fresh food. Whole, fresh food was fancy, like the cheesy eggs she now enjoys for breakfast instead of sugar cereals.
After the move, she made a mindful switch on the foods she purchased. She bought more fresh vegetables and foods and discovered that she actually enjoys prepping snack bags for the fridge. She has healthy treats ready to grab-and-go whenever she or one of her daughters wants to eat. She preps healthy, fresh snacks and her kind of salads (the kind light on lettuce and loaded with other yummy whole food additions) on Sundays, and often reloads again on Wednesdays. She’s noticing that the girls, who she didn’t want to deprive, ask for less junk with the availability of more healthy snacks at the ready.
Her weight loss wasn’t on purpose, in fact it was so slow she really didn’t notice until she saw an “old” picture from 2019. The change was dramatic! She didn’t think she was ever THAT big. She hadn’t felt that big. She wondered what she looked like now and took a full length selfie. The difference was evident, not just to her but her Facebook following too.
It’s been all intake and nutrition for Wendy, exercise was NOT in her plan. She hated to sweat, there was no motivation to move. She knew food was the way to go for her, but oddly enough, she remembered those walks from years ago along the ACC woods loop. She enjoyed them, and after the move, she started to walk again... down random streets in the old section of her beloved town. Unscripted, spontaneous zigs and zags along friendly streets to see what the town has to offer from day to day. Sometimes it’s for her easy to get up and invite her young daughter, Dalilah, out for a walk with her. Sometimes Dalilah invites her, but Wendy is exercising, on her terms. Her exercise looks like a friendly neighbor keeping tabs on her town. She’s changing her food intake, on her terms, getting comfortable cutting veggies and the quiet joy that comes from an unexpected pleasurable activity. She’s changing her health and fitness for the better, her way, one snack, one step at a time.
Weight loss goals aren’t necessarily a focus in her life, but she does think it might be nice for once to walk the full 5k the town hosts each October. She’s thought about it for years. Maybe this is the year she does it! Maybe this is the year the scale drops under 200! No matter what, she’s proud of her changes and intends to keep at it and see where a healthier mindset takes her!
Sam Baird I learned about Sam from my husband. As an avid fisherman, he, like thousands of others followed high-school cohort, Sam Baird, on social media. Sam’s Slammin Salmon Guide Service and “anti-pro blend” scent brand has given him much respect and credit in his fishing niche. I can’t say I ever took notice, more than to marvel at how many Kokanee his guide service consistently pulls out of Lake Chelan… and then it happened, Sam Baird turned my head.
It wasn’t his fishing, although he is a master at his sport, it was his weight loss journey that eventually piqued my interest. “Look at this guy!” my husband kept saying, “He’s losing so much weight. He looks great! Some Keto thing.” I looked at the pictures. Sam Baird was a shrinking man, shaking off excess weight at an astonishing rate. When he posted that he was nearly a hundred pounds down, I knew I had to meet him. We met at Starbucks, but Sam didn’t order. Keto is his secret to weight loss success and there is no room in the plan for the carbs Starbs pedals.
True to an expert guide, Sam made me feel comfortable from the start. Conversation came fast and easy and in no time, I too felt like I’d known Sam since high school. Sam graduated in 1997 as a strong athlete at 225 pounds and the world was at his finger-tips; but injury after injury and the curse of time got the best of him. Twenty years later he was an angry, sick, depressed and morbidly obese man, weighing in at 352 at his highest. Sam admits he knew he was in poor health and avoided doctors, but was eventually diagnosed with fatty liver disease and was on his way to an early grave. He felt defeated but continued to drink a case of Mountain Dew a day, put on his charming, albeit, fake smile and trudge through one miserable, painful day after another.
In the summer of 2018 Sam’s son came out of the closet and also cut sugar out of his diet. The transformation was swift and obvious and his son’s courageous journey motivated Sam to realize change is possible and there could be more to life than the misery he’d become accustomed to. Sam credits his sixteen year old son as that initial inspiration, but the Keto cult is what eventually got his fire burning.
Almost by accident, Sam stumbled across a movie called, “The Magic Pill.” Rage woke him up and fueled a desire to change his life. The Magic Pill, a pro-Keto documentary on the evils of the modern American, high-carb, low-fat diet turned him on to a new way of thinking about health and food. On January first of this year, Sam Baird, with the support and participation of his partner, joined the movement.
Food... Keto is all about food; high-fat, low carb foods to be precise. Sam eats a diet that is 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs and those are strictly from vegetables; no fruit, no sugar, and most difficult of all for the donut loving sportsman, no breads of any kind. Drinking changed too, water immediately replaced that case of soda and today Sam regularly drinks a gallon of fresh, clean water a day. The only other liquids allowed are his bulletproof coffee in the morning, a mixture of coffee, butter, cream, MCT oil and sugar free syrup, and the occasional, very occasional, drink of clear liquor.
Luckily Sam loves to cook and coming up with delicious Keto recipes is a fun challenge he gladly takes on. He often posts his beautifully plated, tasty meal concoctions on social media. Viewers palates are constantly piqued by his meat and veggie treats like: grilled asparagus with Parmesan, cauliflower rice, Keto-friendly BBQ beef burritos in cheese, folio wraps, marinated chicken breasts, pork rind and Parmesan breaded Kokanee fresh from Lake Chelan, to name just a few.
Elimination of many foods obviously affected Sam’s caloric intake, reducing it from an estimated 3500-4000 calories a day to just around 1000. Some challenge that Sam’s weight loss is more likely attributed to the mass caloric drop than Keto, but he respectfully disagrees. One of the principals behind Keto is that throughout human history we’ve been hunter/gatherers and didn’t consume large amounts of calories each day. A lower daily caloric intake is more like what the body is designed to manage. Sam says 1000 calories are plenty and the high fat diet leaves him satiated. He says he’s not even hungry through the day.
Today, only five months from the beginning of his journey, Sam is down 112 pounds. He feels stronger and more virile than he has since he was in his twenties. His sex drive is back where it used to be, and each inch he loses in his belly seems to grow his manhood the same amount he said with a playful smile and bob of his eyebrows. Then, he spoke in all seriousness and sincerity, he truly feels like he’s living life again; he’s energetic, he’s no longer mad all the time, he’s free from aches and pains he expected to deal with for the rest of his life and is learning to adjust to life in a thin man’s body. Keto is a lifestyle he has embraced and he won’t go back, no matter how great the food temptations get. He much prefers a healthy, thin life to the miserable fat life that used to be his. Sam likes that Keto doesn’t require a strict fitness regime but he still aspires to add in some strength training after getting to his goal weight of 200 pounds. Once achieved, he wants to build back to a muscle-heavy 225.
Sam’s encouragement to all is that if he can do it, anyone can. It’s OK to admit not being ready to make a change yet, it will happen when it’s supposed to. He assured me that even with the substitutions and challenges in finding Keto friendly foods all the time, it’s actually easier than people might expect. He guarantees that the trade-offs are worth the effort and a better life is just on the other side of making the change to live a healthier life.
As the year ends, I found an absolute treasure of a motivational story in Andrea Johnson. This cancer survivor’s passion for fitness, healthy living and realistic expectations inspired and encouraged me, and hopefully motivates you to press on with your New Year’s healthy lifestyle goals!
Grab a glass of cool, refreshing water and enjoy a round of inspiration… Andrea Johnson style!
Andrea’s health and fitness journey didn’t start with a New Year’s goal six years ago but rather with a long, painful, honest look at herself and her life after high school was over and complacency had set in. At twenty-one, the vivacious five feet ten inch tall, extroverted, self-proclaimed “life of the party” was legal to drink … and did she ever! Andrea admits she was a step away from being a full-blown alcoholic. She went out as often as she had a good reason to and admits to drinking daily.
The alcohol, coupled with a gluttonous lifestyle, contributed to rapid weight gain. Because of her size, she’d been a “chubby” kid but the competitive nature of high school sports and “easy” ways to get skinny kept her generally satisfied with her figure. After she graduated and lost the competitive drive to keep fit, and had no healthy lifestyle techniques to stay strong and lean, Andrea ate and drank, what she wanted, when she wanted, and slowly slipped into a silent depression she tried to hide behind her big smile and personality.
Then reality, like it often does, slapped her in the face. After spending hours in front of the mirror trying to look “good enough” to go out and still feeling fat and disgusting on the inside... the ‘life of the party’ isolated herself and stopped going out. She was three years into a dead end relationship that was eight months from the wedding day and decided to do one of the hardest things she’s ever done. She broke off the relationship and stopped drinking.
At this point in the interview, Andrea came to life. She didn’t downplay how difficult it was to be the woman that broke off an engagement, or how guilty she felt for things that were said in the heat of an emotional separation, or the shame she felt for having to move herself and large dog back home to live with her parents so she could make ends meet. No, Andrea was forthright and honest about the hard parts of making real change in life, but she also basked in the joy that comes from a body being awakened mentally, emotionally, spiritually and most dramatically for her, physically.
“Cardio was really all I ever knew,” she told me, “there’s something therapeutic about being able to move and sweat and purge bad feelings.” Giving up the alcohol and getting out and moving brought her weight down to about 210 pounds but the mental clarity that came with alcohol free living for five months after the break up helped her see that there was so much more to life than what she’d nearly resigned herself to.
Things were changing in all aspects of Andrea’s life, she and a friend, almost as an ego boost and time passer, joined Match.com where she met “the stalker” who eventually became her husband. After trying to brush him off and push him away, Justin, patiently and persistently kept after her and eventually they agreed to meet and the rest is history. Andrea credits much of her rapid success to being so incredibly supported and encouraged by Justin. “He went through an entire year of rediscovery with me and dealt with every mental break down and road block too. I made the choice to do this for myself, but there’s no way I would have been as successful without him.”
Fitness was becoming a habit. Andrea already had a membership at Gold’s Gym, and then started training privately with Dave Osborn, who ran a power lifting gym, Osborn Performance Systems (OPS), out of his parent’s garage. She gained interest in weight training and lifting and was amazed and what her body could do and how good it felt to be strong. Inspired by all the changes she saw in her strength and form, she decided to enter a lifting competition. Then, with Dave’s encouragement, and Justin’s support, at the end of 2013 she quit her job and became a certified personal trainer working with Dave in his facility.
Andrea knows she’s a good personal trainer and she loves what she gets to do everyday. She’s realistic; she doesn’t tell anyone what they want to hear, she tells them the truth and knows it often comes off harsh, but she does it because she cares. “Food never lets us down,” she said when explaining why men and women have to overcome not just the physical barriers but the mental barriers they face too. “The weight loss discovery process is a beautiful thing, but the work and effort won’t necessarily lead to a perfect beach body no matter how much you do. There is no ‘there,’” she said emphatically. And proudly admitted to having her own boob job a few months ago because, “you can’t “fix” some of the physical issues like extra, sagging skin, with effort alone.” (I might add this is where she encouraged me in my plans to get a tummy tuck, and brightened my day even more!)
Two years ago with Dave and Andrea’s clientele both growing the space was getting cramped and the two decided to separate so both could grow their own businesses. This is when Andrea purchased The Gym, located in North Wenatchee across from Walmart and Dave moved OPS to South Wenatchee. Andrea believes her honest, practical and empathetic approach along with her affordable prices are what keep her business thriving and successful. She knows first hand the struggles her clients face because she is her best success story.
Just because she’s found a way to make her passion and lifestyle her profession, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Andrea believes, that like it was with her, the ‘idea’ of being healthy is probably in all of us, it’s just the actions we need to take that hold us up. She is an advocate of picking your program, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter, but picking it and sticking with it until it’s finished. We live in a culture of quick fixes, but anyone on a health and fitness journey shouldn’t expect immediate results, but rather steady progression over time. She said the hardest part of healthy living is Glaze! At first, I thought she meant, she’s a fan of sweet stuff, but she quickly corrected me, “No, I mean Glaze Donuts! Their banana fritter with peanut butter drizzle and little chocolate chips, is so good!”
It’s not always easy but the achievements and accomplishments make it worth it. Andrea proudly chalked up her best moments; among them were her personal goal to lose 100 pounds, but at 155 she decided, she liked strong better than skinny and likes to hover around 160 now days. She also reached her 19% body fat goal, participated in a lifting competition, opened The Gym, and “kicked cancer’s ass!” Yes, she’s still being treated for the cancer, but she is confident there’s no way she’d feel as good as she does if she wasn’t taking care of her body. “Our bodies are incredible things! Stop making excuses that keep you from realizing that! Make realistic goals to avoid depression and put your body where it needs to be so that it can be the best for what you want it to do!”
If you’d like to get more information on Andrea, you can find her on Instagram at @anjohnsoncpt or email her at: email@example.com and if you’d like information on The Gym which offers affordable personal training at $18/hr you can find them on Facebook at The Gym LLC
Before we met in person, Courtney and I ran in similar fitness and nutrition circles on Facebook because, well, we’re both fitchicks living in Chelan county. She is beautiful and blonde and posts happy, inspiring and fitness based statuses that often encourage me. Courtney is also a lovely local Beach Body coach and personal trainer and all of that was fine and good, but when she posted her ‘before & after’ pictures, she became a real-life person of interest to me.
The pictures were stunning, on the left a smiley, bubbly chubby lady stood with hand on hip teasing the camera. On the right, a blonde force to be reckoned with; arms flexed, muscles popping, and still that same smiley, bubbly woman staring at me. Courtney Postelwait graciously accepted my invitation to interview and learn how she’s lost nearly one hundred pounds over the course of the last several years.
This is Courtney’s story:
“Before I started my journey of health and fitness I was a very insecure person, I used my extrovertedness to hide my insecurities. My dad passed away in 2010, about nine months after I got married. I had already gained the ‘get married, gain 20lbs’ weight and then got depressed through grief and anger and ended up gaining 35 to 40 more. Before I knew it, my size 20 pants were really tight. That shocked me back into reality and I started going to fitness classes at the gym the next week.
I started going to classes, I lost some weight and eventually that lead to being a personal trainer; but that only covered the fitness side of things, I was still struggling to get my body to really change. I decided to delve into online nutrition coaching and learn how to fuel my body and still enjoy all the things I like. I got off of the roller coaster diet cycle. I focused on doing it the right way. I lose a little bit and then maintain, making sure I also keep my weights/resistance heavy enough through my workouts. I try to exercise daily; three days a week, classes; two or three days a week, digital workouts; one or two days a week, exploration exercise, like hiking. When it comes to food choices, I don't say no to most anything unless I just don't like it. I mostly eat portion based and use a daily protein superfood vitamin mineral blend because it is difficult to give your body all of the nutrients that it needs; even when we are eating perfectly.
It wasn't until I really focused on the types of foods I was putting in my body and making sure I was giving my body everything that I needed that it really started to change. A typical day looks something like this for me:
For breakfast: my shake (strawberry or vanilla) with kale, fruit and water all blended up and a cup of coffee.
Snack: a piece of whole-grain toast with an egg and turkey bacon.
Lunch: grilled chicken with carrots onions peppers all mixed.
Snack: fruit choice with cheese crumbles; lately it has been plums or pluots.
Dinner: turkey tacos with homemade taco seasoning, corn tortillas, hot sauce, lettuce, onion tomato.
A couple times a week I'll have wine and a little dessert like a banana with peanut butter and chocolate chips, just depends on my mood, how hungry I am, how active I was that day, etc. I just really strive for balance.”
Courtney’s physical goal is to hit 140 pounds, which is a full one hundred pounds less than where she was when she started her new healthy lifestyle. She’s about twelve pounds away and wears around a size eight now… but she’s more concerned with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and trajectory than hitting a number on the scale fast. In fact, she says, “Personal development has really, truly helped me change! I think my biggest accomplishment, and the one I am also most proud of, is how I have changed myself inside. I'm so much more secure … I totally love myself and think that I'm freaking awesome! I would say it might also be the most difficult part of maintaining a balanced lifestyle. I have to remember to keep doing it even when I'm like, “Yeah I'm a rockstar!” Because if I skip for a few days, thoughts of doubt and insecurities start to is creep in. Writing daily affirmations or mantras really helps me stay on top of it. I write daily affirmations or mantras and I have one book that is specifically just for them that I fill out every day. I listen to or read personal development books.
I try to inspire others to be their best selves, which is different for everyone.” I know her story sure inspired me, hope it gave you some encouragement too! You can follow Courtney at: @pnwcoachcoco (Instagram) or Courtney Kraus Postelwait (Facebook)
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