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)
My Facebook question was simple, poignant, and nationally collective; “Where were you?” The day was 9/11, and Ed Henley’s answer was just as simple and poignant. “Benton County Detox.”
Until then, this guy was just Ed… who really liked to run… a lot. I met him on a hike up Mt. Cashmere in 2015. He was pleasant to listen to and a wealth of knowledge, and shoes and running were his forte. At that time, he was training for his first marathon and shared his training plan, nutrition and philosophies with the rest of us seemingly without struggling for breath while we trudged up, up, up the mountain.
After that hike we friended each other on Facebook and waved while we passed each other on Run Wenatchee Thursdays. I’m not saying I became a groupie or anything like that, but it is fun to watch Ed’s fitness, mile progression and racing accomplishments unfold on social media before me. Ok, maybe I am a little bit of a groupie…
Anyway, his answer to the Facebook question piqued my interest. I wanted to know his story. He accepted my request for an interview and we sat down at South in Pybus Market while his beautiful fiancé, Megan, and my friend Heather, waited graciously for us. His story is nothing less than inspirational. I already respected him because of his passion for health, fitness and running, but it skyrocketed when I realized all he’s overcome in life as well.
Ed was a troubled, bipolar meth addict and in September of 2001 he found himself in a dismal state. The best definition of an addict I’ve ever heard is: “When you can quit you don’t want to, and when you want to, you can’t.” That’s where Ed was. He finally wanted to quit, but was incapable of resisting, so he set his mind on completely ruining his life. He determined to go full bore down the path of meth abuse and let anything that mattered go. Then, miraculously things changed on an unusually still, silent morning.
He readily gave credit for his turn around to Divine intervention, but prefaced that part of the interview with a cautious look my way and the warning that what he was about to say was going to sound a little weird. Being the God fearing woman I am, I got a little excited and encouraged him to continue. He said he remembers the moment with acute clarity to this day. He had an old, green cordless phone in his hand, ready to call someone he couldn’t get a hold of. He felt a distinct presence behind him but there was nothing there, and he knew it. Nothing there but a box of forgotten books, one of which was an old King James version of the Bible, remnants left from a stint in jail. It was the Word of God itself that Ed felt behind him. Unable to resist, he picked up the Bible and it flopped open to Psalm 25 and he knew it was his chance to get clean.
On September 9th 2001 Ed practically begged his girlfriend at the time to take him to none other than, Benton County Detox. He’d heard it was a great place to get clean and told her to get there fast because an addict like him would change his mind if too much time lapsed. She did, and when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, Pentagon and Shanksville field, Ed was watching in shock with fellow patients and the doctors and medical staff at the detox center.
From there life changed but not necessarily for the better at first. For the most part Ed was able to stay clean but his bipolar symptoms reared their ugly head and left his life in shambles from the consequences. His marriage was ruined and ultimately dissolved, his son was collateral damage, his life was in limbo.
And then he started running.
At first it was all about revenge. He had a girlfriend who ran and when she broke up with him, Ed decided to run too and become the best and fastest and win all the local races and show her just who she’d passed up. It took a while and plenty of research, reading and trial and error but, eventually, Ed became a regular at local trail runs and races, but the ex-girlfriend was nowhere to be found. It didn’t matter, by then Ed was hooked and was running for himself.
Ed enjoyed all aspects of running immensely; from the research to the training, to the shoe fitting and connecting with other long distance runners like his good buddy, Chad. Running became a passion and in the wake of his new lifestyle Ed found a surprising fringe benefit; the excessive running curbed many of his bipolar symptoms. He explained the science and theory behind it to me; the jist of it is that the tremendous amount running causes his body to produce and release chemicals in such a way that it actually inhibits the undesirable symptoms of bipolar without the nasty side-effects experienced with medications.
And so because of his passion for it and the health benefits of it, running is Ed’s lifestyle and he doesn’t see himself slowing his pace anytime soon. In fact, just two weekends ago Ed finished his race of the Cuyamaca 100K, a grueling 63.2 mile ultra run through the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and includes a summit of the park’s highest peak, which stands at 6500’.
As impressive as a 100K sounds, Ed’s shooting for an even loftier goal of one hundred miles, and yet, he didn’t get from revenge to one hundred miles in his sights over night. He started small with a simple training schedule called the C to 5K. This training plan is designed to get a non-runner from the Couch to a 5K (3.1 miles) run over a span of weeks. From there, Ed gorged on Ted Talks and running books, a few favorites were, “Running Your First Ultra” by Krissy Moehl, and “Once a Runner” by John L. Parker. He started following more intensive training plans, researching on the internet and following local and world-renowned ultra runners. He ran a few 5Ks before moving up to half marathons, which were a killer for him. And then in the fall of 2015 he made his first marathon debut. He couldn’t remember his time when we were talking but remembered that he finished the Oktoberfest marathon of 2015 in terrible shape, but his desire for the next bigger and better race got a hold of him. Despite constant runner’s pain like plantar fascitis and minor knee injuries he completed two more marathons in 2016 before jumping into ultras. This year, he’s completed not only the Cuyamaca 100K but also the Gorge Waterfalls 100K last April. He’s aiming at qualifying and winning his spot into the Western States 100, a one hundred mile ultra-run with a lottery-style entry system.
In the mean time, Ed trains faithfully. He favors early morning runs but can also be found on the Apple Capital Loop trail on Thursdays running with fellow Run Wenatchee trail-mates and ultra runners. Recently Ed’s worked yoga into his routine and is a regular at Beyoutiful Yoga’s hot yoga sessions and enjoys the benefits the practice adds to his physical and mental health. Ed sees many more races and goals in his future, it seems the only thing he doesn’t see is an end to his running lifestyle. It will be fun to follow his progression and cheer him on as he grows as an ultra runner and reaches for ever more lifetime health and fitness goals. You can follow him too on Instagram at: edhenleyii
Nine years ago I made a promise to a dying man. Maybe he didn’t hear me, and maybe he didn’t ask me to but I promised my Gramps I would take care of myself as best as I could so I could be around for my family as long as possible.