Monday, January 01, 2007

Tim's Story

The Total Body Turnaround is the only workout program in which I have participated where I have actually succeeded in achieving my initial goal. At the beginning of the program, Adam had us write down one goal, and suggested that “losing weight” was not necessarily the best goal given the nature of the program. Although I did want to lose weight and inches, I decided that my main goal would be just to get used to exercising on a regular basis and to make exercise an integral part of my life. Adam’s program called for working out six days per week, and I decided that I would consider myself successful if I worked out at least five days per week. As it turned out, there were only a few weeks where I exercised only five days per week, and on several others I was enjoying exercising so much that I actually worked out every day, so I feel that I achieved my goal of exercising consistently.

As for my background, I am 45 years old and, over the years, what I considered to be an acceptable weight had climbed slowly but steadily higher. One or two pounds per year, over the course of 20 years, added up to my being at least 30 pounds over what would be a more healthy and “ideal” weight. My waist size had crept up from 36 to 38 to (gulp!) one with a “4” in front of it this year, and my suit size increased correspondingly. During my adult life I have belonged almost continuously to one gym or another, but have been very inconsistent about actually using them. I have worked with a few trainers in the past, and did have some improvements in strength and general health, but overall my workout schedule was sporadic at best and I never stuck with a regular exercise program for very long.

My job for the past seven or so years was extremely hectic and stressful, and led to many bad habits. In scurrying about downtown Seattle I would often be so busy during the day that I wouldn’t be able to eat any form of lunch until mid-afternoon, and this was after a breakfast probably 7 or more hours earlier. At that point I was usually so hungry that anything looked good, and it was all too easy to stop by the nearest Starbucks and grab a cookie, brownie, scone or whatever else was there. Even when I did eat lunch at a more normal time, I would almost always have at least one, and sometimes more than one, fatty, sugary dessert during the day. These bad eating habits were coupled with a lack of dedication to any form of regular exercise. I counted it a good week if I made it to the gym 2 out of 7 days.

I left that job at the end of August, and started a new (and less stressful) job in Fremont. I am only a 5 minute walk from Sound Mind and Body, and stopped by in early September to check it out. I liked what I saw, and coincidentally I saw the advertisement for the TBT program, which was starting in less than two weeks. Adam happened to be at the gym the day that I visited, so I met with him briefly and then we exchanged e-mails about the program. I decided to join the gym, and also decided that TBT was the kick in the pants that I needed to jump-start my return to regular exercise and to get me back on the road to a healthy lifestyle, so I signed up.

It was quite an adjustment going from 1-2 days (at best) of exercise per week to six. The program was challenging physically, and after the first few weeks of excitement I found myself being very fatigued during the day. I talked with Adam about this, and he provided good suggestions, including backing off a bit and taking an extra rest day if necessary. During the three months of the program I found that I had good weeks and weeks where I wasn’t quite as motivated, but Adam told me this was normal.

In addition to the exercise component, the program incorporated a much healthier six-meals-per-day way of eating. That too was an adjustment for me, and was perhaps an even bigger challenge than the exercising. I was so used to eating sugary treats during the day that for a while I had to fight off cravings for cookies or other goodies. But I was committed to sticking with the program, and Adam incorporated one “guilt free day” into the program every week, so I knew that I could have a treat if I waited until the weekend. Fortunately, my wife was very supportive and decided to adopt the new eating program along with me. Eventually, I found that I stopped craving those desserts, although if I go out for dinner and a dessert looks particularly good, I now will share it with my wife and still enjoy it.

After 12 weeks, I had lost just under 8 pounds, just under 2% body fat (I started out at over 29%, which kind of shocked me), 2 inches off my waist and 2 ¾ inches off my stomach. I increased my flexibility and my strength (I started out not being able to do a single unassisted pull-up to doing 1 ½, and doubled the number of pull-ups I could do at half my body weight). I want to lose more weight, but I know that it will come off eventually. Over the course of the program the number on the scale steadily, although slowly, went down. The extra pounds I was (and still am) carrying were added over a lot of years, and I knew they wouldn’t come off in 3 months. I realize it may take another year or more (and hundreds of hours of exercise, along with proper eating) to lose the remaining extra pounds and inches.

Although I am not where I ultimately want to be, I am very happy with the start I have made, and am committed to continuing the healthy habits I have developed. The results may not seem dramatic on the outside, but the change in my attitude and commitment is huge. A married couple with whom I am friends (one of whom is my boss) were so impressed with my new-found dedication to working out that they have hired Adam to work with them at their home. I have talked with Adam about continuing on with a similar workout plan in the new year, and am excited about the results I expect to see next year at this time. I realize that this isn’t a 12-week, or 12-month commitment – it is a lifetime commitment, which is particularly important as I approach my half-century mark. Thanks to Adam and the people at SMB Gym for starting me on the path to a longer and healthier life.