Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Surviving The Hot Summer

The fans are going WILD!!!!!

No, I'm not at a sporting event or a concert.  I'm not even in the vicinity of those right now.  I'm sitting in my home office, at my computer, in a house with no air conditioning.  The only thing saving me right now is the desk fan my husband got for me, so I don't become delirious while trying to write.  (although I might come up with some VERY interesting stories that way!)

Our air conditioner bit the dust at the end of last summer.  We had it checked, and found out that the unit the builder used in our house (which is only 10 years old) is no longer being made - nor can we get parts for it.  So...that means we have to buy a whole new unit.  We didn't have the money to do it then, but thought we would by the time this summer rolled around. 

Well, we still don't have the funds.  Car repairs and other emergencies came up, and our budget is extremely tight.  So we're fighting our way through this especially hot summer, thankful for each time there is a break for a day or two from the intense temperatures.  Anytime a breeze blows through a window, I say a prayer to God thanking Him for it.  And the fans really are going wild - the one at my desk, plus the three others that we move around depending what room we are in at any given time.  Most days they help...unless the temperatures climb into the 90's when it just feels like hot air blowing around.

You know what it's like when the heat gets to you, especially if you are still overweight.  And that's the case for me.  Although I'm down over 35 pounds, I still have quite a bit to lose.  So it's uncomfortable.  But I also realize it would have been a lot worse if I hadn't lost any of the weight yet!

The real trick is getting my workouts done without passing out.  When I go to spin class it's fine, because the studio has plenty of air and fans to keep us sane.  It's working out at home that becomes challenging.  I'm so grateful that our finished basement is much cooler than the rest of the house, because I can do DVD workouts there.  Sometimes I still exercise on the first floor, using my step and kettlebells with a fan going.  But if it's in the mid-90's or above, I don't exert myself like that.  It gets to be too much for my body.  Then I try to just go for a light walk if I can to at least keep moving.

The other key is to stay hydrated.  I'm drinking cold water like it's going out of style, but it's necessary in this heat - before, during, and after exercise.  I've also been known to open the freezer door and stand in front of it for a quick cooldown. (And possibly get a little jealous of my frozen foods right now...)

The weight is still coming off...a little slower than before, but that's OK.  I'm doing my best with what I have, still moving forward.  I'm not just giving up and sitting around all the time because it's so hot; I won't give up on my progress just because of the heat. 

I will continue with my fitness no matter what.  It's something I can be proud of, and will push me to get stronger in the long run.  Will keep working on that hot body - and I don't mean overheated!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Nyla Salsas Through Stress to a New Attitude

Boy, did Nyla ever have a rough year for her transformation. 

Luckily for her, she had Chris there to help...he gave her space when she needed it, pushed her as much as he could, and was there for her no matter what.  He even located her father, whom she had never met.

Chris himself even said that this was one of his toughest transformations, because it seemed to be taking Nyla such a long time to "get it".  She had so many mental and emotional blocks to break through that she still cheated with her food choices and didn't always work out to the best of her ability.  She let finanacial and other stress get to her on a regular basis.  Her fears and low self-confidence got her in trouble many times.  She even almost quit more than once.  But she finally decided that working through all of her issues was better than staying stuck where she was, and that staying in her comfort zone was getting her nowhere.

The biggest breakthough came when Chris got the information about Nyla's father.  Unfortunately he had committed suicide in 2010, but she was able to meet all of her aunts, uncles, and cousins - who all embraced her and told her how much her dad wished he'd had his act together so he could be there for his daughters.  This revelation made her feel less abandoned, because she realized he really loved her even though he wasn't present for her.  She also gained support from an entire set of relatives who were so happy to finally be in her life.

It does sometimes take some of us longer than others to "get it".  We are all unique individuals, so we are not all on the exact same timetable in our lives.  God has a plan for each of us, and He will get us there in His perfect timing.  And that timing may be different for me than you, or for you than your best friend, etc.  We all have issues and stresses in our lives that we have to deal with, and we will not all deal with them in the same way.  (And I can certainly say that from experience!)

Now, of course my favorite part of this episode was Nyla's salsa lesson with Tony Dovolani from Dancing With The Stars.  I couldn't help but smile throughout the whole thing for her. I know all about having a passion for dancing. (and, for me, writing about it!)  Nyla's come a long way from the girl who couldn't even open a dance DVD at home to work out...now she even teaches dance fitness classes!

Nyla still did an amazing job in a year's time...from 435 down to 278 is quite an accomplishment and she should be very proud.  And as she said - this is not just a year long journey, it's a LIFE JOURNEY.  There will be ups and downs, but as long as we always keep going and never give up we will get to where we are supposed to be.  Just keep moving forward!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Independence for Ashley

I couldn't help but root for Ashley.  She reminds me of myself when I got out of high school and was learning my way in the world...while working on getting fit at the same time.

One thing I never had to deal with were unsupportive parents when it came to better eating and working out.  They were always on my side, wanting me to be healthier and to overcome the junk and fast food habits we had all developed.  But Ashley had a dad who was never around because of his drug habit, and a mom who constantly put her down.  Her sisters seemed supportive at times, while at other moments they acted more like their mom.  I can tell you one thing...my very sweet mom, if she was still alive, would have wanted to reach through the TV tonight and smack some sense into Ashley's mom.  (I know I sure did!)  My mom was the kindest lady in the world - but she would never have stood for the names Ashley's mom called her and all of the swearing at her.  No wonder Ashley wanted to get her own place!

She did really well losing the weight, even though she fell short of her first two goals - by 12 pounds each time.  Like Chris said, she was working through the issues with her family members at the same time as she was taking this fitness journey, so she still made tremendous progress.  Thankfully a friend finally let Ashley move in with her and her roommates, so she could get out of her toxic home environment.

Chris was able to get Ashley to have a breakthrough in Hawaii, where she hiked up a volcano by herself with him waiting at the top.  (I admit, that would have freaked me out!)  Then once at the top, she had to zipline 700 feet down to the bottom.  (Once again- freakout time for me!!!)  But once she accomplished these tasks, she became a much more confident person.  So...there are times when doing something that freaks you out is GOOD for you!

Ashley had her final weigh-in in Vegas on her 21st birthday.  She went from 323 pounds to 167 - a loss of 156 pounds.  And she looked amazing!  She also is getting along better with her family, thanks to Chris and the friend who helped get her out of that house.  She is now happy and ready to take on life...which includes becoming a personal trainer.

Ashley proved the Serenity Prayer...she accepted the things she couldn't change (family), changed the things she could (herself), and gained the wisdom to know the difference.  I see a very bright future for her, includng helping many other people reach their own goals.  Go Ashley - pay it forward!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Biggest Loser Season 11's Austin Andrews Talks RetroFit, Faith - and More

It was my pleasure to talk this morning with Austin Andrews, who appeared on Season 11 of Biggest Loser with his father Ken and made the Top Five.  Austin and Ken, a pastor and ordained minister for many years, have begun RetroFit Ministries because they saw a great need within the church community.

"We looked at the statistics, and discovered some startling numbers," Austin says.  "We learned that out of all of the young adults that attend church services, they were 50 % more likely to become obese when they get older than those who don't go to church.  That's something that needs to change."

Austin believes part of the problem is the culture of the church community.  "There are always celebrations going on, and they all involve plenty of food.  Everybody constantly eats, and most people who bring special dishes to church functions don't choose healthy ones.  I still remember my grandmother bringing her famous potatoes covered with cheese and eating plenty of them.  There are good memories associated with that, but if I thought the point of it all was the food, then I really missed the point.  The memories should be about my grandma and the other people I spent time with at church in fellowship.  Food should never be the focus." 

RetroFit Ministries ties together the special bond between faith and fitness.  The name came about because of Ken's leap of faith in New Zealand, when he conquered a fear of heights by jumping off the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.  "In that moment," Austin says, "all of the anxiety lifted from his life, including his fear of being accepted and of being in awkward situations.  He trusted God with that jump...and realized that he could also trust Him with those other aspects of his life." 

Austin also worked through his own self worth issues, stemming from when he was 12 years old and was constantly judged by classmates, strangers...and even his pediatrician.  "My doctor asked me if I drank beer.  I looked at him like he was crazy.  I was only 12 and my dad was a pastor...of course I didn't drink beer!  But when I answered him that I didn't, he asked why, then, did I have a beer belly?  Maybe he thought he was helping to scare me into losing weight, but it turned out to be just the opposite.  I'm sure he had no idea what effect his words had on me.  From that moment on, I checked out of life.  I decided what people were saying about me was true - that I had no value as a person because of my weight."

The big faith moment on the ranch for Austin came when he was working out with his teammate Justin Pope, six weeks into the season.  "Justin could see in my eyes that I was losing my focus, and I had been doing that for a while.  He called me out right there, looking into my eyes and telling me 'Don't you DARE check out!'  Later on, I turned on my iPod for a workout and the first song that came on had the lyrics 'He is jealous for me'.  I started crying as I thought that if God is jealous for me, then there must be something worthwhile in me to cause Him to be jealous for me. That day everything snapped into place for me.  I realized that I'd not only been checking out of workouts, but out of other things in my life.  I thank God that Justin was there to help me check back into life."

Ken and Austin had brainstormed other names for their ministry, such as WhollyFit.  But one day RetroFit popped into their minds and it all made sense.  They were going retro - back to where things began to go wrong in their lives and rebuilding from that point with faith and perseverance, one block at a time.  And they want to help other people do the same.

Part of their ministry includes the first ever event scheduled at a Biggest Loser Resort with a focus on faith.  It all came about when Austin and Ken attended the Season 12 Finale, and Ken had a conversation with the CEO of the Biggest Loser Resorts.  Ken was so excited and passionate about what he wanted to do with his ministry, he got the CEO excited as well.  That's when the plan for RetroFit Week began to take shape.  "On the show, the producers try not to show too much about our faith journeys and focus on the emotional aspects, just because they have a wide audience with people of all types and want to appeal to all of them," Austin recalls.  "A lot of what we said that pertained to faith wound up on the cutting room floor for that reason.  So for the resorts to recognize that people of faith might be interested in a special event is a very big step for them."

The first RetroFit week, hosted by Ken and Austin, will take place at the newest Biggest Loser Resort in Niagara Falls from September 30 through October 7.  In addition to all of the regular resort activities of workouts, training, and nutrition lessons, there will be a focus on spiritual training and Biblical truth.  "We want to focus on the whole health of each person there - physical, emotional, and spiritual.  We may have devotion time during stretches, and hikes where we pray and meditate on Scripture as we go.  We want to teach everyone to live out their faith and walk with God daily, in all activities.  Taking care of the body He has given you will make you better equipped to live out His purpose for your life."

If the event goes well, there may be more of them coming.  Austin and his dad vow to take it one step at a time and let God lead the way through the first one - and He will let them know where to go from there.

Austin admits that he sometimes still struggles with food temptations, a bit different than the ones Alison Sweeney puts the contestants through on the show.  "My dad and I will always be recovering food addicts - it's just like any other addiction.  Food still tempts us at family events and other functions; it's always going to be there.  It will never be a simple process, but it's always worth it.  As long as we turn to God and strive to be better to serve Him, we will be OK."

If you would like to know more about RetroFit Ministries or the special week at Biggest Loser Resort Niagara, please go to Austin and Ken's RetroFit site where they also take prayer requests and keep you up to date on the latest news and events.

Here's to great success now and in the future for RetroFit...I thank Austin for sharing his story and pray that many lives will be changed!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Mike's Big Fat Greek Transformation

I really felt for Mike, especially at the beginning of this episode.  Poor guy was 28 and had never had a girlfriend, or even a date.  On top of that, his living environment certainly wasn't the best.  He lived on a street with pretty much his whole Greek family...reminding me of a certain favorite movie starring Nia Vardalos as Toula.

Now, it's not necessarily a bad thing to live by your family, but for Mike it was dangerous.  You see, he'd eat lunch at his house, then go to his mom's and eat another meal, to his aunt's for another meal, and...well, you get the idea.  He was eating so many meals throughout the day, it's no wonder he wound up at 493 pounds.

That's where Chris came in.  Not only did he get Mike to believe in himself, but he also got his family to promise to help...as well as pledge to lose weight themselves in solidarity with Mike.  It definitely wasn't easy for Mike to learn to give it his all, but he did get there.  I'm sure it helped when Chris enlisted the help of some wrestling divas to motivate him in a variety of ways.  And the dating coach/matchmaker Chris found to help Mike out really helped him gain confidence.

Mike started dating, and even though his girlfriend was quite overweight herself she was very supportive and proud of him.  (Quite the opposite of Tony's fiancee from a couple of weeks ago!)  He competed in and finished a triathlon and worked out with his family.  The real Mike came forward with each mile completed and pound lost.

By the end of the year's journey, Mike lost 255 pounds and weighed 238.  He and his girlfriend broke up but are still friends supporting each other.  Mike is speaking at corporate events and motivating other people to live their best lives.  He is also much more confident talking to women now - so watch out world!

And Mike's family?  They lost over 400 pounds as a group during his year of transformation.  Sounds like the whole family is much healthier and even closer than before.  Their journeys are only beginning.  Opa!!!