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Wednesday
Sep192012

Weight Loss All-Stars: Preston Thomas

Next in the line of inspiring stories coming out of CrossFit Dilworth - Preston Thomas outlines his story  that is typical of so many Americans, except for the fact he decided to do something about it.

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1 - What was your weight at your heaviest?


205lbs. I am only 5’9.5


2 - Describe yourself back then.


It was the end of my junior year of college when I started to put on weight and it just ballooned through senior year and right up until I graduated law school. I had terrible eating habits. I ate massive amounts of calorie-laden food.

My favorite was Japanese drowned in shrimp sauce with at least 4-5 glasses of sweet tea. That occurred on a regular basis.

I exercised sporadically and never did any cardio. In law school, I went to class, studied, and ate. No real activity ever during those 2.5 years.

 

 


3 - Where did you start when you first decided to lose weight?


It was right after I finished law school. No job, studying for the bar. At first, the only thing I did was cut my portions in half. I ate all the same foods I was eating before, just half…sometimes a little less. My health obsessed/mildly crazy girlfriend (now my wife) educated me on calories and portion sizes. Apparently I was eating enough for 3 grown men at each meal.

 

 

4 - What were the 1-2 biggest keys in transforming yourself from then to now?


1. Diet – I lost 35 pounds in about 3 months just by changing diet. This was before I started a regular exercise program. I wasn’t “fat” any more and was getting a ton of compliments but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be.


2. Exercise – When I first started a consistent exercise program, it was your basic cardio and strength routine. 30-60 minutes of cardio and 3-4 days of strength training.

 

  

 


5 - Approximately how long did it take for the weight to come off?


It took about 6-9 months to reach 155, my goal weight. That is what I weighed my senior year of high school.

 

 

6 - What is your current weight?


145 pounds

 

 

7 - What role did CrossFit play in helping you reach your current weight?

 

CrossFit didn’t necessarily help with weight loss, it helped with changing my body composition. I was  strong and in shape and looked fine, but CrossFit plus switching to a majority Paleo diet really decreased my body fat percentage.

Within 2 months of starting CrossFit, I had more changes in my body than 8 months doing my old routine.

 

 


8 - Any advice for people out there that think transforming their body is next to impossible?


Once you put your mind to it, it can be easy. Stay prayed up on it and commit yourself mentally to diet and exercise. It really is 100% mental. It isn’t immediate and it takes work. Know that and keep with it.
A strong support system is also really key.

Having supporting family and friends played a large role in my weight loss journey, plus the coaches and people at CrossFit Dilworth who make you WANT to be in the gym, getting better each day.

 

Tuesday
Sep182012

Weight Loss All-Stars: Erika Brummel

The next body transformation I'm happy to highlight comes from one of the members of my athletic conditioning classes who has an amazing story to share. I won't ruin any of the details ahead of time, but her hard work and self-motivation is one of the most inspiring stories I've seen in a long time.

Thanks to Erika Brummel, who shares her amazing story here:

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1 - What was your weight at your heaviest?

The heaviest I have ever been was 280 pounds.

 

2 - Describe yourself back then.

 

During my heaviest time I was around 21 years old. I was attending Queens University and playing on the softball team. At this point in my life I was enjoying the college life and food to the fullest. I did exercise almost 5 times a week and had strenuous conditioning workouts 3 times a week.  I always did stay very active but my energy levels were extremely low. I could complete workouts but it wasn't easy and it looked like I was always close to passing out.

 

My eating habits were horrible! Cafeteria food was my enemy because it was buffet style. I would eat everything. Also, I would eat fast food like you wouldn't believe because it was easy and convenient. I can remember getting a 20 piece nugget meal at McDonald's and adding a double cheeseburger to that. (Yes, I ate the whole thing.) So it didn't matter how much I worked out because my diet was terrible.

 

 

 3 - When you first decided you wanted to make a change, where did you start?

 

During my life I have made many efforts to try and change my eating habits and lifestyle. In high school I went to a nutritionist and lost around 35 pounds, but couldn't keep up and gained it all back. After college I did the P90x program twice and lost around 70 pounds. But once again I stopped and gained all the weight back. So now about 4 years later I hit a point where I decided enough was enough and I couldn't continue down this road again.

 

I decided that it was time to join the YMCA and change my life. I started first working out with a close friend who is a personal trainer and he showed me everything I needed to know about exercise. He motivated me to keep pushing even when I would doubt myself. He never let me quit and I think he believed more in me then I sometimes believed in myself. I also had my roommate Maggie who would join me in the gym and push me to go even when I didn't want to. She would take all the classes with me so working out would be fun. We struggled the first month pretty badly. We could barely do the athletic conditioning classes but we always stuck to it and never gave up. Having that support system from my trainer and roommate made working out easier and fun. Now exercising has become a daily routine for me. It just comes natural and I constantly think about wanting to workout.

 

 

4 - What were the 1-2 biggest keys in transforming yourself from then to now?

 

Everyone now asks me "what's your secret?" Honestly there is no secret. The secret is changing your eating habits and getting exercise. That's it, plain and simple! I eat a lot of lean meats, veggies, and fruits. I don't starve myself and once in a great while I'll have a cheat meal but I don't go overboard with it. The biggest change I’ve noticed is my energy and confidence levels. I'm no longer tired all the time which is very nice.

 

Also, once I got in the habit of eating healthy I no longer crave fatty foods. I pass by fast food places and have no desire to eat there anymore. With my energy levels being up, I usually workout anywhere from 5 to 7 days a week. I will do athletic conditioning classes about 3 days a week, and on the other days I'll do 30 minutes of cardio and then lift weights.

 

 5 - Approximately how long did it take for the weight to come off?

 

It took me about 7 and a half months to lose the weight. I am still trying to shed some more pounds and really focus on toning up. I never really had a set goal weight I just knew I wanted to be healthier and to keep going.

 

 

6 - How much weight have you lost? 

 

As of today I have lost a little over 75 pounds.

When I started going to the YMCA I was around 262 pounds. I am currently down to 184 pounds.

 

I have finally hit the mark for being considered normal and healthy for my age and height. This is actually the first time in my life where I have fit into that category. Throughout my entire life I have always been considered obese. So that for me was quite an exciting moment and accomplishment.

  

 7 - Any advice for other women out there that think transforming their body is next to impossible?

 

You know, I was always that girl who would look at the skinny and toned girls and say that it’s just not possible for me to get there. It will take way too long and I can never look like that. I would always doubt myself and I had it instilled in my mind I could never be that thin, toned girl. I constantly kept telling myself it wasn't possible so that's what I started to believe. I've been extremely overweight my entire life so it's really all I knew. I felt that being obese was how I was made to be and that I could never be anything else. Recently I decided enough was enough and I was going to change, but I was 100% ready and willing to make that change.

 

It wasn't easy and there were times I wanted to quit, but having the support from my friends helped me through any obstacle I ever faced. My advice to anyone out there who thinks it can't be done - it can!  I'm living proof of that.

 

If I can go from being extremely obese my entire life and make that change, anyone can. You just have to put your mind to it and never give up. You have to believe in yourself and give yourself courage to keep fighting. I'm not saying it's going to be easy, because it will be difficult at times but the end result is well worth it.  I promise you that!

 

Sunday
Jun102012

Fitness Spotlight - Dana Sorensen

Recently I traveled out to San Diego for business, and had the chance to catch up with a grad school friend -  Dana Sorensen. 

Dana always was a workout fanatic (I can call her this because it's something we have in-common) and it was great to see what she's been up to.  We hadn't caught up in-person in six years, but I caught some recent photos of her on Facebook and was blown away.

Dana was always an extremely fit person - but she has recently put her workouts in overdrive and looks fantastic.  For the rest of us who have miles to go to improve our bodies, I asked Dana to take a minute and help spell out some of the tactics that have helped her get into such amazing shape.

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What’s your athletic background?

   I am a former softball player. I pitched at the Division I level for Stanford University.

I was lucky enough to have a successful college career which enabled me to compete for the women's national team. Following college I spent the next 6 years playing professional softball.

 
 

What is your coaching background?

I spent 5 years coaching Division I softball at UC-Davis and Oregon State. I was a volunteer for UNC while attending grad school there. Now I currently coach younger kids as a personal fastpitch pitching coach.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

I start my weekdays with my morning workout, which goes from about 9 - 11:30. we do a variety of exercises from TRX, kettlebells, pull ups, push ups, box jumps, battling ropes, prowler and much more. after my workout I usually have a couple hours off before I go to work. I teach kids from about 4 -8   every afternoon / evening. Sometimes if I am feeling up to it I will hit up the gym again before work for a quick bike or treadmill sprint workout. I have about 50 clients so my work schedule keeps me busy and on my feet a lot! 

 Credit: Talitha Noel Photography
 

What is your diet like most days?

I wake up and take my multi vitamin pills, followed by a protein shake with almond milk and usually a rice cake with almond butter. After breakfast I take my amino acid pills, with my Spark energy drink from Advocare. Post workout I have another protein shake. Lunch is usually eggs, cottage cheese, fruit and some almonds and sesame seeds. During work I take down a 3rd protein shake, or protein snack bar. Dinner is typically fish, veggies or a broth based soup of some sort, and of course after dinner is my chocolate treat of dark chocolate!

 

Credit: Talitha Noel PhotographyWhat are the significant changes you made in your diet that have given you such great results?

I think its the combination of less carbs later in the day, lots and lots of water, increase in protein, and supplements that have all combined to help me lose about 7% body fat over 2 months. 

 

Any workout or health supplements that have been a great benefit as well?


I use Advocare products and I think they have really helped me shed those last stubborn pounds and helped me put on a significant amount of muscle.  I have also become really addicted to HIIT training, especially anything involving Burpees or a Tabata of any kind. I love the TRX suspension straps for my ab work, never thought I would have defined abs.

 

 

Do you ever count your calories or monitor carbs?


I don't count my calories, but I do avoid high calorie items. my diet is protein heavy and nutrient heavy so I don't worry to much about calories. I have been a fairly healthy eater for years, now I just do a better job of limiting my cards and keeping my protein intake up to the level that my lean body mass needs. I am a Pescovatarian so red meat and poultry are off the table for me. that helps keep my calorie consumption lower.

 


What’s the one cheat/reward food you can’t live without?Credit: Talitha Noel Photography

 Sweets! Chocolate hands down! Me and my whole family are "chocoholics", and I refuse to let go of  enjoying that, ha ha.


 

Any role models or heroes in the fitness industry?

Jillian Michaels has been a big one for me, her intensity and commitment to being healthy and strong has really inspired me.  Other than her I guess I am lucky enough to have some friends that I look up to and aspire to be as disciplined as.

 

What’s your favorite exercise/activity?  What’s your least favorite?

I love but also equally hate Burpees, I think they are the single greatest exercise you can do. I have become obsessed with push ups and pull ups, I think moving your body weight is so crucial in training.  I don' t think I could live without my TRX or kettlebells. They both give you so many different training options.

 

Credit: Talitha Noel PhotographyWhat's your favorite workout apparel brand?

Hands down I am a Nike girl! I have played for and coached teams sponsored by Nike so I have plenty of Nike clothes and really like their dri-FIT line.

I wear Lunar Glides for training, but do use New Balance Minimus for kettlebell work.

 
 

 

 

 

If you could send a message to women out there about eating right, being afraid of weight training, taking more classes etc. what would it be?

My advice is to let go of the insecurities and get in there with the boys and throw some weight around. resistance training combined with HIIT is the way to go, the less attached you are to the machine the more fun you will have working out.

I think the class setting is a great way to get in good workout, I love to socialize like most women so its the best of both worlds.

As for eating healthy, I can say I spent too many years counting calories and it was way to stressful. learn about the nutrients in food and how it fuels you and let go of the numbers. 

Sunday
Apr012012

Interview with @FitnessChamp

 

I’m obviously no celebrity athlete or fitness model, but I do get lots of questions around my own eating habits, workout patterns, and which fitness sources have taught me the most. 

This is the only time that I’ll ever “self-interview”, so here you go…

What’s your athletic background?

I was a basketball player growing up, and that’s my first love.  GOD had other plans for my body type and picked up football my freshman year of high school.  I went on to play running back in college, and also ran track for three years, competing in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

 

What are you currently training for?

I ran two half-marathons within a month between October and November 2011, but am done with endurance events for the time being.  I trained hard but realized that endurance sports are just not what I am cut out for, both physically and psychologically. Several friends are avid CrossFitters and have been giving me the hard sales job to get me involved. The competitive-but-positive plus testosterone-fuled vibe keeps drawing me in little by little.

 

What does an average week’s workout look like?

I don’t get as much time as I’d like to dedicate toward my own workouts, but I do what I can with the time I have.  I try to go for intensity over duration, so I’m usually hitting some form of HIIT intervals or  tabatas on the bike or rowing machine for cardio.  I’m a big fan of Olympic-style lifts, so each week I try to hit some hang cleans, power cleans, push press, and dead lifts.  I’ll mix in some pull ups, heavy rope  work, and box jumps if available.  

As I mentioned,  I have several friends who are CrossFit addicts and have been giving me the hard sales pitch to join them soon, so this workout approach will keep me in close enough shape to hang with the group (hopefully anyways).  Once or twice each week I also add in some typical standard bodybuilding work, as well as some sprint work (100s, 200s, 400’s, court gassers) to maintain my capacity in that area as well.

 

Describe your fitness classes.

The best way to describe my classes would be 45-55 minutes of multi-faceted intervals and running drills, very similar to what you might see on infomercials for “Insanity” and “P90X”.  I try to model the workouts for a demographic that used to play sports in high school or college, and desire that style of training as adults compared to simply running on the treadmill, lifting weights alone, or logging repetitive sessions on the elliptical. I also try to make sure the playlist is continually up-to-date because if the women in class don’t like the music, they will turn on you quickly.

 

What does an average day’s eating look like?

It’s not inaccurate to say that I’ve tried almost every nutritional philosophy out there.  Currently (and perhaps for the foreseeable future) I’m sticking fairly close to a Paleo eating style.  Like I said, I work out in the mornings, so it’s either an empty stomach workout, or possibly a scoop of whey protein in water before heading out the door.  I used to down a banana, Gatorade Prime, and/or a gel before hitting the gym but while this was great for my performance, this was surely killing any fat loss goals I was after (due to the over-reliance on Simple Sugars).

Post-workout is usually another scoop of whey in water, then 3-4 scrambled eggs with some spinach, and a couple slices of lean turkey tossed in.  I’ll usually eat that with half a sweet potato (3-4oz).  Mid-morning snack is a protein shake with almonds or sunflower seeds,  then lunch is usually a few turkey meatballs with some green source like asparagus.  Depending on whether or not I have class in the evening, I may eat the second half of the sweet potato here.

Late afternoon might be some turkey jerky and sunflower seeds, with perhaps a tablespoon or two of almond or peanut butter.  If I’m teaching a class in the evening I’ll either repeat lunch, or go with a tuna pack and an apple. 

Dinner lately has been white fish (tilapia, cod) with steamed shredded cabbage (seasoned with oil & vinegar, lemon pepper seasoning, and mustard). “Dessert” is a blended smoothie with carrot juice, acai juice, whey protein, blackberries, almond butter, half an avocado, and 2-3 handfuls of spinach.  Sometimes I'll swap out the avocado for coconut milk as an alternative healthy fat source.

 

Must-have vitamins and supplements?

Standard: multi-vitamin, fish oil, vitamin B, vitamin D. 

Nice to have: vitamin A, BCAA (Scivation Xtend), chia seeds

 

What’s your favorite cheat food?

There is a local smoothie shop across the street from where I live, they make a Green Tea Smoothie with non-fat frozen yogurt that is my biggest guilty pleasure. I used to go 5-6 days a week, but chopped that down to once a week on Saturdays in an effort to tighten up my diet for fat loss goals.

If I am REALLY, legitimately cheating, I love French fries, pizza, and burritos. The funny thing however, is that once your diet really gets in-tune, these foods stop being as fun once you see them as set-backs from ultimately having the body you want.  You can eat almost anything once or twice a week, but the saying is true – nothing tastes as good as being lean feels.

 

Who are your favorite fitness follows on Twitter?

@JadeTeta, @JillFit, @RobRiches, @cutandjacked, @SPNetwork

Who are your other fitness inspirations?

The Rock (obviously), Greg Plitt (#1 male fitness model in the world), Mario Lopez, Georges St. Pierre, Pauline Nordin (creator of “Fighter Diet”, her dietary discipline is a tremendous motivator) and “normal” people like my friends Demi, Philip, Brendan, and Lyndsey.

 

What’s your biggest motivation?

Aside from the standard stuff like wanting to fit well in my clothes and like what I see in the mirror, long term health is very important.  I had a close relative battling colon cancer several years ago, and a few others with high blood pressure issues.  My eating habits were terrible in graduate school during my early 20’s, and I spend every day trying to undo the fat, unhealthy condition I was creating for myself.

 

What’s the one thing you wish you could share with others at the gym?

I'd tell them that More isn’t necessarily better

I see so many people (often the same faces) logging away hour after hour on the stairmaster or elliptical every week and their bodies never change.  People training for specific  events like a half-marathon or 5K certainly need to get their mileage in, but others wanting to shed pounds, or look good for the beach really need to learn that you can meet your goals in less time, by working smarter. 

For fat loss goals, intensity trumps time spent.  The body is not like a calculator, fat loss is more complex than eating 500 fewer calories and burning 500 calories more per day.  Things like stress hormones and insulin manipulation play a big role in whether or not one’s body will give up stubborn fat.  This is usually sad to see, because I see lots of effort and “want to” from people in the gym (or even jogging down the street), they just don’t have the proper tools and information to accomplish what they are working so hard to achieve.

Will you ever grant yourself another interview like this?

No way. This was an obnoxious thing to do and I'm ready to go back to interviewing other people.

Sunday
Nov132011

Fitness Spotlight: Lyndsay Braswell

I've spent time writing about a variety of nutrition philosophies (Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, Vegan, etc).  This next section is a more in-depth look at one of the more interesting people I've come across in the fitness world.

Lyndsay Braswell  (@FitRawChic) is a fellow fitness enthusiast, but her diet is completely vegan.  She is a walking example that disproves two long-standing stigmas: 

(1) Vegans can't be athletic or have muscle tone

(2) A vegan diet has to be boring and bland

She also serves as another example that if you want to badly enough, people with regular jobs can still find time to fit their workouts into the schedule.

Lyndsay's personal site, LilGreenDress.com is diverse in fitness guidance, as well as recipes, video How-To's and other culinary ideas.  We took a break from commiserating about our respective NFL teams' (Redskins & Panthers) terrible 2011 seasons to dive into a few questions about her background, current projects, and future plans:

How did you become a vegan?

 Several times in my life people have tried to convince me to go vegan, but I like many other people thought that meant a diet of twigs and berries. It also meant giving up the bodybuilder staples, chicken and eggs.  

Wanting to take my nutrition to the next level because I still had issues with certain aspects of my health, I took a food intolerance test and come to find out I am highly intolerant to eggs!  Dairy was also found to be an enemy as well as certain kinds of seafood. 
I began reading up on the vegan diet, and one thing led to another. I've been meat-free for almost 2 yrs now and I feel and look better than I ever have! Hands down, one of the best decisions I've ever made!



What is your athletic background?

 

My introduction to lifting weights was in 8th grade when I was chosen to be in the Bigger, Faster, Stronger program.  This was a club that prepared middle schoolers for high school sports by lifting weights before school.  Not missing one workout I had my first real taste of what it felt like to throw some real weight around.  Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment as I improved in all areas of performance.
In High School I played Varsity Field Hockey and Lacrosse and in order to be better my dad felt I needed to pump some iron. I was given my first gym membership at 15 and I haven’t stopped since!



What are you up to now? (contests, competitions, recent or upcoming events, etc)

Due to my workload I decided to take the rest of the year off from competing. I plan to compete next Spring in Fitness America and/or the WBFF. I did just complete a half marathon on a whim, and want to set doing a marathon as one of my goals for 2012 if time permits.

What's a typical day's schedule for you (ex: from wake up including workouts/cardio, normal job, etc to bed)

My work dictates my workouts and my customers dictate my work! I try to workout before work and a normal day for me in the office is 8am-4:30pm.  If I’m traveling my workday could be longer and whereas it’s easier for me to hit the gym after an office day, when I’m traveling it is harder.  In a perfect world I’d be working out at 9:30am after a good nights sleep.  A 6am workout after a restless sleep is not exactly my ideal workout time, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

What is your diet like in a typical day? (normal circumstances vs contest prep)

Again my diet changes, it’s actually changed more so as a vegan than when I was a non vegan. Before my diet was standard and typical. I did the egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast, fish or chicken, sweet potato or brown rice, veggies for lunch and dinner,protein shakes in between. Thank goodness those days are over!

Now I might start my day off with a green smoothie or a quinoa dish (quinoa is a complete protein source), lunch I still might have a sweet potato and/or a salad with beans, and for dinner I might have a big salad and lentil or bean dish, with a glass or two of wine.  I snack on nuts, fruits, dark chocolate, and in a pinch, vegan protein shakes.
I’ve learned to eat light during the day because I spend sometimes almost 8 hours behind the desk.  I find if I eat heavier it makes me sleepy and my creative juices come to a halt! 

All in all, I try to eat a lot of antioxidant rich fruits and veggies, and my staples are black beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and spirulina. During contest prep I eat the same foods, just less and I don't like to cheat except for maybe a glass of wine here or there. :)

How do you manage to watch your carb intake being a vegan (versus a typical "all meat & veggies" fitness diet)?

 

I eat more carbs than the carnivore dieters.  It’s hard to get all the protein I want without added carbs.  I’ve tried to swig down just vegan shakes all day, but it was hard on my stomach and I didn’t feel good.  Tofu is another low carb source of protein and not that I’m against soy, just not for every meal. I am still working on finding the vegan competitor diet that suits me best. It’s always a work in progress.

Are you a fan of "empty stomach morning cardio" or not?

 I do believe in empty stomach cardio, especially since I have to workout so early. There is NO way I’m waking up extra early just to eat!  It’s also not like I’m running a marathon at dark thirty in the morning.  I mean we are talking no more than 45 min.  I’ve been fine with averaging up to an hour sometimes and did not feel as if it ate up my muscle.

What's the one "cheat" food you can't live without?

Cheat food: dark chocolate and Grey Goose. I love sweets!

What's your favorite exercise/activity? What's your least favorite?

Favorite exercise, squats! They are a great all around exercise! Least favorite, squats! They are problematic. People tend to do too much weight with poor form, which will as you know, kill their joints and give them serious knee and back problems.


If you could send one message to women out there (about taking control of their fitness/health...being afraid of lifting weights...anything) what would it be?

 

Women tend to want to take care of others in sacrifice of their health. I want them to know lifting weights is not a vain activity and even if they only have 30min (although 1 hour is ideal) to workout do so, because eventually 30min will turn to 1 hr anyway!  The better they take care of themselves, the better they’ll take care of others. Plus they will feel amazing, and confidence breeds success!



If you could send one message to people in-general about the typical American diet, what would it be?

Vegan is not a boring diet by any means, and you can still build muscle not eating animals. However, I understand unless you are passionate about one of the 3: health, animals, environment, it could be difficult to give up the animal kingdom. Although I believe the healthiest way to eat is a whole foods, plant based diet, I don't judge or force my lifestyle on anyone. Instead I encourage everyone to eat less meat and incorporate more fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies are full of nutrients and our body needs them to prevent disease and to stay looking good! 

 

Whether you're a vegan, or still fit animal products into your diet - Lyndsay is still a great example from whom we can all learn.  We agree on many of the same fitness principals, particularly that women should never be afraid of the weights, and that both men and women should prioritize how you take care of your body (and what kinds of fuel goes into it) every day.