From 589 pounds to 220 pounds. This is my journey. Welcome to the countdown.

Posts tagged ‘Lifetime Fitness’

Score One For the Countdown

As I was cleaning out my email, I found something I’d never posted. This happened in October–a month which seemed to be all about the celebration of my weight loss. The following was sent to every employee of Lifetime Fitness. If I’ve not said it before, I’ll say it again: it’s all about the people you work with. The people of Lifetime Fitness Old Orchard are those people.

From: Jason Thunstrom
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 12:35 PM
To: All Team Members
Subject: Our ‘WHY’: A journey from 589 pounds

Life Time Team:

As you know, we commit to helping people positively change their lives every day. For some, the degree of change is small. A fine tuning, so to speak. For others, however, it can be a massive overhaul. The following story from Life Time Old Orchard member, Jeff Stein, speaks for itself. Mr. Stein’s dedication to his health is both powerful and motivating. The support of our Life Time Old Orchard team was equally critical. Read on – and be inspired. This is the ‘WHY’ we do what we do!

Regards,

JT

Hi Jason,

My name is Jeff Stein. I’ve been a member of Life Time Fitness Old Orchard since Feb 2012. One of my trainers sent me a copy of an email you’d sent out to the employees, entitled “This may make you cry.” 

https://mms.ltfinc.net:443/105503000/105503290.jpg?1413309832322

In 2007, I weighed 589 pounds.

I wore a 6-7x shirt and size 74 pants.

As a child, I was overweight. At 12 or 13, I remember being over 200 pounds, 300 or more in high school, and 400+ in college. My life wasn’t horrible. I had a job, friends, and drove a car. I even played a year of college basketball. New England Division B, but still, it was college basketball. I was your average guy – just a lot bigger.

I can’t remember a time I was not referred to as fat. I couldn’t get into booths at restaurants. I had a chair or two break under my weight. One was in my boss’s office. I even missed out on an incredible free trip to Las Vegas and a major speaking opportunity because I was worried I wouldn’t fit in an airplane seat.

In November 2012, I set out on an ambitious weight loss program with the help of Jeremy Survoy, Miranda Willetts and Matt Bauman. It as a week before Thanksgiving and, at 543 pounds, I set out to change my life.

Fast forward to today and my life is different. A LOT DIFFERENT.

I weigh in at 325 pounds. That’s 264 pounds fewer than my days at 589. I’m wearing 2XL shirts and size 48 pants. 

In February 2014, I boarded a plane for the first time in over 20 years, no longer worried if I’d fit in the seat. The day I got to Vegas, I walked more than 30,000 steps! 

A day I’m not at Life Time is rare. I workout 7 days a week – sometimes twice a day. On top of four training and nutrition sessions, I participate in Pilates, WERQ, water fitness, and yoga. I wear a Fitbit and average 10,000 steps a day. As a member of Life Time Fitness Old Orchard, I’ve won the club’s 90-day weight loss challenge – TWICE. Many people in the club remember the day I walked in at 543. People I’ve never met ask me about it daily. My trainers tell me I’m asked and talked about even when not in the building.

My goal weight is 220 pounds. When I reach it, I will have lost 369 pounds from the 589 I once weighed. 

While I still have a little ways to go in accomplishing my goal, I’ve started to talk about it. I do this because I think it’s important people know what they can accomplish. That it’s not about pills or surgery. I want inspire and help others toward their goals, dreams, and a healthy lifestyle.

Life Time has been a huge part of these accomplishments and this journey.

Best Regards,

Jeff Stein

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Recap–1/26/15 (Week 3)

This was a make or break week. After last week’s two pound gain, I was at 369. The brief weight loss could be a facade or we could be on track.

I made myself some promises last week. Here’s how I did:

*I got to the gym more. It wasn’t exactly on time but I got there. I also did both WERQ dance classes–even if I was 30 minutes late for Thursday. But other than Saturday, I got to the gym everyday and twice on Monday and Thursday.

*I started using the Lifetime “to go” meals. I need to get in regular habit of ordering in advance. The result was a couple of days where I went to Whole Foods instead. That’d be fine but some of those days I could made better choices. I also need to watch the portion sizes there. And samples, much I hate to say it, count. I would put my usage at about 3 of the 5 work days.

*Supplements and Vitamins all week. Not one miss. I’m not a big on this stuff but I’ve felt the difference when I’ve overworked myself or when I move.

I wasn’t perfect–but I wasn’t bad either. I just wouldn’t say I was good. I did okay might be best. On Friday I was still hovering around 369-370. But I was a little more careful over the weekend. The combined with an evening of West Coast Swing dancing, a WERQ dance class, and yoga made all the difference.

This morning’s weight: 360.6.

For those playing at home, that’s 9 pounds. Since 1/5/15, when I restarted, I’ve dropped 17 pounds in 3 weeks. I’m thrilled by this because the glass is still half full in terms of what I can tweak and work on. It’s later on when real cuts and sacrifices are going to have to be made that I expect trouble. But for now I’m happy there’s room to improve and grow.

Looking ahead, this week is not going to be easy. Monday and Thursday nights I’ll be doing WERQ Fitness. Tuesday night I’m presenting on behalf of Toastmasters. Wednesday night I have a Toastmasters’ meeting. Friday night I’m supposed to go out on a date. And Sunday is the Super Bowl–a notorious eating day.

That means a lot of my dinners are going to be “on the run”, “to go”, or at a restaurant. It is a week like this that can send you a wrong direction. Normally on Monday and Thursday nights I’ll eat in the Lifecafe then dry sauna. This week, I’m thinking finish my workout, head home, and eat there. Tuesday night looks like eat in advance and/or bring a snack.

This brings me to Wednesday. I’d really like to with friends that night. And I can if I make good choices and do well early in the week. Still not sure where I’m going on Friday. Sunday…I think I’ll be okay if I bring my own food. I’ll probably still eat too much but as long as the quality is better and I’ve done what I need to it should be okay.

Along with the previous goals, the following are new ones I’m adding:

*No more community food from the Kitchen.

This is going to be hard.The kitchen is where I store my food and water for the day. It’s also where people drop “free” goodies for the rest the office. Once in a while it’s nuts–which is better but usually…cookies, cakes, donuts–you get the idea. Even with resolve and willpower, there’s only so much you can do. Given I’m a stress eater that can also play in. I’m going to need to find healthier options I can store and not feel like I’m missing something. What that is has yet to be determined. Still, if I don’t make this a goal in writing, I’ll put this off so now it’s here.

*No more special peanut butter cups.

Don’t ask me why but I see those peanut butter cups–the ones shaped like xmas trees, pumpkins, hearts, etc and seem to want them. The regular peanut butter cups I can seemingly resist most of the time. But these…these are the ones that kill me. It’d be different if it was one a week. But when you sell them 3 for $2—you’ve suddenly eaten enough calories where I could have had a steak! It’s not effected me so far but it will later on. Much as I love these things, I have to nip it in the bud.

Okay those goals are harder than the previous ones. Combined with last week’s goals, it should give me enough to work on. I’d hoped to have dropped 20 pounds this month. I’m 3 away from doing just that. The rest is all gravy.

Still, we have a long way to go. I’m 140 pounds from goal and just last May I was at 306–a number I’m now 54 pounds away from. The good news is I’ve traveled this road. I’ve done this once and I know what it takes to do it again. But to get to uncharted territory, I need to make changes in my habits now or I’ll once again find myself going the wrong direction.

What I do today will effect tomorrow. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow looks like.

You’re doing great!

This morning, I got on the scale.

353.8

Not bad since I had pecan pie and a 7 oz fillet last night.

(Note to all the food police: Yes, I should not be eating pecan pie. So noted and stipulated. Thank you.)

As I thanked god and creation, I got off the scale in the locker room. That’s when someone said it:

“You’re doing great! Keep going!”

Ever since the winter of 2013, this is a regular happening at Lifetime Fitness Old Orchard. As I’ve mentioned previously, I went from sideshow to rock star. There were days when I couldn’t get through a workout without being stopped. My trainers get asked about me when I’m not in the building.

As Ron Burgundy once said, I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. And for the most part, I enjoy it.  It’s nice to walk in the building like I’m Norm from Cheers. Especially when most of my life I dreaded going to the gym–a place of the pretty and buff–two things I’m not.

Now when someone wishes to compliment me and things are going well, it’s a polite thank you and try to be humble (somewhere my true friends are laughing at that). Usually that includes a comment like…”well, I appreciate that but I’m not finished yet”. And I’m not. I’m 133 pounds away as of this morning.

But on the days when the scale isn’t my friend…well, it’s a lot heard feel good about those words.  Especially when you know if you didn’t stop at Culver’s for a Concrete Mixer frozen custard with cookie dough, peanut butter cups, and peanut butter syrup things would gone much better.  So when a well meaning person says those nice words, my inner loser knows better and get squirely.

Now in the past, I was losing more. That meant this wasn’t an issue. But as I mentioned previously, in April of 2014 I was at 307. I was closing in on 300. I was 87 pounds from goal.

After Thanksgiving I was at 360. For those not wanting to do the math, that’s a gain of 53 pounds since then. So when well meaning individuals would walk up to me these last few months and say…

“Hey, you’re doing great!”

ARGH…

I AM NOT DOING GREAT! I JUST GAINED AGAIN AND ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT IS CHEESEBURGERS WITH BACON! THINGS ARE NOT GREAT! I’VE GAINED A SHITLOAD OF WEIGHT AND I TOTALLY SUCK!

That’s what I want to say. What do I usually say?

“Thank you.”

And then the worst feel in the world happens. The one where I look at myself in the mirror and my mind is thinking only one thing.

FRAUD.

Yes, I should look at the big picture but when 1 pound becomes 5 and 5 becomes 15…well, it’s not so easy.  You know that right now, a pat on the back or high five is the last thing in the world you deserve. Then comes the fun part. You feel guilt. In my case guilt leads to stress. What do I do when I’m stressed?

You guessed it–I eat.

All because someone tried to be nice and my mind twisted it into something else entirely. The last few months, I’ve allowed myself to say and think horrible things about myself. But I also know this. I don’t want to go back to who and what I used to be either.

There is no question I am my own worst enemy. Everyday I’ll need to remember to stay positive and not give up. That when somebody says “you’re doing great” it’s a reason smile and stand proud even if the night before you had too many carbs and the scale says your up.

I may feel like a fraud at times but the truth is I’m stronger, faster, and healthier than any point in my life. If I just continue to believe in myself, I will figure it out. I will lose the weight. I will reach my goal.

He was right: I am doing great.

Four Guys On A Bench Revisited

One of the first posts, I ever wrote was about 4 guys on a bench. If I was tech savvy, I’d have a way to link it to this post. but I’m not so please feel free to search it out.

Many of my regular workouts the past couple years happen in the gym.  I would see these four men and other racquetball players most mornings. The Lifetime Fitness used to have it’s cycle room, rock wall, and racquetball courts next to it’s basketball courts.

Notice I said use to.

At the end of May, Lifetime Fitness Old Orchard decided to make a brand new yoga studio (yay!)–right where the racquetball courts were (boo!). While I’m happy there’s a new yoga studio, I was disappointed it would mean these people–the people who’d watch me melt away, would no longer have their place to play.

So in mid June of 2014, the courts were closed, the benches removed, and my biggest fans were now gone. After the yoga studios opened, the gym was a lot more quiet. There’s an occasional basketball player but otherwise…quiet.

Before they left, I got the email for one of them. They’ve been bouncing around between LA Fitness locations. In the first email, I sent him the post I’d wrote about Four Guys On a Bench. I told him how much I appreciated him that day and how that made a difference.

At the time I sent him the link, I wasn’t writing any more. A few weeks later, I got a note about a comment posted. It was one of the wives of those players. She’d been inspired by my post and was going to work towards weight loss.

I recently was emailing with them and asked them what they were thinking that day. His response?

When I saw you working out the first time I knew you had an uphill battle that wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that you needed all the encouragement you could get. I think the average guy would say keep trying and that was the end of it.

 I think I told you I had a lot of ups and downs in my lifetime and these guys I hang with are terrific. They can make you laugh at the drop of a hat. Laughter is the best medicine I know. We started teasing you in hopes you would take it the right way and you obviously did.  It’s an easy way to break the ice and laughter can be contagious. I know we had Miranda & Matt laughing a lot with all of us.  

 You take care of yourself and keep plugging away. We’ll get together when you reach your goal next year.”

He was right. At that moment I was tired, exhausted, and seconds from giving up. Seconds from throwing it all away.

Two years later, when the scale keeps going up and I get frustrated, I think back to that moment at the gym. That’s when I remember the most important thing I’ve learned:

NEVER GIVE UP!

We will all have our ups and downs. Our successes and failures, it’s where we go next that determines our course in life.

239 days ago, I was at 307 pounds. Today…355. But I know I get back there. I know because even when the numbers on the scale go up, I know I can do it. I won’t give up. It may take weeks, months, or years but I will get there. I will lose 135 pounds. I will get to 220 pounds.

Because I know I can.

Time’s passed and sometimes I wonder if anyone remembers there used to be racquetball courts or the players who’d come in the early morning to use them. Then I remember it does matter because I do.

I remember.

And that’s all that matters.

Can’t wait to see them next year when I reach my goal.

All eyes on me

Recently read someone’s blog about taking a cardio kickboxing class. Got me thinking about my early experiences with dance classes. I’ve always felt comfortable “getting my groove on”. Only when I started getting bigger and got out of shape did I stop. But when I was in North Carolina at Structure House, they had a ballroom dance class and I took it EVERY week. I did some Zumba but felt dead in about 15 minutes every time.

When I got back from North Carolina, I vowed I’d conquer Zumba. When I first started working with Matt my trainer, I told him I’d be doing Zumba. He kind of looked at me like I was nuts. A few months later, I “slipped” into the back row of the Saturday morning Zumba class. Now I say I “slipped” in but there was no slip in here.

Zumba is held in the Lifetime Fitness gym–where everyone can see. You can also see from the 2nd level. Now you might be thinking “but Jeff there’s lots of people in that class. How would anyone notice?”

That would be true…

if _ANY_of them were male.

So it’s me and oh, 70+ women doing Zumba. And if you didn’t think they noticed…well, you’d be mistaken.

They noticed.

And so did everyone else.

My trainer Matt wasn’t even in the building and 20 minutes later, I had a text about it. Other trainers were asking about in days later. Apparently a 400+ guy doing Zumba isn’t common. The first time I didn’t last long maybe 20-30 minutes. Slowly I’d work my way up. More frustrating was trying to pick up all the moves. I’d be going left and the entire room is going right. It’s not an issue except when you’re the only guy and you’re rather large in a room full of women. It’s almost sit com comedy funny to see.

The women were thrilled to have me. They liked having a guy in class. I did however take some crap and a few snickers from guys at the gym. But as I reminded them:

I’m the only guy in a room full of women wearing spandex.

So while they played with their “balls”, I spent 60 minutes with pretty ladies in their form fitting outfits. Certainly beat an hour of treadmill that’s for sure!

About the point I could get through a 60 minute class, I found WERQ. Current hits plus more pop/hip hop moves equaled dropping Zumba because I’d found my thing. If you’ve never seen it, I’d invite you to google or youtube it.

Today, I pick up WERQ twice a week. I’m still the only guy in the room 98% of the time. But I wouldn’t miss it. Best workout I get all week. All the eyes that were on me are either less now or used to seeing me there. Heck there are times where I’m more on the moves than half the women in class.

Besides, I like that all eyes are on me anyway.

A cold day in hell…

When I first started working out, my Monday and Wednesday workouts would start at 6 am. Opposite me in the gym was what they called a boot camp. It wasn’t just any boot camp. It was the alpha boot camp. The hardest of the hard. Those taking this camp were covered in sweat. When it was over, they looked like zombies. Their trainer was Terri.

You’d hear her the whole time. Barking out orders like a drill sergeant. Just watching and listening in the other gym made me sweat. It sounded like a government torture session. And none of these people looked happy. They looked drained and exhausted.

I told Matt, my trainer, it would be a cold day in hell before you’d catch me in there or working with Terri. Every so often Terri would peek in. She’d hint she might be my trainer and my face would turn white. Eventually I moved an hour later to 7 and out of the gym. And that meant I’d rarely see or hear about alpha boot camp or Terri. Yes, I’d see her around and we’d joke but never work together.

Last week, almost a year plus later since I’d seen boot camp or Terri, Miranda needed a sub while she was on vacation. She was having trouble finding a sub. As a joke, Miranda suggested Terri.

I said…okay.

Miranda did a double take. I think I shocked her. I saw Terri that week and she seemed a little shocked too.

Her comment–“really?”

Mine–“bring it”

She smiled.

So this morning, a cold day in hell arrived. The first of two days working with Terri. The woman who scared the absolute crap out of me in those early days at 543 pounds. The one I swore I’d never work with. Oh and I survived. Had to or there’d be no blog entry today or ever again. I think I even scared my trainer Matt because Terri tells me he texted a few times about how I was doing.

I was doing fine. Covered in sweat–but fine. No zombie like states though. Maybe that’s tomorrow.

Guess hell isn’t a cold as I thought.

Cause That’s What I Do!

WWE wrestler Mark Henry’s catchphrase seemed like the right title for this posting. I’ve been asked often about what I do and how I do it. In the small feedback I’ve received, it’s been the most common suggestion. Mostly it’s been about what I eat, how I eat, and when I eat. That will come. But for now, we’ll tackle a different realm: exercise.

The following is currently what my workouts look like:

Monday AM:

The Monday morning workout is in the Lifetime Pool with Matt. I’ll do sprints, use the pool weights, and weights with sprints. This is a 40-50 minute workout. Nice part about the pool is I don’t get tired as quickly because the water hydrates. It also allows me to move my body in ways that might not be so comfortable or easy on land.

Monday PM:

I try not to miss the 6:15pm WERQ class. It’s a dance class that mixes pop, rap, and hip hop. Love it far more than Zumba. It’s a 45 minute class.  You can read more on it here: http://werqfitness.com/

Afterwards, I’ll hit the treadmill and watch WWE Monday Raw to the 1st commercial break. Then its off to get dinner and hit the dry sauna.

Tuesday: Miranda. Miranda’s mostly nutrition so we’ll walk the gym usually for an hour. I’ll average about 5000-6000 steps. We’ve been doing agility drills and I’ll do some sprints but after Sunday and Monday this is usually a down day. Unless Miranda’s mad then I could be in a lot of trouble. There’s a new dance class on Tuesday night. Did it last night but I think my odds of doing it every week are slim.

Wednesday: Zone workout with Matt. We target based on my heart rate zones. Usually 12-15 minutes on a treadmill. At that point it could be anything. Today included TRX, Battle Ropes, squats, and catch with a giant medicine ball. Usually ends with sprints for about 10 minutes or so. Total time is about 50 minutes.  If I’m feeling up to it, WERQ is in the evening but I rarely do it on Wednesday night.

Thursday: More Miranda. A lot like Tuesday only with a weigh-in (ick).

Friday: The weekend starts my efforts. Friday morning is 40 minutes walking the gym. It’s followed by 10-20 minutes in the pool and 10-20 minutes in the dry sauna. If I’m feeling up to it or nothing better to do, I’ll either head back to gym hit the treadmill or take the Zumba class that evening and do some more dry sauna.

Saturday: When it was nice outside, I’d go walk the park in the Glen. Now its either treadmill or Zumba. 99% of the time…treadmill–for an hour. I’ll change speeds and inclines. If I’m ambitious it’s out to Woodfield Mall for the 1pm Latin Fusion dance class. Sometimes is two trips in one day and will include 1-2 dry sauna trips. The goal is to be over 10K steps today–or maybe more.

Sunday: Welcome to my busy day.

8am–Pilates–a must. If could afford it more it would be twice a week.

9:30am–WERQ. This might be one of the most popular classes all week. After this I’m usually over 6000 steps easy.

10:30am–12:25pm: Treadmill (get to 10K steps), breakfast, and dry sauna in no particular order there. Just try to get it all done.

12:30–Yoga. Just started. It’s a one on one session. Still working to get it down and better.

If I feel like it I’ll hit the treadmill, walk in the gym, and/or dry sauna. Usually just dry sauna.

My daily step goal is at least 5000 and more like 7000 or better. 10,000 is really the daily goal. I usually hit it on weekends for sure. I use a fitbit to track what I do. You can see about that here: http://www.fitbit.com/home

So that’s my exercise…Cause That’s What I Do!

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