Thursday, March 31, 2011

Breakdown Leads to a Breakthrough!

Katie & her mom making my recipe for
stuffed bell peppers...yummy!
We had quite a week this week!  We experienced sobbing, laughter, whining, cheers, blisters, shouts, high fives, and hugs.  And it all led to a 3.6-pound weight loss – so, Katie has officially lost 10 pounds!  After a very disappointing weigh-in last week, I knew our meetings this week would be a challenge for both Katie and for me.  However, I had a new resolve to offer some tough love.  Katie needed to understand that losing this weight is vital to her health and her future.  Katie’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is approximately 40.  This means she is on the cusp of morbid obesity, which puts her at a greater risk for heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.  Plus, her waist to hip ratio is very high (her waist is about the same circumference as her hips) which also puts her at high risk, especially for women.   

I had my mind set when I went for our meeting on Sunday that we would get in a hard workout – I was determined to push her to her limits.  So, we set out for a long walk/jog.  We started out just fine – while walking she even asked me if she could bring her friend to her fashion/beauty make-over next month.  I told her I thought it was a great idea.  But, after we ran a few intervals, Katie got very frustrated.  She started crying and saying "I can't" and "I'm done".  That really made me mad because I knew she could!  Plus, I do not accept the word “can’t” – it should not be allowed for use in anyone’s vocabulary!  Katie went from talking and being fine to sobbing in about 30 seconds.  However, I knew she was physically able!  At one point, I even got behind her and pushed her!  I almost shocked myself at how far I pushed her, but I think it was a breakthrough for both of us.  I knew that if I didn’t push her to her limits, I wasn’t truly helping her.  She needs to be pushed to prove to herself how strong she really is.  Each time she said she couldn't do it, she eventually started running and continued to run for over a minute at a time!  It was good for her to see what she can accomplish – she has been giving up on herself for far too long!  When we got back to the house, Katie was still wiping tears and I could see her mom was concerned, but I was very anxious to keep her focused and not pamper to her.  I had a point to prove with her, so we did some additional strength and conditioning moves.  As we started to cool down and stretch, I asked Katie if she was mad at me, she said no.  I asked her if she was mad at herself, she said no.  I asked if she was sad, she said no.  I asked if she was happy, and she said yes!  I asked why and she said that she was happy that she actually did it.  So, I made her promise me that she would push that hard from now on.  I received an email from her mom later that night thanking me and telling me that Katie had a really good night and seemed to be in a very good mood.  I was delighted to hear that!  She was likely very proud of herself – a hard workout can be incredibly self-rewarding! 

When I went back for our meeting yesterday, Katie informed me that she has been walking and jogging so much in the past few days that she now has blisters on both feet and ankles!  I told I was so proud of her – blisters are badges of glory!  And those badges paid off on the scale!  She dropped an additional 2.4 pounds in the last three days to get us to our ten-pound total!  Plus, she has lost over an inch from her waist!  It was obvious that she has lost inches during yesterday’s workout because she was tugging at her pants the entire time.  And, she even smiled and laughed during yesterday’s workout – she said she is starting to enjoy them!  She admitted that before this week, she had been exercising but had not been pushing herself.  I think Sunday’s breakdown opened her eyes to her full potential and has shown her what she is capable of.  Instead of simply trying, I expect her to just do.  It’s that simple, just do it, push hard, and DO NOT say or think “I can’t”.  Because I know she can, and I will make sure she does! 

I also found out yesterday that Katie has been sleeping better – her high blood pressure had previously caused her to get hot at night and have breathing problems.  Katie even told me that she wore pajama pants one night for the first time in a very long time – they usually made her too hot.  Katie was also excited because she is able to wear a belt for the first time!  She has worn a belt with her khakis and one pair of her jeans.  She was so excited…and I was beaming!  This kid is transforming physically, mentally, and emotionally! 

Katie didn’t quit this week, she rose after she fell, she got up and is winning this race.  Are you winning your race?  Maybe you’ve had a breakdown – if so, use it to breakthrough just as Katie has.  I hope Katie inspires you or someone you know to just do it, push hard, and DO NOT say or think “I can’t”.  Because I know you can, and I know you will! 

We’d love to hear your story or to have you encourage and support Katie by commenting below or emailing me at  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Get Up & Win This Race!

I am so proud of Katie, but we had a disappointing weigh-in yesterday.  Katie gained 0.2 pounds from last week.  But, she has been doing so good and making smart choices all week long.  So, I do think that she can get back down very quickly.  The good news is that her blood pressure is still down in the normal range and she has lowered her pulse even more!  I was a little worried about her and how this would affect her motivation.  I talked with her and her mom for a long time yesterday afternoon.  She is making great strides and I don’t want her to get frustrated or to give up on me or this new lifestyle.  Rather than getting in a workout (Katie promised me she would do it on her own), she asked me to go to the grocery with her because she had some questions about food choices – brands, ingredients, etc.  So, we drove to the grocery – I had her park in the very last spot so we could get in as many steps as possible!  We then ventured down the aisles of the grocery and looked over the nutrition and ingredients on many products.  It was a wonderful learning experience for Katie and her mom.  On my way home from being with Katie, I remembered a poem I used to read when I played softball.  It is called “The Race” – it’s about a boy running a race and he falls several times while running.  I shared the last part of the poem with Katie last night and I want to share it with you:
            I’ve lost, so what’s the use, he thought, I’ll live with my disgrace.
            But then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.
            “Get up,” an echo sounded low.  “Get up and take your place.
            You were not meant for failure here, get up and win the race.”

With borrowed will, “Get up,” it said, “You haven’t lost at all,
For winning is not more than this: to rise each time you fall.”
So up he rose to win once more.  And with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.

They cheered the winning runner as he crossed first place.
Head high and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster crossed the line, last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race.

And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud;
You would have thought he won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his Dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
“To me you won,” his father said, “You rose each time you fell.”

I told Katie to think of herself as the little boy and I am the father.  Consider this week a minor fall, but she needs to know that she is still winning the race.  I am so proud of her and I know you she get up and win this race! 

I already know that she and her entire family are winning the race.  When I met with them Sunday, Katie had already walked over two miles at the park, then we went outside and got in a bootcamp workout as well.  Also, her oldest sister was home from college with her boyfriend – her mom had told me that they were both looking at the nutrition labels at the grocery when they went as a group!  I love that this has turned into such a family affair!  And, Katie’s younger brother was excited to get one of my wristbands last week.  I made sure he knew what the N.E.R.D stood for. 

Katie is doing such a great job incorporating both exercise and healthy foods into her life.  I keep telling her how proud I am and encouraging her to stay motivated.  But, as I mentioned in one of my previous entries, as Katie drops the weight, she will also have to drop the emotional and mental baggage that comes with it.  We all do much better with a cheering section, and so will Katie.  I have printed out all of the messages I have received so far so Katie could post them up in her room for inspiration.  When I showed it to her, she looked at the paper and said “I have fans!”  I loved it – it was so cute.  So, please offer your encouragement and support to Katie, or simply share your story by commenting below or emailing me at  And, I hope you or someone you know will be inspired by Katie’s journey along this race – don’t quit, rise each time you fall, and get up and win your own race! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hard Work Yields Fabulous Results!

Big smile after a big weight loss!
Katie had a fabulously successful week this week!  I took her weight and stats during our meeting yesterday – she lost a whopping 4.6 pounds this past week and significantly decreased her blood pressure!  She has dropped her blood pressure from 136/92 down to 120/74.  That is a 15% overall improvement – and from the stage 1 hypertension into the normal blood pressure range!  This kid is really working hard!  I gave her a big hug – I promised her if she worked hard this week, we would get her under 230 pounds – and we both made good on that promise!  In two weeks, she has gone from 235. 4 to 228.8!  

Lots of whole grains!
As I do each week, I reviewed her food & exercise diary.  Her food intake continues to improve.  She and her mom have been planning her meals and snacks each day so she knows what she will have so she doesn’t have to rely on last-minute decisions.  She also told me today that she has been packing an extra piece of fruit or veggies in her lunch box – just in case she gets hungry, she won’t have to rely on the vending machine or fast food.  That’s my girl!  And, as I mentioned earlier this week, she and her mom have revamped their kitchen using my color-coded stickers to labels shelves and to stock the healthiest foods at eye-level and foods to be eaten less often are stored out of sight and reach.  And, she and her mom have made some of my recipes for chili, whole wheat muffins, and trail mix – all of which they have enjoyed.  And, Katie said the family never realized her mom was such a good cook!  Now that they are preparing fresher meals from whole, natural food, they are starting to realize how tasty healthful can be! 

For our workout today, Katie asked me if we could go outside – the weather was wonderful and in the mid 60’s.  So, we went out for a walk and I had her jog a few intervals.  We made it to the tennis courts where I ran her through a boot camp type workout for about 30 minutes.  She did fantastic.  She said her feet hurt, but once again, she never quit – even through jumping rope, running suicides, walking lunges, sprints, and pushups!  We walked back to her house – I have really enjoyed getting to know this young lady.  I found out that she wants to either be a chef or a teacher.  Either way, she obviously wants to make an impact in this world and I know for a fact she will!  As we were about to walk up her driveway, her neighbor was out with his dog.  He spoke to us and then looked up at Katie and said, “I am proud of you young lady!”  I responded with, “I am proud of her too!” 

Katie has strength and beauty that I can see very vividly.  Katie cannot see it yet due to her extra weight and lack of self-confidence.  But as we shed the pounds, I know she will be able to see that strength and beauty come to the surface and shine brightly.  This kid is a true inspiration and I can only hope that her journey will motivate you or someone you know to change your life and get healthy.  What are you waiting for?  Katie isn’t waiting, she’s working hard and seeing fabulous results today!

Monday, March 14, 2011

What an awesome young lady!

I had my scheduled Sunday afternoon meeting with Katie yesterday.  I just cannot accurately describe how much pride I have for this young lady right now.  When I got there, it was just the two of use because the family was out at her brother’s lacrosse game.  It was unusual for us to have some time to ourselves, so I was glad to have the alone time for us to just talk and for me to know more about her as an individual.  I reviewed her food & exercise dairy and asked about her week since I met with her on Wednesday.  Her food intake had improved significantly.  I even saw where she and her mom had revamped their kitchen.  They have taken my color-coded stickers and labels shelves – the most healthy foods that should be eaten most often are at eye-level and foods to be eaten less often are stored out of sight (and hopefully out of mind).  Katie even told me about her new snack – a salad of spinach with crumbles of goat cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  In addition to the awesome food choices, Katie has been very active and has gone through our resistance training session several times since Wednesday.  She was much more optimistic about this whole process.  She told me that she was motivated by only losing two pounds last week and was ready to push herself and work hard.  I was so thrilled to hear this!

I took advantage of her motivation and we went outside to get in a good cardio workout.  She told me that she had walked to her pool a few times.  On my way to her house, I had measured several distances with my car so she would know how far her walks were.  I knew that the pool was only about 0.6 miles round trip from her house.  I measured the spot that would be about 1.5 miles round trip from her house.  When we set out, that is the spot I planned to go to.  But, as we walked, we also added some jogging intervals and by the time we got to the calculated spot, we decided to go a little farther – so we did!  We ended up walking (with several intervals of jogging) about two miles in 30 minutes.  I was delighted that she was able to do this and she never quit – even through a few moments of significant discomfort!  When we got back to her house, we cooled down, stretched, and did a few push-ups and ab work.   

In Katie, who is a beautiful and strong young lady, I can see the confidence growing and the weight diminishing before my eyes.  I am blessed to get to know her and I can only hope that her journey will inspire you or someone you know to change your life and get healthy today.  Katie has chosen success.  Are you ready to chose success and transform your life?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We fought through the first week and won!

I went to see Katie yesterday afternoon for her first week’s weigh-in.  See my two previous post for more details on Katie.  We have success!  She lost two pounds, dropped her blood pressure by 10% and brought her pulse down by 5%!  I must admit, I had hoped for a little more weight loss than two pounds, but I am super proud of her because I know she worked hard and she obviously put the work in based on her reductions in BP and pulse.  In addition to our weigh-in, I also reviewed her food diary, talked about her challenges this past week and our goals for the coming week, and got in a good workout.  I found she was a little less upbeat and lighthearted than she was when I met with her on Sunday, but I also realize she is a 16-year-old girl and moods can be expected to vary.  But, I also noticed by reviewing her food diary that she skipped breakfast on Tuesday and missed several scheduled snacks throughout the week.  So, there is a very good chance her metabolism stalled because she was actually not eating enough – in amount or frequency. 

Once again today, we did some body weight moves mixed in with cardio intervals like jumping jacks, high knees, and cherry pickers (aka squat thrusts) all of which Katie is super fond…or at least I know she will be fond of the results they bring her!  As always, she gave it her all and didn’t quit.  She even made it through the entire workout without stopping for a drink!  It is so amazing to watch this young lady transform right before my eyes!    

We went back downstairs and were going to go for a walk outside, but it was pouring down rain, so I had her start walking around the house (lower level of their home makes a circle around the center staircase).  Her mother runs a day care for babies and young children.  By Katie’s second lap, she was holding a baby and had several kiddos following her like a little train – they loved it!  It was so cool to see how exercise became contagious and it made all the kids smile (even Katie).  During Katie’s kiddo processional, I talked with her mom about the past week and our goals for the coming week. 

It is fantastic to see that Katie has support from her family.  It is very important to have supportive people around her as she makes this mind-body connection.  Not only will pounds be dropped, but she will also have to drop the emotional and mental baggage that accompanies obesity.  So, please offer your encouragement and support to Katie, or simply share your story by commenting below or emailing me at  I will go back to meet with Katie again this weekend and next Wednesday for another weigh-in.  So stay tuned – I am so proud of her and I know there are many more good things to come!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Katie Kicked off an Awesome Week!

I went to Katie’s house again yesterday.  Katie is the 16-year-old that I am helping to lose weight.  During our first meeting last week, I found she is in the morbidly obese range and also has high blood pressure – see my previous post for more details.  I went to workout with her yesterday and to monitor her food & exercise diary.  I wasn’t sure what to expect or how well she would do during her first few days.  I was amazed – she is already a new young lady.  She was happier and more vivacious just after four days!  She told me how she made smarter choices with food and even showed me some of the new groceries they had purchased.  I was so proud of her. 

We then went upstairs to a bonus room and got in a great workout – this was in addition to the walk she took this morning (keep in mind it was in the low 30’s here in Franklin) before church – what a trooper!  We did some body weight moves and I also brought my balance and medicine balls to incorporate into the workout.  She did fabulous and gave it her all.  Of course, she still has a lot of work to do, but I could already see progress in her ability to do pushups from last week.  She even told me that she had done some of the moves while it was raining and even had her little brother trying some of the exercises. 

After our workout, we went back downstairs to talk for a bit – her mom had just come home from the grocery store.  We reviewed a few of the items she had bought and talked about options for Katie and the entire family.  I also brought them more of my recipes and also had daily meal & snack examples for Katie to follow.  Katie’s mom told me how happy she had been and what a positive attitude Katie had all week.   Katie then let me know that she had been tempted on a few occasions but managed to stay strong – she told me she took cookies to the kids she babysat for.  She was tempted, but had an apple instead and said she felt satisfied and proud of herself.  And she even did some exercises while the kids slept!  I was beaming!  What a champ Katie is!

I cannot wait to go back on Wednesday for our weigh-in to see how much progress she has made in our first full week.  I am confident the scale will show improvement.  However, no matter what the numbers show, I am so pleased with how much she has changed mentally and emotionally in just the first week!  So, make sure to check back on Thursday to see her results!  And please feel free to encourage Katie, offer support, or simply share your story, by commenting below or emailing me at 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

She’s on Her Way!

I met with Katie yesterday for the first time.  Katie is the teen chosen to receive eight weeks of my Camp Champ program for free.   I was so excited to meet Katie yesterday and couldn’t wait to find out more about her, her personality and lifestyle, and how we could help her lose weight and get healthier.  I went to her house yesterday when she got home from school.  She met me at the door with a big smile on her face.  I was welcomed by the entire family – including the dog!  We sat down at the kitchen table with her mom.  I wanted to spend the first few minutes together just getting to know Katie and how she had gotten to where she is and why she entered the Teen Camp Champ contest.  We talked about her current daily routine – what she eats & when, how much sleep she gets, and her lack of exercise.  I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find out that she doesn’t really get any exercise at all.  She said she didn’t like competition, but if she had to pick her favorite sports it would be soccer and swimming, and maybe tennis. 

Katie on Day 1
Weight: 235.4
Waist: 46.0"
Upper Arm: 14.5"
Thigh: 23.75"
Blood Pressure: 136/92
Pulse: 89
After we talked for a while, I took her blood pressure, pulse, measurements, weight, and starting photos so we could monitor her progress.  All of her numbers were much higher than they should be for a 16-year-old female.  Her weight was a little lower than she had expected; however, she is still in the morbidly obese range.  I am positive that we will get her out of morbid obesity and hopefully under 200 pounds during our eight weeks together.  Katie is very optimistic and has a great attitude, and I know she is going to work hard.

After getting her stats, we took a tour of their kitchen and I talked with Katie and her mom about ways to swap their food with more healthful options.  I didn’t make them throw anything out, but I did give them color-coded stickers so they could mark foods as good, better, best.  Since I come from a traffic engineering background, I gave them stickers in the color of a traffic light – foods to be eaten rarely get red, food to be eaten in moderation gets yellow, and food that should be eaten very often gets green.  I offered ideas for fresher, less processed, and more colorful foods that should be filling their cupboard and fridge.  Katie’s family already has one good practice in place – they keep a calendar on the fridge that shows what they are going to have for dinner each night.  That is something I recommend and was so happy to see they already do that. 

After going over her eating plan, Katie and I went outside to get in some exercise.  Since she likes soccer, we kicked around the soccer ball, I had her run up and down the driveway, we did some body weight exercises, and lunges & squats.  I could tell she hadn’t been active in some time, but she did her best and did not quit on me – and more importantly, she didn’t quit on herself.  We finished our workout with a good walk around her neighborhood street.  It was nice to get a chance to talk with her a little more.  She told me she always wanted to be the one taking the pictures because she was very uncomfortable being on the other side of the lens.  She said she also hated shopping for clothes – an experience I could definitely share with her.  It is torture to be a teen standing in front of a dressing room mirror trying to zip up the pants in a size you thought would fit.  When they won’t zip, it is even more agonizing to try a size larger – it eats away at a kid’s soul and starts a cycle of self-deprecation. 

Yesterday I promised Katie that I would help her enjoy shopping and want to be in pictures rather than take them.  I emailed her when I got home last night and gave her a few goals for the week.  I told her I will support her no matter what and will never be judgmental of anything she asks or tells me.  I am going back to exercise with her this weekend and will return again next Wednesday to see how much weight she lost in her first week. 

If you would like to encourage Katie, offer support, or simply share your story, please comment below or email me at  Words of encouragement can go a long way!  And make sure to check back next week to see how much progress Katie makes in her first week.  She is on her way to feeling so much better and looking amazing!  I’m already super proud of her!