To close out our theme on generational fitness tips, we thought it would be fun to round up a few success stories across the generations we covered this month: Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers.
These motivational stories are great examples of conquering fears and overcoming personal, social and nutritional obstacles. One of the common themes from all of these ladies is that they didn’t do it alone. Research has shown again and again that having a support system is one of the best ways to accomplish goals. Whether that’s your family, friends or a La Jolla Sports Club Personal Trainer, make sure you have support to back you up when things inevitably get a little tough.
We are incredibly proud of all our LJSCers getting fit and staying fit. If you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to reach out. OK, let’s get motivated*!
The Millennial – Lisa Monroe
Age: 33 | Height: 5’7” | Old weight: 190 lb | Current Weight: 130 lb | Starting Dress Size: 12/14 | Ending dress size: 4 | Occupation: Legal secretary | Best advice for others: Take progress photos every two weeks. It’s motivating and encouraging to see the changes your body is making!
At age 14, Lisa Monroe moved from Montana to Washington state and was overwhelmed with the change. ‘I became introverted, stopped being active, struggled with depression and gained some weight,’ she says. ‘Over the next 10 years, I gained and lost weight intermittently through cardio and yo-yo dieting.’
Years later in 2010, change struck again when Monroe became pregnant with her first daughter. ‘Being pregnant felt like a roller coaster — I wasn’t in charge of my body, and it was overwhelming,’ she says. ‘I used food as solace to quiet myself.’
Monroe subscribed wholeheartedly to the ‘eating for two’ mentality during her pregnancy, and she ate fast food and a banana split (or two) almost every day. “I gained 50 pounds, and while I was tremendously proud of the beautiful, miraculous little person I had created, I was extremely unhappy with the person I saw in the mirror,” she says. “I avoided pictures and didn’t feel like myself anymore. I was desperate to make a lasting change.”
Lisa did a little research before jumping in and ‘tried to soak up as much information as I could on how to lose fat and gain muscle the healthy way,.’ She also did a complete overhaul of her eating habits. ‘The hardest part was learning a new style of cooking,’ she says. ‘But there are so many amazing, healthy recipes out there, I was excited to make them.’
Monroe lost 30 pounds using her new nutritional know-how and an online fitness program, then became pregnant with her second daughter. Fortunately, she had the tools to maintain a healthy weight during her pregnancy the second time around.
But she still had that lingering 20 pounds to lose and admits that ‘It took me three years to meet my goal weight and feel truly comfortable in my skin… My overall goal is to continue this lifestyle because it makes me happy, and it sets a healthy, positive example for my daughters.’
What can you do now that you could not do before?
One of the best parts of becoming physically fit that I couldn’t do before is pick my kids up and hoist them onto my shoulders. I can also complete several push-ups, and a couple chin ups, which I could never do before.
What do you do when you come face-to-face with some of your old food vices?
I’m human so I still struggle with temptation and motivation to eat healthy from time to time. I try to allow myself some treats without letting it get out of control. It is helpful to me that this lifestyle has become habit, so making healthier choices becomes second nature and easier over time.
What is one of your new favorite healthy recipes?
I love the beef stroganoff from bodybuilding.com and I eat it almost weekly with some whole wheat pasta and spring mix salad.
Do you have any mantras you’d like to share?
I remind myself that ‘this too shall pass’ during life’s hard times. One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis, You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.
What is your favorite bodypart to train and your favorite move for that part?
I can’t pick just one! I love to train glutes and shoulders. I love hip thrusts for glutes and military and Arnold press for shoulders.
What is your weekly training split?
Monday: Glutes, legs
Tuesday: Chest, triceps, shoulders, glutes
Thursday: Glutes, legs
Friday: Back, biceps, abs
Saturday: Shoulders, glutes
What do you do for cardio – how long and how often?
My favorite types of cardio are incline walking, incline sprints and the step mill. I will usually get 30 minutes of steady state cardio or 20 minutes of HIIT after training sessions.
Generation X – Lynn Cofield
Age: 43 | Height: 5’5” | Old weight: 266 lb | Current Weight: 143 lb | Occupation: Registered nurse | Words of wisdom: Learn to eat healthy before starting a workout routine. If you don’t get the nutrition down first, you won’t see good results in the gym and could get discouraged and quit.
‘In January 2014, I was sick of myself, I was so tired of being tired, and when I looked in the mirror, I no longer recognized the overweight, sad face looking back.’
After several marriages that ended in divorce, the single mom had no self-esteem left and was taking antidepressants, drinking a box of wine a week, and attempting to quell her depression with popcorn, chips, crackers, cookies, burgers and pizza. ‘The worse I felt about me, the more junk I ate, and the more junk I ate, the bigger I got,’ she says. At her heaviest, Cofield weighed in at 266 pounds. ‘I was wondering where I was going to buy my clothes, as the size 24 pants and 3X top were getting snug. It was very scary.’
Then Cofield read an article on Facebook about the negative effects of sugar on the human body, and something just clicked. ‘I went straight to the kitchen with a trash bag and completely cleaned my home of sugary foods,’ she says. ‘That single action completely changed the course of my life.’
Cofield’s initial goal was to lose 50 pounds by her birthday in June, giving her six months to transform; by the end of August, she had lost 74 pounds through diet alone. Now, she decided, it was time to bring exercise into the mix. After much researching, Cofield deduced that lifting weights would be her best bet for fat loss, and as she slowly burned off her body fat and added lean muscle, she discovered that something bigger was happening. ‘The barbells transformed me on the inside as well as on the outside,’ she says. ‘Lifting empowered me and made me feel strong. And as much as I gained in muscle, my mental gains were even more tremendous.’
It took a total of 19 dedicated months, but Cofield lost 123 pounds and got her body fat down to 14 percent. ‘A year ago, I could barely do a bodyweight squat, and now I squat 185 pounds for four sets of 15,’ she says.
To help and encourage other women, Cofield started a health and weight-loss support group on Facebook called Fabulously Empowered Women, which has grown to more than 900 participants. She also launched a business called Barbell Butterfly to help women learn how to eat clean, change the way they think of themselves, and how to lift weights to transform their bodies and love themselves again.
‘I don’t want to share my story to say, Look what I did — I want to share it to say, Look what YOU can do!’ she says. ‘Anything is possible. Anything.’
Were you always overweight?
I struggled with my weight most of my adult life. In my early twenties I was about a size 12/14 and just gradually got bigger from there. By my late 30s I was a good 22/24. By the time I hit 40, I was wondering where I was going to buy my clothes as the size 24 pants and 3x top were getting snug. It was very scary to think about.
Were you ever athletic?
I was absolutely never athletic! When I was a child, I was a big reader. My parents said that I was the ‘musical one’ and my sister was the ‘athletic one.’ I played the piano and was in the band in school. No team sports, no individual sports.
What role did diet have in your weight gain?
Huge! I lived on junk food — popcorn, wine, fast food, pizza, and Mexican food. My favorite dinner was popcorn and wine. I never ate anything healthy! My body was constantly being infused with sugar — sweet tea, sodas, wine, junk food, etc. It didn’t have any choice but to turn all that sugar into fat!
Were you under the impression that the things you were eating were good for you?
Not at all! I knew it was all bad for me, but I was so caught up in being depressed and hating myself that I simply fed my emotions with food. The worse I felt about me, the more junk I ate.
What changes did you make to your diet and nutrition program after you started lifting weights?
When I started weight lifting, I was still living on Lean Cuisines and Adkins protein shakes. I still wasn’t eating very healthy and began to feel very fatigued. My body needed more because of the stress I was putting it through in the gym. Then I watched a food documentary called Hungry for Change. It was an eye-opening moment for me and pointed me in the direction of eating clean. When I began changing to a clean diet, eating six small meals a day and fueling my body with real food, my body began to respond almost immediately. I had more energy, could push harder in the gym, was sleeping better, feeling stronger and really began to hit my stride.
What was the hardest part about changing your eating habits?
Honestly, I would have to say it was cutting out the wine and fast food. Those things were deeply ingrained habits that were a struggle to kick. There were many days in the beginning that I felt as though I were just barely making it. Some days I failed, but I learned to just pick myself up the next day and keep going.
What is your favorite bodypart to train?
I love training my back. One of my favorite exercises is the T-Bar Row. It makes me feel like such a beast!
What is your weekly training split?
Every day I do at 30–40 minutes of fasting interval training cardio, with Saturday being cardio only. Sundays are my rest day.
What advice would you give someone who has a lot of weight to lose?
Build your nutritional foundation first and learn how to eat healthy before starting a workout routine. When we try to do everything at once, I think we just end up setting ourselves up to fail. By building a strong foundation, we feel better in the gym and will see fantastic results.
Did your family support your transformation?
My sister, Beth, is my biggest supporter! She lives 1,000 miles away, but she has always been healthy and fit and encouraged me every step of the way.
The Baby Boomer – Susan Lamb
Age: 57 | Height: 5’3” | Old weight: 205 lb | Current Weight: 125 lb | Occupation: Sales & account management | Favorite clean meal: Turkey scramble (ground turkey, peppers, spinach, egg white, spices)
The weight crept up on Susan Lamb slowly. A single working mother, Lamb spent years focusing on her children and career as the extra pounds slowly accumulated. Her knees were sore, she couldn’t play with her grandson and at 52 years old, she tipped the scales at 205 pounds. Then came the breast cancer diagnosis.
‘All of that just kind of made me take stock of where I was at and where I wanted to be. As I was finishing up radiation, I started doing a little bit of cardio, just to get some exercise into my day,’ she says. ‘I visualized in my mind that I was going to take care of myself and come to a different place. I was not going to stay this way. I had that vision and then I started taking steps.’
One of those steps was to do some weight training. Feeling old and overweight, it took Lamb three months to find the confidence to approach a personal trainer in the gym. With the trainer’s help, and blessed with a physique that always held a lot of muscle, Lamb made fast progress. When she eventually broached the idea of a doing a natural bodybuilding contest, her trainer thought it was a great idea. She has competed in five contests to date, with her best performance garnering her second place. But the offstage accolades dwarf any trophy or medal she could be handed on the dais.
‘Any time I compete, women and men come up to me and hug me and tell me how inspired they are. When I say I weighed 205 pounds when I started, people can’t believe it. That’s why I say that anyone can do this,’ she says. ‘You just have to visualize being in a different place. Then you take steps every day to get yourself there.’
Today, Lamb is in a decidedly different place. She recently hit the magic five-year mark after her surgery and radiation treatments, meaning that her oncologists consider her to be officially cancer-free. Expecting the arrival of another grandchild, she plans to take a break from competing in 2015, but she still hits the gym four to five days a week. She has become the fitness expert in her expanding family and recently wrote a workout program for her daughter.
‘When my grandson, who is now in the eighth grade, wants advice on working out, he comes to me,’ Lamb says. ‘The other day he said to me, How can I get abs? I am the one he asks! I think that is pretty cool.’
OK, that wraps up our month on female fitness! Be sure to let the guys in your life know we’re helping them out next month.
Have you had wild success in your life you’d like to share? Any fitness tips you have for your generation? Leave a comment below!
Stay safe, and have a great Memorial Day weekend!
// Your La Jolla Sports Club team
*Thanks to Shape.com!