It all started when I left home for the first time for a study abroad program in France as an exchange student my senior year of high school. Before then, I didn’t care much about food. I loved pizza but I was a stick! Always into sports, gymnastics, cheerleading, and track.
I was always active and never worried about my shape. Then while living in France I gained an unprecedented appreciation for food and wine! Yes, at 16, wine was part of the culture and I was schooled not only on French cuisine but also on French wines, which glass is for which wine, which wine is for which food and every cheese known to man, in France.
Suddenly upon my return I suddenly had some curves. Where did they come from?? I started college after graduating in the spring back home. College food did not do me any favors. I stayed active in dance classes, but that stick figure was gone!
Then I spent a college year abroad in Germany. What was different this time is that I lived on the fifth floor of a building with no elevator and for the first time I had to cook for myself! I was skinny again. I walked everywhere and climbed those stairs like a master. Then back to the states. I finished college and then headed off to grad school. Grad school meant more cooking for myself but so much studying that I didn’t exercise much and I didn’t sleep much either.
Food habits declined and I ate when stressed. Bad combination. After grad school, I got back into a fitness routine, started feeling great again and started getting fit. Then I secured my first real job after grad school. I left New York State and settled in New Jersey without knowing anyone. I joined a gym since I knew I would make friends there. ..well I also met my husband!
Who knew a challenge to take my “super-spin” one hour class would result in eventually marrying that guy who barely made it through the class...haha! I had become a spinning instructor and taught classes every day of the week! I was a lunatic, I also worked full time and I loved it. I then started cycling on and off road and even joined a cycling team and started racing.
Cycling was my life and I was super fit. I even cycled to work. Then, I had children and my pattern again changed. I no longer “had time” to train and compete and my cycling took a back seat and so did my good eating habits. I gained 60 pounds with each of my children. Yes I lost some of the weight but never all of it. I got back into shape but never to the way I was.
From then forward, I have been successful with multiple nutrition programs as long as I stuck with them. Once I stopped, the weight came back. Time and time again. As I reflect on these times, I see a pattern of moments where I exercised and re-gained fitness and with the exercise came better eating habits or a program that worked!.
In moments of stress or work pressures, my fitness and healthy habits fade. I have always loved and still love exercise. I also still love food! I think my feelings about food have changed over time and this is now feels like my nemesis. I have all of the tools to make the right choices yet I don’t. Why? This is my story. I am not giving up. I am determined to find that girl who didn’t care about food, who was a free spirit, always active, and determined to achieve her goals. It’s a journey and will always be my journey.
"I got into athletics at an early age, and played for my University soccer team.
I got a great job, which involved a lot of traveling (and a lot of eating, too!) This was the start of the decline of my “great” physique. My lifestyle became very sedentary, and I started packing on the pounds. I felt lethargic and unmotivated when it came to doing any sort of outdoor activity.
Finally, I decided to join a volleyball league. I left the first game with a torn meniscus and ACL. This was a rude awakening, as well as a catalyst for me to change my lifestyle. I started going to the gym and watching my food intake. I feel great now, and more importantly, I’ve become a role model for my family and friends!"
I have had serious self-esteem issues since I was young. Even though I was pretty thin, I was still super insecure. Once I hit 30, I started to struggle with weight gain.
I tend to be an emotional eater and at that time in my life, I had lots going on. At my heaviest I tipped the scale at 190lbs. Being 5’2”, this was my rock bottom. I felt awful about myself. I decided to try and get my eating habits under control and joined Weight Watchers.
My goal was getting myself to 130lbs which was my weight in high school. In the beginning I was super strict and followed the program pretty accurately. After 6 months I lost 40lbs. I felt awesome, but it wasn’t enough. I needed to get to 130.
I was weighing myself every day. Sometimes two or three times a day. My body had plateaued and I wasn’t losing the weight following the program the way I was. I decided to cut my food intake. At one point, I wasn’t eating anything except vegetables.
By the 8th month I hit 130lbs. I felt great!! In 8 months I lost 60lbs without having to exercise. It didn’t last though. Once I came off the program, I started to eat the way I used to and next thing I knew, I had gained 40lbs back. I was so depressed. I felt like I failed and was so disappointed in myself. I knew then that I had to give it another try.
This time I wanted to do it right by exercising and dieting and see where that led me. I started running and meal prepping. It became addicting!! Then I started weight training. That was my real turning point. I felt so good about myself. My body had transformed.
Even though I wasn’t at, what I thought was my ideal weight, I started to like the way my body looked for the first time in a long time. Occasionally I fall off track, because things happen. I really try hard not to beat myself about it though.
The insecurities are still there sometimes, but I’m working on bettering myself one day at a time.
When & How My Life Changed When I Committed to a Fitness Lifestyle
In my late 20’s, I experienced some of my greatest life challenges. I was in the middle of a divorce, I had gained almost 40lbs, and I was constantly battling migraines and pain throughout my body. I hit a breaking point where I gave up on expecting anyone to be able to help me – and thank God I did.
I took ownership of all of my problems and started working on one at a time. First and foremost, my physical health. I solicited the help of a diet coach, who educated me on how to eat correctly.
As a result of committing myself to eating clean for 4 months, I lost 38lbs - without exercise! I had effectively eliminated the need for all medicines that were prescribed to me, and no longer suffered as a victim of my ailments. As soon as my health problems were under MY control, the rest of my life followed suit. I now possessed the motivation and confidence to move forward independently.
Back in the drivers seat, I wanted to take my success to the next level which meant committing to a fitness lifestyle. This meant working with fitness professionals who understood my goals, were willing to hold me accountable to maintaining all that I have achieved, and would push me outside of my comfort zone to accommodate progress.
My life changed in so many ways. I developed new friendships, I became a better working professional, and I fell in love with a man who supports and shares my fitness lifestyle. I am no longer afraid to take risks, because I’ve already proven to myself what I’m able to accomplish through hard work and dedication.
Committing to a fitness lifestyle is how I found happiness in life. I am healthy, I am strong, and I am now better able to help those around me, because I take better care of myself.
What is my definition of Health?
My definition of health is what I refer to as the “Golden Triangle of Happiness”. The three sides represent different, but equally important, kinds of health in my life: Physical Health (diet and fitness), Financial Health (wealth), and Emotional Health (relationships, engagement, sense of purpose). When one side is imbalanced, the other sides suffer the consequences. For example, without physical health you will not enjoy the wealth you have or work for and you cannot provide effectively in your personal relationships (especially if you are one being cared for).
Without Financial Health, you cannot enjoy the benefits of having good physical health and will be subjected to stress, concerns, and worries. Likewise, you cannot share experiences with your important relationships if you cannot afford to do so. Lastly, without Emotional Health – can you honestly be motivated enough to work hard to create wealth or care about your physical health if you have no one to share your love with or are in a miserable relationship?
Therefore, I devote equal amounts of time and energy to keep my triangle balanced, as my definition of health is closely tied to overall happiness.
What do I envision my future being like if I continue on my fitness path?
Continuing on my fitness path means a couple things for my future:
I will have the strength, energy, and stamina to give my best to everything that is important to me: being a better wife to my husband, a better American citizen who contributes to society, eventually becoming a business owner, and give more of myself to help those around me.
It will enable me to retain control of what I can in regards to my physical health so I do not
become a burden to my family or society. I will enjoy staying out of the doctor’s office for health reasons in my realm of control through proper diet and fitness. I will therefore save more money which I can apply to protecting, building, and enjoying my future.
I will maintain the confidence, motivation, and discipline to apply myself in all other aspects of my life!
I was a whopping 5lbs14oz at birth, full term, which is when I was forced into my “bulking” phase; yup they would wake me up to feed me. It kinda went all down hill from there. I was a very active kid, always involved in organized sports and pick up games with my friends.
I thank god that we didn’t get an Atari when I was that age, I still suck at most video games. So being the “big” kid I never got to play Pop Warner football and always wore number 13 playing baseball cause it was the biggest uniform. In high school I continued to play sports but never got any real or for that matter bad coaching in the realm of weightlifting or nutrition.
I went right into medic school after high school and then started my EMS career. I would routinely work six 12 hour shifts a week between a full time job and two part time jobs, sometimes I’d have a 24 hour shift sprinkled in for fun.
Fast food was life, mixed in with some awesome ethnic food depending whether I was in Perth Amboy, Elizabeth or New Brunswick. I GOT LARGE. So I joined the health center at the hospital and I would go in and put in an hour of completely haphazard work, but I broke a sweat so it counted for something.
Then came the low carb high protein with the pills diet plan, it worked but not anything sustainable, probably because they had to reformulate the pills something about hearts blowing up with prolonged use.
I had the big career change and got academy fit. I dropped about 15 pounds before the academy and about another 15 or twenty while I was in. I was in good condition walking out. I made on and off attempts at working out at a box gym over the next years, bought an elliptical for home, yada, yada, yada.
I gained and gained until I maxed out at about 323lbs and realized I had some problems. I got put on meds by my doc for cholesterol and diabetes, BAM smacked in the face!!! I started using a phone app that tracks all of your ins and outs and had success because I was holding myself accountable.
This is when my fitness journey began in earnest. I was introduced to Newell Strength as a client in a fat shredder contest. Not gonna lie it kicked my ass.
The first couple of weeks I’d go to the gym then get home walk through the door and LITERALLY lay down on the floor and sleep. Seems like a long time ago. Since then I’ve become part of the tribe and continue on my transformation journey. I’ve gotten off of the meds and normalized my blood work, which is a huge positive.
I’ve made physical changes that are drastic enough that people notice and comment which is a big boost to the ego and makes me want to continue putting in the work.
I’ve had periods of great focus and success as well as periods of no focus, no workouts and downward trends. It’s my path, I own it positive and not so positive.
As a young mom I found it nearly impossible to concentrate on being the best me. Family, grad school and work were priorities while fitness and nutrition just couldn't fit in (or just weren't important enough for me to try). In eleven years as my family grew, my schedule became more hectic and free time was non-existent.
Any time that I did have to myself I would try to sneak in a nap! I was tired all the time and even the thought of chasing the kids around made me lose my breath! I had friends who were working out and I was jealous they had the time. I knew I had to change something so as a meager attempt I invested in fad diets and workout DVDs.
I thought I could commit to a program in my living room, but never found the motivation to stick with it to the end. I would come up with excuses to stop after a week or two without someone holding me accountable. I bought a treadmill that I never used. I got into the bad habit of eating out every night, my kids right by my side. I was too exhausted to cook and convinced myself that chicken nuggets and apple slices were "healthy enough".
Then one day I just didn't like the taste of fast food anymore. I felt horrible... empty, irritable and stressed out. It pissed me off that I couldn't cook a meal for my family and that I had to bribe my kids to eat vegetables... especially when I realized I had to bribe myself as well!
Then a weight loss competition was announced at my job and part of the prize was cash! All of a sudden I was motivated! I randomly received a great coach as a teammate and two months later I was $95 richer when I won first place for females. That coach was Chris Giraldi and he taught me so much in just seven weeks!
One thing he kept referring to was his family at Newell Strength. This piqued my curiousity so I started following the gym on Instagram. I saw the post about the Fat Shredder Contest that was about to start. Right away I asked Chris to be my partner so I could continue to grill him about diet and exercise. We signed up and he wrote out a fitness/nutrition plan for me.
My first MET class I almost died! Every one after that got a little bit easier. At one point I was taking MET classes back to back. I learned two easy recipes and became a meal prepping machine. I was addicted! Next thing I knew Chris and I were the Fat Shredder Champs!
Fast forward 7 months I am continuing to learn what works for my body and loving the changes taking place in my life. I ask myself every morning, “What will you do today to feel the way you want to feel?” I am a work in progress and that is okay with me!
I’m a better Dad.
I’ve always been pretty fit. My days in the Army, EMS and H-Vac construction and service, kept me strong and active. My diet was never really dialed in and I’ve always been lean.
Seven years ago I was married with two beautiful children, growing my business and life was grand. My marriage took a nose dive and we divorced.
The next three years were the hardest years of my life. I wasn’t eating right or even able to sleep through the night. The stress was killing me. I felt like crap. I lost weight to 140 and was feeling like an old man (I was 44).
One day I realized that I better fix me or else I won’t be able to fix anything else. That’s when I started checking out gyms and nutrition guidance. After finding excuses not to join a gym for about 6 months, I found some great friends that helped me change my life. Yep, Newell Strength.
I enrolled in a ripped dads contest and was out in 2 weeks. After 3 months, I finally returned and haven’t looked back since. I feel awesome. I learned to eat better and training is unparalleled. Fast forward about 1.5 years and I competed in a bodybuilding show. First time ever.
I learned that if I can do this (compete), than I can do anything. My kids even learned from this. They made sacrifices to help me train for the show and we all learned to help each other succeed. I am grateful that my fitness training carries into my family.
I also discovered a new motivation for fitness. See, a few of the guys at the gym have come to tell me that I motivate them. That they joined after hearing my story and seeing my progress pictures. This blew my mind as I never thought that I would be the one motivating anyone. These guys still motivate me today.
So, I’m continuing my fitness journey and I am continuing to build and grow friendships. It’s a work in progress. As a single dad and working on growing my business, my time is limited, but, I am determined t o keep progress going. I plan to compete again when I turn 50.
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past 2.5 years at Newell Strength. Today, I am a Better Dad. A Ripped Dad!
I never had an issue with weight until my third child was born. Running my own business and raising 3 children left me with no time to exercise or eat healthy, for that matter! I would try different workouts and diets, and would be successful short term, however, I would not stick with the regimen and the weight would sneak back on.
In 2011, I bought a DVD workout collection to workout at home. I worked out 6 days a week for 6 months, with great success, losing 50 pounds! Unfortunately, with all the jumping the workouts required, it really took a toll on my knees and I had to stop the "insanity" if you know what I mean.....lol! My doctor told me it was very important to lose weight and build up the muscle around my knees to make them stronger.
I was really at a loss by this point. I knew if I joined a regular gym, it wouldn't work for me because I need someone to hold me accountable. In the meantime, I would walk daily or ride my bike on the tow path, however, that just wasn't enough because the weight was not coming off.
One day, while scrolling through Facebook, I came across an ad for Newell featuring Carol's story! Carol's story really moved me! I said to myself, if she can do it, I can too! I have been a member of Newell for 1 year this month. I have seen great success, however, I am in this fitness journey for life! I found my forever gym at Newell. I feel much stronger and healthier than just 1 year ago! I am being taught how to exercise correctly and how to eat properly to run an efficient body. I actually look forward to workouts now!!!
My fitness journey started as a guy that wandered away from taking care of himself, gained considerable amounts of fat, suffered from high blood pressure and had the diet that a “junk food junky” would love.
I was lucky enough to meet Kyle in October of 2011 and fell in love with his style of fitness and transformation. The wealth of knowledge and experience is amazing at Newell Strength.
The methods and tools work. I have belonged to many gyms in the past and the single characteristic that shines from Newell Strength is that if you follow the guidance “it will work”.
In the past seven years at Newell Strength - I have lost 57 lbs., I learned to make a eating a lifestyle, I controlled the high blood pressure, I feel better, I have more energy and I enjoy the journey!
My fitness journey began at a very young age of five years old. My parents alway encourage me to participate in athletic opportunities, and because of them I fell in love with sports. Not only did I enjoy the physical aspect of the game, but I loved the commradery and being apart of a team.
After one too many injuries in college I decided it was time to put myself on the bench for athletic sports. That, however, did not stop me from continuing my passion for fitness. In college I studied exercise science & psychology. In order to keep myself in shape I regularly hit the gym four to five times a week. Ironically, however, I never seemed to hit my fitness goals where in my mind I thought I was doing everything right.
As I began my adult life working a nine to five job behind a desk & my stress levels began to rise I noticed a big bulge coming from my mid section. I'd try every fad diet known to man. It worked in the short term, but in the long term it never really worked. My weight would always fluctuate because of my "yo-yo" dieting & best efforts at the gym.
I always tried to be in the know with health and fitness & that is where I stumbled upon Kyle Newells blog by stopping in at Muscle Maker Grill back in the day. Kyle always left a note at the end of his blog about joining his team at Newell Strength & one of the last questions was a button to submit if you were really ready to commit. I always hesitated to hit that last button, because I knew I was not ready.
It probably took me a good two years when I finally had it with my weight that I finally pressed that button and committed to testing out Newell Strength. That was the best decision I have ever made & I'm so glad I took the chance with the team at Newell Strength. Kyle was right when he said, "when the student is ready the teacher will appear."
Since joining Newell Strength I feel like I found a team again. It may not be a sports team, but it is a team nonetheless that supports you, encourages you, and teaches you along the way of your fitness journey.
A fitness journey is just that...always changing ever evolving.
I have finally found my home at Newell Strength. You will never find me again at those commercial gyms where you'll just be a rat on a spinning wheel.
Thank you Newell Strength Team!
The journey of my fitness life began at a young age playing several sports. I would also watch bodybuilding competitions on television and wanted to get big like Arnold Schwarzenegger but had no idea how to begin. I remember reading “Flex” magazine along with others, and in them would have several workouts on how to get bigger and stronger. Until I reached High School is when I began working out with my teammates and coaches getting a better understanding with weight training.
Fast forward years later, a friend of mine owned a gym and convinced me to begin competing in powerlifting. I competed in the USAPL Association for a few years and went on to become a 2 time Police & Fire Nationals Powerlifting Champion and a 2 time New Jersey State Powerlifting Champion. I have not competed in several years but my workouts were geared towards powerlifting.
Since working out at Newell Strength, I was introduced to several different types of workouts consisting of a more total body workout while incorporating conditioning at the same time. I am still able to get my main power movements in, and also allows for accessory exercises for the main power lifts. I have found that these types of workouts are more efficient than to isolate only one or two muscle groups in one single workout.
Now with 2 boys playing sports all year round, and working shift work, my consistency of working out 4 days a week has dwindled. I may go a week of working out only once and then the next week working out 4 times. I need to be more consistent with my workout routine which also coincides with time management. Managing my time better will get me back on to a more consistent path of training and reaching my goal of a 700-lb deadlift.
The best is I have a fitness oriented family that enjoys the outdoors, works hard and we are determined to be the best we can be...LOVE my WIFE and BOYS.
I was first exposed to training through sports as a kid. I really enjoyed sports and working out and started to get much more into lifting weights towards the middle of high school. As a fairly skinny kid, I really wanted to get bigger and became super focused on training and eating to try to pack on muscle. I consistently improved, but progress was slow to come. Early in college I finally started to see the gains I was after. From there, training, fitness and diet was a big part of my life.
This continued until shortly after my first daughter was born. The competing demands of being a new parent and managing my career led me to put my health and fitness on the back burner. I would go through periods of not working out and then training sporadically and haphazardly. When I did work out it was the same variations of workouts I'd been doing for years......this got boring and I had a hard time maintaining motivation. My energy level and strength suffered , although I thought it was just a part of getting older. This continued for a several years after our second daughter was born.
I was falling further away from my idea of fitness and did not have the energy level I needed in order to excel at the demands of family, work and other interests. At this point I realized I needed a change and that is when I found Newell Strength, which was a real game changer. My focus on health and training has been reinvigorated and Kyle and his team have helped me get back on track, training with intensity and taking things to the next level. I've made significant improvements in strength, gaining muscle and losing fat, that I would not have thought was possible at about 40. Most importantly my energy levels feel as good as they did in my 20's. I've learned that, while not always easy, I've got to prioritize myself and my fitness so that I can be at my best for my family and maximize my quality of life.
Things you will probably never hear me say….”You know what?! I could really go for huge bowl of vegetables’, ‘Wow, that spaghetti squash was delicious’ or, ‘ No thanks, I’d much prefer broccoli’ ….So, what my fitness journey? When I was younger, I was an athlete.
When I was in my 20s, I was in crazy-good shape after having my kids. In my 30s, my body was hijacked by some health issues, causing me to gain weight (and fat) at an existential rate. Now, in my 40s – I’ve surprised myself with how strong I am. I’ve lost body fat, gained muscle and totally smashed some goals I didn’t think were possible.
These days, I am trying to focus on what overall health and fitness looks like…I’m not giving up on goal setting (or having a rockin’ bikini bod for ‘my age’ *lol*), but my intention is more to focus on consistency, balance, health, mobility, lean muscle mass, community, and yes…choosing vegetables over French Fries a little more often.
A little over 5 years ago I signed a contract that changed my life forever. I had always been extremely active, but I had literally run my body into a physical and mental mess. I needed help redefining healthy.
My biggest change since upgrading my workouts and nutrition is mental.
I needed a mental change more than a physical change. I like to think of the amazing physical change as a side effect. The best part about my new self is that my diet and exercise plan is sustainable for life. Yes, it is hard work, but the benefits are endless.
As a 43-year-old husband and father of 2 crazy high energy kids I will continue my new way of eating and working out for the rest of my life. I have way too many things left to learn and places to see on this earth to do it any other way.