February 2015 Fitness Success Story – Brad & Sharon

Brad: I’m Brad, and we moved here from China.

Sharon: I’m Sharon…we’re actually originally from the Northeast. It was wonderful; we lived there for a year but when you’re in a foreign country it’s really hard to eat right and exercise and all of that.

Brad: And the weather is really bad so you couldn’t exercise or go outside as much, so I, at least, gained quite a bit of weight there.

Sharon: Me too! Before we lived in China, we lived in many other countries so we had been gone about 21 years. In a way, we felt like Rip Van Winkle—how do we recreate our life? How do you live here, how do you operate? There’s so much good food. We were eating out for the first two months we were here. They give you chips, they give you bread and we just ate it all.

I had a lot of trouble with ongoing fatigue, just always tired. I would get myself to do whatever needed to be done but I felt sort of heavy, not in a sense of overweight, but just in a sense of harder and harder to move fluidly. Even doing normal things, I just felt lethargic through my bones and my joints.

Brad: For me, I’ve always been very athletic. I had really degraded so I didn’t have the strength and especially with the flexibility—I couldn’t do a lot of things I really wanted to do because I had become so stiff. I went to the Cooper’s Clinic and he said I just can’t run anymore.

I have a ruptured disc in my back so I avoided using it for years so actually that made me get even stiffer and even weaker and it hurt even more. I got to the point where I couldn’t even touch my knees. I thought that was how I’d live but I didn’t like living where I was so restricted in what I had to do. It was hard to even tie my shoes.

Sharon: I’m 53 so hitting that age, more needed to be done. The same things that used to work weren’t working anymore. I have done the elliptical machine. I did a lot of aerobic work. I hadn’t done a lot of weight work.

Brad: I had been active. I played tennis, I’d do elliptical. I’d do a range of stuff. I wouldn’t be able to do it as consistently just because of schedule and travel and other complex stuff. Different times I’d go up and down, so you get fit and you move to a new place and get out of your routine. It takes a while to get back on to it.

Sharon: Hut’s a really great salesman, in a good way. One of the things he said to us when he came was, “You’ll feel like you’re 18 again,” and I was like, Yeah, right. But the crazy thing is, maybe three or four weeks into it, I started feeling that way already.

Brad: I’ve lost 21 pounds total weight and I think by the math, I gained over 5 pounds of muscle. The goal of gaining strength and fitness has been there so it’s about two-thirds of the way to where I want to be. That’s really satisfying. It’s so much easier to do things.

Last week I had achieved a big goal. I was able to do a pull-up. I can do 5 pull-ups. That’s a hard thing because you had to lose the weight to gain the strength to actually pull your body up. I haven’t been able to do pull-ups for a long time so that’s been very satisfying.

I wanted to gain flexibility. I thought because of my ruptured disc I couldn’t do that. After the first month and we did the measurement, I had actually gained several inches in terms of my flexibility and that was really satisfying. It’s just not all fun; this is all working.

Sharon: I’ve lost a total of 17 pounds, but for me the most surprising benefits is increased energy and flexibility, fluidity of motion. And I have to say, just a more positive outlook.

I have the same as Brad, not a bad back but a bad heel. It is unbelievable how much less it hurts and how much more flexibility I have. The same thing—I thought this bum heel and suddenly I was like, “Gary!” (our trainer) “I’m doing a lunge! I’m doing a lunge and it doesn’t hurt.” I wouldn’t have believed it before.

Brad: She thought she had to fix it with surgery and actually she had the most improvement just by exercise.

The program we’re on, we work out 6 days a week at 6-7 in the morning. Gary comes two days a week. It’s just great to start the day with exercise. I’m a night person so I’m not normally exercising in the morning and I just love it. I feel much more clear-thinking and energetic during the day at work. We are pretty active during the day.

We have this nice yard so we really enjoy being able to work outside. I’ve been out there preening trees and doing lots of yard work. I just feel strong and able to do it without not getting overly tired. It’s been fun to be quite active and clear-thinking.

Sharon: Once a year there’s the World’s Toughest Mudder. It’s a 24-hour race with obstacles—climbing over things, jumping into things, going through things. When you do that you’re allowed to have two pit crew to help you: a pacer and a person to give you the food you need, a change of clothes. We were able to do that for our son. It was amazing just to be able to be there, to have the energy to keep going for 24 hours.

In October our son came to Dallas and did a Tough Mudder. We watched him and both of us independently thought, “I want to do that.” So part of our training is, next year in October, we are going to compete together (you can work together in these things) in the Dallas Tough Mudder.

It’s really, really wonderful to have this amazing goal that I thought I had missed the time in my life to do it and I’m so excited. Even Gary once in a while and our son say, “Really, Sharon? You really think you want to do this?” They think I’m not going to do it, but I’m going to do it.

Brad was totally the driver in the beginning. I was like, “Let’s wait, let’s get our life established. It’s too many things happening at once. I can’t also do the fitness.” He’s like, “We’re going, we’re going, we’re going.”

So it’s been really, really wonderful to do this together and to have this commitment really to each other and to our family and the people we love, that we’ll do what’s necessary to get fit and healthy.

Brad: Let me just build on that for a second. I’m smiling because what we had thought about was we were going to have our goals achieved by February. That’s losing weight and strength and stretching. After that, we’d have our next goal, which would be this Tough Mudder.

Gary gets so excited. We told him and he’s already adding exercises to allow us to climb over walls. He just got real excited. He’s even upped a notch for us in our training. So we’re starting the new training from today.

Sharon: The first or second time Gary, our trainer, came to our house, he said something to me. He said, “You know, it takes a lot of courage to ask for help.” We’re so used to being self-sufficient and taking that first step to just say, “I need somebody to help me with this. What I know isn’t enough anymore,” is brave. I was sort of like, “Hmm, I guess it is!”

I feel like the benefits for us have been so broad, so multi-faceted. Life is better doing this. Yes, it does take courage to say, “I need help,” and it’s a financial commitment but I think it’s more valuable than anything.