by Sasha Reddy
Last fall, Janice Lorrah moved to Hockessin from southern Pennsylvania with her husband and 4-year-old daughter, Grace. Along with their move to a new home and introduction to HAC shortly thereafter, Janice was in for a transformative journey.
The Lorrah family joined HAC in November 2018. Back in PA, going to the gym was mostly an afterthought, especially for Janice. “We were members of the YMCA by our house,” she says, “but it was mostly to use the pool”. Trips to the gym were few and far between, and in their first few weeks of membership at HAC, it looked like that trend would continue. Between settling into their new home and all the end-of-year holiday festivities, Janice found little time to work out at the club. But when January came around and Janice learned about HAC’s annual Make it a Habit Group Fitness Contest, she decided to give it a try.
Make it a Habit is a 6-week challenge that encourages members to try a variety of group fitness classes and stick to their fitness goals in the new year. By trying different classes and filling her contest card, Janice was able to find a few favorite classes to keep coming back to. The contest proved to be a great prelude to the HAC Lifestyle Challenge, which Janice learned about shortly thereafter.
Janice is no stranger to fad diets and quick-fix attempts at weight loss. She describes her past self as the type of person that would strongly consider getting a dog if someone told her that dog-owners lead healthier lives. After years of flip-flopping between shoddy weight loss strategies, losing weight quickly only to gain it back just as fast, Janice was determined to find a lasting solution. But there was an even deeper reason for her want to join HAC’s 4th annual Lifestyle Challenge: to set a healthy precedent for her daughter, Grace. Janice has always made a point to teach Grace to steer clear of junk food and make healthy meal choices. “For a long time, I was talking the big talk” Janice says. While she wanted to take every measure possible to ensure a healthy lifestyle for her daughter, she knew deep down that the example she was setting through her own lifestyle and actions spoke loudly, too. “I knew I had to be a better role model for her”, Janice says, and the Lifestyle Challenge felt like the right way to start.
Janice was paired with HAC Elite Personal Trainer, Rachael Martin, for the duration of the challenge, and the two have proved to be a match made in heaven. “When I cook, I have to cook for my family,” Janice says. “[Rachael] knows what that’s like.” Both women are mothers of younger children, so they both understand the challenges of finding time for self-care and self-maintenance without neglecting family. Rachael has always been able to tell Janice what she needs to hear – from tips on balancing Grace-time and workout-time to a rational “tell-me-not-to-have-that-slice-of-cake” voice of reason – and she’s always been just a text message away. Janice expresses that with Rachael, “I never wanted to use the word ‘can’t’”.
As part of the Lifestyle Challenge, Janice also scheduled several nutrition meetings with Jeannie Versagli, HAC’s Registered Dietitian. To simplify daily meal prep and make it easier to stick to a healthy diet, Jeannie urged Janice to try and cook the same meals for her whole family every night. Janice was skeptical, as Grace can be an especially picky eater at times, but she felt that she owed it to herself to listen to the advice she was paying to receive. It was largely a success; Janice was able to keep Grace engaged by enlisting her help with setting the table and helping her serve food to herself. With all the Lorrah’s on the same page at dinnertime, it also became easier for Janice to track her meals through her phone.
The Myzone™ Belt has also been a pivotal tool in Janice’s transformation. Janice felt that her Myzone Belt not only helped her better understand her own exertion during workouts but also aided Rachael in picking appropriate machines and exercises for Janice. She learned to seek out machines that would keep her average heart rate in the right place for maximal calorie burn – the elliptical and the stairmaster were ideal for this. Wearing the belt and seeing the numbers even motivated Janice to work out. “If you just work a little bit harder,” she says, “you are going to get totally different results”.
While Janice generally maintained a motivated mindset throughout the challenge, she did encounter one major obstacle. In the middle of March, Grace was on spring break from preschool for two weeks; Janice hadn’t taken this into account when she registered for the Lifestyle Challenge in December. “I absolutely know that if I had known that she had that spring break, I would have used it as an excuse to not do [the challenge]” she says. By the time she found out, there were two options: use her obligation to Grace as an excuse to put her own progress on the backburner or work out a schedule that would allow for both. Janice chose the latter, and for those two weeks she drove to HAC at half past five nearly every morning to work out, get home, get showered, and start her day before Grace was even awake. The first day was dark and chilly; Janice remembers asking herself “why do people do this?” on her drive up to the club. She was surprised to find a parking lot full of cars and line of members patiently waiting to be allowed into the building. There’s a whole culture of HAC members who wake up at the crack of dawn to workout at HAC; if they could get up and get out of the house so early, why couldn’t Janice? “Some days I even came twice to work out with [Rachael] or take a class in the late afternoon” she recalls. Janice not only refused to compromise her progress during Grace’s break from school – she actually upped the ante on her workouts while still leaving time to spend with Grace. The payoff was well worth it.
Over the 12-week duration of the Lifestyle Challenge, Grace was clearly taking notice of her mom’s new lifestyle. On one typical mother-daughter trip to the store, Grace and Janice were looking at items in the deodorant section. Pointing to a product with athletes and yogis printed on the label, Grace grabs her mother’s hand: “Mommy, you should get that one because you work out”. The way Grace plays with her toys has also changed since her mother began the challenge. Now when she plays with her teddy bears, she sometimes escorts the mother bear into another room for a moment to ‘go to the gym’. “I don’t know what she thought I used to do,” Janice laughs, “but this is much better!”. Seeing how her actions have reflected on her daughter has been especially powerful. “Now I talk the talk and walk the walk. You can’t put a price on that.”
From taking part in the Lifestyle Challenge, Janice learned to shoot for progress, not perfection. On a sticky note hung on her mirror, she wrote herself: “it doesn’t get easier; you get stronger”, and it’s a message she’s learned to live by. It’s not worth comparing yourself to others – in fact, it’s not even worth comparing yourself to the person you used to be. She may have failed trying fad diets in the past, but her willpower and want for self-change was the driving force behind her success now. “This [challenge]
has definitely been a springboard, not just for health and weight, but for other areas of my life, too” she says. Janice truly feels that there’s not one part of her life unimproved: her relationships, her skin, her efficiency, organizational skills, self-esteem, and so on. And she’s found a whole new community of supporters at HAC. “I’m surrounded by a team”, she says.
“Lifestyle” encapsulates much more than the amount you sweat or number of calories in and calories out. For Janice, it’s setting the table for dinner with her daughter, waking up exceedingly early for morning trips to the gym, and finding a home in an energetic, supportive community. She’s excited to keep setting goals for herself and raising the bar higher and higher for her daughter and for herself.