by Sasha Reddy
John Weaver has experimented with many weight management programs over the years. From Weight Watchers® to Noom®, he’s learned something new with every program he and his wife Nina have tried together. The couple has seen the payoffs that come with eating more balanced meals and doing more cooking at home first-hand – John has even become an enthusiastic home chef as a result.
“What we missed out on was the exercise component,” he says. “We’d already had the nutrition. We’d already changed our eating style for the most part – it continued to evolve, and we tried more and more new things. But we were already on that road; that was the easy part for us. The hard part was just integrating the physical workouts and tracking.”
None of the programs they had previously attempted emphasized the importance of exercise, only diet. So, when Nina decided to reactivate her membership to HAC while giving John a membership as a gift, she also entered both herself and John into the 2023 Lifestyle Challenge last Christmas. John eagerly accepted the chance to become more familiar with strength training and create an exercise regimen he could execute himself.
A competitor by nature, John was determined to win the challenge from the get-go. “Whether I did or not wasn’t so important,” he says, smiling, “but that’s kind of the approach I take.”
Beyond embracing the spirit of competition, his secondary goal going into the Lifestyle Challenge was to improve his balance and endurance. John flies out to Colorado a few times a year to meet with his good friend and go fly fishing together. “I just got tired of getting beaten up in the streams,” he says. The waters they fish aren’t like the quiet, glassy-surfaced lakes you might be picturing – they’re more akin to rapids with water ceaselessly rushing across slippery, moss-covered stones. Just standing in the water with your hands occupied requires considerable strength and focus. John aimed to build endurance and balance to better prepare for the rough conditions.
“What we missed out on was the exercise component. We’d already had the nutrition.”
Throughout the challenge, John typically met with Denise Boyle for their weekly training sessions at 7:00 am. “I don’t like to work out first thing,” he sighs. “I have really rough sleep patterns, and I struggle with that.” Having lived with insomnia for a long time, he’s used to feeling exceptionally groggy in the mornings and requires time to “wake up” before ticking off any to-dos for the day. Though strength training so early wasn’t ideal, it did allow John to return to the club for a second cardio-focused workout in the afternoons after meeting with Denise.
Through many different nutrition programs, John has come to understand how his body typically responds to weight loss efforts: he’ll start out losing body fat steadily in the beginning before hitting a plateau that sometimes lasts for months. During the Lifestyle Challenge, John was determined to overcome this. “One thing I did right up front is I created a spreadsheet, and I tracked all my weigh-ins,” he states. Just as he began to notice his fat loss leveling out, he would further reduce his daily calorie intake. John also started drinking a gallon of water each day; as counterintuitive as it sounds, drinking plenty of water keeps you hydrated and reduces the retention of water weight. As his eating and drinking habits changed, John remained cautious and observant, always paying attention to his hunger, energy levels, and other signs to ensure he never pushed his body too far.
Despite a two-week vacation to Arizona during the Lifestyle Challenge, John never had any issues with staying on track. “We were traveling watching Nina’s nephew, who’s in spring training,” he says. “It’s his first year in professional baseball.” Though the couple ate most of their meals out at restaurants during those two weeks, they also spent many days hiking for three to four hours at a time, which more than made up for the missed gym time.
Even John’s restfulness improved with all the extra activity he was getting in. Before the Lifestyle Challenge, John averaged just two to three hours of sleep each night and often required cat naps during the day to recharge. An unexpected side effect of working out and exhausting his body has been deeper sleep for more extended periods. He’s still only averaging about 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night, so there’s plenty of room for improvement, but he’s felt a massive change in his energy levels. “It’s improved for sure,” John confirms, “along with a lot of other quality-of-life things.”
Coinciding with the end of the Lifestyle Challenge was John’s first fly-fishing trip of the season. The two-week expedition provided an excellent opportunity to put his improved endurance and strength to the test. “I still got beat up,” John admits. “I did it a lot more gracefully, but I still have a ways to go. And that’s what I’m going to focus on going forward here. I still caught fish and still had a great time.” While he didn’t see the immediate changes he’d hoped for, the trip has given him new-found motivation to continue progressing after the Lifestyle Challenge ended.
John is particularly grateful for Denise’s professional lens and expertise. As a 66-year-old retiree, he’s given much thought to the importance of lifestyle for longevity. “How many good years do I have to be really active,” he ponders, “and what’s it going to take to be really active?” John remembers going to physical therapy with his dad after his second knee replacement years ago. Looking around the room at other patients, he speculated, “Is this what my life’s going to look like in ten years?”
He’s now prioritizing more time in the gym to keep momentum and maintain his vigor for as long as possible. “I’ve got a couple goals,” he concludes. “One is I want to learn every machine… Two: I want to get away from all the machines after I’ve learned them all and get a good program of bodyweight training.” John will continue to lean on Denise to help with this programming, but he wants to become less dependent on what machines are available at the gym so he can confidently conduct a complete workout wherever he may find himself.
“I’ve got a couple goals, one is I want to learn every machine… Two: I want to get away from all the machines after I’ve learned them all and get a good program of bodyweight training.”
The HAC Lifestyle Challenge is a 12-week fitness journey with the goal of helping participants shift their daily habits to healthier choices and improved overall well-being. Participants develop a consistent and sustainable fitness routine with the help of a dietitian, personal trainer, MYZONE™ heart rate system, and other fitness tools.
There are several reasons to take part in the Lifestyle Challenge – even the healthiest individuals have goals they’re striving to reach. Having a team of experts behind you motivating you to build a better routine is enough to make a positive change. Shifting your lifestyle is never going to be easy, but we don’t make it easy to give up either.
The Lifestyle Challenge is built to last you a lifetime, not just 12 weeks. It sets the foundation; it’s up to you to take what you’ve learned and continue building to construct the lifestyle you want. There’s no time like the present to start working on yourself. Obstacles will always exist, and excuses will always linger. So, what are you waiting for?