The Weight Loss Challenge

I have dieted in the past. Probably three times over the past 10 years I have made conscious efforts to lose weight. Were these attempts successful? Well, in terms of losing weight, yes. But my understanding of how to lose weight was very rudimentary and not particularly healthy. In my mind, it all came down to a simple principle: Just eat less.

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In March, COVID-19 took hold of our country. A response of many states, including Washington, was to shift into lockdown mode. In addition to restaurants and movie theaters, another industry hit particularly hard was the fitness sector. Gyms were forced to shutter. As someone who made it a priority to hit the gym five times per week, the closures messed with my routine and personal fitness. Although I did do workouts at a high school track, it didn’t fully compensate for missed gym hours and the increased time I was sitting on my butt in my home office.

I put on some COVID pounds.

Due to the closure of gyms, I put on some COVID pounds.

Thankfully gyms would re-open and I found Snap Fitness. I got back into a routine as I grew to really like my new fitness home. However, the extra pandemic weight wasn’t exactly melting away. A couple months ago, a fellow Snap Fitness gym-goer asked me if I wanted to enter a weight loss challenge.

When the governor allowed gyms to re-open, I found a new facility to go to…Snap Fitness.

This fellow gym-goer happened to be my wife. When we moved to Spokane Valley, we purchased a “couples” membership and joined the Snap Fitness at Montgomery and Argonne. Sidney was a complete rock star and jumped headfirst into the gym’s many offerings. She started taking classes and engrained herself into the vibrant Snap Fitness community. When the weight loss challenge was initially advertised she had the confidence to do it. Me? Not so much.

Sidney initially texted me this graphic and asked if I would do the challenge with her.

Remember, I was the one who lost weight on my own terms. Why did I need some fancy program to shed pounds? You just eat less, right? Well, to be honest, I was really dragging my feet because I was a little intimidated. I didn’t want to sign up and fail. But because of Sidney’s encouragement and the structure of the challenge, I decided to give it a shot.

The challenge was six weeks long and ran from Oct. 5 – Nov. 16. The goal was to get in shape for the holidays. That was something I could get behind. Overseeing the challenge was Christine Avery, the owner of Snap Fitness and a good friend of Sidney’s. Participants would weigh in with Christine each week with body fat measurements taking place every other week. My designated weigh in time with Christine was every Monday at 4:45 a.m.

This is Christine and she is the owner at the Snap Fitness at Argonne and Montgomery. She helped me tremendously during the Weight Loss Challenge.

That first day of the challenge I tipped the scale at 189.2 pounds. I asked Christine what I needed to cut out to be successful. She explained that my progress wouldn’t just depend on what I didn’t do but also what I did do. Sure, she told me to stop drinking soda and to limit my ice cream intake but it was more about what she suggested I add to my diet. Eating more protein, drinking more water, and consuming well-balanced meals were all pointers she gave me.

This was me on Oct. 5, 2020–the first day of the challenge. I tipped the scale at 189.2 pounds.

Using Christine’s advice and Sidney’s cooking, I decided to give the weight loss challenge my best effort. At home, we traded in our large plates for medium-sized plates as Sid made some delicious, yet nutritious, meals. Lean meats, salads, and vegetables were served on a nightly basis. I would leave the dinner table feeling good about how I ate.

A look at some of what I would eat. For breakfast I would have a protein bar and shake. For lunch I might have scrambled eggs or a pork chop and banana.

Early in the morning I would do my part at the gym. I would then come home and start drinking water. I learned that protein bars and protein shakes really don’t taste that bad. Everything seemed to come together. For me, it was like a formula. And, with this particular formula, I was seeing results. At my weekly weigh ins, the pounds were coming off.

I became pretty good friends with my water bottle during the Weight Loss Challenge.

In the past I had used a different formula that achieved results but at a slower and unhealthier rate. This time around I wasn’t starving myself on personal pizzas or soup. Instead of simply denying my body, I was supplying it too.

A photo on the first day of the challenge and a photo the day after the challenge ended.

When I would step on the scale for my weekly weigh-ins I would lose anywhere between 3-5 pounds. I had initially set a goal to lose 10 pounds but by the second week I had adjusted it. Although the challenge was never easy, I felt like I had momentum on my side. The positive weigh-ins helped me to stay the course for the next week.

Every week during the challenge I would see progress.

At my final weigh-in last Sunday, I crossed my fingers that I would meet my goal of 20 pounds. As I stepped on the scale I held my breath as the digital numbers tabulated…

167.6.

This was my “after” photo. I tipped the scale at 176.6.

I lost 21.6 pounds over the course of the six-week weight loss challenge. Additionally, I decreased my body fat by 5% and shed three inches off my waist. But that was only half of the success story. Sidney also lost double digit poundage and cut 5% body fat and three inches off her waist (that’s right, we lost the same body fat and inches off our waists). We went in for that final weigh-in together on Sunday afternoon and it was pretty sweet.

Sloan went with us to the gym for our weigh-in on Sunday. Christine let her step on the scale registering a weight of 32.4 pounds.

What made it so sweet, you ask? Well, I won the weight loss challenge. Because I shed the most weight out of all the entrants I received a $50 gift card to a popular Spokane restaurant, a Snap Fitness sweatshirt, protein powder, and a month of free membership.

I won some pretty great prizes! Thanks, Christine!

But that paled in comparison to what Sid and I accomplished as a team. We walked out of the gym a combined 30+ pounds lighter. We committed to doing something together and stuck with it the whole six weeks. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. There would be times when we would both get hungry and snap at each other. However, it was all part of the journey. We got through it with words of encouragement and shared fantasies of the favorite foods we would eat once the diet ended.

Thanks to my wife and Christine, I had the motivation to win the challenge.

And now the diet has, in fact, ended. But while the challenge is a thing of the past, the lessons learned are not. The key to losing weight isn’t simply just eating less. Listening to someone who is knowledgeable about weight loss is helpful. Most importantly, completing such an endeavor is so much more rewarding when you get to do it with your wife. Thank you Sidney and Christine for getting me through this! Don’t Blink.

The Water Challenge

Today marks the exact midpoint of a 6-week weight loss challenge I am participating in. It is going well and perhaps I will share some results in 21 days when it concludes. But tonight I wanted to share with you a secondary challenge that is within the weight loss challenge itself.

Every day of this diet I am participating in my own 100-ounce water challenge. As a method to help me reach my weight loss goal, I was advised to drink 100 ounces of water daily. Of course, this suggestion came from a fitness authority. Snap Fitness, the gym I work out at, is sponsoring the weight loss challenge and the owner, Christine, is coaching me through it. When she told me how much I should drink each day, I asked her how I was going to accomplish that. She pointed to her large water bottle and said, “Just sip on one of these guys all day long.”

I have become pretty good friends with my water bottle.

And so it began. The first day was tough. I had a scoreboard in my head and was basically counting the ounces one-by-one. It took a lot of effort as I scrambled to the bathroom more times in a 12-hour period than I ever had in my life. Drinking all the ounces the next day was challenging too. So was the next. But over the next two and a half weeks things started to get easier as I settled into a routine.

Instead of mindlessly chugging water to reach the 100-ounce magic number, I decided to rely on some structure. This is my water plan…

When I get home from my workout at the beginning of the day, I drink two 20-ounce water bottles. That puts me at 40 ounces before the sun even rises. During lunch I will drink another 20-ounce water bottle. I will then retreat to my home office with my 32-ounce Hydrapeak water bottle that Sid gave me for my birthday. I will sip on that all afternoon and by the time the workday is over I have already downed 92 ounces. At dinner I will eclipse my daily goal by drinking another 20-ounce bottle. Then, for good measure, I will drink another 20-ounce bottle after the kids go to bed and Sid and I are sitting on the couch watching TV.

I use the Hydrapeak water bottle that Sid gave me on a daily basis. As for the WSU hat, I got it from my sister’s family and if you notice in the picture above I am wearing it.

So why all the water? Is sending 100+ ounces of fluid through my body on a daily basis actually good for me? Absolutely! From a strictly physiological standpoint, H20 helps regulate body temperature and flushes out toxins. It carries nutrients to all cells in our body and oxygen to our brains. Water also allows the body to absorb important substances like amino acids and vitamins. Finally, you can’t ignore the science that suggests water can suppress our appetite and boost our metabolism.

These are the 20 oz. bottles of water I drink.

But there are a few non-biological reasons why the 100-ounce water challenge is working for me…

1. Although it might seem lame, reaching 100 ounces is a daily micro goal and completing it gives me just a little bit of satisfaction.

2. In order to reach 100 ounces, I need to drink water at lunch and dinner. This ensures that I am drinking a healthy/0-calorie option at these two important meals.

3. Friendly accountability! My brother and his fiancée are also doing the 100-ounce water challenge. The four of us (Sid included) have a group text message and throughout the whole day we update it with how many ounces we have consumed.

We seriously use our group text to keep daily tabs on where we stand with the challenge.

Running to the bathroom constantly can get annoying but the positives of the 100-ounce water challenge sure outweigh the negatives. With 21 days left in the weight loss challenge, it means I have 2,100 more ounces to drink…I think I can do it. Thanks to Christine for helping me truly embrace water! I look forward to updating everyone in a few weeks. Don’t Blink.

Back to the Gym

When you do something daily for nearly 20 years, it is unsettling to be forced to give it up cold turkey. In mid-March, the state of Washington became one of the first states to shut down many businesses, including gyms. I remember that first week being especially tough. My daily routine was rocked and I couldn’t achieve the physical well-being I craved.

I tried to adjust as best I could. I did a morning routine at home and ran the track at the local high school during my lunch hour. However, it was not the same. As the days and weeks passed, I could feel the muscle mass I developed disintegrating away. But as the weeks turned to months, a weird thing happened. I started to become complacent with not going to the gym. There was nothing I could do about it and it was nice getting some extra sleep, right?

But as that thinking started to set in, the governor introduced a re-opening plan. Soon enough, the opening of gyms, under strict social distancing guidelines, was permitted.

When the governor allowed gyms to re-open, I found a new facility to go to…Snap Fitness.

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There is the psychological phenomenon of not realizing how common a certain car is out on the road until you actually buy that type of car yourself. This condition can be applied to my new gym.

It was my dad who introduced me to Snap Fitness. When Spokane reached the phase that allowed gyms to re-open, the facility that the two of us would frequent decided to remain closed. Needing to pivot, my dad knew of a gym near a neighborhood bar that was open for business. After screening the place for sound social distancing measures, my dad got us both memberships at this particular Snap Fitness. After three months of not pumping iron, I was finally working out at a fitness facility again.

I had the pleasure of going with my dad to early morning gym sessions for almost three weeks before my family moved into our new house. One of the things I did that first weekend was get my own membership at the local Snap Fitness in Spokane Valley. But you definitely have to clarify when you say the local Snap Fitness because there isn’t just one local Snap Fitness. Remember how I said sometimes you don’t realize how prevalent something is until you are actually invested in it?

I go to the Snap Fitness located on Montgomery off of Argonne.

Snap Fitness facilities are literally all over the place. There are four Snap gyms within 15 minutes of my house. The cool thing about Snap Fitness is that once you purchase a membership, you can work out at any location in the country. Thus, early last week I tested out multiple Spokane Valley Snap Fitness gyms before deciding on which one I liked the best.

The Snap Fitness located on Montgomery off of Argonne is my new fitness home. Actually, it is Sidney’s new fitness home too! I purchased a couples membership and we have a pretty good system in place. I wake up at 3:30 a.m. and get to the gym by 4 a.m. I return to the house by 5:30 a.m. and then Sid goes to Snap and does her thing, returning home well before my work day starts. Working out at the same gym just gives us another thing to connect on while staying healthy at the same time.

The Snap Fitness I go to has a studio for classes.

I wouldn’t say Snap Fitness gyms are glamorous but everything you need is provided. Cardio equipment, weight machines, free weights, classes, and more are all available. They definitely have social distancing figured out with numerous machines out of commission to prevent people from getting too close and hygienic supplies readily available. Of course, the ultimate social distancing tactic is just to get there really, really early (like me) before others arrive…yes, Snap Fitness is 24 hours.

Although I miss Iron Legacy in Myrtle Beach, my new gym is growing on me. If you are looking for a safe and accessible place to exercise during COVID times, consider Snap Fitness. Don’t Blink.