How Neil overcame anxiety and health issues to reach elite status...

Former Beach Ball - Shiny Head Ninja - Knowledge Freak

How would you explain your life, health and otherwise, before joining Lean & Fit?

I’ve always fought with my weight since childhood. As an adult it went up and down like a yo yo, my heaviest being 212 pounds. At 5’4” I was basically a beach ball with arms and legs haha! Then I would drop down to the 130’s and shoot back up in a couple of months. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t break. I’ve always been quite active but the nutrition part was the biggest hurdle – I’m addicted to salty snacks, especially Doritos; my kryptonite so to speak. I hit my 30s and was given a gym membership by my employer. I went pretty die hard with it for quite a long time and I lost weight, got the nutrition under control and felt great. Then, BAM, life went off the rails. I went through a divorce and had two small kids to look out for. They became my focus and I kind of lost myself, put the weight on and stopped working out. As much as I was angry, disappointed and quite disgusted with who I turned into, I did nothing to fix it. I knew what I needed to do to fix it, but made every excuse in the book not to. Then along came karate. As I rose through the ranks I fell in love with it. It became my passion. I knew I wanted to one day obtain my black belt but there was no way I could do that if I was in such poor shape. So now I had motivation. It was a struggle, but I managed to get stronger and lose weight (not a lot, but I was on the right path). I made it through my grading and felt fantastic! For those who aren’t aware, a black belt grading is hours of intense physical and mental torture (in a good way). But once again I lost motivation and put the beef back on. Trying to stay motivated by yourself is extremely difficult. There’s nobody to give you a nudge when you fall off track. Years passed and the yo yo kept on yo yo’ing. Then as I was teaching my students one day, and preaching about being fit and healthy, I realized that I needed to practice what I was preaching. I jumped on the health wagon and got back in shape. I wanted to be a role model for my students, friends and family. I’ve fought through health issues as I got older, but I kept going. My orthopedic surgeon said it best “you can keep mobile and live or give up and be old before your time”. That really hit home with me. No way in hell was I going to be a decrepit old man. I had way too many things left to do before my time on earth was done. Then I met my best friend, soul mate, and the love of my life. She was/is a very active person and if I didn’t keep my shit together I would never be able to keep up haha. I’m thankful I have someone in my life that loves to be active (we motivate each other) whether it’s playing slow pitch on a team together in the summer, hiking, or working out. It makes it enjoyable and not a chore when you can share a love of fitness and a healthy lifestyle with someone. I’m not far off from turning 50 and I’m in way better shape than I was when I was a young man. Besides, I need to keep up with the young ones, I’m too competitive not to!

How long have you been a member?

I became a member of the JSLF community in January 2017.

Why did you join the Lean & Fit program?

My spouse was already a member and told me about a 21 day challenge that was coming up and gently convinced me to sign up! I saw the results she obtained from a previous challenge and decided to give it a go. I wanted to take my fitness to a higher level and taking part in the challenge would make me accountable to my commitment. This is a good thing for someone who suffers anxiety. I was scared to death to start my first class. I actually sat in my car and talked myself into getting my ass into the gym. I’m so glad that I did it, I felt so great after (a huge win for someone with anxiety). However, it kicked my ass and I knew right away I had a lot of hard work ahead, but I was up for the challenge.

How has this program changed your life?

This program has done so much for me physically and mentally. I’ve gotten stronger in both areas for sure. Lost fat, gained muscle, built confidence and been pushed beyond what I ever thought I was capable of. I started with my personal trainer, Corey S., about the same time the 21 day challenge started and the results speak for themselves. Corey pushed me and does not let me slack off at all. I’m hitting personal bests with weight training on a consistent basis and I feel great. I’m more toned and stronger than I ever was. This has really boosted my confidence levels to new heights as well.

Has this program helped you with any health conditions?

I’ve battled osteoarthritis in my hips, have low back problems and Achilles tendon issues. The classes along with the personal training have kept me mobile, more flexible, and alleviated some of the pain associated with the above mentioned issues. I still have pain, but it’s way more manageable than ever before.

What do your friends and family think of your Lean & Fit success?

The support and encouragement I get from friends and family is amazing (my spouse, Carla, is my biggest supporter and cheerleader). They ask often, “what are you doing to look so good”, so I brag about how fantastic JSLF is. You guys ROCK!! Some even ask for advice about nutrition and exercise and I love helping them out. I even have a fun competition going on with a co-worker and my boss who are both into fitness as well.

What would you like to say to people that are hesitant to join the Lean & Fit family?

I would tell anyone who is hesitant about joining the Lean and Fit family that we’ve all been there. Don’t let fear, and in my case, anxiety, stop you from a healthy lifestyle. I would tell them how welcoming and non judgmental the Lean and Fit community is. We all need to start from somewhere and it doesn’t matter what “your somewhere” is. John and his staff get results as long as you put the effort in. You are not a client at JSLF, you are family.

Have you met any new friends here?

I’ve met so many awesome people at JSLF. Each and every one of them push you to give it your all. I may not be on a first name basis with them but that doesn’t matter. The Facebook group is an amazing tool as well! We use it for encouragement and recipe sharing, and I love hearing everyone’s success stories. We truly are a family.

Have any staff members at Lean & Fit impacted you?

The first shout out goes to Corey S. He’s my first experience with a personal trainer and it’s been an amazing journey so far. The knowledge he has is incredible. He explains the exercise and what it accomplishes, which in my books is top notch, especially because I’m a knowledge freak. I’ve never had someone that shows so much faith in my abilities before. Then we have Jennifer, Kristine and Deb. I have difficulty putting into words how wonderful these three people are. They really know how to push me to keep going even though I’m exhausted... so, so encouraging. John and Mia always have time to ask how I’m doing, and if there’s anything they can do to help me reach the next level. Always talking to members on a personal level means they really do care about each and every one of us. You don’t get that family feel from the big box gyms.

The other trainers are just as incredible. Joking with you, pushing you, calling you out when need be because they know you can push farther (like Boban running to get me heavier weights in a Lean and Fit class because he knew I could and should be going heavier. All in all, everyone at the JSLF are an amazing bunch of people.

What are your future goals?

The goals moving forward are many (I’ve surpassed some and set the bar higher for those). Squatting 200 pounds before the end of summer, and benching my body weight (145 lbs), are two I’ve set from the start. Being a martial artist, I absolutely love Cardio Kickboxing and one day I would like to be one of John’s instructors for this class, so yeah, another goal to reach! Haha... I’ve already incorporated the fitness portion of Lean and Fit into my own classes so I can produce healthy little ninjas :) The biggest goal, though, is to be fit and healthy so I can be a good role model for my students and my own children.

Neil's favorite quote...

It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop

Confucius

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