Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ya Gotta Have Friends

My original nutrition changes occurred on April 27, 2010. That was the day I made drastic changes to my eating patterns (you can read about it in my first blog post called “Do These Nachos Make My Hiney Look Fat”). I continued to follow a fairly healthy nutrition plan, using a website to log my meals on a daily basis. On January 13, 2012, I started the FLT nutrition program at Accelerated Fitness and received a customized nutrition plan designed to get my body fat to drop while protecting my lean muscle. Anyway, an integral component of sustaining my dietary changes and being successful was the creation of support systems. That change was as important as educating myself about food, nutrition and physiological processes.

I had to change my relationship with food. I don’t reward myself, celebrate achievements or comfort myself with food.  Making the people in my life a part of this change was a must. I wasn’t afraid to say, “it is my birthday, please don’t bake me a cake; instead, let’s go for walk or have coffee”. I made it clear that dinner plans meant we needed to choose a restaurant with dining choices acceptable to me. I had to ask my friends to engage with me in different ways until I could make these changes a habit and better adapt to socializing without the mindless ingestion of bad calories.

Every decision you make either takes you toward a goal or away from it. If you are trying to reduce your body fat, get fit and gain strength, what you eat and how you move directly impact your success. Surrounding yourself with people who support your choices is another way to help you remain focused on your goals and be successful. It’s not that you’ll never deviate from your nutritional plan. You will. I did and do, on occasion. But, I always get right back to it.

Not having friends who are food pushers? Priceless.

I have made many friends among the Cromwell Accelerated Fitness clients. We run into each other at private training appointments as we finish or start a session, stick around for cardio after a session and we see each other in our respective boot camps. The studio is an intimate environment. We support each other, encourage each other and make each other laugh. If one of us is struggling, the rest of us are right there to offer support. After the extreme boot camp, many of us will stand outside talking for another 30 minutes - about challenges, new program moves and how things are going.

This is what we do to avoid the hard. Together.

We share the common goals of better health, better fitness, positivity, fat loss, good body image and strength. It’s the ultimate “workout with a friend experience”. And here’s the thing, when you struggle with weight and its associated costs (health, relationship, professional, emotional), there is a bond of common experience. We all relate to the history of each other because we’ve all been in those shoes. Maybe it wasn’t the exact same set of circumstances, but we’d all experienced the emotion of it. We have the same self-judgment, lack of confidence, negative body image, food issues and history of interactions that come with being the “fat girl/guy”.

Have you ever watched Say Yes to the Dress on TLC? There are episodes dedicated to plus-sized brides. Biggest common fear? Getting stuck in a too small dress they are attempting to try. Even if one plus-sized woman does not have the exact experience as another or you compare a size 16 misses to a 26 W, there is still the shared understanding and emotion of what it means to be “of size” in a culture that is not sized for you.

Being in a place where we can experience a lack of judgment and be supported means a lot. During our last gab session after boot camp, several of the women expressed how much group support is helpful. Accelerated Fitness Solutions is holding a Fat Loss Challenge starting January 14th. Although I am not participating in it, many of the Cromwell clients are. Several of them have been through the FirstLine Therapy program (see the Accelerated Fitness Solutions website under nutrition) and are still working on achieving their size and fat loss goals. Since I am shaking up my nutrition for 12 weeks by starting the FirstLine Therapy program, we decided to be additional support systems to each other by holding a group klatch session every other week after our boot camp ends.

Stephanie is getting married on October 13th. She has lost an amazing 70 pounds and her photos (before and current) hang on the wall at the studio. She has set a goal weight of 150 pounds. She continues to use what she learned during her FLT program weeks to keep her nutrition in order. Steph works out hard, in training sessions at Accelerated Fitness, at her gym and in boot camp. She just recently was admitted to the Extreme Boot Camp for the first time. She definitely earned her spot. I call Steph the Queen of the Lunge. Since she is participating in the Fat Loss Challenge, time in a small support group will help maintain focus during the challenge to keep her on track, help her plan for social circumstances and just provide a forum where other people can directly relate to her experience. 

This is Stephanie before FLT and training.

This is Stephanie now, posing with me at the Fat Loss Challenge Kick Off and boot camp at the Glastonbury location.
Jessica is a happily married, high energy client who always wears a smile. Her photos also hang on the wall and recently, we were paired together for the filming of a segment for Better CT. She used FirstLine Therapy with Accelerated Fitness along with training, personal workouts and boot camp to drop 30 pounds and several sizes. She still would like to trim and tone so she is joining Steph and me in the client driven support group as she participates in the Fat Loss Challenge. Jess recently graduated into the Extreme Boot camp. She brings good energy to the group. The Extreme campers experience fewer breaks, less rest and way more intensity in every area. She did great!

Here is Jessica's before photo.
This is Jessica now, looking great and still working on her goals.

The hard part is figuring out how to cheer on both Steph and Jess for the fat loss challenge – I want everyone to do well. This is what I appreciate so much about this workout environment. I have a regular gym membership and I use it. I am alone and unsupported there. I get odd looks from the men when I walk over to the free weight area as most of women remain over in the Cybex machine section, if they use weights at all. We wear ear buds and listen to music, working out in isolation.

The studio is a place where you meet other people whose achievements inspire you to work harder, stay on track and do what you never thought you could do. I guess YA JUST GOTTA HAVE FRIENDS!


  1. You look great Maria and you must feel wonderful. I'm ripping an inspirational page from your training manual.

  2. Thank you so much. The environment here is amazing - when you're dying out at boot camp, to hear one of your friends yelling encouragement, is sometimes just what you need to cross the finish line. These ladies rock!

  3. Amazing! You all look great and I am so impressed with your hard work.

  4. Thanks, Jo. This place makes it fun - we joined clients from Glastonbury and Tolland this AM along with a bunch of guests for a boot camp this morning. We yelled, whooped hollered and chanted "Team Cromwell" - we laughed through the work. It's a win win!

  5. Congratulations to you all, wonderfully rewarded for your efforts!

  6. You are inspiring. And I go to the gym regularly, and mostly - yes, I said m.o.s.t.l.y. - eat pretty good. Yet, I feel motivated reading your words.

  7. Thanks, Danner - we just keep trying to make choices which take us where we want to go - and it helps to have people that support that as opposed to those who would undermine that resolve.

  8. Making the choice to see food differently is important and being surrounded by people who support us and encourage our dreams (weight, health, or any) is HUGE. One step at a time is how we all live--the direction of those steps determines where we end up.

  9. You bet, Elizabeth, because you know that when your friends undermine you, it makes things so much harder. The hardest part was getting my dad to not bring me chocolate covered or caramel covered apples when he & mom head to the farms to buy veggies. He's always brought me treats. That was a hard transition.


You comments are truly appreciated!