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Support system proves its worth in weight loss
April 3, 2014 - Andy Flynn
This week: 416 lbs.
Last week: 413 lbs.
Start (Dec. 17): 470 lbs.
Total lost: 54 lbs.
The idea is to have people lie down on the floor, on their backs, and grab the ankles of their partners standing over their heads. The people on the floor lift both legs up at the same time, and the people standing push their feet back to the ground. Complete 10 reps. Then switch places and repeat.
Nobody warns the people on the floor about the sweat about to drip on their faces. Such was life during week three of the Take It Off weight-loss challenge at Fitness Revolution.
I was the person standing at first and had to fetch paper towels to protect the face of my partner.
After warming up on the treadmill, we teamed up in pairs to learn more than a dozen exercises during our class on Tuesday, March 25. The six veteran Take It Offers were in the weight room, knee deep in their own routines. The eight newbies, including me, were in the cardio room getting instructions.
I paired up with Marie, the mystery woman who doesn’t want me using her real name. There’s some covert stuff going on here, but I’m not at liberty to know anything or mention her real name, so we’ll just call her Marie.
Marie and at least two others in the class signed up for round two of the Take It Off challenge because they were inspired by the Lake Placid Diet column. On one hand, I’m honored that my weight-loss journey led to their own weight-loss journeys. On the other hand, I’m terrified that one of these people may swing a dumbbell upside my head when the exercises get too tough, pointing a trembling finger at my bloody scalp, saying, “You got me into this mess,” as they gulp for air.
Still, Marie and the others find time to smile when they’re not covering their faces with paper towels to protect them from my dripping sweat. And we continue to learn more exercises and lose weight together.
The newbies and veterans have become one big happy family, led by our fearless trainers Jason McComber and Janis Atkinson. We have a closed group on Facebook that we share recipes, news about exercise class opportunities and positives for each day. The more we post, the closer we get, especially since we’re encouraged to contact at least one group member each day.
Perhaps the most revealing part of our Facebook page is the posting of five positives for each day, which is required in order to get points for our contest. It’s comforting when others like and comment on our positives. It reinforces our self-esteem, especially when the scale isn’t cooperating.
For various reasons, not everybody posts positives. One classmate early on posted that he has a hard time finding positives for every day. I’m not sure if I can use his name, so I’ll just call him Bob. Like Bob, when times get tough, I also find it difficult to look past the negatives in my life. But I’ve found that I can list at least five positives every day. I tried to encourage Bob that finding positives is like counting your blessings. “Just find four positives, and your fifth could be that you found four,” I suggested. Bob reached deep down and found five positives for that day. I was proud of him.
We all have our troubles and challenges in our everyday lives and in our weight-loss journeys. Many of us have doubts that we can succeed, and there is no shame in admitting it. As long as you keep getting back up after you’re knocked down, you’re on the winning side. You’re successful. And sometimes when we find it impossible to pick ourselves up, it’s good to have a group of friends who can help us to our feet and keep us going.
That camaraderie is the essence of the Take it Off challenge, and I think that’s why people find the Lake Placid Diet so inspiring. Readers have found an accessible community — me and my weight-loss buddies — they can commiserate with. It ain’t always fun, and it ain’t always pretty, but we’re all in this weight-loss journey together.
Because weight loss is deeply personal and emotional, most people struggle with it behind closed doors. After much hand wringing, I decided to make my own struggle a public journey. I began writing the Lake Placid Diet to improve my health, holding myself accountable to the public. As the editor, I was also looking to increase readership in the Lake Placid News. So far, it’s done both, but I was surprised by the intangibles the column has created, including the byproduct of inspiration.
“You’re going to save some lives,” my trainer Jason told me.
I’m not sure I’d go that far, but what if he’s right? Talk about pressure. Every week, I think about people gleaning hope from my weight-loss journey, and I find myself working through the hard times for my own well-being and for the people who need that hope to keep going. I started the Lake Placid Diet for me, but now I’m also doing this for the people who struggle behind closed doors.
One growing theme of this journey is the concept of community. We’re not in this struggle alone. We need to help each other, learn from each other and support each other. Together we will succeed, and our list of positives will grow exponentially.
Thanks to Marie and Bob, Jason and Janis, and all the other Take It Offers for being great classmates. You keep me going through the good times and the bad. Today you’re on top of my list of positives.
Contact Andy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Andy Flynn poses with his sweaty T-shirt after a Take It Off weight-loss challenge workout April 1 at Fitness Revolution. (Photo — John Nicholson)