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Before and After Transformation: Exercise and Nutrition Knowledge Help YWCA Member Lose 50 Pounds

By Josh Ney, YWCA Fitness Member
June 13, 2016
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I first came to the YWCA Uptown in May 2013 because it was close to home. I was overweight, didn’t have the greatest eating habits and was looking to make a change. But I had almost no understanding of how to do even the most basic exercises. To say that I was insecure about working out would have been an understatement. I had zero idea what to do, how to start, or how to even think about what my “goals” were.

I knew I needed a trainer because I had no idea what I was doing. I had never joined a gym before, and the last workout I did was probably in a high school gym class. I got the introductory package and they paired me with “the new guy”, Dillon Altonen. I had no idea what to expect, and told myself I would keep an open mind. From my first training session with Dillon, I’ve tried to adhere to that advice.

It was really difficult at first. Feelings of insecurity mixed with cravings for unhealthy foods really made wanting to work out a struggle. But having someone there to demonstrate new exercises, teach me proper form and cheer me on made going to the gym a little more bearable.

I needed to have something scheduled in order for me to go because I wasn’t motivated enough to go on my own. We started by working together twice a week. With each session, I learned about exercise and about nutrition – both of which Dillon explained were important if I wanted to lose weight and build strength. It was helpful for me to work with someone who had a background in nutrition because I had to completely change the way I looked at food. I liked to snack, had never been concerned with calories, and would eat what I wanted whenever I wanted. Dillon helped me to understand how to eat to nourish, and not to eat just to eat.

Three years in, I still enjoy working with Dillon who, when I am frustrated or scared or lethargic, reminds me that progress is progress. Over time, I saw my weight go down and my strength and ability go up. With Dillon, I would try new ways to lift: 10 sets of 3 at higher weight, 3 sets of 12 at a more moderate weight, pyramids, reverse pyramids, etc.

Since I started working with Dillon, I’ve lost – and kept off – close to 50 pounds. But it isn’t just the weight:  I know the difference between a squat, deadlift and lunge, and have a greater understanding of nutrition and how to make healthy eating choices (which I try to follow as closely as I can, with the occasional cheat meal). I actually enjoy working out and can tell when I’ve not been to the gym in a few days. I also make time to work out – three or four days at the gym and a couple of days for a good run around the lakes. Classes like R.I.P.P.E.D. and Pumped, and even Dillon’s Friday night boot camp, are helpful in working on proper form and were incredibly useful in getting me to the gym when I wasn’t comfortable with working out on my own.

Today, I try to get to the gym regularly, still working with Dillon and working out on my own. When I do workout on my own, I keep track of the weight I lift and the reps I do, and try to add more each time I do the exercise. At this point, I try and keep the workouts I do simple and use exercises I know I’ve done before but can improve on. I am still not where I want to be, but I know that I am continuing to progress with each additional rep I do or pound I add to the bar.

This all started with getting a personal trainer who could show me the “how to” of working out. Dillon is a great trainer because he is patient, ridiculously smart and encourages (forces) me to do “one more rep” even when I don’t want to.  For someone like me who had very little knowledge of the gym, getting myself a trainer at the beginning has proved to be the best decision I could have made for myself. It is an investment I’ve found to be worth making in myself, and would suggest anyone looking to make a change, but unsure how to start, to speak with a personal trainer.

Feeling inspired? Find a YWCA personal trainer that fits your personality, interests and goals here.