You've heard of the cold shoulder, but we'd like to introduce you to the hot one. With the help of Gold's Gym's Ramona Braganza's four-step workout, your shoulders will be in show-off shape for the summer sun.
Do you know your own strength? These two people sure do. Meet the incredible winners of the Gold's Gym $45,000 Know Your Own Strength Challenge ("the Challenge"). In just 12 short weeks, they collectively lost 100 pounds and 26½ inches from their waistlines through good old-fashioned hard work (no fad diets here!). Find out how they did it, and how you can too.
This past January, thousands of Gold's Gym members nationwide joined the Challenge. They had 12 weeks to transform their bodies through the classic, no-fail formula of eating right and working out. Then, Gold's Gyms from around the country submitted their best male and female success stories in five different age categories. A national panel of judges reviewed hundreds of applicants based on four criteria: before and after photos, amount of weight lost, percentage of body weight lost and a personal essay. Here are the not-so-big-anymore grand-prize winners and their inspiring stories.
To see more success stories, go to Facebook.com/GoldsGym and click on the "SOS" tab.
The Male Winner:
The Female Winner:
Mary Beth Lloyd
The Male Winner:
Bryan weighs in...
...on life before the challenge: "Prior to this, my life had grown progressively more stressful. During a period of about 10 years, I got married, bought a business, built a home and started a family. My health and physical fitness fell low on my list of priorities."
...on what inspired him: "My two little boys have become extremely active. Last summer they wanted me to play soccer with them and climb a rope like they do in karate. I realized that I didn't have the stamina or the strength to do either. I knew I needed to be in better health so that I could be the active dad and role model I wanted to be."
...on how he stayed motivated: "Each time I felt frustrated or tired, I just focused on the end result. My motto was 'Go big or go home.' Also, our local Gold's Gyms in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee are phenomenal. I found that the atmosphere was awesome, and the staff was always encouraging and positive."
...on the secret to his success: "There was no secret formula. I was faithful to my diet of six small meals a day, which consisted of proteins, fruits and vegetables. The second most important thing was cardio. I lived on the stair machine. I completed one hour of cardio six days a week. Lastly, I followed a weight program that helped tone and shape my muscles, but the diet and cardio made all the difference."
...on when he was most tempted to throw in the towel: "In the beginning I hated the cardio. But it grew addicting. As hard as it was to complete an hour, the results were astounding, and the natural adrenaline it gave made me feel great."
...on how life has changed since the challenge: "The 12-week challenge has influenced my life — as well as our life as a family — drastically. I have learned to balance work, family, exercise and healthy eating. I go to the gym on a regular basis, and we have completely changed our diet. Planning our meals and teaching our boys the importance of eating right have brought my wife and me closer."
...on how others can follow in his (60-pounds-lighter!) footsteps: "I would give someone the same advice I followed: 'Go big or go home.' You have to make the decision yourself to get healthy, commit to that decision and go for it all the way. It always helps to have a strong support system like I did, including both my family and the supportive staff at Gold's Gym."
The Female Winner:
Mary Beth Lloyd
Mary Beth weighs in...
...on life before the challenge: "I belonged to a different gym a few years ago, which was poorly maintained. After that, I stayed away from gyms for a while. I finally joined Gold's Gym last November after falling in love with the facility and the staff when my husband and I checked it out. We realized it was time to stop being lazy and get healthy."
...on what inspired her: "I was shopping for a bridesmaid's dress for my brother's wedding in July. I had my mother take pictures of me in three different dresses. As soon as I saw the pictures, I realized what I looked like to other people: chubby. That is precisely when I decided to participate in the challenge. I did not want to be the chubby bridesmaid again."
...on how she stayed motivated: "Once I commit to something, I give it my all. The only person I would disappoint by cheating or not giving it 150% was myself. I also hung the green bathing suit I wore in my before photo in my bedroom for the entire 12 weeks with the goal of looking fabulous in it in my after photo."
...on the secret to her success: "In addition to doing cardio every day, I lifted weights and worked out with two trainers, Luke Olensky and Leni St. Martin. When I started training with Luke, I could not do one pushup. I could hardly do pushups on my knees. Luke and Leni also offered boot-camp workouts twice a week. I had never worked out so hard, and I always left feeling fantastic and exhausted at the same time."
...on when she was most tempted to throw in the towel: "The hardest times were at family events on the weekends. Food — food I loved — was always involved, but I couldn't eat it. It was hard, but I just thought about what Luke said: 'You can do this for 12 weeks.' I also kept almonds and protein powder in my purse."
...on how life has changed since the challenge: "I finally feel happy and comfortable in my own skin. Luke and Leni have made sure I realize that the competition is over and I can tone it down a notch. Now my husband and I keep each other motivated."
...on how others can follow in her (40-pounds-lighter!) footsteps: "Anyone can be the person they picture in their head, and I am proof. There are people who can help if you don't think you can do it alone. Without the support of my husband, my family, my trainers, my co-workers and my friends, I would not be in the situation I am in right now."
How to Start (and Stick to) a Fitness Commitment
What, you don't think you're up to the challenge? You just need to follow these smart, stick-to-it strategies, courtesy of two members of the Gold's Gym Fitness Institute: Robert Reames, the official trainer for Dr. Phil's Ultimate Weight Loss Solution, and sports psychologist Belisa Vranich.
1. Spread the word. Share your get-fit plans on Facebook or Twitter, or in a mass email. "You'll be more likely to stay dedicated if you know that everyone around you is tuning in," says Vranich. "And you'll have an immediate support group."
2. Purge your home of unhealthy tempting food. Adios, Ben. Farewell, Jerry.
3. Set your goals. "Figure out what motivates you, whether it's looking good at an upcoming event or living a healthy lifestyle," says Reames. "Then write down short-term goals and long-term goals to inspire you."
4. Create a no-excuse environment. "Stash an extra set of workout clothes at your office or in your car so you can never have an excuse to skip the gym," explains Reames.
5. Make gym buddies. When you have friends who expect to see you at an exercise class, you'll feel more pressure to show up.
6. Lie to yourself. "Say, ‘I'll just go and do half an hour of cardio,'" counsels Vranich. "Once you are there, throw in some weights too."
7. Find the most unflattering photo of you taken from the worst possible angle, and hang it somewhere in clear sight. "A photo of you at your best weight just makes you feel bad that you aren't there," she explains. "That's why buying too-small clothing never works."
8. Block out time for the gym. Put it on your work calendar like it's an actual appointment and, if need be, put it on your family's schedule. Then institute a no-cancellation policy.
9. Snack like an adult. "Make healthy choices even when you're on the go. Stop reaching for candy or prepackaged, manufactured junk food that you ate as a kid," says Reames.
10. Think ahead and finish strong. If you're ready to turn around in the middle of a run or skip a leg workout, focus on that feeling of accomplishment you'll have if you stick to your program. "You're almost there — might as well finish and feel great about yourself," he says. "Not to mention it will build momentum for that next workout."