Let the Journeys Begin

by goldsgym


In late November 2011, we started on a mission to find six people who were truly ready to start on a new life path—one that would transform their bodies and lives. To help, we promised to hook them up with all the tools they could need: a free one-year membership at their local Gold’s Gym, a personal trainer to help them design workouts tailor-made for their body types, customized tips and advice from Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute experts, a 12-week supply of MET-Rx and a Kinect for Xbox 360 bundle for at-home workouts. Well, we found them!

Our finalists come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common: They’re ready to take as many runs, reps and healthy steps as it takes to finish their fitness journey. You can follow along with them at and read about their ups and downs as they work their way to a better tomorrow.

Now, let the journeys begin—and to the finalists we say, “Don’t stop believing!”

Wendy Griffith

Stockyard Days 5K
Lino Lakes, Min.
Starting Weight: 164 pounds
Goal Weight: 130 pounds

Her motivation:

I want to wear my wedding ring again—I haven’t worn it in four years because of my weight. I was a chubby child that slimmed out in high school. Then I gained weight in college, but I lost it again. After giving birth to my first child in March 2004, I went to fitness classes, but I never got back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I had to take off my wedding ring when I was pregnant with my second child. Now that child is three years old and I’m tired of hiding behind baggy clothes.

Her biggest hurdle:

My biggest challenge will be finding balance and making all the puzzle pieces fit together, i.e. watching my diet, making nutritious food choices, finding time for the gym and my family. I’m a stay at home mother with easy access to the kitchen and sometimes my life—and a little laziness—can get in the way of working out.

Her first steps:

For a number of years, I wanted to run a 5K. After talking and talking about it, I found a friend that agreed to train with me. Suddenly I didn’t have to achieve this crazy dream by myself. I ran my first 5K in June 2009. The next year, I did a 10K then immediately registered for a half-marathon. Running is addictive; I want to go faster and farther. One day, I want to run a marathon.

Her greatest hope:

I’m excited about having a personal trainer—I love that it will make me accountable to someone. Plus I’m excited to lose weight, fit into some of my old clothes and wear a bikini with confidence. Oh, and let’s not forget: I want to put on my wedding ring again!

Danielle Sterner

Rochester, N.Y.
Starting Weight: 290
Goal Weight: 140

Her motivation:

When my husband and I got married, I knew I wanted children, but my weight interfered with conceiving a child. Now that we have begun the adoption process, the idea of motherhood is becoming real and I cannot bear the thought of my health problems impeding our ability to adopt. I also don’t want to be “the fat mom” who has to sit on the sidelines or miss out on things because of my size. I need to be at my healthiest so I can be a great mother.

Her biggest hurdle:

At an early age, food became my best friend—there is a certain level of comfort that accompanies eating beyond your limit—and around age 15, I realized that being overweight protected me from unwanted attention. Since then, food has been my constant companion, and ending that relationship seems terrifying. But my weight is literally killing me. I have chronic joint pain, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and pancreatitis. Most of all, conceiving a child is next to impossible because the weight aggravates my other fertility diagnoses and causes me to miss periods.

Her first steps:

I was hospitalized in August with acute pancreatitis—the pain was excruciating. My doctors thought it was caused by a family history of high cholesterol, but I knew better. I was binge eating like there was no tomorrow. I hid takeout boxes and empty food containers from my husband in an attempt to hide my secret. When I confessed, he became my rock and has helped me stay on the healthy eating track.

Her greatest hope:

My twenties have been marred by fat, pain and health problems, and I am sick of it! I want to turn 30 and leave all of this behind. I know 2012 will be my year. I am a driven and determined person, and once I set my mind to something, I finish what I start and keep going. Hopefully, a trainer and a support system will help me stay healthy once and for all.

Kerri Loafman

Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Starting Weight: 174
Goal Weight: 135

Her motivation: For the past five years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mother with a special-needs child. My schedule required me to live on the go, which led to unhealthy eating habits and a lot of stress. Many other mothers of special-needs children I know feel the same—they’re extremely stressed, tired and overweight. I want to be an example to help these parents see the benefits of living a healthier, active lifestyle. Plus, there are so many special-needs children who need their parents to be in top form to advocate for them.

Her biggest hurdle: Blocking out two hours in the morning to ensure that I stay focused on working out and that I don’t get sidetracked. You have to make time to get fit. I also want to overcome my fear of the weight room—an intimidation that stems from lack of knowledge. I’m confident that my trainer will help me learn more about weight training and show me how to integrate it into my weekly workout.

Her first steps: I lost 20 pounds last year. My friends had a lot to do with it; I am a firm believer in the buddy system, because having a partner makes you more likely to show up, work out and eat healthy. And I got rid of my “fat jeans”—the ones that are one size too big, but I kept just in case. Those backup duds were an enabler and had to go!

Her greatest hope: To bring the nutrition knowledge that I gain from my trainer home to my family and into our daily lives by preparing better meals and helping my children to make smarter food decisions. I want my fitness journey to influence our family’s time together and the activities that we participate in. Finally, I hope that my dedication will inspire and empower my children to reach for their dreams and give things their all.

Chris Lincecum

Clearfield, Utah
Starting Weight: 325 pounds
Goal Weight: 180 pounds

His motivation:

I turned 40 this year and also reached the highest weight I have ever been in my life. I have four children and three grandchildren, and I want to be around for them as long as I can. My oldest boy just joined the army and will leave for boot camp in July. He challenged me to join Gold’s Gym with him, and I want to accept the challenge, lose the weight and get fit. I want him to be as proud to call me his father as I am to call him a U.S. soldier.

His biggest hurdle:

This past year I came to the realization that I am a food addict. I love food, not just a little, but a lot. My grandmother and my mother were both obese. When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money, so when a good meal came around we indulged. As an adult I find myself eating excessively—as if I don’t know when I’ll see my next meal. Afterward, I hate myself for it because there is no reason to be stuffing myself like that.

His first steps:

I love my family, but it’s time for me to love me. I have tried to lose weight many times before, but have never committed to changing my habits. Many may ask why I think this time is different. Well, it’s amazing how your thought process changes at 40. I realize that I need professional help with my physical activity and nutritional decisions. I want to remove as many stumbling blocks as possible as I begin this journey to a new and healthier lifestyle.

His greatest hope:

In the past, I’ve done really well for two to three weeks, then life happened—birthday parties, family gatherings, holidays—and I fell back into the same bad habits. With a trainer’s help, I believe I can stay motivated, plus I have so many reasons to stay on track: my wonderful wife, our four children and my three beautiful grandchildren. I am so excited to learn how to change my life forever!

Ken Olenyik

Brielle, N.J.
Starting Weight: 315 pounds
Goal Weight: 250 pounds

His motivation:

Longevity. You rarely see any large and oversized octogenarians walking around. I have young kids—an eight-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter—and I want to be around and in good shape to see them grow up, graduate college, the full nine yards. Another secret motivation is that I don’t want my wife to become a rich widow anytime soon.

His biggest hurdle:

Keeping my appetite under control. I need to snack properly and fill up on salads, vegetables and fruit. I love garlic and spices, which aren’t bad for you necessarily, but I usually cannot resist completing the triumvirate with pasta. So I’ll need to focus on adding more vegetables to my plate and making smart substitutions, like using spaghetti squash in place of capellini.

His first steps:

I’ve been slowly gaining weight. Over the past 20 years, I’ve put on 65 pounds, and I finally got to the point that I didn’t like who was looking back at me in the mirror. I held on to the pretense that the sweet bird of youth—and the former gym rat part of me—was going to keep me flying right. The reality was the opposite, and I’ve realized I need to change. This time around, I’m driven by the thoughts of someday walking my daughter down the aisle and playing with my future grandchildren.

His greatest hope:

Getting back in shape and in control. I want to live life to the fullest with my family. I want to achieve a complete healthy makeover: better nutrition, physicality and mental fortitude that I can sustain for the long haul. I’ll still enjoy an occasional meal at some of my favorite local places— Tardi’s, Due Amici and Chef Vola’s in Atlantic City—but as someone much smarter than I once stated, “Do everything in moderation, and you will succeed.”

Daniel Shields

St. Louis, Mo.
Starting Weight: 245 pounds
Goal Weight: 200 pounds

His motivation:

I found out I had high blood pressure at a routine checkup. I’m only 28 years old. I had no idea my blood pressure was so high—it was 137 over 90! I was put on blood pressure medication, and was told that it was probably hereditary since my mom, uncle and brothers all have the same, but that does not mean I am going to take this lying down. I know that through hard work, healthy eating and a trainer’s help, I can fight high blood pressure and reduce my risk of heart disease.

His biggest hurdle:

My biggest challenge will probably be following a better diet. Food is my weakness, and I have a bad sweet tooth. I’m always reaching for ice cream or cookies or something that isn’t particularly good for me. I’ve always heard that what you eat is more important than what you do at the gym—so I plan to put that statement to the test.

His first steps:

Admitting that what stopped me from working out was me and nothing else. Every winter I resolved to work out so I’d look good the next summer, and I would always come up with excuses. I just didn’t have the drive to get to where I wanted to be. Now I do.

His greatest hope:

I’ve seen some of my family members overcome weight or heredity issues, but many haven’t. I hope my experience will inspire and motivate them to get healthier. And when I say “family,” I also mean my friends who—though not blood related—I think of as my brothers and sisters. In the past, I haven’t had a lot of self-confidence, and I am excited to finally be proud of myself.

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Gold’s Gym is the world’s trusted fitness authority. We’ve spent over 50 years defining fitness and now we’re reinventing it. With personal fitness profiles backed by GOLD'S 3D scanning technology, both traditional and digital personal training options and new GOLD'S STUDIO offerings that go past a simple class; Gold’s Gym has evolved so you can transform your life. Experience change with Gold’s Gym.

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