Making My Body Stronger and My Life Better

“Like many people, my New Year’s resolution for the past twenty years was to lose weight and get into better shape. Except every year I only managed to consistently gain weight despite how many different types of exercise I did on a regular basis.

I started joining gyms in my teens. Nautilus machines were new in my first gym and I listened eagerly as the instructor showed me how to use the machines and then went on to use them unsupervised. Throughout the last 35 years I have ran, swam and walked thousands of miles to keep in shape. I have taken aerobics, Jazzercise, yoga, Pilates, spinning, weight lifting, water aerobics, interval training and Spinning classes.

Although, all of these classes had professional instructors, and during class they would correct my form my body was slowly getting out of shape. Finally, last year, while crying in the waiting room at DHMC because my back, leg and shoulder pain was so bad I could not sit or stand and I could not raise either arm past my shoulders without intense pain, I realized that I needed to make some major changes in my life.

My kids were still young and I wanted to be able to participate in physical activities with them.
My first change was to go to a chiropractor for my back pain and right leg numbness. I was very traditional when it came to medical intervention, but physical therapy was not helping with my back and shoulder pain. Within six weeks the numbness that ran down my right leg for over seven years was gone. When my mobility started to return I decided I needed to focus on getting my battered body back in shape. I decided to get a personal trainer.

I have been a member of the RVC for twenty years. I quietly checked in, did my workout and left the club without much contact with the staff. So I was very nervous when I approached Cassie Truell in the membership office about a personal trainer. However, she was an enthusiastic women and quickly got me in touch with Marco Day and Michael Stephenson.

When presented with two men in their early 30’s I panicked! I thought how on earth would I relate to two men who I believed were out of touch of the problems of an aging, overweight women. I quickly learned I was very wrong in my assessment and I have come to call the two men M&M.

Michael, and Marco assessed me and started me out slowly with core and bodyweight exercises. I have to admit, I was terrified to work one-on-one with a personal trainer for an hour. After a few sessions with Mike and Marco, I realized that despite my years of going to the gym, I was actually in terrible shape and I had been doing all of my exercise wrong.

M&M were both patient and supportive with my frustration and fear of getting back into shape. I would give them questioning looks and tell them “No” when they presented me with an exercise or weight I felt was too challenging for me to use. In return, they would smile at me, hand me the weight or very large rubber band and tell me that yes, indeed, I could do the exercise. What I found out was that they were right! I could lift the weight they gave me, or do more leg lifts with a band around my leg then I thought.

M&M quickly learned several personality traits about me that made working with me a challenge. One, I have a very short attention span. So they had to communicate to me what they needed me to do, and what they hoped to attain by a new exercise in a quick, concise, clear way. Two, I get bored very fast. So they are constantly finding me new ways to work my body to make it stronger.

I was surprised to learn that after a lifetime of believing I was not a competitive person, I actually was. However, my biggest competitor was me! Let me explain. If M&M would say, “Lets do squats together.” I would stand still, look at them and say, “OK, you start.” However, if they asked me, “Do you think you can do twelve squats?” I would respond by saying, “No, I can do 15.” They ask, “Really? Are you sure?” and I would take the weight they offered and pulled on all my inner strength to show them and myself that, yes, indeed I could go beyond what they asked of me.

After about three months of working regularly with M&M I began to feel by body regain its strength and mobility. I thought it was time to start a serious weight loss program. At age 51, I weighed the same as I did when I was in the last stages of my pregnancies over 19 years ago. Marco started weighing me weekly, and discussing ways to change my diet to help me lose weight. I have to admit, the word, “Diet”, has never been a part of my vocabulary. However, I did listen to Marco and tried to get more vegetables into my diet.

At first my weekly weigh-ins were a roller coaster ride of emotions. One week, I would lose a pound, another I would gain two. The worst was when I thought I was eating so well but the numbers on the scale did not move. At the beginning of the summer I was introduced to the “Game On” fitness challenge. It presented me with a different way of getting into shape and provided me with a new crazy diet that I reluctantly began with a group of friends.

The new diet was a challenge, but the well thought-out plan, “score sheet” and support of friends made it easier for me to totally change my eating habits. Imagine my surprise when “crazy diet” actually made me feel better then I have in years. My constant sugar high and lows disappeared, and the numbers on the the scale finally started to steadily go down.

It has been a year since I made my New Year’s Resolution to get into shape again. However, this year, I did it with the help of Mike and Marco and I have lost 17 pounds and am doing exercises I never thought possible. It has not been easy, and at times it has not been fun. But for my personal well being, and my desire to continue an active lifestyle, I show up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to work with M&M to make my body stronger and my life better.”
Sarah Friedman

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What our members say

 Jennifer Packard
Jennifer Packard

Whether you’re just starting out, trying to get back into a routine, or are feeling frustrated with your current regimen: Your fitness journey is your own. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

 Terry Hall
Terry Hall

‘Can’t’ is no longer in my vocabulary, and I have a sense of pride in my ability to work toward a goal and not only achieve it, but often exceed it.