Height: 5 feet 9 inches
Body fat percentage: 25.6/24
Key stat: Overall fitness score improved from 20 to 66 on a
scale of 1-100
Studio: Fitness Together, Brookfieldwww.fitnesstogether.com
The question is, with today’s lifestyles and stress and our own
penchant for quick fixes, how much — and for how long — are we
willing to do what it takes to attain it?
Experts agree, if you’re genuinely serious, the first step is to
realize it takes a lifestyle change, but that doesn’t mean it has to
be difficult. There is no quick fix. This is not like a diet, which
all too often has a beginning, middle and an end. If you’re serious,
there’s a beginning, but there really is no end. It’s lifelong.
Ben Quist, co-owner and operator of Form & Fitness in Grafton
and a 15-year veteran of the fitness and training business, says to be
successful there are only two essential elements: motivation and the
right program for you. "Probably the hardest part of my job is
convincing people that exercise is fun," he says.
"It’s all about balance — in your program and in your
life," Push Functional Fitness owner Erika Gudgeon says.
Three staffers at M Magazine decided to take this philosophy
personally. From March to August, Jordan Dechambre-Childers, managing
editor of M’s City edition; Janet Raasch, managing editor of the
Northshore edition; and Deb Hulterstrum, account executive for M,
created a challenge of sorts: enter a weight loss and fitness
improvement program, set goals and measure the results. It turned out
to be more of a self-challenge than a competition among the three of
Dechambre-Childers is in her 20s, Raasch, her 40s, and Hulterstrum
is in her 50s. Each set goals and aligned themselves with personal
trainers. They also worked with dietary experts at the three fitness
studios: Form & Fitness in Grafton, Push Functional Fitness,
Milwaukee, and Fitness Together, Brookfield.
Height: 5 feet 9 inches
Weight: 155/138 pounds
Body fat percentage: 24.3/21.1
Key stat: Waist 32.7/29
Stufio: Form & Fitness, Grafton www.formandfitness.com
Going into this "challenge," Deb Hulterstrum says it was
different for her than it was for her two co-workers. "It was
very difficult for me," she says.
She says being older, being in sales with her unpredictable
schedule and still suffering the effects of a car crash, made her
endeavor somewhat of a struggle, although she says she was successful.
The trauma from the crash left her with neck, back and knee pain,
limiting her ability to exercise. Fitness Together fitness consultant
Paul Ludka modified her program to accommodate her. "Paul was
really good with me," Hulterstrum says. "He would modify
things based on how I was feeling that day."
"Instead of doing squats, we’d do straight leg lifts
followed by 20 minutes of aerobic exercise for her cardiovascular
system," Ludka says.
"I think it was a challenge for my trainer as well, based on
my limitations," Hulterstrum says. "You know, how much can
this person really accomplish," she says with a laugh. But having
a program and trainer helped push her beyond what she thought she
could do just on her own. Ludka points out each client requires the
right approach. "We helped her learn the right techniques at the
right level for her," he says. That was combined with a change in
Hulterstrum’s diet that included "fiber and carbs and eating
smaller amounts more frequently: a good breakfast, snack, lunch, an
afternoon snack and early dinner," he says.
Hulterstrum’s goals centered on learning how to exercise
correctly, not weight loss per se, and to increase her strength,
flexibility and energy.
Her program included some physical exercise: crunches, lifting and
twisting with a medicine ball, for example.
She does have a gym machine at home and plans to include her
exercises with that "because now I know what I’m doing,"
"I think it’s good to start with a personal trainer to get
you on a path," Hulterstrum says. "You need someone to show
you the way."
Her approach did not concentrate on losing weight, she says. It was
more a focus on fitness and body composition: body fat vs. muscle.
Hulterstrum also does yoga every morning. She’s been doing that
long before she started her formal program. "It’s good and not
abrasive," she says.
Asked if she’ll continue, she hesitates, but says honestly,
"Well, I’m not sure. I’ll see if I can work this into my
schedule. I’d like to pursue it again. I don’t just want to leave
it where I am now when I know that if I continue I’ll have better
results," she says. "You know, it’s just a matter of what
I want to do for myself.
"I am happy with what I accomplished," she says.
Height: 5 feet, 5 inches
Body fat percentage: 25.5/19
Key stats: waist: 26.5/23; hips: 35/31
Studio: Push Functional Fitness, Milwaukee,
Raasch’s goal was to lose 10 to 15 pounds and tone up. After her
daughter was born nearly 10 years ago, Raasch bounced back and forth
between dress sizes. She was tired of the "yo-yo" effect.
As with the others, she had her specific goals and a program
tailored just to her. "Every single client is different,"
says her trainer Ben Quist. That’s why a program created especially
for the client is critical to success. "Janet did great!"
Quist says. He notes she incorporated the program into her life; made
a permanent lifestyle change, lost weight — 17 pounds — and got
Raasch’s program started with setting goals, then metabolic
testing, outlining an exercise program and re-educating her about
Holly Gonwa, one of Raasch’s personal trainers, says the
metabolic testing determines how many calories Raasch needs just to
function when she was resting. Then they added calories to determine
what level she needed not for exercise, but just to maintain her daily
physical activity at her current weight.
Form & Fitness uses a fitness machine called a Power Plate: a
round, vibrating disc that moves in all three dimensions. Raasch would
stand on the plate and do a set of exercises — squats, lunges,
push-ups with her hands on the plate and her feet on the floor. The
Power Plate makes muscles fire 300 times faster than during regular
exercises. "We used the Power Plate as a warm-up," Gonwa
says. "I’m a skeptic when it comes to gadgets." But this
is no gadget; Gonwa became certified in its use.
Raasch’s program was mostly functional training that mimicked her
daily activities in exercise form. There was a strength component —
squats, arm curls and little weight lifting — and walking about 20
minutes on a treadmill. That, for Raasch, has progressed into running.
She was a member of the four-person Form and Fitness relay team in
last month’s Lakefront Marathon and plans to train for a triathlon
"The things Janet does on a daily basis, except maybe the
running, will probably continue for her lifetime," Gonwa says.
She’s successful because she was properly motivated with the proper
trainer and dietician and on the proper path, she adds.
Gonwa knows training is not a quick fix for a lifetime of bad
eating habits, which is why a nutritional element to every program is
crucial. Raasch worked with registered dietician Wendy Ellis.
Together, they established a meal plan of 1,500 to 1,600 calories a
day. Raasch kept a journal to track her caloric intake. "Once I
saw it on paper," she says, it made it easy to see exactly what
she was doing. Once she started seeing progress by losing weight,
having more energy and stamina, the "success built success."
The progress was encouraging.
For Raasch, it boiled down to this:
350 calories for breakfast
400 calories for lunch
250 calories for a midafternoon snack
500-600 calories for dinner.
Breakfast, says Ellis, needs to have dairy, fresh fruit and whole
grain and fiber. The average daily diet should include 25 grams of
fiber, which is hard to do without fiber at breakfast, Ellis says.
Today’s high-fiber foods no longer mean they have to taste like
cardboard or grass, Ellis notes. She recommends the Web site,
mypyramid.com, for more information.
The American Heart Association Web site, americanheart.org, is
another helpful Web site, with information on diet and nutrition,
health tools, cholesterol, exercise and fitness, managing weight and
even a page on "smart shopping" when you’re at the grocery
Ellis describes herself as an educator, motivator, cheerleader and
psychologist. She’s also realistic.
"It wasn’t a stringent diet," Raasch says. And she had
flexibility in her program. It’s a simple approach: If you take in
more calories than you burn, you’re not going to lose any weight. If
Raasch went over in one area, she’d cut back in another. "I had
a cream puff at State Fair," she says, but then compensated for
it at a later meal. "One bad day isn’t the end of the
world," she says.
The clothes in her closet range from size 8 to 12. "Now, the
8s are baggy on me," she says.
Gonwa says Raasch was successful because she made a series of small
changes that were easy to incorporate into her life and did what was
right for her. "She makes me so happy each time I see her,"
Gonwa says. There is not a magic pill, no quick fix. Gonwa’s advice:
do it slowly, gradually increase and incorporate your specific program
into your daily life.
Gonwa predicts that Raasch is hooked probably for the rest of her
life because she had the right prescription: the right motivation
combined with the right people and the right program. "It wasn’t
that difficult," Raasch says, reflecting on the experience.
Dechambre-Childers wanted to be healthier. She didn’t necessarily
want to lose weight, but wanted to drop a couple of inches here and
there. She says she wasn’t able to do that with previous programs.
So, this "challenge" was an opportunity to learn how to do
that for her body.
Her No. 1 goal was to build muscle on her slim frame, get rid of
some excess inches on her midsection and thighs — "and to look
better in a bikini." Push owner and trainer Erika Gudgeon
remembers thinking, "She’s so thin. What am I going to do with
The first step was to establish goals and then design a specific
approach just for Dechambre-Childers. The program Gudgeon outlined
resulted in her losing about eight pounds, about 8 percent of her
total body fat and some of those unwanted inches.
The ambitious program included an hour-long workout with her
trainer three days a week, plus an extra 30 minutes on her own. On the
days she didn’t see a trainer, she was to work out for 45 minutes.
Dechambre-Childers says the dietary component was the greatest
obstacle to overcome. "It was incredibly difficult," she
says. Dechambre-Childers grew up in Door County where her grandparents
ran a restaurant. Growing up, "I was always able to eat whatever
I wanted to eat," she confesses.
Dechambre-Childers had to keep a food diary and maintain a diet
with a minimum protein intake. "It was mostly lean meats, nuts
and other sources of protein." Wheat breads and pastas were also
included, as were vegetables and fresh fruits, but nothing with sugar
in it. "I couldn’t have something like watermelon, but I could
have grapefruit," she says.
To her surprise, once she adopted the diet, found her determination
and changed her eating habits, "It wasn’t nearly as hard as I
thought it was going to be," she says.
She stringently followed her eating program five days a week, then
had two "free" days.
But Dechambre-Childers’ program included an additional, more
aggressive element: Saturday "boot camps." They were
45-minute sessions of physical exercise: strenuous aerobics, weights
and running — indoors in winter, on the beach and stairs outdoors in
warm weather. "It was a really tough cardiovascular
workout," she says.
She noticed, however, she was feeling light-headed during these
sessions. She saw her physician and learned she had low blood
pressure. Working with her doctor, and a prescription, she was able to
adjust and continue without problems. "I really had to watch her
heart rate," Gudgeon says, and urged Dechambre-Childers to use a
heart monitor during workouts.
There were other, half-hearted attempts in the past to improve her
fitness level, but Dechambre-Childers says she never got the tangible
results she achieved with this program. "I was so lazy for so
long," she admits. "This was probably the first time I
seriously tried to work with someone to lose weight (and get
fit)," she says. "If you’re really serious about losing
weight or you just want to lead a healthier lifestyle … just going
in and talking with someone (knowledgeable), getting their expert
advice, is the best thing you can do," she says.
"You have one body and one life, so why not do everything you
can for it," she says.