I’ve really made a commitment to bring you inspirational stories of real people changing their habits to live a healthier lifestyle. One of these remarkable people I met this summer when my gym was renovating and we worked out in the local park. Curtis Faessler was boot camping it with Trainer Tony’s warriors from the Algonquin Fitness 19. I heard he had lost 60 pounds which made me eager to find out about his story.
Curtis was a Wisconsin farm boy who came from a long line of high school wrestlers. Admittedly, he has exercised his entire life, not always focused, but never-the-less exercised. He studied finance and theatre in college because “someone has to write budgets for show business”. After college he went into banking because it offered stability in income as opposed to the theater (although, I’d love to see him on the stage someday.)
Curtis married Serena in 2007. He played club level rugby for a few years, but the children’s schedules became a priority. Along came Konrad, 6 and Audrey 4. That’s when, like so many of us, his focus changed and life ran away with its awesome self.
Through our emails and reading over what I wrote, Curtis had a few more things to add to the story where he wanted to encourage readers who want to make lifestyle changes. I couldn’t agree more. He really hits home with the choices part of our lives.
“If there is a moral to my story, it’s this: A diet isn’t something you do once to fix a problem. I made lifestyle choices that made me obese. I had to change my lifestyle. Going back to my old eating habits would put the weight back on.
The side note is to not get discouraged by set backs. I had one, and I worked through it. It will happen at some point. Long term success means working through it.”
I posed several questions to gain Curtis’s story and I’ll let him tell you the good news.
PS After reading this, if you’d like to try a boot camp there are two available slots with Trainer Tony on Monday / Wednesday evenings starting at 7pm. Check out the Fitness 19 link.
What inspired you to start a new lifestyle change?
OK, here’s my full story. I was about 220-230 lbs for most of my twenties, in a frame that should be under 200 lbs. I was closer to 230 lbs after I was married at 31, even though I exercised pretty regularly. I like beer and I have a sweet tooth.
When I was 32, my wife and I had our first child, our son Konrad. Since she had the better job, I resigned from banking to take a night job managing a McDonald’s, so I could care for Konrad during the day. My daily schedule was this: wake up at 9 pm, get to work a little early to eat dinner, work until 6 am, eat breakfast there before I left, care for my children during the day, catching naps as they took them, greet my wife at 6 pm, then get a solid three hours of sleep.
After two years of the stress of a new family, constant sleep deprivation, and a pretty lousy diet, I went up to 250 lbs. I felt terrible. Shortly after the birth of our daughter Audrey in March of 2009, I saw I picture of myself, and I looked as bad as I felt. That’s when I decided to change. I started making better dietary choices. McDonald’s, to their credit, does offer some fairly healthy choices. I started having grilled chicken salads for dinner and a poached egg and juice for breakfast. I stopped snacking at work, and when I did, it was a fruit and yogurt parfait. I cut out most, but not all, of the sweets and alcohol.
In a year and a half, I had lost 40 pounds. At that time, just after I turned 35, my wife earned a promotion that came with enough of a raise that we could make ends meet with one income. She also said she felt like a single parent because she rarely saw me, and when I did have time off, I did little but sleep.
You’d think that would help, but after maintaining 210 lbs for a few months, I lost focus. I started snacking more, having more desserts, and blowing off the gym. After a year and a half, I had gained back 30 of the 40 lbs I had lost. This time around, though, I knew what worked, I had no doubts of what success required, and on my 37th birthday, I choose to go back to the lifestyle that had gotten results. In twelve months, I lost 50 lbs, down to 190. That was a little leaner than I reasonably wanted to maintain, so I’ve held steady at about 200lbs since then, about 9 months.
What drew you to start an exercise routine?
I’ve played sports all my life, so weight training and exercise have always been a part of my routine. There have been times when I was less focused and dedicated than others, but it was there at some level.
What drew you to do the boot camp? Did you know what you would be facing?
It’s tough to stay motivated and focused working out by yourself. I was looking for a small group class that would demand some expectations and accountability. I had no idea what I was in for. I threw up during four of my first five classes, but I stuck with it. It got easier, but just barely.
Have you participated in Tough Mudder? Or any program such as that?
I have run a Warrior Dash, two Gladiator Assault Challenges, and a 15K. In 2014, I plan to participate in one or two Tough Mudder’s and the Chicago Marathon.
What would you say to others to help them lead a healthier lifestyle?
Change something, even just one thing. Even the smallest change can yield results. After that, once you’ve made one change, the others get easier.
What have you noticed since working out that you do better or what are the surprises you’ve noticed since working out?
I’ve noticed how much harder everything is when you’re carrying extra weight. I can run faster, jump higher, and lift more.
What is your favorite exercise that you get the best results from?
Pushups, sit ups, and squats form a trinity of basic exercises that work your whole body and strengthen your core. Everybody hates burpees, but they definitely get results.
What’s your favorite saying when working out?
“I’ll catch my breath when I’m puking.”
For the person just deciding to get into a fitness routine, what would you suggest for them?
Talk to the trainers, and do it often. Some of them may look intimidating, but each and every one of them loves helping people. Many of them get more pleasure helping a client do their first pushup than helping someone hit a hundred pushups.