Living Fit: Maintain No Gain participants stay lean

Sharon McGoff
January 15, 2014
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mcgoffIn November, I wrote about the Indiana State Bar Association’s Maintain No Gain Challenge: gain no more than 2 pounds over the eight-week holiday period. I told you about two eager lawyers who were willing to take the challenge and allow me to coach them along the way. Patty McKinnon and Kerry Hyatt Blomquist are busy lawyers, parents and community volunteers. As you read about Patty and Kerry, think about your actions or inactions during the holidays. Did you allow work, bad weather, numerous social gatherings, mountains of food, ever-flowing libations or travel to adversely affect your exercise, stress level, nutrition or sleep?

If you did, I hope you find inspiration and motivation in their trials and tribulations. I hope you realize anyone can make positive changes to their health, no matter the circumstances that impede your path. I hope you enlist the help of a buddy or coach to help motivate you to gain new habits and lose destructive behaviors.

During the first week, Kerry realized she could not exercise outside after work because of the dark and cold nights, so she begrudgingly changed her schedule to a morning routine of getting on a spin bike at 5:45 a.m., when nothing and no one could interfere with her time. Her biggest struggle was with the food choices during holiday time. She admitted, “no one was stuffing it in my mouth” and that it was up to her to pull away from the temptations: Starbucks introduced a new drink that became a very good friend and there was a variety of savory and rich delicacies at every holiday party she attended, each one begging her to “pick me.”

To make up for the additions to her food repertoire, Kerry increased exercise at the gym and at home. She began using an elliptical trainer that she bought a few years ago and discovered an old TV show (“The West Wing”) that was new to her. She began to lose weight thanks to Martin Sheen. Kerry made changes because she knew Patty and I would be checking with her every week. She finished the challenge with a trip to Europe, which translated into no fitness center and a lot of rich food, but also an increase in drinking water and walking to get around. Kerry gained just one pound from Nov. 20 to Jan. 6.

Patty began the first week of the challenge by exercising more, but wasn’t as careful with what she ate. A week later, her exercise time decreased because of a busy trial calendar, family obligations and numerous parties. Knowing that Kerry and I would be checking in with her, Patty creatively fit exercise into her day. When she took her son to choir practice at Butler, she walked flights of stairs for 45 minutes, keeping an ever-watchful eye on a spider in the stairwell, which made her walk faster through that section of the stairs. (Don’t tell Patty, but I strategically placed the spider there.) Patty also began lifting weights at the gym, something she had not done for months, and happily reported a “good hurt.” Her food choices also improved and she was doing well.

Then, another obstacle threatened to take her off course: Patty’s mom was hospitalized. Patty confided that she eats when stressed, but she was determined to refocus to avoid stressful eating. She ate just one small treat per day and ordered the heart-healthy meals at the hospital. When her mom was discharged, Patty was tempted to eat a fattening fast-food meal, but opted instead for a healthy version of the same, enjoying every bite!

Patty’s biggest hurdle came with a trip to Seattle: airport travel, hotel, eating out and limited exercise. Patty was prepared to do what she could to maintain. While at the airport, she purchased huge bottles of water and walked up and down the concourse before her flights. She took advantage of the elliptical machine at the hotel gym, but ate more than normal at the dreaded “free hot-breakfast buffet.” (I think we have all succumbed to this beast at least once.) Patty gained just 2 pounds from Nov. 20 to Jan. 6, and she is confident she will lose them in the next two weeks as she returns to her regular routine of exercise, nutrition and the addition of a Tai Chi class. She knows the newly fallen snow will not stop her routine because she feels so good to have kept her weight in check this season.

Like most of us, Patty and Kerry said the holidays will always be a challenge due to the plethora of baked goodies, socializing (with food) and interruptions in routine. They said the challenge and reporting to a friend and a coach was an excellent way to stay in control of their weight and wellness because they didn’t eat as much and exercised more than in past years. This is the fittest they have been, post-holidays, than at any other time in their adult lives!

It wasn’t easy for Patty and Kerry to make adjustments to not gain more than 2 pounds. It was a challenge to be challenged during this time of year. They didn’t give up. They gained new healthy habits, new buddies and newfound confidence that they can maintain their weight despite obstacles. They lost the demons of stressful eating, overeating and a sedentary lifestyle during the dark, cold winter. What a sweet payoff! Their experiences bring home so much more that “life” is never really routine and fixed. There are always things that get in the way and try to derail our best intentions, weaken us and throw us under the bus of temptation and bad habits.

Kerry and Patty weren’t going to allow those obstacles to quash their goals! They are looking forward to the second annual Maintain No Gain Challenge and highly recommend it for others. But don’t wait until November, make a pact with a buddy, set up an appointment with a coach, or boldly go solo in your endeavor to gain great health and lose bad habits in 2014, AND plan to sign up for the challenge in November 2014!•


Sharon McGoff is a graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a certified life and wellness coach with WellCoaches Inc. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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