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Meredith has an incredible health and fitness journey that she shared with us. Read more about what lifestyle changes she made, what fitness programs worked for her, and everything in between! She is a rockstar!

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What brought you to Milestone?
My mom has been a member for a few years. I moved back after 4 years in Chicago at the end of June 2015 and wasn't sure what gym I should join, or if I was going to join one at all. That all changed when I attended an event with her one night, very upset, because I was unable to find anything that fit. By that I mean, I left my condo furious, with clothes on the floor and a blister on my index finger from trying to zip up things that weren't going to zip. Knowing I was upset, my mom took me outside, asked what was wrong, and the waterworks began. It just so happened that she was planning to work with a trainer and asked if I would be her accountability partner. As luck would have it, that trainer, Jeff Howard, happened to be at the event that night and we decided to meet and make plan to move forward.

What exercise activities do you participate in at Milestone?
Much to my surprise, I've really enjoyed the group classes. I used to be one of those people who worked out by themselves, because I was convinced I would embarrass myself and wasn't sure I would be able to keep up. I do a lot of Jeff's classes: Tabata Bootcamp, Power Sculpt, 20|20|20, the occasional Rhythm Ride. I'd have to say my favorite though, is Monday Body Breakthrough with Jeff and Rebecca. Their enthusiasm is contagious, it's a great workout, and you
don't find yourself staring at the clock wondering when it will end.  

Results:
So far, I'm down 20 pounds. I would like to lose another 5 pounds or so, but I'm more concerned with toning and maintaining the weight loss/healthy lifestyle. My weight has fluctuated a lot since I stopped running competitively my freshman year of college. If I workout, I'm able to keep the weight off. However, up until joining Milestone, I never found an activity that peaked my interest long enough to stay with it. Now that I've found a program that is manageable and I enjoy doing, I'm hopeful it will be the motivation I need to stay on this path. Plus, I just purchased  jeans in a size I haven't worn since high school, so I would hate for my money to go to waste! 

Notable Staff Members that have helped you:
Jeff Howard and Rebecca Wine. Jeff has been with me through this journey from day one. Not only do we text daily (I send him my meals every day), but I see him multiple times a week in class. Jeff's motivational stance really works well with my personality, because he never forces you to do something, rather he emphasizes how the change has to come from within. Once he knows you're on board and committed, he is your #1 cheerleader. He provides the encouragement and support needed to make real changes, not temporary fixes. With Rebecca, I think she has such a positive energy. I've always gotten a lot from every class I've taken with her and her passion makes you want to work hard.

Main reason you wanted to get in shape/motivation factors:
While appearance and feeling better have been big, the main factor is the prevalence of heart disease in my family. I lost my father, suddenly, at age 16 from a massive heart attack. That day forever changed my life, but it wasn't until recently that I realized I wasn't doing anything to prevent myself from going down the same path. When I started this journey, I used every excuse in the book for why I wasn't eating healthy or working out. Work, stress, time, you name it, I said it. What it boils down to is, I wasn't ready to make the change. When I finally committed to a healthier lifestyle, I did begin to feel better. My appearance did change. However, knowing I'm putting myself in a position in the long run to live a longer, more fulfilling life is what makes it all worth it.

Tell us more about your journey. How it started? How it is going?

Jeff developed a plan for both my mom and me when we started. I will be the first to admit, my diet was TERRIBLE.  So for me, when I was told what to cut out, it was a bit shocking. Jeff had me cut out beer, wine, juice, regular soda, sweets, sugary fruits (pineapple, melon, etc.), high fructose corn syrup and more. It's pretty crazy (and a little bit scary) to see how many items we consume on a daily basis that contain high fructose corn syrup. For breakfast each morning, I start off with hot, caffeinated tea or coffee (with low-fat milk or real sugar/Splenda), and protein. Usually it's scrambled eggs or an English muffin with egg, turkey sausage and cheese. 

Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, and my time to eat carbs, as well as protein. I eat a lot of salads with chicken, pasta with protein, meat with fruit, pretzels/hummus, and veggies, etc. With lunch being the biggest meal, dinner is to consist of meat and veggies. I'm supposed to eat the meat first to fill up, then finish with veggies. My program consists around eating 3 meals a day with enough protein that I don't have to snack. I try to drink lots of water as well. When I consume alcohol, I drink vodka with club soda, since vodka has the lowest sugar content. The addition of protein and veggies, along with the cutting of high fructose corn syrup have led to the biggest changes for me, I believe. I have more energy, feel less lethargic when I workout, and I don't have that "I'm so full, I want to go to bed" feeling after I eat. Do I slip up? Yes. Do I have a glass of wine every once in a while? A run through the Taco Bell drive-thru? Guilty. However, instead of letting it derail me, I accept it as satisfying a craving and move on. I don't deprive myself of anything, just eat or drink it in on rare occasions.

Other information/miscellaneous:
Accepting that my metabolism wasn't what it used to be was definitely a blow. At 26, I thought I still had a few good years left in the eating/drinking whatever I wanted department. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I grew up running and playing basketball and lacrosse, so I never worried about gaining weight then. I tried to find another passion after competitive athletics, so I ran 3 marathons, most recently in October 2014.  After the last one, I somehow convinced myself I didn't really need to exercise, since I'd run 26.2 miles in one day (great rationale, right?) I made a half-ditch effort to find something to peak my interest, but the spark just wasn't there for anything. Now, it's back and burning brighter than ever. I think the key is I don't feel like I'm stuck in a monotonous rut. I have to work harder, both at making good food choices and getting back in a workout routine, but I'm not bored. My workout classes keep my interest, since they're always changing. If I do get burned out, I head out for a run. Variety is the spice of life, and I have truly found that, and so much more, here at Milestone.