This is my story of where I started at Versus and ended up in the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge. An honest account of what I thought I was getting into only to realize it was the complete opposite of all my assumptions.
By Julie Kitchens, Fall 2016 Challenge Winner
I’m an overachiever by nature. More often than not if I set my mind to do something it will get done and it will be done well. I can say that about most everything in my life except weight loss. Weight loss was always the one thing out of reach. The one thing that was most likely impossible. When I look back on how I actually got to this conclusion I think it comes from a lifetime of failed weight loss endeavors. Failed diets and failed fitness routines and failed self-talk ….Lots of FAILURE.
Where I started
October 2015 I had my routine yearly blood work done for work and the facts of that blood work shocked me. I had lost control and in reality I had lost control a long time before but now my body was starting to show it. I started Versus in December 2015 with a friend. I thought to myself, “Julie, you have tried every other diet out there so this time you can’t choose safe. You need to choose something radical.” Versus was radical in my mind, totally unachievable for people like me or so I thought. I hated exercise and literally felt so out of place when I began. This was not because of anything anyone else said or did; it was because I made up my mind a long time ago that I was not an athlete and never would or could be. Versus taught me differently…everyone was an athlete.
From the very beginning, Coach Michael made me feel like I belonged. Yes, the girl with the lifetime membership to the “Fat Girl Club” belonged at Versus. I started with 2-day-a-week workouts and with Coach Michael’s mini pep talks about nutrition here and there and I started seeing some change in my body. Months went by and I decided to move to 3 day a week workouts. I was getting stronger by the week and I was feeling better. I was making what I thought were “pretty good food choices,” but around the summer of 2016 I started to stall in my weight loss. I was maintaining about 20 pounds lost and although that was great I needed more.
Why I first signed up for Clean Kitchen
For weeks prior to the Fall Clean Kitchen sign up Coach Michael would remind us it was coming, the next opportunity and the final one of the year. I had seen the results and I had read the success stories but I still didn’t think it was achievable for me. I was doing so well at Versus and I wasn’t the failure…at least not yet…and I surely didn’t want to let Clean Kitchen make me one. Then one class we had to run and we had to run a lot. I was the last one done as usual but this time something happened and it infuriated me. I got in my car after workout covered in sweat and cried all the way to my kid’s daycare. I was SO sick of being the worst runner and before I got home from picking up my kids I was signed up for the Fall Clean Kitchen. Done…locked in and signed up before the anger faded and my sense came back to me. The next day I thought to myself…”What have I done??”
My assumptions prior to starting Clean Kitchen.
Prior to Clean Kitchen, I emailed Steve and said…”I want a male coach for Clean Kitchen. I can’t do a female coach.” I again had this idea in my head that the female coaches were crazy with a capital C…I can’t do what they do. They have “good genes” and I don’t. “I can’t eat a cube of cheese and a cherry tomato all day and not kill someone.” I was such an idiot. Steve obliged, and bless his heart, he became my coach.
How CK Month 1 started for me.
The program starts…I wanted to succeed so badly. I didn’t want to be last, not this time. I didn’t want to fail. It started small with a good multi vitamin and fish oil and started upping my water. I even gave up my beloved half n half, although VERY reluctantly. Not too bad, I can do this. I started adding in my veggies and choosing leaner proteins. Still on track…still hanging in there. Two weeks in and I lost 9 lbs. Week 3 rolls in and I start to slow on my weight loss and my cravings grow strong and my focus begins to wane. I was getting sick of eggs and was limiting myself on good carbs. I was not buying all in.
A gut check, a mind check, and a heart check.
During a coaches Facebook chat I asked if I could use panko breads crumbs. I got the response from Coach Jamie of “Why do you need it?” and it ticked me off! I emailed Steve and was like, “a simple no would have been sufficient.” Steve came back to me with a gut check, a mind check, and a heart check and you know what? It hurt! Each and every one of my little fat feelings were hurt but it was exactly what I needed. He told me that Jamie was making me think and why did I need panko? He reminded me of my “Five Why’s” all the reasons why I started Clean Kitchen and he reminded me I was right where I was at that moment because I didn’t think about my food choices in the past – I ate what I wanted too and I had to change this or this program wasn’t going to work. I had to take my life back over from Food because it currently had all the control. He told me I had to change the input to get a different output. I couldn’t continue to do what I had always done and get a different result. I read his email and decided that if I didn’t buy all in I was going to fail just like every other time.
Finally, I went all in.
I diligently checked off my habits daily, logged each and every time I ate, planned ahead to shop smart, food prep like crazy and to always be prepared. I poured over all the information I was given and learned more that I can ever explain. Clean Kitchen addressed every subject under the sun from eating 80/20, to accountability and consistency, to emotional eating, and even to how your social network plays a role in your eating.
I got more than just information and coaching, I got a support group.
The Facebook group alone for me was worth the sign up money. I have received such wonderful motivation from other CK’ers and have a great recipe repertoire to go too from shared ideas amongst the group. At the gym, I had Coach Michael, Coach Katie and Coach Matt to encourage me to stay working hard. And for my personal Coach…my all desired man Coach Steve stood by me and each and every time I had a question he was there to answer. When I got discouraged he pushed me forward. When I started to complain he told me to knock it off. And best of all when I celebrated an achievement he celebrated with me.
So….how did I do? Well, I will tell you but first let me tell you what I learned.
I learned that I too could be in control of my eating.
I learned that Katie, Jamie, Kellar and the other female coaches didn’t just get their bodies from “good genes”. They earned them day in and day out with each and every good food choice they have made and continue to make. They were not crazy in fact they were pretty smart.
I learned that I feel so good inside because I am feeding my body good whole foods and it needs it.
I learned that I can actually drink half my body weight in water every day and not float away.
I learned that a salad is not really healthy when it’s covered in Ranch, croutons, and a load of cheese even if it has grilled chicken on it.
I learned that I can survive and actually ENJOY drinking my coffee with Premier Protein shake inside instead of my beloved half n half.
I learned that I can go eat Mexican and not eat the chips (gasp!).
I learned that I have to prepare to be successful and always have a backup plan when it comes to food.
I learned that change is hard and super uncomfortable but incredibly worth it.
I learned how to live a healthy life for the long haul not just for 12 weeks.
For the girl who just didn’t want to be last, I actually became first and won the Fall 2016 Clean Kitchen Challenge! I lost 26 lbs., 23 total inches off my body and almost 5% body fat all in 12 weeks! I redid all my blood work and my triglycerides alone were down 161 points and my total cholesterol was down 25 points. Everything is now in NORMAL range! Best of all…I unleashed my inner Unicorn as Steve likes to call it and defied all my odds that I had stacked against myself.
Clean Kitchen was the best investment in my health I could have ever made. Versus Strength and Conditioning made me an athlete. Clean Kitchen made me a healthy athlete and a much much lighter one.