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Salute to Success ~ September 2012

         For my Salute to Success this month, I'd like to introduce you to one of my Slimmons student....Joseph.  Joseph first started working out with me after he got back from a Disney Cruise, and a visit to visit Disneyworld.  You see, Joseph LOVES Disney!  And I know lots of people have a lot of fun there.  It's a fun, and happy place!  But Joseph had not always known a fun and happy way to get in his exercise.  That's where I come in... Joseph came to Slimmons...which I think is the happiest place to exercise!  And he's been working out with me ever since!  So now, I'm going to let Joseph tell you his story in his own words...

         "Exercise is FUN? It is with Richard!

           If you had told me one year ago that I would be working out three times a week with Richard Simmons and that I would be 30 pounds lighter, I would never have believed you! But here I am, attending my classes at Slimmons, fitting in to smaller sized clothes, and sweating to amazing music with the one and only Richard Simmons! How did it all happen???

           I was not an overweight child. My mother was a wonderful Armenian cook who fed us a healthy Mediterranean diet. I was jealous of my friends who got to eat McDonalds and Pizza while I was forced to eat homemade delicacies like stuffed zucchini and bell peppers, kufta, shish kebab and rice pilaf. Dinner always included a salad, but not with Ranch or Thousand Island dressing, always with a healthy sprinkle of olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of garlic powder and salt. Looking back, I never realized that I was eating fresh gourmet meals at home every day while my schoolmates had to suffer through another night of Hamburger Helper.

I was still active enough through college to not gain too much weight, but not having those homemade meals was slowly starting to have its effect on my body. Once I graduated, and was on my own I started to try all of those wonderful fast foods I had missed out on as a kid. Arby’s, KFC, and Wendy’s were delicious and seemed so convenient since I was now a working professional. I slowly but steadily started to gain weight. Two years after graduation I was planning a big trip on a Disney Cruise and to Walt Disney World with a very special friend. I knew that I needed to lose a few pounds to look my best, for myself, and for this special person!

         I immediately joined a gym, hired a personal trainer and worked out daily for the three month leading up to the trip! I lost the weight I wanted, but inevitably ate my way across 4 Disney theme parks and a beautiful cruise ship. I returned home from the trip with wonderful memories as well as with every single pound that I had lost! I still had my gym membership, and told myself I would lose it again, but I didn’t. The weekly gym visits became monthly visits, and those eventually stopped too. I kept paying for the membership, but never went. Work and life became more hectic, and my diet suffered. I could easily finish a 2 liter of Coke with dinner.

        I knew that I should be exercising and eating better, but I just ignored the facts and kept going to the nearest drive thru. I was overweight and in denial of my size. A friend who knew how much I enjoyed dancing suggested I get a Richard Simmons video. I was offended! Me, need a Richard Simmons video? Those were for other people, not me! How dare they suggest such a thing! I kept denying my weight issues and fluctuated from heavy to plump to broad… Anything but fat! I was not fat!

           I had heard about Richard’s studio on the radio while still living in San Francisco. Something, maybe simple curiosity or denied desperation made me want to attend a class. Last September, I relocated back home to Southern California and decided on the drive down that I would try out a class. My first week here, I took a break from unpacking boxes and made the 45 minute drive to Slimmons. I was relieved to see so many different types of people and body sizes when first I arrived on that warm September evening.

          I was instantly greeted by a friendly group of people that would grow to become my workout pals. Richard was everything I expected and more! The class was fun, the music was great, I was laughing, and oh yeah, I was exercising too! I left that first class exhausted, sore and completely drenched in sweat and on the drive home decided I had to come back! I have been hooked ever since, attending a minimum of 3 classes a week. I also keep a copy of “Sweating to the Oldies 5” handy to make up for any classes I might have missed since it is the closest in intensity to an actual Slimmons workout.

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         After a few weeks of perfect attendance, Richard took me aside and told me that he was concerned that my weight was not melting away in relation to how hard I was exercising. He asked me to keep a food journal for a week and said that he would critique my diet. Boy did I get it when I turned in my results! Richard pointed out that it didn’t matter how hard I was exercising if I was still eating crap! He introduced me to his FoodMover program and encouraged me to focus on healthy eating.

        I didn’t do anything drastic to my diet like cut out carbs or say I’m never going to have potato chips ever again. To me that is unrealistic to maintain!  I try to keep everything in moderation and still treat myself every once in a while. I did switch to diet soda (which I am slowly weaning myself off) and increased my daily water intake. I keep a journal of everything I eat on a handy app on my iPhone and once I reach my calorie limit for the day, I’m done! My diet is now realistic and healthy! I weighed 255 pounds on that first visit to Slimmons. I am now 30 pounds lighter, at 225 pounds, with another 25 to lose. Can I do it? With support I get from all of my friends at Slimmons, and most importantly with the love and encouragement I get from Richard, I know I can and I will!!!"

        Thanks so much for sharing your story with my readers, Joseph!  Keep Sweatin' , and I know you'll have that other 25 pounds off in no time!  I'll see you at Slimmons!