Wednesday

Robyn and David's Kettlebell Experience and Life Changes

I am truly excited to share this beautiful story about a wonderful couple who has clearly made some amazing life lasting changes.  I had the pleasure of introducing kettlebells into Robyn and David's lives along with some nutritional influence along the way.  Robyn and David now look and feel the best they ever have.  Many people out there can relate to Robyn and how she suffered from a weak lower back that would constantly give her problems.  She was very active but continued to have back pain.  Like most people who have ever had back issues, she was intimidated and wasn't sure if she could trust kettlebells.   Robyn has given birth to 2 beautiful girls, and like me had very large babies, via C-section.  David, Robyn's husband, came to me with little strength, much like the average endurance athlete and in just a short time he has become a machine.  He is unstoppable, extremely strong, fast, has a balanced body and lots of muscle.  As a husband and wife they have transformed together!  It's an honor to share Robyn and David's journey with all of you.  Not only to highlight their success for all of their close friends and family to see, but to show them how proud I truly am of them.   In addition, I enjoy inspiring all of you to be the best that you can be by showing you a real story about real people, who deal wth the same issues as everyone else.  It's always such a humbling experience to be apart of each and every life change that I encounter, especially ones where good friends have become like family.  Check out both of their inspiring stories below of what now helps them keep the lean, healthy, and fit bodies they worked for. 




ROBYN'S STORY

Robyn and David before kids and kettlebells

When I was first introduced to kettlebells at the end of 2008 I was skeptical about it because I had a weak lower back and the kettlebell swing, at first glance, appeared to be very jarring on your back.  In all honesty, I wasn’t sure it was something my back could handle.  Well here I am 2 ½ years later telling you it has been the BEST thing for my back. 

I am 33 years old and weight lifting was not something I did very much of in the past.  I would lift 8-10 lb dumb bells with some of my exercises but never much more than that.  I was a dancer for about 18 years, an avid walker, an occasional jogger and swimmer, and enjoyed a few years of tae bo, yoga, pilates, and The Firm videos. So I definitely was not coming into kettlebells with a “no exercise” background.  I was very much into fitness and always enjoyed getting in a good workout but never took it to the next level.  

Babies…
I gained 35 lbs with each of my pregnancies and have been able to get back to my “pre-baby” weight but the 2nd time around was much different than the first. 



1st Pregnancy 40 Weeks Pregnant
During my first pregnancy I suffered from extreme lower back pain and sciatica and it was very early on in the pregnancy which was strange. I had random lower back problems for a couple years prior to that also but just seemed to me like I had a weak back. Once the baby was born my back seemed fine. Anyway, I decided to shed the rest of the weight by training for a triathlon in my neighborhood. I didn’t actually do an organized triathlon – I did my own little one in my neighborhood!  So with my husband cheering me on (he had just gotten into triathlons – the organized ones) I was able to complete it 7 months after my c-section. The sprint triathlon consisted of a 1/4 mile swim in our community pool, a 9 mile bike ride, and a 3 mile run.  I returned to my pre-baby weight and my back seemed ok but I had no real muscle definition and my nutrition was filled with a variety of things – I have always been that person who eats pretty healthy but also mixed in unhealthy too and I loved my sweets!! And it didn’t help that my husband brought all sorts of sweets into the house…I didn’t have the willpower to say no once they were staring me in the face.


I told Lauren about my previous back issues and how I was very concerned that the kettlebell exercises looked so hard on your back. She promised me that once I learned the correct form I would only be strengthening my back and core which will help me in the long run. I took a private class with Lauren a few months before becoming pregnant with my second child and began using her volume 1 kettlebell DVD.   During my second pregnancy,  I did not suffer from lower back pain.   After my second baby was born (and yes, another c-section) I decided I would shed the weight by doing kettlebell fitness classes. 

Once I got the green light to exercise 6 weeks after my c-section I started up the kettlebell DVD again and loved the fact that it was such an efficient way to burn calories and fat because all of us moms know we don’t have that much time to devote to exercise especially in the beginning with round-the-clock feedings.  3 months later I joined Buggybellz – a super effective kettlebell class 3x a week with baby in stroller.  I was hooked.  Between Lauren’s kettlebell classes, Buggybellz classes, and doing the video at home I was back to my pre-baby weight within a few months.  I was feeling stronger but still didn’t see muscle definition.  I used the 8kg bell for several months then graduated to the 12kg bell. 

I kept telling Lauren I was fearful of using heavier weights because I didn’t want to “bulk up” and I was still being very cautious in regards to my “weak back.” After using kettlebells diligently 3-5 times a week for a year now I can see that my body is much leaner and I finally have defined muscles (which I have never had before) but absolutely no “bulkiness.” My back is so much stronger than it used to be as is my core.  After 2 c-sections my abs definitely have a mind of their own but I work hard (even if just for 5-10 minutes a day) at engaging them and making them strong.  At 109 pounds, I can swing the 20kg bell with ease, do push presses with a 16kg, and snatch and double clean with 16kg (35lb) bells. I know these aren’t super heavy bells but I also know my limitations and have learned to listen to my body.

Robyn after 2 Kids and Kettlebells!
Baby #2 - 9 months!


In the past few months I have also really improved my eating which has made a huge difference in the way I look and feel.  Having my husband on the same page now, in terms of healthy eating and daily exercise, gives me that extra push…we really motivate each other which makes it fun. We eat lots of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts and have really cut out the empty calorie and high sodium foods.  I enjoy making myself a different salad everyday for lunch so I never get bored.  I have really cut back on chicken and don’t eat any red meat anymore.  I do enjoy fish once or twice a week. And I still eat some sweets just not the muffins and cookies and cakes that I used to go for - now it’s a little frozen yogurt or dark chocolate.


The strength, conditioning and new found health I have achieved through both kettlebells and the influence of good nutrition will stay with me forever and I will be able to pass that on to my children.







DAVID'S STORY

I’ve been actively involved with some form of sports or fitness activity for as long as I can remember. I grew up playing football, soccer, basketball and baseball and also participated in a few short distance running races just for fun. Fitness was just a part of my life growing up and continued all the way thru college. On average I would say I spent 1 to 2 hours per day exercising or doing some form of fitness activity.  I enjoyed staying fit as it was a way of keeping my mind and body healthy, and was a great way of challenging myself (and my teammates) to meet and exceed personal and/or team goals.

In my opinion, a significant part of being able to successfully maintain my level of activity came from eating a fairly well balanced and nutritious diet. As we all know, when we are young it’s easy to not eat as healthy as one should and can still get away with it. But as one ages, one quickly learns that the body is not as forgiving.  However, once I graduated college and started working full time, I found that my days were spent for the most part behind a desk rather than on a ball field or gym and this is when I first started noticing changes in my body both physically and mentally.

My days of exercising for 1 to 2 hours per day were reduced to 1 to 2 hours per week and gradually decreased to almost 0 hrs per week as time went on. I was working 12 hour days and also got accepted into Graduate School to get my M.B.A. Clearly I became inundated with both work and schoolwork and unfortunately to keep up I chose to eliminate exercise all together. Additionally,  my eating habits become poorer as well. Crazy work schedules meant fast food for lunch, junk food for snacks and midnight dinners right before bed only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. My energy level was decreased to the point where I felt I needed to nap each day and even on the weekends had little to no energy or desire for that matter to exercise. I felt slow and sluggish and generally just fatigued. I started to gain weight, first slowly, and then at an increasing rate. I’m 6’ tall and I went from 195 lbs to 235lbs in about a year and in addition to feeling more fatigued I started to notice that my immune system was weaker as I was getting sick more often. It was a terrible pattern that I had got myself into and really missed the days of feeling energetic and just overall healthy.

It was at that point that I decided that things needed to change. I mean going out and playing a friendly game of basketball with friends was a struggle, or going for an easy bike ride at the beach was just too hard. I didn’t want to continue going down this road. I was aware of the consequences that a poor diet coupled with a lack of exercise can lead one to.  I knew that it was time to make a change and get myself back on track.


The day I finished Graduate School I made a commitment that I would do my best to try and set aside more time to exercise and stay overall more active. I started out by just walking a few miles several times a week, and then moved on to jogging a mile or two per week. It felt good to be getting my body moving again. I noticed that I had a little more energy which was good seeing as we just had our first child and would definitely need the extra endurance for that. I did not make any real changes to my diet as I really wasn’t convinced that would have much of an impact on how I was feeling. One thing was obvious though I wasn’t really losing any significant weight or gaining any new muscle definition.

I was fortunate enough after Graduate School to be offered a C.F.O. position with a well respected Triathlon Apparel/Footwear Company and from that point on my exercise routine changed dramatically. Partly due to my competitive nature and partly in order to keep up with my fellow triathlon focused co-workers. I started gradually increasing my running distance from 2 to 3 miles, to 5 or 6 miles per week, riding my bike 10-20 miles per week and swimming 1 mile per week. It was a struggle at first keeping up with this routine. Running especially was hard for me. After a 2 or 3 mile run I was completely wiped out. It did feel great though being active again and slowly but surely the weight started to come off. After about 2 years of consistent training I was able to bring my weight down from 235lbs to 205lbs. In May of 2007, I competed in my first Sprint Distance Triathlon (.25 mile swim, 9 mile Bike, 3 mile Run) and by the following year competed in my first Olympic Distance (.90 mile swim, 25 mile Bike, 6 mile Run) race. In fact a buddy of mine challenged each other to go out and do our own Half Ironman distance race (1.2 mile Swim, 56 mile Bike and 13 mile Run) which took about 6 hours to complete. It was a great achievement and I never would have thought that I could have done it seeing as where I’d let myself get to just a short time ago.

A couple of years ago my wife decided to give Kettlebells a try. She started out using Lauren’s Volume 1 video at home. I had never heard of Kettlebells prior to this. At first it didn’t interest me in any way as it looked awkward, nor did it really seem enjoyable or beneficial. During that winter our local pool had closed for repairs and so I couldn’t swim as part of my normal routine. After several weeks of watching my wife do the videos I reluctantly chose to give Kettlebells a try and I haven’t looked back since. I started like many others just doing Lauren’s Volume 1 video at home using a 26 lbs Kettlebell. I mixed this new Kettlebell routine in with my running and biking and then worked my way up to signing up for one of Lauren’s classes. She really proved that Kettlebells was an effective way of strengthening one’s body while having fun at the same time. I also really started enjoying the fact that you could do Kettlebells anywhere.  At home, on the road while traveling, etc. It was very mobile and easy to do anywhere. I went from doing Kettlebells once a week to combining it into my routine 3 or 4 times per week.

Feb Fat Loss Photo - before nutrition and major strength changes
After just a few short months, I noticed that my body was becoming leaner and stronger and also was loaded with energy. No need for my daily nap anymore that’s for sure. In fact I had found that I had more energy than ever. Also, Kettlebells provided a great environment for my wife and I to work out together which was really rewarding. Again I continued to drop the weight with my regular Kettlebell routine, going  from 205 lbs to 200 lbs. However, there was still one significant piece missing that would ultimately help me get to the next level and that was the nutritional aspect of my routine.  You see with all of the exercise that I was putting in, it gave me the false impression that I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. That’s not to say that I was eating junk food 100% of the time. I ate a fairly well balanced diet but clearly still ate my fair share of fatty and non-beneficial foods on a regular basis. All of my exercise was just counter-acting my diet so there was in essence sort of a “neutral” impact to my body.



 4-5 Months of Nutrition Changes and Heavier Bells!
With that said, Lauren convinced me to give one of her infamous monthly Fat Loss Challenges a try. I was reluctant for sure but decided to give it a shot.  I started by eliminating the daily ice cream routine, weekly french fries and potato chips, the post  lunch cookies, weekly pizza night, etc and that’s when it all changed.  I mixed in more healthy flour-less breads, salads, greek yogurts, nutritional smoothies, nuts and raw fruits/veggies on a regular basis and made it a point to only splurge once a week (you have to keep sane for sure). Within just one month my weight dropped 6 lbs, my muscles became leaner and more defined and my energy level was off the charts. I have now been continuing this exercise and “cleaned” up diet routine for almost 5 months now. I’ve lost 15 lbs since then and consistently maintain a weight of 185 lbs to 187 lbs. I’m able to double press two 80 lbs Kettlebells several times, do a pull up with an 80 lbs Kettebell chained to my waist and easily snatch an 80 lbs Kettlebell several times.  I completed my first half marathon in just over 2 hrs in April 2011 and hope to maybe sign up for a full marathon later in the year. My core is so much stronger and flatter, my arms have become more defined and my posture is much straighter which I believe is all related to my new routine and diet.
Clearly, one can see the true benefits of staying active and eating healthy. I am living proof of that. I don’t want other's to feel they have to go to this extreme.  Everyone can do it at their own level and pace, but the crucial thing is that they enjoy it.  It’s just about taking the time to make a change. It doesn’t have to be drastic just enough to make a difference in your life so that you can have many more years of health and happiness.  I wish everyone the best of luck.



The Strong, Fit, and Healthy Couple


I just want to thank Robyn and David for inspiring all of us to continue to be our absolute best in health.  Everyone they encounter they inspire!  It just so happens that today is also their anniversary.  Happy Anniversary to an amazing couple of 9 years!  We love you!!!



6 comments:

Natasha Kay said...

Love it! I also have two kids (twins) and went from a 54" waist while pregnant (and 205 lbs) to a 27" waist now. Kettlebells has defined my midsection like never before and people are always asking me if I've had a tummy tuck (nope!). Great post.

Lauren said...

Natasha,

Wow that is quite an accomplishment for you!! I bet you feel incredible. Having twins or large babies definitely puts a number on a females body. But with the right steps you can achieve almost anything you put your mind to. Thanks for sharing!!!

Kimberly Lubuguin said...

I am so proud of my sister Robyn and her husband David! They have truely transformed their bodies with exercise and eating healthy and my nieces are eating helathy as well. I had not seen them in almost 8 months and really would not have recognized their bodies without their faces. I look forward to working towards some of these changes as well.

Mike and Amie said...

Thank you for sharing! I feel your joy! I'm a mother of 5 and have reclaimed my body with amazing nutrition and increased activity exponentially! It makes all the difference. I've been wanting to add Kettle Bells. I just want to make sure I use them correctly, you know?
I'm excited to learn!

Lauren said...

Kimberly, They are so incredible! Thanks for the kind words. It is wonderful to have family that support positive changes.

Anonymous said...

What a great story. I am inspired!