MICHELE WOLBERS REVEALS HOW SHE WENT FROM
Happy Spring Everyone! I am extra excited about this month’s newsletter because it’s all about one of my newest heroes. This month I am interviewing Michele Wolbers. She and her husband manage the Vincennes Anytime Fitness and they both are truly a witness to what lifestyle change can accomplish.
FAT TO FIT IN LESS THAN ONE YEAR
I’ve watched Michele’s journey from overweight and unhappy to buff and beautiful and much, much happier. She walks around the gym now with a smile on her face and a lilt in her step and she has good reason; one that she has worked her ass off for (literally), I might add.
But, I digress. Instead of me telling you her story, I decided to interview her and ask her what I thought you guys would if you could. It may be a little lengthy, but it is soooo worth the read! I believe it is so worth reading that I’ve dedicated this whole issue solely to the interview. The "Exercise of the Month" and "Ponder Pond" will return next month in their duly appointed spots. So, without further ado...I give you the Michele Wolbers Interview. Make sure you read to the very end for the "big reveal!"
LINDA: Michele, What made you decide to get serious about your weight loss?
MICHELE: I have always been insecure about my body. I dreamt about having the bikini body that my friends had, but always thought you had to be “born” that way. I tried exercising a few times, but gave up after a couple months of what I thought was failed attempts. I got to the point where I was depressed to shop for new clothes, ashamed of what I looked like with or without clothes on, and embarrassed that my friends, family, and children had to look at me that way. A couple years ago, my sister approached me asking me to manage the fitness center. I was unsure if I wanted to give up the job I loved so much, better pay, insurance, etc. I prayed for guidance. (and I am not a super religious person either) A week or so after she offered me the job, I saw something on TV regarding Diabetes. My father is diabetic and my mother’s mother was an insulin dependent diabetic. It just struck me that I needed to do something about my weight or I was going to end up like that too. So I took the job with the hopes in my mind that I was going to use this job to help me get healthier, happier, and a lot less stressed out.
LINDA: Had you tried other weight loss ventures before?
MICHELE: Oh, yes. I tried exercising a few times but failed because I never changed my eating habits. In my mind, I should be able to eat whatever I wanted, but as long as I was exercising regularly I should at least lose SOME weight . . . no. I was soooo wrong. In the past I tried a variety of weight loss pills, too; despite the fact that I didn’t believe in using them. They made me shaky or jittery, and never seemed to curb my appetite. So I wasted lots of money on that. I did a lot of “wishing” and “hoping” that some miracle would happen and I would just wake up skinny one day, even though I knew it was unrealistic.
LINDA: Have you been over weight all your life or was it brought on by pregnancy or some other health issues?
MICHELE: I was fairly thin throughout high school, but always out of shape. I envied the athletes, fantasized about what it would be like to be not only thin, but muscular. I was not happy with my body even then because my thighs were bigger and a little fatty and I didn’t feel good physically. I never exercised regularly or ate healthy so gradually over the years, and after three children, I packed on 50-60 unneeded pounds. It was the opposite of my dreams! I felt like I woke up one day and realized I was fat, not skinny!!! Also, I fell down our basement stairs a few years ago and hurt my back and became even more sedentary after that, because I was afraid I would hurt myself again. So, basically, it was from years of eating lots of food in a day, giving birth to three children and being inactive.
LINDA: For many people, getting started with something like this is the hardest part. How did you get started?
MICHELE: I just wanted to be healthy and happy and more than anything, comfortable in my own skin. Jeremy and I completed a dream book- full of dreams and goals – short and long term. One of those was to lose 40 pounds by the end of the year. I pasted a current picture of myself in the dream book and also a picture of a body I wanted and cut my face out and put it on the body. I broke it down to a plan to lose an average of 4 pounds a month. Looking at it that way seemed so reachable!
LINDA: How did you know what to do? (I promise I did not ask this as a segue into a shameless plug, but so be it...)
MICHELE: HAHAHAHAHAH I didn’t know what to do!! So, to help me I hired you! I wanted to not only be able to show new members at the gym how to properly use the equipment, but I wanted to set an example. I didn’t want to feel “lost” when I was at the gym . . . roaming around wondering what I should be doing next. I knew if I hired a trainer a few things would happen:
First, I would be committed to making a habit out of working out.
Second, others would see me working out and know that I was trying to get healthy myself and not just working in the office.
Third, I would gain knowledge that could not only help me be happier with myself, but also help others feel the same way. I wanted that most of all.
I also started to read everything I could about eating healthy and exercise. I read health magazines and recently bought a couple health and nutrition books. I am almost done with one of them. I figure, the more I know, the more I can share with others.
LINDA: How many calories do you eat per day?
MICHELE: I track what I eat and what I burn. I try to keep my net calories (what I eat minus what I burn) around 1400 calories. When I started out I was keeping my net calories around 1600. I use a food/exercise calorie tracker on
I love it. It’s easy and accurate, and it works!
LINDA: How long did it take to get to your maintenance stage?
MICHELE: Well, I still don’t feel like I am ready to maintain. I did reach my 40 pound weight loss goal after about 10 months and statistics say I am at an acceptable weight, but I have changed my goal now (now that I believe in myself and know I can reach it) to being under 20% body fat. I am currently at 24%. I am not sure where I will be when I look in the mirror and say, “you did it!” but I do know that I never want to go back to that lifestyle.
LINDA: Do you ever cheat? What tempts you most?
MICHELE: Oh, yes. I cheat. I would fail if I didn’t! Anyone would! If I REALLY crave something to eat, I don’t torture myself. I just go get it and eat it. I don’t crave stuff as much as I used to and I think it is because my body has adjusted to eating healthier. It is getting the nutrients it needs so there are a lot less cravings. So I probably cheat more now because of temptations. I am tempted most when people offer junk food to me, like on holidays or at restaurants- particularly buffets. Buffets are horrible for me to go to. I try to avoid them because the dessert calls out my name even today lol. It seems to be worse during “that time of the month” too. I get moody and still occasionally want to comfort myself with cookies, cake, chocolate, or ice cream (sweet stuff in general). I have learned the key is to eat just a few bites of what I want, and I chew it as long as I possibly can, and savor every second of it. Then I put the rest away or just get rid of it.
LINDA How did you stay motivated during your weight loss journey?
MICHELE: Well, I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive husband. He would tape signs up throughout the house or on the mirrors saying things like, “looking hotter everyday” or “keep on keeping on, you can do it”. Even after the signs have been taped to my mirror for months, I still look at them and it makes me smile, to know that he is proud of me. It also motivated me a lot when people I know say that they can see I have been losing weight and they comment on how good I look. I also measured myself and keep doing it monthly so even when my weight might not change, I can see the measurements going down. It also helps to talk to others about my journey, just like with this article. To talk about what I have done, and am still doing makes me realize that I have to stick with it and prove to myself and everyone I know that anyone can achieve this kind of goal!
LINDA: Do you have any suggestions or advice to help people get started who are thinking about trying to lose weight?
MICHELE: Take “baby steps”. Change one or two things at a time and make a habit out of it. Then change more. Also, be patient. It’s like remodeling your house, only you are remodeling your body and life! Gradually change eating habits to reflect more and more nutrition, and less and less junk food. Remind yourself that people should eat to live, not live to eat. Work some type of activity regularly into your schedule, just like you do for work, school, family activities, etc. Health should always be a priority, with weight loss as one of the fringe benefits.
LINDA: How much weight did you lose and how long did it take you? And can you tell us a little about your workouts?
MICHELE: Well, as of today I have lost 43 pounds and it has been a little over one year. I make every effort to get 40-60 minutes of cardio in every morning before work (5 days a week). I never PLAN exercise on the weekends. Weekends for me are about spending time with friends and family and not worrying about work or exercise. If the opportunity comes up, I take it, but exercise on the weekends for me always comes in the form of walking to the grocery store, to get a movie, or going to the park etc. I have a bike that I love riding when weather permits, too.
I believe it is vitally important to include strength training, too. No one wants to lose a bunch of weight and have skin sagging to the floor, so strength training is a must! I make every effort to use a combination of circuit training, free weights, and anything new I might learn for a full body workout 2-3 afternoons a week. I don’t stress out if I only get 2 days, but I really prefer 3 days a week of full-body strength training. I believe everyone has to find their happy medium and go with that.
I have also learned that working out at a gym has helped me make friends with others that have health as a priority, too. “Birds of a feather flock together” can be a good thing! I learn new exercises, get tips and give tips too. Plus, it helps make it seem like more fun than work! I feel so fortunate to have given myself this opportunity and only wish I would have taken the step to better health even earlier. I have never felt so good physically and mentally, and only wish the same for everyone else. I feel so lucky, but luck has nothing to do with it. I controlled it. I did it, and I know now that anyone can do it if they really want to!
I’d like to personally thank Michele for sharing her story with us and for being the warrior that she is. There is nothing easy about what she has accomplished, and it is awesome to have somebody running the gym who embodies the very reason every single person with weight loss issues musters up the courage to walk through those doors and sign on the dotted line. Looking at her before and after pictures moves me...and I hope it moves you too. It should give you hope that anything is possible and it really and truly can be done. Michele Wolbers is living proof that you CAN change your life by changing your lifestyle!
Well, that's about it for this time! I hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter and until the next issue, may the wind be at your back and improved health and vitality your new reality!
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From my heart to your health,
Linda Burke, CPT
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