I have learned that a lifetime of obesity promises years of physical and mental hurdles that can seem hopeless to overcome. But there is good news! We can attain a healthier body and mind through the world of nutrition.
Hi, my name is Amy Bernard. I am 55 years old and reside in Mandeville, Louisiana. And this is my transformation story.
Time for a Change
Last year, I decided to learn about nutrition and tackle my health issues and my obesity. I knew I was unhealthy and getting worse by the year and I finally decided to make a change. I wanted to be the best me I could be. I knew this would surely be a better choice for the rest of my life. I wanted to strive for quality in whatever quantity of life I have left. So, when the lockdown happened during the pandemic, I chose to make the most of my time off work to learn a new skill that would change my life for the better.
Just so you know, I wasn't always obese. In my younger years, I was very active and fit. I was a gymnast and on a dive team. I rode horses and participated in many other athletic activities. My weight was always healthy, and I felt great.
As life progressed, my responsibilities naturally turned to other things. I was honored to help out ill and elderly family members while working full time, raising children, and managing a home. As with many women, we find ourselves on the back burner of life. I ate once or twice a day. Even though I tried to make good choices, the scale kept creeping up year after year. I just thought I was getting older and had to cut back on food.
Later in life, I thought maybe my continued weight gain was just what happens after menopause. I knew my blood pressure was getting high. Then higher. Then I found out I on the verge of having a fatty liver. Who wants a fatty liver? That didn't sound good. My cholesterol reached into the danger zone at 222. Even though I used to do gymnastics on a horse, I got to where I was sometimes afraid to walk for fear of falling. I was squeezing into a size 20. Eat, sleep, work, doctors. STOP.
I decided to make time for exercise and go to one of our local health clubs, FRANCO'S, where I had been an unfaithful member for many years. I started working out on the treadmill and doing circuit training three times a week. I took a few dance and aerobic exercise classes. I lost about 25 pounds in two years. But that wasn't good enough.
I Knew I Needed More Help
I knew I needed to learn about food and how to eat it. I was doing something wrong, and a nutritionist and trainer could help me. Then came along the first of many miracles in my transformation journey: Jennifer Minor of FRANCO'S.
Jennifer is the precious lady who, among her many duties, signs people up for various activities at the club. I went to see her in late February to sign up for FRANCO'S "Recovery Lounge." They were offering a special and all of the options sounded wonderful. During our conversation, she so bravely asked me if I had ever heard of the annual "Lose Dat" program that was about to begin. I would get a trainer, nutrition classes, and be on a team to help motivate me. She said, "It will change your life."
Jennifer showed me her before and after pictures when she did the program herself. I asked her all of the pertinent questions. I had seen a trainer I liked while working out myself. She was tough and I wanted her, if possible. I found out her name was Lisa Zeringue, and she had just added a new class to her schedule on my days off! 6 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. All the stars were lining up for my health to shine. I thought, "Now's the time, let's do this!"
Monday, March 2, was the first day of the challenge. We were all measured, weighed on the InBody machine (I weighed 193 pounds), and then worked out. Lisa, my second miracle, did not disappoint in her methods. She told us to attend all of the classes and nutritional training at FRANCO'S but go to NUTRISHOP Northshore in Covington, Louisiana to see Alex Tanguis for our meal plan. So off I went.
I was determined that my last day of being 54 years old was the last day having to live my life blinded by preconceived notions about age, weight, and health. I walked into NUTRISHOP that day, met Alex, and embarked on a new health journey that would forever change my life.
I Love Learning at NUTRISHOP
Upon entering the store for the first time, I saw an unfamiliar world around me: neatly arranged shelves stacked with an array of colorful products. I knew I wanted to learn about each one. There was a lot of activity going on that day because a few of the trainers had sent their teams to see Alex at NUTRISHOP as well.
I walked up to the counter and was greeted by a gray-haired gentleman with a friendly smile and a "you-can-and-will-do-this" attitude. Just what the doctor ordered. From the beginning, Alex made me feel that I had help in this journey. He gave me hope that I could lose weight and become much healthier. I could fix the problem, not take another pill to band-aid the issue. He provided me with all of the tools necessary to be successful. He gave me times to eat, which was six times a day. He gave me a list of foods to go to the grocery and buy, lessons in counting macros, and how the body uses food. He told me what my InBody body composition scan meant, all of which was foreign to me, but now is part of my life. I love learning every time I go to NUTRISHOP.
I was so excited to learn that I could eat regular food six times a day and be healthy. I could have potatoes, bread, rice, veggies, chicken, turkey, peanut butter, and many other foods I love. I discovered I could buy a protein powder and a carb powder from NUTRISHOP to drink once a day or so for convenience's sake. I learned the importance of never missing my "fueling." I learned that I can have a functioning metabolism at any age and not blame my weight on getting older or menopause. And, because I eat from all of the food groups, I learned I can build muscle and get the proper nutrients I need to be healthy and maintain my optimal weight.
Alex taught me that the magic pill for success is a ratio formula of 10% mental, 20% exercise, and 70% nutrition. He made me realize I had to think about food differently. I eat for fueling and nutrition now. I don't eat because of stress or boredom. Alex taught me about reading labels and what they mean so I know what I am putting into my body. I pair and weigh my food for meal planning. I have meals readily available or have my shakes on hand. Learning to count macros is a life skill that will quickly become a way of life and rescue you from the weight of life. I take the time to meal plan and now know what that entails. Is it worth it? An astounding, "Yes!"
You CAN Change Your Life
Because of the coronavirus, FRANCO's shut down after the first three weeks of the contest. Lisa taught us how to do HIIT at home and I started riding my bike about 50 miles a week. Life changed, so I had to adapt. As time went on, I got better and better at counting macros and began to feel and see changes in my body. My clothes were looser and I was very energetic.
Then I had a routine health visit with my primary doctor. I had gone into the office to do my bloodwork a few days prior. Before we discussed anything else, the doctor asked me what I was doing differently in my life. She was asking me because my bloodwork was so drastically different. My liver was better, my cholesterol was out of the danger zone, and I was able to reduce my blood pressure pill to half (now I am off of it completely). That day opened my eyes about nutrition. You CAN change your life, your body, and your well-being. You have the power to take control of your health, and along with the proper help, tools, and knowledge, you can do this.
I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me and continues to help me in my transformation journey. Alex and the NUTRISHOP staff are my third miracle, and I will forever be indebted to them for the time and knowledge they have shared. They help so many people regain hope. Hope in a better life, hope in a more productive life, hope in a more fulfilling life.
From March to November, I lost 59.5 pounds according to data saved in the InBody scan. I have lost more since then and am now focusing on building lean muscle. People ask me all the time what I pay for this training. The answer is nothing. Alex will share his knowledge because he cares. I know that he will be tough and tell me what I am doing wrong and will take no excuses. At the same time, I don't feel intimidated or judged.
Time To Help Others
One of the best parts of this journey is motivating others to obtain their optimal health goals and make changes in their own lives. Through me, they see it can be done and are eager to learn how they can make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. In my line of work, a hairdresser, I see many people and work with them one on one. I also love our community and have lived in the area long enough to make some great friends from all walks of life. Thus, I see a lot of people and have gotten much attention now that I look and feel so different. I am definitely more satisfied with being healthy and agile. People see the change in my whole being and want THAT...whatever THAT is. I tell them about NUTRISHOP located in a little strip mall in Covington, Louisiana. I tell them about my wonderful nutritionist, Alex Tanguis, and his staff. I tell them it won't be easy, at first, but conquerable. I tell them, "It will change their life." But it's up to them to take the first step and walk in that NUTRISHOP door.