In mid-January 2017 Dave Liebman and Rob Perez began the Fitness Friend Challenge (FFC). The two teamed up to infuse a little competition into shared goals: to improve fitness and health. They committed to a year of working out together, under the watchful eye of Body Balance co-founder/owner and ACE certified personal trainer John Perez, and eating better, guided by Body Balance co-founder/owner, nutritionist, and massage therapist Kristi Reed.
For the challenge, progress was measured monthly in inches, body fat percentage, and weight. On the line was the modest (but motivating) wager of a group dinner paid for by the person whose three measurements were fewer. We’ve been following the FFC journey throughout the year (scroll down to catch up on the whole story), and this is the finale. Who won? What did everyone learn? What can their experience teach the rest of us? What’s next?
We checked in with Rob, Dave, Kristi, and John to get the story.
While it’s true that both participants “won” because they feel better at the end of 2017 than they did at the beginning and they’ve learned a lot, this is a challenge with hard numbers. And, the winner is . . . Dave! Congratulations!
Dave’s measurements finished at 14 pounds and 9 inches down, and 7.5 percent less body fat. Overall, Rob’s numbers stayed roughly the same, in part due to having a big lapse in the fall due to increased stress at work. This found him returning to unhealthy eating habits and missing workouts.
However, Rob does note that overall he is stronger, generally sleeps and manages stress better, and has learned a lot about portion control and meal planning. Rob is particularly happy with newfound physical abilities like getting through 100 burpees in one workout session! He is also coming to enjoy the benefits of eating well and planning meals, even though this remains his biggest hurdle: “I learned that it can be fun,” he says. Dave has noticed an improvement in his mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Both Rob and Dave emphasize that having friends to be accountable to and a solid program to follow helped keep them on track. While both did experience setbacks throughout the year, they continued with the program because of this accountability to themselves, their FFC partner, and Body Balance.
Dave was further motivated by a fear of poor results in the monthly measurement sessions, and his dissatisfaction with his weight and physical condition. Trainer John says that he recognizes the guys’ overall sticking with the program as a great success. Dave sees the challenge as “a lifestyle change that has helped me make better decisions to eat better and be controlled.”
Rob and Dave were so inspired by their Body Balance workouts, the momentum to move more followed them into their daily lives. Dave found joy in walking, especially during his vacation to France where he was putting in five to six miles every day. During the summer months, Rob enjoyed hiking, swimming, and cycling.
One goal the guys had set with John at the beginning of the challenge was to each lose fifty pounds. In not achieving this, the guys learned an important lesson: healthy nutritional choices, meal planning, and portion control, the aspect of the program they both had the greatest challenges with, are key to weight, body fat, and inches lost. In particular, curbing late night eating out of boredom, for Dave, or as a response to stress, for Rob, was difficult.
But, says John, because of the consistent commitment to the physical part of the program, he notes that Rob and Dave increased muscular and cardiovascular strength and endurance. They developed better balance and coordination and have a greater range of motion. John also saw an increase in confidence and self-esteem.
Over the course of the year, the guys also gained some insight to share with others. Rob believes that “everyone should take steps towards better health and smarter food choices by partnering up with friends to help in your pursuit of a new you.” And Dave suggests, “Take small bites at goals over a long horizon and stick with it. Believe you can make changes and stick with a reasonable and quantifiable plan.”
In working with Rob and Dave, John gained important knowledge as well: “Body and lifestyle transformation is really challenging, and as such, it’s not just physical but also emotional and mental,” he says. “For me, I learned through the guys to be more forgiving of myself, have more patience and empathy, and to never, ever give up, regardless of obstacles along the way.” He also recognizes that having strong family, friend, and community support is key to successfully making big life changes that will stick.
John also gained insight into what “success” means when it comes to healthy lifestyle changes: “The most valuable lesson I learned from this challenge,” he says, “is that health success isn’t only measured in weight, body fat, or inches lost. It’s also about believing in yourself and those around you and focusing on what has been accomplished. In this case, it’s that these guys stuck with a program for twelve months. They are stronger, faster, and more agile. The guys learned about accountability, camaraderie, and the benefits of getting and giving support.”
For those looking to embark on their own journey of healthy and fitness, John suggests a balance of healthy nutritional and lifestyle choices, resistance training, and cardio; get more movement into your daily life. For that extra bit of motivation, get a workout partner and/or hire a personal trainer, and surround yourself with supportive people. And, very important, “Wake up each day with a sense of purpose,” says John.
Coming into 2018, Rob and Dave are as committed as ever to continue pursuing health and fitness. “I want to at least replicate my 2017 success,” says Dave, “if not surpass my accomplishments.” Similarly, Rob says, “I will continue on the path toward a healthier lifestyle for 2018, with the support of Body Balance.”
Do you have health and fitness goals for this year? Body Balance would love to hear about them. Please share. We’re excited to support you in your efforts to become healthier and more fit in 2018. Our passion is your well-being.