Guest Blog by Lisa Leventhal "My Fit Experience"
I have a guest blogger this week. My sister, Lisa, came up to not just train for a week, but she and her 2 beautiful daughters, did a full on deep dive into the Leventhal way of life. We cooked together, trained together, and talked health and nutrition. It was a 24/7 boot camp for her and her family. Please read on for her surprising experience in the gym and at our house.
See you in the gym,
Who would like to hear entertaining tales of Aaron’s adventurous youth? I’d be happy to tell you about his lackluster pencil collection or his “cool” mullet! Oh, the stories I could share! But first, a bit about myself (I am more interesting anyway…), my journey, and my 6-day experience training at Fit and living with the Leventhals.
I’m Aaron’s favorite (aka only) sister, Lisa. I live in Granger, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines, with my amazing husband, Rocky, our two lovely daughters, Jeri (11) and Madi (9), and our two cats. I am a Spanish teacher at a 9th grade only high school (and I LOVE it). I love to bake and cook and I have a great sense of humor. Honestly, I’m hilarious!
From an early age, I have been on a roller coaster ride of weight loss, mental health, and fitness with many ups and downs. I am coping with depression, anxiety, and ADHD. The most significant “down” came six years ago when I realized that I was an unhealthy, obese, 40-year-old mother of two precious girls under five. With Aaron’s help (cheesy, but true), I still have ups and downs, but they are much less drastic. It’s an exhausting but rewarding work in progress.
This spring, I was invited, nay, challenged to run the Des Moines half marathon in October (any joiners out there?). As you probably know, we Leventhals never back down from a challenge. So, in an effort to get some good training, my daughters and I invaded the Leventhal household for 6 days this July. I worked out at Fit Studio every day and we followed the Leventhal diet and lifestyle. The experience was inspiring, amazing, and exhausting!
Honestly, I was dreading attending classes at Fit Studio and I went into my first few classes feeling unfit and flabby. However, my experience at Fit was refreshingly unlike anything I had ever encountered in my many, many years of varied fitness classes (Piloxing Barre anyone?). The positive, inclusive, encouraging atmosphere was obvious as soon as I walked in the door as many people introduced themselves to me and welcomed me without even knowing my relation to Aaron. I was amazed how, during EVERY workout, the coaches cheered everyone on when it got tough, pushed us all to give our best effort, and continually monitored each person to make sure that we got the maximum benefit. I have NEVER experienced such personal attention in a group fitness class (and some of the coaches didn’t know I was Aaron’s sister).
I have to give a ROCKSTAR shout out to Connor, who came out of nowhere at just the right times and, with a smile no less, effortlessly modified my workout so, not only did I get a great workout, but I also left feeling capable and encouraged. I’m so proud of my brother for creating Fit Studio and its unique and encouraging vibe. I wish I lived closer so I could be a more active member of the Fit family.
Although I was unsure about my lack of fitness, my biggest concern was not about me, but about how my eldest daughter, Jeri, would cope with the changes involved in taking up temporary residence in Aaron’s basement so we could experience an organic, grain-free, dairy-free, low carb, super healthy Leventhal lifestyle. Jeri, in a nutshell, is a carb eating, picky, tall and lanky 11 year old who is a kind, very creative, slightly immature, easily overwhelmed, sweetheart who struggles with ADHD. Due to Jeri’s lack of appreciation for newness and change, she and I talked many times about what she could expect and strategies that we could use to be happy and healthy at Uncle Aaron’s house. I also prayed.
Are you still reading? Wow! That’s some stamina! Hang in there!
The most amazing thing happened. Not only did Jeri try a bunch of new foods, but she actually liked many of the non-carb loaded variety. She also adapted well to many of the other changes without too many issues. I was completely inspired by Jeri’s flexibility, not usually a characteristic she possess.
As this was happening, I was talking with Christine over coffee in the mornings. She explained the science behind their food choices and the benefits of probiotics, gut shots (F.Y.I. the purple one is not sweet), and kombucha. We talked about the GAPS diet and other research that she had done about the connection between gut health and mental health.
I realized that a lifestyle change for my family could make a world of difference in the lives of my children! Not wanting the opportunity to go to waste, I called my husband and told him everything that we had experienced and all that I had learned. We wanted to continue the changes and we decided to adopt this healthier lifestyle for our whole family. We are going organic, grain-free (for me), gluten-free (for the children and hubby), dairy-free, and low carb, BABY! Yeah!
So, before we left Minneapolis, I talked through my plans with Aaron & Christine. We took the girls to the Co-op so they could pick out a healthy, yummy snack for the road. On the way home, Jeri, Madi, and I talked about how good we felt, how tasty the food was, and how fun it was to be active with our cousins. We talked about how, even though it would be a challenge, we will all be happier and healthier and, most of all, we’d be in it together.
When we got home, we hit Whole Foods and the girls were excited to find some of the foods that they had enjoyed at their cousin’s house. The next day, we went through our kitchen as a family. We bagged up almost everything that didn’t fit our new lifestyle so we could donate it or give it away. We kept a few things because, first, we can’t afford to buy new, organic everything all at once (I’m a teacher, remember?), and second, we will allow an occasional treat. I cannot realistically say that we will NEVER eat a piece of candy again. Who says that? Ok, maybe Aaron says that...
I’m going into this knowing that this will NOT be easy, but it will be worth it. In the first few days, my husband and I have had many decisions to make which has led to a few intense discussions, but has also inspired us to make other changes for the better for our family. Jeri has shed many tears (she actually hugged her gluten filled bread loaf good-bye). But each time she struggles, I hug her, tell her that everything will be alright, and that I love her very much. Sometimes she is so mad that she doesn’t let me hug her right away, but I give her some space and eventually she is ok and we hug and discuss.
So, for those of you who are still with me (you should get a reward), I hope you enjoyed my tale. I’m excited to check in with you again as my family and I figure this out. And I hope to see you at Fit the next time I make the trek north.
Take and give care,
Lisa Leventhal Sobotka