September 10, 2007

Want to lose weight? She can help

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

Six days a week, Julie McDonald-Lundgren walks into Snap Fitness in Delano with an eagerness to exercise to fuel her body with energy.

Its been three long years of determination and time, but with the help of trainer Megan Leipholtz, McDonald-Lundgren was able to lose 115 pounds.

Thinking back to the very beginning, McDonald-Lundgren said, “Well, I’ve been working out for a while, but I kind of hit a plateau in my weight loss and I felt that I needed to add strength training. I needed to get someone to be accountable to and motivate me.”

McDonald-Lundgren spent the first two years working out by herself, but she says the biggest change now that she is working with Leipholtz is variety.

“Getting new weight lifting moves and making sure that I’m doing everything right. And of course motivation,” she said.

Leipholtz also added, “It’s easy to leave early and cut out the end of your workout.”

Leipholtz pushes her clients to work the most challenging exercises for their particular physique.

When asked how McDonald-Lundgren felt about her progress, she said, “I’m very proud of myself. It took a long time and it took a long time to come to grips with it. I have changed, majorly, in the way I view myself, and things that I’m capable of doing.”

Working out has also boosted her self esteem and improved her mood.

McDonald-Lundgren also said, “I feel better. I feel healthier. I get this boost where I want to make the right choices for the rest of the day. I don’t want to make bad food choices after I put all that energy into my workout.”

Each week, McDonald-Lundgren tries to do six days of a cardiovascular work out and three to four days of strength training. She gets the best results when doing both exercises on the same day. After six days of consistent exercise, she takes one rest day to prepare for another week.

As a certified trainer from ISSA (International Sports and Science Association), Leipholtz has been busy this summer with devising programs for her clients and organizing a strengthening program for the Rockford High School.

Leipholtz has worked with clients ranging from age nine to those in their late 60s. There is no age limit on providing a better life for oneself.

According to Leipholtz, the main excuse for people neglecting exercise is time.

“People say they don’t have time, but I have five kids, two part time jobs, and horses, so I think it just all has to do with priorities. When I talk to my clients, there is always times where they can work out. There is definitely time, it’s just making it a priority,” Leipholtz said.

“I try to look at it as my time. I have three kids and this is my time to read a magazine, veg out on the television while I’m doing it. It’s time for me to be important to me,” said McDonald-Lundgren.

Adding, Leipholtz said, “I think once you make the commitment to find the time. A lot of parents and busy people have to justify it, but once they get into that routine, then they find more of that positive mind set.”

Depending on how committed a person is in the beginning, Leipholtz says it take three to six weeks to get into a workout routine.

“I find that if I have a client who can stick with the program for six weeks, they are going to stick with it in the long term,” said Leipholtz.

Continuing, she also said, “All trainers lose a lot of people. It’s heart breaking to invest time and emotions and energy into these people and they just fade away.”

Not very many can stick to a program. Leipholtz estimates that 30 percent of her clients will stick to a program. The other 70 percent tend to fade away after a few weeks. Even with working with a trainer, it’s the client who needs to make it a priority.

“People just fall into a pattern of behaviors and it’s hard to break them from that,” said Leipholtz. “With each client, I want them to understand the difference between weight and health. I was a medical underwriter for ten years before this. The connection to why people see the doctor and their life style choices is huge. Diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, and aches and pain are all weight related. So quality of life for people changes so much for the better.”

After having five kids, Leipholtz has always had to lose the extra weight. When making it a priority, she plans out each day with an emphasis on food choices and exercise time. She takes one day at a time. That is exactly how she works with her clients. They are not looking to make life changes right away. It’s all a matter of steps. Baby steps.

McDonald-Lundgren also added, “When a person is obese, it’s so easy to make bad choices. They are less expensive; they are not as much work. It’s just a little harder if you want to eat healthier.”

Leipholtz lives by the expression ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ Working out takes more than time, it takes planning.

“It’s easy to feed kids junk food. I’m not food crazy in my house, but it’s balanced,” said Leipholtz.

As far as food choices come, McDonald-Lundgren has stuck with Weight Watchers. In doing this program, she is allowed three meals a day and an afternoon snack with following under a daily points system. As you lose weight, you get less points.

“The heavier you are, the more calories you need just to exist in that state. Weight Watchers adjusts constantly as you lose weight. A person who weighs 120 pounds, can’t eat the same as a person who weighs 200 pounds,” said Leipholtz.

As a trainer, Leipholtz has seen the lows and highs of weight loss programs, but she generally recommends Weight Watchers to her clients because it is a balanced program that teaches a person how to make choices in the world. It also teaches people what a realistic portion is.

There are no pre-portioned meals in this program. Leipholtz has found that those who choose a weight loss program with special pre-portioned meals tend to gain the weight back after branching away from the diet.

When asked about those who starve themselves in order to lose the weight, Leipholtz says, “They will not have enough energy to go into a work out and eventually in a couple days, their bodies will go into a state of panic and go into starvation mode where the metabolism will adjust in such a way where they cannot burn calories as efficiently. You have to eat in order to fuel your workouts.”

Leipholtz believes that food is 70 percent of the battle when it comes to losing weight. She has had many clients over the years who have exercised consistently, but have made poor food choices.

“A lot of people think that because they exercise, they can eat whatever they want. That’s not the case,” finished Leipholtz.

McDonald-Lundgren has struggled with her weight since the end of high school. After having her first child, the pounds began to add up.

“There had been times when I would lose 30 to 40 pounds, but then I’d gain it back and usually gain more. It was a definite battle,” said McDonald-Lundgren.

Continuing, she also said, “If I wouldn’t have added Megan where I did, I wouldn’t have felt the same way about building muscle and I wouldn’t have been motivated to keep it up. Just even talking to her keeps me accountable.”

“I hold her up as my model to my other clients who get frustrated. She has a full time job, three children, a hobby farm, and she still finds time to do this,” said Leipholtz.

Another ‘key to success’ is keeping a food diary. When writing down everything a person eats for a day along with the amount of exercise the person did, it helps the person feel better about his or her accomplishments. A person can always look back and stay motivated.

It may seem like hard work to find the time to work out and keep a food diary on a daily basis, but in the long run, both McDonald-Lundgren and Leipholtz agree that they have more energy and are able to accomplish more in a day when working out. They are also much happier knowing that they are living a much better quality of life.

“She’s an inspiration to me and I use her to inspire a lot of my clients,” said Leipholtz. “It’s one thing for me to just talk and talk, but it’s truly inspiring to see someone like her who has really done it. She puts in the work and it shows.”

McDonald-Lundgren hit her goal weight a month ago and she is continuing to strive past it. Typically, when people hit their goal weight, they think that they can cheat a little.

Often, Leipholtz will view many coming into the gym who use improper form and chose workouts which do not give the person the highest benefit.

“They’re here and they’re trying, but they’re not maximizing their time here. A trainer works to tighten their workouts. It’s really important to do things right.” said Leipholtz.

When working with non-active clients, she typically gives them eight weeks on a program before changing. For those like McDonald-Lundgren who are very active, she changes their programs every four weeks.

Leipholtz believes that changing a workout it very beneficial to the body. “Our muscles adapt very quickly to what we ask of them in both directions. When we ask for little, they give us little. When they ask for a lot, they are quick to respond. Once they get efficient at what we’re asking of them, they stop changing as quickly. We need to confuse them and mix it up,” she said.

For a beginner, Leipholtz will meet with the client once to twice a week and ask that they commit to at least four days a week in the gym (or outdoor cardio). Together, they work with strength training, cardio, core work-outs, and aerobics.

“I understand that people cannot afford to pay a trainer to stand by them every single time they work out, nor do I think they should have to. I’m here to teach people how to do it on their own and I come in and check up every week or so. That has worked very well for a lot of my clients. I’m only a phone call away.”

When asked to recommend a work-out to get people started, Leipholtz said, “I really encourage people to move. There are people who find walking on a flat surface equivalent to sprinting up a hill. Whatever will raise your heartbeat based on your fitness level. Moving is the key, but the activity depends on their life styles. Get moving four days a week and do strength training two of those days. That’s where I start people.”

If you’re interested in changing your level of fitness and losing weight, feel free to give Leipholtz a call at (763) 477-5473 or (763) 439-3931. You can also e-mail her at mleipholtz@msn.com.

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