I was giving a talk at a VA hospital one day and as people began trickling into the room one of them looked vaguely familiar. She walked up to me and said, “Remember me?”
As it turned out, we grew up in the same small town in South Dakota. Her sister babysat me when I was little and her father was my shop teacher in high school. Her mom was my first grade teacher.
Lori started training at Barefoot and quickly began progressing during the workouts. Eventually she won our annual fat loss contest. One day after a workout she hung out after everyone else had left and held out a picture. “This is embarrassing, but I wanted to show you this.”
It took a second to register what I was looking at. It was several girls standing side by side in bridesmaids dresses, and one of them looked a little bit like Lori. Except that this girl was quite a bit larger than the Lori standing in front of me.
“That was about a year ago.”
Lori had lost most of her weight on her own, but not in a particularly healthy way.
As she later told me, “I had become so disgusted with myself. I needed naps all of the time. Weekends were a sleep fest. I couldn’t haul laundry up and down the stairs without being short of breath. I had knee pain. I decided that the solution to all of my problems was to lose weight.
I begrudgingly set a weight loss goal that I didn’t even think I could achieve. I had never remembered the scale being that low, even in college. Just under a year and 44 lbs. later I achieved my goal. I remember stepping on and off the scale in disbelief. Unfortunately, I had lost all of the weight through calorie restriction only and no exercise.
Suffice to say that when I happened to see my body in the mirror, I was horrified. I could not believe that I had lost all of that weight, but looked like crap. I decided on that day to exercise. I jumped on a treadmill. I hated it. I could not jog for more than a minute at a time. I dreaded having to do that and pretty much knew that I would never sustain what I was doing. Thank God, a week later I ran in to you and Kelli.”
As the months passed by, Lori got stronger and went from band assisted pullups to multiple reps with her own bodyweight. Her pushups were textbook and she was working with increasingly heavy kettlebells each day.
That was over a year ago. I haven’t been in South Dakota for quite a while but still correspond with clients from there.
Several weeks ago, I got this message from Lori:
“Hi Craig, Haven’t heard from you in awhile and have been wondering how you are doing.
I just wanted to give you a little update.
I was getting worried because I haven’t been able to work out at Barefoot for awhile. The class times haven’t worked well for me and the gas and travel time were getting expensive. I’ve had continued to work out on my own. I always wonder if I’m pushing myself in the way that I would in a group or if “I’m doing it right.” Plus, working out by myself is a little more boring. Fortunately, I’ve discovered something about myself that makes me happy and probably helps me maintain sanity…
I run now. Me. The one that told you how much I can’t stand running.
Of course, I can’t stand running on a treadmill, and I’m happy not to do that. I couldn’t run for a whole minute before, but now I can easily run for well over an hour on trails. I really, really like to hike, but I had no idea how much I love running in the hills. On Saturday, I ran for 9 miles, well over a third of it being uphill. My friends make fun of me for not wearing an Ipod, but I don’t need that. I love hearing the creek, the birds….thank God I heard those bees before I ran into them!
Sometimes when I’m running, I think of you. Had I not been at Barefoot and learned what I know, I wouldn’t be enjoying this now. When I am running through the hills, I truly do feel like the luckiest person on the face of the planet. I’m not the fastest, but I’m faster than some people that have been running for years. This is significant because I’ve always been the slowest. I ran a 4 mile race on the trail a couple of weeks ago and was faster than over half of the people. Even though I prefer to run just for enjoyment and not to race, I think it will be good for me to do periodically. In August, I’ll complete my very first 1/2 marathon and I’ll do my 2nd in October. Who knew?”
This is one of my favorite emails that I’ve ever gotten from a client. When you consider the journey from where Lori started in that photograph years ago, to her decision to lose weight, to the first time she locked out a bodyweight pullup and realized she could do several more to the day she took off running down a trail in the Black Hills and realized that she loved it, it’s an incredible process.
I have a friend who is a fantastic A.R.T. therapist. One of the tenets that he has is that he doesn’t want his patients coming back for months on end. He doesn’t want repeat business, at least for the same issue in a patient. If he can’t fix them in a few sessions, he’s probably not doing his job right or should be referring them out for something beyond his scope.
I feel the same way about our clients at Barefoot. Sure, many of them continue to train for years, but that’s not the end goal. The strength, movement quality and conditioning they build at the facility enables them to do anything they want outside of it. You’ll often see them out on weekends competing in half marathons, mountain biking, climbing or trail running.
We give people the tools to build a foundation to enjoy a physical life. And all we’re really doing with that is opening another door.