Cheryl defeats her inner skeptic
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Too smart to be taken in by scams, Cheryl Eckler wouldn’t consider another weight loss program. She needed some help. But as far as she could see, diets didn’t work.
Then she learned about Lean Eating, lost 70 pounds, and won $25,000.
Diet’s don’t work; I don’t want a diet.
Cheryl Eckler was nobody’s fool. The busy teacher had done her homework.
She’d heard about many of the weight loss systems out there. Over the years, she’d even tried one or two. But as far as she could see, diets didn’t work.
They made ridiculous claims and only led to a frustrating cycle of loss and rebound gain.
She didn’t want to fall into that trap. And there was no way she was going to let herself get caught up in some kind of scam.
“I knew dieting wasn’t the answer,” she says. “Because life is not a diet.”
But here was her dilemma: She wanted to lose weight. She needed to lose weight.
In fact, at age 49, she had a goal: By the time she turned 50, she wanted to be in the best shape of her life.
So how was she going to drop those pounds?
Sometimes, the first small step can set something unexpected in motion.
Cheryl’s an educator and life-long learner, so it stands to reason her journey began at a seminar.
Knowing she wanted to lose weight, searching for a path that made sense, she signed up to hear a seminar given by Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution, in Toronto.
When Cheryl arrived, the place was packed. She sat at the back of the room in one of the few available chairs.
To her left sat an obviously fit, intelligent-looking woman with funky hair. They woman was typing madly on a Mac, as if she understood everything Wolf was saying.
Cheryl, on the other hand, was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information coming at her. So, during the break, Cheryl asked her neighbour for some clarification.
Through a surprise twist of fate, this neighbour turned out to be PN’s Krista Scott-Dixon, otherwise known as “Big Coach”, who was attending the seminar for her own personal and professional development.
The two chatted, and Krista handed Cheryl her card.
Six months later, Cheryl signed up for Lean Eating.
And they all lived happily ever after … not.
In fact, Cheryl says, if it weren’t for a crucial conversation with Lindsay in Customer Experience, she might never have begun the program.
Despite having formed a positive impression of Krista, and despite her careful perusal of the Precision Nutrition website (yup … more homework), she was still suspicious.
After all, if Lean Eating wasn’t a diet, she reasoned, what was it? How did it work? How could it work?
“We must have talked for about an hour,” Lindsay says. “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with anybody who was more guarded.”
“I was the Queen of Mistrust,” Cheryl admits.
She was probing for the scam that she felt sure must be buried somewhere in the fine print. But no matter how she searched, she couldn’t find it.
“I asked about a million questions. I was certain there must be a catch. But Lindsay answered me patiently. Without trying to sell me on anything. And everything she said rang true.”
By the end of their conversation, Cheryl knew this was the real deal. But she still had trouble believing it.
In retrospect, she says, “It was as if I was looking for an excuse not to commit.”
Change is scary. Even when we really want it.
So scary, we often unconsciously avoid it. Or make things tougher for ourselves.
It turns out that is exactly what Cheryl had done.
How so? By signing up to begin Lean Eating in July – while she was in the midst of a European holiday!
A holiday in which she indulged perhaps a little too freely in the pleasures of the table.
In effect, this delayed her start in the program by six full weeks.
“I must be the only person in history to gain weight during the first month,” she laughs.
It’s funny now, but it wasn’t so funny at the time.
Tellingly, Cheryl’s first progress photos are headless. She couldn’t trust that they wouldn’t somehow go public. And she couldn’t deal with the idea of anyone seeing her in that condition.
She was tired of living this way. Tired of being overweight. Tired of being tired.
Meanwhile, around the end of August 2011, she noticed a troubling tingling in her forefinger. Over time, the tingling spread and got worse. She was sometimes in pain.
She made the program work for her.
Unable to do many of the prescribed Lean Eating exercises, for months she substituted with intervals on the treadmill.
And all the while, she was feeling worried – what was that weird sensation? – and also guilty, because she wasn’t doing what she was prescribed in the program.
She couldn’t even bear to tell even her coach what was going on until October.
It was December before an MRI revealed that Cheryl had degenerative disc disease.
“By that time, I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes, without a tingling sensation going through my body.” she says. “I was terrified. I thought I’d have this for life!”
Her doctor told her not to lift anything heavy. Considering she was “supposed” to be performing weight-bearing exercise, that put her in a bit of a quandary.
But her brother-in-law, a physician, reassured her. She could still exercise, but she’d need to be careful.
She spoke to her coach about modifications to the program. In January she added physiotherapy to the massage treatments she’d already been getting. Eventually, her symptoms improved.
Looking back, she says, “In some ways, the diagnosis was a relief. At least it was okay for me to admit that I hadn’t been doing what others were doing in the gym.”
“I was able to give myself permission to be imperfect.”
She kept it real.
Cheryl may not have performed every prescribed Lean Eating exercise. But she did do the lessons and she followed the nutritional habits.
Most of all, she was honest with herself. She kept moving. And instead of blindly filling herself up, she learned to make considered choices about what she ate.
“There was no way I was going to spend $100 a month to lie to myself,” she says. So within the constraints of her physical limitations, she gave the program her absolute best.
As a teacher trained in philosophy and psychology, she was impressed with Lean Eating’s structure.
“The lessons and habits came just at the right time. I could see the rationale behind everything.”
This appealed to her logical nature. Her trust in the program was growing.
“For the first time in my life, I really felt control over what I put into my body. And being in control made me feel free.”
By March 2012, Cheryl had lost more than 50 pounds and 10% body fat.
By now, she was happy to show her face in the progress shots. Her smiling face.
She’d just come back from another vacation. This time, she hadn’t gained any weight. In fact, she’d lost three pounds at an all-inclusive resort – the kind of place that seems deliberately designed to encourage overeating.
Sure, she had indulged here and there … but within reason. With forethought. With choice.
And while in Guadalajara, on the hotel treadmill looking out over the mountains, she’d had an epiphany.
“I was happy. Loving the exercise. Loving the movement. Me! I never thought I’d say I loved running.”
Despite her initial scepticism, things were falling into place.
Then she hit a plateau.
One week, two weeks, three weeks – no change on the scale, no change in measurements, no change in the mirror.
This was the real test.
“It became really tempting to self-sabotage,” Cheryl says. “Tempting to let go of the trust I had slowly been building.”
In the past, she might have started hopping on the scale again obsessively. Worse yet, she might have given up.
Instead, she did something that was completely out of character.
She asked her coach for help.
A few conversations and a few tweaks later, the pounds were melting once again.
“Before I started the program, I knew I needed to keep myself accountable. And the program definitely helped me do that,” Cheryl says. “What I didn’t know was that I also needed support.”
Once she got that support, there was no stopping her. By her final photo shoot, she was down 68 pounds. By the last day of the program, she’d lost a total of 75.
Not only was she in the best shape of her life, she was in better shape than she had ever imagined possible.
Now, as a Lean Eating mentor, Cheryl shares her wisdom with others.
It’s just one of the many ways she pays it forward.
She’s also worked with Peter Petrik on the Lean Eating scholarship he established.
And she’s gone out of her way to express her gratitude to Lindsay and Krista and other members of PN team.
“This is so much more than a weight loss program,” she says.
“It’s a body-mind transformation program. And if you’re ready, and you trust, you’ll find out who you are, or who you want to be.”
In a letter to new clients, she shares some of her most important insights:
“The realizations and aha moments that I have had throughout this program have truly turned me into a different person. I learned that it was okay to make mistakes. I reinforced my belief that the glass really is half full, and you just have to reframe to see it.”
“I learned that as I started to feel better about myself, my confidence increased and I no longer would accept less than what I deserved. I learned that when you give good positive energy, it really does come back. I learned not to be afraid!”
Don’t doubt: Just DO.
During her first skinfold assessment at Bang Fitness in Toronto, Krista Scott-Dixon said something to Cheryl that stayed with her:
“If you do it, it works.”
At that moment, Cheryl made a conscious decision to take a step forward, and do what was toughest for her in the world.
Allowed herself to trust. Allowed herself to believe.
“If you do it, it works. Six words I lived by,” she says.
She’s still living them.
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