At 34, Toni Bauer seemed to have it all.
A happy marriage. Two great kids. A gorgeous house. A flourishing coaching business. And a fit, healthy body.
One year later, her life was in chaos.
For months, her husband lived in Illinois while she and the kids lived in Texas. She had to put her business on hold, giving up her professional identity in the process.
When the family finally reunited, they had traded their painstakingly-built dream home for a fixer-upper in desperate need of renovation. And Toni’s weight ballooned to its highest since her second pregnancy.
She was confused. Miserable. And ashamed. Then she joined Precision Nutrition Coaching.
Fast-forward another year. That’s when, 46 pounds thinner, and physically and emotionally stronger than she’d ever been, Toni answered the door to greet her Precision Nutrition Coach, Krista Schaus — holding out a check for $10,000.
Lost 46 lbs and 13% body fat!
- Age: 36 years
- Weight Lost: 46 lbs (from 185 lbs to 139 lbs)
- % Body Fat Lost: 13% (from 29% to 16%)
- Total Inches Lost: 8 inches (from 39 inches to 31 inches)
As a personal trainer, Toni knew all about Precision Nutrition. A smart and dedicated professional, she never gave up on her struggling clients.
Instead, she asked herself tough questions. Why weren’t these people making progress? What was going on?
“I knew there was a missing piece,” she said, “and I knew it had to do with nutrition.”
As soon as she got the PN binder, she recognized that this was the real deal. “I respected the science behind it. It made sense. I recommended the program to my clients all the time!”
But, she admits, “the chasm being knowing and doing can be immense.” And when her own life hit a crisis, Toni, like hundreds of others before her, struggled to maintain healthy habits.
All the knowledge in the world couldn’t prevent her from putting on unwanted pounds. Her increasing girth wasn’t the worst of it. Even more upsetting, for Toni, was the blow to her identity. How could she, a hard-working personal trainer, who knew just about everything there is to know about fitness and health, allow this to happen to her? What did that say about her?
Confused. Embarrassed. Ashamed. She felt like an enormous failure. Feelings like these send vulnerable people to their freezers for extra helpings of ice cream. And as much as she wanted to deny it to herself, Toni was vulnerable.
It’s not that she wasn’t capable, or strong, or adaptable.
Maybe too adaptable, in fact. Toni had lived in 2 countries, 6 states, and 9 cities. She’d changed residences 8 times in 10 years, renovating a couple of houses and building a network of relationships for herself, husband Jason, and their two kids in each place.“New neighbors. New teachers. New work colleagues. In every dimension of your life, you’ve got to cultivate people,” she says.
The experience turned her into a bit of a chameleon. “I learned how to be somewhere — anywhere — and just melt in,” she explains. It’s an important skill, but it can take an emotional toll, one that Toni didn’t recognize for a long time.
When she and Jason finally got to Texas, they expected to stay. So they invested more of themselves in that place than any other. They built and furnished their dream home — a gorgeous, light-filled stone structure surrounded by green space, with lots of room for everyone in the family to grow. And with the kids happily settled in school, Toni focused her energies on her long-neglected coaching career. Life was good. As good as it had ever been. She was happy and centered. Less and less “chameleon.” More and more grounded and authentically herself.
Then Jason took an exciting new position with a company in Illinois. No problem, they figured. We’re pros at this moving thing. We’ll weather it, no sweat!
But, as Toni came to understand over the next year and a half, something was different this time. Seriously different.
Adaptability is all very well, she reflects. “As long as you maintain the you-ness of you.” Having done her share of bedtime reading to her daughters, she catches a distinctive echo in her words and laughs. “Hey! I sound like Dr. Seuss!” Too bad the famous kids’ author wasn’t around to advise her. She could have used his light-hearted wisdom.
Because here was the problem: After years of forced adaptations to varied environments, in Texas, Toni had finally started to put down roots. Instead of just trying to fit in and please others, she’d built a genuine home and a professional identity for herself. Leaving Texas meant giving that up — and losing a part of herself.
What happened next shouldn’t have been a surprise. “Self-sabotage,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it, but even before the move, I fell right into that trap! I was like a two year old having a tantrum.”
In Precision Nutrition Coaching, clients learn about the crucial distinction between the rational brain and the emotional brain, and develop strategies to help guide the emotional brain towards healthier choices. But Toni didn’t have the benefit of those lessons at the time. In retrospect, she knows she was bored, aimless, and angry. She knows she was grieving. “But on some level I thought … if I can’t have the identity I want, I’ll just be the opposite. So there!”
Meanwhile, the dumpster in the driveway of their new Chicago house was filling up fast. The whole family slept on air mattresses in the living room.
They didn’t have a working kitchen for five months.
“What did we do? We ate out. A lot. And we didn’t eat at the kind of places where you can easily make healthy choices.”
Toni was making scores of small decisions every day. “Should the plumbing line go through here? What color for the backsplash? How many electrical outlets and where should they go? What brand of fridge should we buy?” It was exhausting — and left her with even less energy and willpower for looking after herself. So now, in addition to being overweight, she was drained and emotionally numb.
When the scale hit 185 pounds, Toni knew she had to act.
She even thought she knew what to do. After all, she’d been on the PN Boards for a while. She had the information she needed. So why was her weight still climbing? Why did she still feel so out of control?
Somehow, information alone wasn’t enough to induce change. And it was very difficult for her, a professional coach, to admit that she couldn’t do this alone. “The guilt, the self-blame … it was awful.” For a long time, pride prevented her from asking for help. In fact, if she hadn’t been so burned out, she might have waited even longer.
“I was sick of making decisions. I needed to stop thinking.”
“I needed to hand over the thinking for a while. To do what somebody told me.”
In Precision Nutrition Coaching, that’s exactly what Toni did. The program’s set up so that simple compliance will guarantee success. Habit, workout, assignment, check. Habit, workout, assignment. It was a relief to give up control for a while.
“I knew the program would work if I followed it,” she says. And she wanted to succeed. “But I didn’t have expectations about the exact results.”
Truth was, in her numbed emotional state, the numbers on the scale or on a tape measure didn’t matter a whole lot to her. All that mattered was that they were steadily going down — and she was getting stronger. Toni was losing weight and making steady progress.
But even then, something was missing, and in her heart of hearts, she knew it.
“I thought I could get by just by going through the motions,” she says — meaning she hoped she could get by that way. Precision Nutrition Coaching clients learn to call this the “difficult-easy.” And difficult-easy will only take a person so far.
Eventually, she stalled. She laughs, ruefully. After all, who ever heard of a renovation without any glitches? “Then they ask you to dig deep and process stuff,” she says. At the time, it didn’t seem so funny.
Digging deep was tough. Really tough.
Like starting all over again. Like building new foundations. The more she looked inside, the more she recognized how badly she’d been hurt by giving up her Texas home and her career. “My choices made sense. They were rational. But none of that really mattered. I felt like a quitter.”
Not only that, but in order to protect herself, she was still holding back, still keeping something in reserve, still refusing to give her utmost. It was as if she had built a kind of retaining wall to protect herself from her own negative feelings.
Trouble was, that wall posed a barrier to her positive feelings, too. And it shut her loved ones out. To reverse all this she needed a cycle of success. “I may hold off committing, but once I commit, I’m in it,” Toni says. And once her emotional barriers had broken down, she was prepared to give the program everything she had.
She was ready to reveal her true identity — vulnerabilities and all.
In June of 2011, she attended the Precision Nutrition Coaching meet-up in Niagara Falls. This turned out to be a significant turning point.
“The personal connection was so important,” she says. “Suddenly, it all felt real.” Working out and talking with her coach and the other women on her team gave her a richer sense of their individual struggles and triumphs. She could feel herself starting to let down her emotional guard.
Her muscles kept getting harder — but her heart was getting softer. Nobody could be happier about that than her husband, Jason. “I didn’t realize it at first, but Precision Nutrition Coaching was not just about me,” Toni says. “It was also about my family. I didn’t just need something; we needed something. I’d been so disconnected from them emotionally.”
Although Jason was not officially enrolled in the program, he followed alongside Toni, losing 30 pounds in the process. And the whole family learned to communicate in a different way. “If you can’t talk about food with the people you love, what can you talk about?” Toni muses. These days, the Bauer family is talking much more freely.
“I knew from the start that Toni would be a winner.”
So says Coach Krista Schaus. “Just look at her screen name. Elev8. This is somebody who intended to give her best.”
Early on, she emerged as a quiet leader, providing workout spreadsheets for her team and occasionally popping onto the forum with good advice.
“But I didn’t know she’d be the winner,” Krista adds. That depended on Toni being able to open herself to deep change and find her new center of gravity.
“We’re never all that we can be until we reach for help,” Toni now says. This crucial recognition was the first step in her real transformation.
The best part about being the grand-prize winner? Toni doesn’t hesitate. “It wasn’t the money. It was the chance to spend a day with my coach!” Her voice is warm, transparently joyful. “You know … I came to the door. She gave me the check. We posed for pictures. And she and the crew were just packing up and getting set to leave. I couldn’t stand it that she was just going to come all that way and then disappear! This was my coach! The person whose example had meant so much to me! So I said to her, um… can I crash lunch?”
Toni and Coach Krista ended up spending the day and evening together, eating healthy meals, picking up her kids from school, exchanging recipes and training tips. “Just having her there, in my environment …” She sighs happily. It was a culmination of all she had worked so hard for. A confirmation of her core identity as a fitness professional. Today, she’s come full circle.
Once again, Toni’s the dedicated and capable professional she used to be.
She’s taking on new clients and acting as a mentor in Krista’s Precision Nutrition Coaching cohort. She’s laid the right groundwork, and her footings are strong. This time, she knows something important that she didn’t know before. “We all need coaches. We all need mentors.” Thank goodness for Precision Nutrition Coaching.
Want to know more about PN Coaching?
Twice per year, we accept new clients in our Precision Nutrition Coaching program, where we coach men and women to help them eat better, move better, and improve their health.
The results, to date, have been nothing short of remarkable. Over 450,000 pounds of fat lost, and over 30,000 lives changed in the process.