Kelly VanEngen decided to change her life after one visit to the gym.
Ten years later and 100 pounds lighter, VanEngen feels healthier and happier.
The 37-year-old Bellevue woman started her health journey after seeing a picture of herself and not feeling happy with it. Now she works out five days a week at Fitmade Training and Nutrition in Papillion.
She said her trainers and the owners of the gym, Tara Payson and Jason Reese, have been very supportive and inspired her weight loss journey.
Her transformation has inspired and caught the attention of many, including her co-workers at Creighton University, where she works as a finance specialist. Creighton’s Wellness Council recently recognized VanEngen with the Transformation Award for her health journey. She said it was an honor to receive the award for something that has changed her life and taught her to love herself, acknowledge her self-worth and realize her strength.
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Q: When did you start working out and why?
A: I started working out in January 2009 because I saw a photo of myself that really caught me off guard. I had really let myself go. I knew I needed to make a change, not only for my physical health, but also for my mental health.
Q: Describe your workouts. How many days per week do you exercise?
A: I participate in the boot camp, which is run by Tara Payson. She instructs the class, so it’s a combination of weightlifting, cardio and some circuits. We do class in the gym five days a week, and then we have an at-home workout on Friday. The gym includes the meal plan and nutrition, too. The most important part is following the meal plan in order to fuel myself for the workouts she’s giving me. They break down the meals as far as carbs, proteins and fats, so we eat a certain amount for every meal. We eat about five times a day.
Q: What is your current fitness goal?
A: My fitness goal is to get my body fat into the teens. If I lose weight, great, but I’m really trying to tone and lean out more and get my body fat down. When I started my journey, my body fat was like 40%, and now it’s 20.7%. My goal is to get 19% body fat, just because that shows I’m getting leaner. It’s also about being consistent every day.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?
A: My biggest accomplishment has been losing 100 pounds and 28% body fat. I’ve been able to keep my weight off for three years. The internal changes that I’ve had far outweigh the outside. I’ve made such dramatic changes on the inside, such as being more self-confident. I have a strength that I didn’t know I had, and I gained that by continuing to push myself and overcoming obstacles that were in my way.
Q: What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?
A: The toughest hurdle for me has been self-sabotage. I will eat something I know I’m not supposed to have. My hurdle has been reminding myself that it’s what I do consistently that will show results. The way that I do that is through my great support system around me. My gym is my family, my family is great, my work family is great. Everybody is just really supportive, so it’s allowed me to not get stuck, which is hard. That’s when I have to draw on the people around me and the strength that I know that I have inside as well.
Q: What helps you stay on track?
A: I don’t ever want to go back to that place. Especially because I don’t want to go back to the place mentally where I wasn’t healthy, where I wasn’t inspired and working out. Working out for me is like my therapy, it makes me feel better. We have a Fitmaker Facebook page, too, so all the gals are on there and we often bounce off ideas and support to each other. When you see results, you get inspired and you kind of get obsessed with it. It just becomes your lifestyle.
Q: What is your gym pet peeve?
A: People who don’t rerack their weights correctly. We all have our own little stations, and sometimes you’re like, “Where’s the other 10? Clean up your space. If you use it, put it back.”
Q: What do you do when you aren’t in the gym?
A: I love to spend time with my family and friends. Most of my family is in Lincoln. My sister and I like to go on road trips with my mom or go to craft fairs. I have a niece and nephew that I like to spend time with and spoil. My sister and I have recently gotten into this women in the outdoors program, and we’ve done different women’s retreats where we’ve done things like canoeing and hiking. That’s been a lot of fun, too. I don’t think I would have wanted to do any of those things had I not lost weight and felt better about trying new things.
Q: What is the piece of equipment, supplement, clothing, etc. that you can’t live without?
A: I can’t live without weightlifting, because to me, that makes me feel strong and it’s also what has completely transformed my body and my shape. It’s how you feel after you do it. It’s such an adrenaline rush. I can’t do without weights and high-waisted yoga pants.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fitness journey?
A: Consistency is key. Make sure you find something that is going to work for you in the long term. Fad diets are not going to sustain you for the long run. It’s not going to happen overnight. You really have to be consistent. I’ve been eating real food to lose weight for the last 10 years now. It’s possible. Find what works for you, surround yourself with great people and be consistent. If I can do it, anybody can do it.
Gymgoers share what motivates them, pet peeves and their proudest accomplishments
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Some workouts see moms accompanied by babies. Elsewhere you'll find folks well into their 90s who stick with exercise.
Check out their stories.