I often feel that I learn as much from my clients as they learn from me, but that's especially true in Jenny's case. I am consistently impressed by her strength, resilience, and determination to exercise even when she doesn't feel good, because that's the plan she has formulated with her doctors to diminish the effects of her lupus and help her medications work better. We all have bad days and it's only natural that when we have serious health problems, it gets us down sometimes—I understand that from my own brush with serious illness. But what's remarkable about Jenny is that she never lets it get her down for very long. She's really, really good at focusing on what she is able to do, instead of dwelling on what she isn't! She is an inspiration to me and I feel blessed that we connected and have gotten the chance to work together.
How did you first get involved with Beachbody programs?
I was looking to make some major changes in my life. My husband and I had just moved to San Diego from Boston. I had been diagnosed with systemic lupus 12 years before and had never been in remission. I was really struggling with my health and energy levels after the move. I was spending more time in the hospital than out, and I had to take more breaks from exercise than I ever had before in my life. I decided I needed to take charge of my health and do what I could to try to improve it—other than simply taking my medications and going to doctor visits, which of course I continued.
I saw Elizabeth’s posts on Facebook (we’re friends from college). She seemed so happy with her fitness and nutrition, and the enthusiasm was contagious. I liked the idea of focusing on the combination of nutrition (not dieting because I didn’t need to lose weight but just eating the right types of foods and nutrients) and exercise. I have always loved to exercise but I was getting bored with my cardio routine. I needed a change. And I definitely needed to improve my nutrition.
I emailed Elizabeth, we talked about which programs might be right for me, and the rest is history!
Which ones have you tried so far?
I started with the 21 Day Fix. I was in the worst shape of my life at the time—about 8 months ago. I hadn’t exercised at all in a month-and-a-half, and I was on 17 different medications. To be honest, I struggled with some of the workouts that would have been easy for me a year before. The modifications offered on the DVDs and the ability to take it at my own pace in my own home allowed me to slowly get back into shape. After a month I graduated to the 21 Day Fix Extreme. I love those workouts. They are challenging, and Autumn is incredibly motivational. They exercise every muscle group in your body and offer a good amount of cardio work too. I have lost a lot of weight because of my health struggles but other than that I am in the best shape of my life and have developed the toned and muscular body I wanted.
Nutrition has been a struggle for me. I have autoimmune pancreatitis as part of my lupus which means I lose weight easily, don’t absorb much of my food and have trouble eating fats and some proteins. I have had to modify the nutrition program but the structure of the container system and the accountability of checking in with the group and my coach still help me to keep my nutrition on track. It is a work in progress. I eat more of some containers and fewer of others. I consult with Elizabeth and the group for meal ideas and ways to replace certain fats. Unfortunately, I cannot drink any of the supplements or Shakeology because of my disease and the medications I take.
I have also tried Piyo and grown to love it. It is very different from the 21 Day Fix and Fix Extreme because it uses your own body weight and emphasizes stretching, relaxation and core work. I am more flexible than I have ever been before. Right now I do a combination of my own cardio (running and spin), the 21 Day Fix Extreme and Piyo. I bought the Master’s Hammer and Chisel and cannot wait to try it next month.
How have these programs helped you?
Piyo and the 21 Day Fix Extreme have helped me get into the best shape of my life (and I have exercised consistently since I was in my teens). I am more flexible, stronger and leaner than I have ever been. I have finally had success at developing core muscles. Being able to work out at home on my own time has been a huge advantage for me. My time is limited because of my illness. These programs only take 30-45 minutes a day, and I can do them whenever I choose. I can also follow the modification on the video if I am feeling particularly sick one day. I have more energy than I did, and I wake up feeling more refreshed.
I have gained so much from these programs—and I enjoy being part of Elizabeth’s groups so much—that I am considering joining as a coach.
What do you think makes these programs successful and distinguishes them from the other exercise options that are out there?
I think there are two major differences that make Beachbody such a success: first, the accountability of having a coach and a support group behind you and, second, the quality of the trainers and the programs. I don’t have any difficulty motivating myself to exercise but eating healthy (making sure I get enough fruit and vegetables and don’t just rely on carbohydrates) is a struggle for me. Checking in with a group and having a knowledgeable coach to ask questions of and communicate with makes all the difference for me. I make better choices because I have people supporting me. They have also become friends. In terms of the quality of the trainers, I have been very impressed with the programs and find the trainers to be very knowledgeable and informative. You can tell that the trainers and the company put much thought into each program and care about improving the health of their participants.
What distinguishes Elizabeth as a coach?
There is so much to say here! I am very lucky that I connected with Elizabeth as a coach. She is a uniquely kind and caring person. She truly wants her participants to succeed to the best of their ability and to find the joy she has out of Beachbody. Her enthusiasm shows through in every post and every communication. She is one of the most positive and supportive people I have ever met—but also realistic in helping you reach your goals. This differentiates her from other coaches who may be more focused on personal goals than the goals of their participants. She is always available for her challengers, and she will work with you to modify the programs to reach your own personal goals. She has also experienced health struggles than make her more empathetic and have taught her how much effect eating healthy and exercising can truly have on energy levels and health. Finally, she is highly intelligent and knowledgeable. Her posts are very informative, and I have learned so much about health and fitness just from being in her groups. As I have told her, I owe so much of my improved heath and happiness over the last few months to her!