UPDATE: The results are in and it’s official! Danielle has been named the female “Lifetime Fitness 90-Day Challenge: Transformation Challenge” winner. Thank you to everyone who voted and helped support Danielle. For the win, she receives $10,000, in addition to a lifetime of health and happiness. A well-deserved victory.
Written by @NickRiznerMMA
The true mark of a martial artist lies not in the practice, but rather the mindset. The drive, determination, and character built through a background in martial arts will last a lifetime, helping to overcome any and all challenges that may arise along the way.
But what about the challenges that come from within?
Meet Danielle. Danielle had been struggling with her weight for years; a problem that came with plenty of built-in excuses. A mother of two, hypothyroidism induced by pregnancy, thirteen hour shifts at work. These were all reasons why the world would forgive her appearance. Society was satisfied with the way Danielle looked. But Danielle was not. So she decided to make a change.
I feel my story is not uncommon to most people wanting to improve their health and fitness. I was aware that I was overweight and unhealthy. I cared about my health and appearance. I wanted to change, but for years I didn’t care enough to make it a priority. I was ‘uncomfortably content.’
I put my needs on the back burner to everyone else’s. I looked and felt like a larger shell of my former self; constantly tired, achy and wearing whatever fit to hide my body. My cholesterol was dangerously high, and my pregnancies left me with a condition where my abdominal muscles separated resulting in me always looking 6 months pregnant.
It’s been a long time since Danielle last competed in martial arts. But it’s a feeling that’s never left her. As a member of Link BJJ, in Massachusetts, Nader trained alongside Bellator veteran Matt Bessette. It was he who gave me permission to pull quotes from her finalist page:
You have my permission. You can even say that somewhere haha.
Matt is a guy who attracts inspiration. This is because he is constantly giving it back. So it makes perfect since that Danielle would be counted among his oldest friends. It doesn’t hurt that she is a killer on the mat, either.
I’ve known her for years. We used to train at Team Link and Kipp’s basement together. [She’s no longer involved in martial arts], but I believe she’ll want to get back into it at some point. She got her blue belt; literally taking first in every competition she competed in.
It’s clear that Danielle has the natural ability to overcome an obstacle. But a steadfast plan was required to ensure success. It all began with five primary goals:
- Goal One – Lower Cholesterol
- Goal Two – Lose 30 pounds
- Goal Three – No Longer ‘Look Pregnant’
- Goal Four – Fit Into Clothes
- Goal Five – Increase Energy
There are no shortcuts here. It all comes down to diet and exercise. But a proper approach to both was essential in achieving success.
My nutrition plan was simple: Lean meats, vegetables, good carbs, and nuts. Drink only water. No dairy. No processed foods. Opt for lower/fat-free options. Must eat breakfast, eat every 3 to 4 hours after, and no eating after 7pm. Food must be packed the night before so it would get done.
My exercise plan was to move and lift heavy things. I thought my biggest challenge would be finding time to work out. I need to give it my all and found that was able to work out 6 days a week!
As with all journey’s, a willingness to adapt is key. So when Danielle found herself hitting a wall, she responded by changing the game-plan and pushing right through it. It was this tenacity that carried her through those final weeks.
I saw results in the first few weeks, but hit a wall at week 5. I chose a plan that went against everything i had been taught about weight loss. It was high in healthy fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs. I started this plan a few days later and by the next week, broke the plateau. My energy was soaring.
When properly prepared, positive results feel like magic. It’s amazing how everything seems to fall into place, as if by chance. In truth, however, it is the most predictable outcome imaginable. This is the result of hard work. This is the result of a strong will. This is the result of a fighter’s mentality and a martial artist’s heart.
- Goal One – At 3 1/2 weeks, reduced cholesterol by 50%.
- Goal Two – After 90 days, hit weight loss goal of 30 lbs.
- Goal Three – Lost stomach bloat and no longer ‘looked pregnant’.
- Goal Four – Had to buy new clothes for work, because others were too big.
- Goal Five – Increased energy levels with a change in nutrition plan.
Now, a competition that began with over 20,000 competitors has been narrowed down to just ten. Danielle deserves to win this competition. There is no question about that. But the notion that she has improved her life and aspires to help others do the same; that is the true victory.
It’s an amazing feeling to make great improvements to your life, and also have a positive impact on those around you. That alone has made this journey special. I started out doing this for myself, but am now a role model to others. I am what happens when you decide to be honest with yourself about your unhappiness with your health. I am what happens when you choose to do what you need to do, even if it’s not what you want to do.