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The Fitness Friend Challenge: Summer Update

We caught up with personal trainer John Perez and Friends Fitness Challenge participants Rob and Dave to see how things are coming along. It’s been almost eight months since the guys—Dave Liebman and Rob Perez—embarked on the Friends Fitness Challenge: their journey of creating better health, fitness, and diet habits. (To read earlier reports about this journey, scroll down.)

As a reminder, these two friends were looking to make some major life adjustments in the realms of health and fitness, so joined forces under the watchful eye of John and massage therapist and nutrition coach Kristi Reed. To add fun inspiration and competition to the endeavor, they put a wager on the line based on who loses, combined, the most weight, body fat, and inches by the end of the challenge. 

To date, each time we’ve checked in, although both Dave and Rob have seen improvements in all measurements every time, it’s been Dave who’s led in the numbers. While he does still lead overall, over the summer months, that began to slip as Dave’s progress slowed, and Rob’s has not. Between mid-June and mid-July, Rob lost 5 more pounds and 4% body fat, while Dave lost 1.5 and saw no change in body fat.

For Dave, the stall was a result of his amazing month-long European vacation, which included more than one rich and delicious French meal. Certainly this is something most people can relate to.

Dave did consistently stick to a movement regime, and it almost exclusively consisted of walking five to seven miles a day. But that just wasn’t enough to combat an uptick in calories. Also missing were his high intensity gym workouts. The valuable takeaway—exercise and movement are excellent, but to see notable weight and fat loss, exercise intensity and diet are critical.

 Back home, Dave is back to the gym with a vengeance and back to the healthier eating habits he’d cultivated before his time away. His renewed efforts and enthusiasm are contagious. In particular, a fellow participant in John’s Saturday small group HIIT class, Jason, was so inspired by Dave he decided to stop eating fast food and exercise more.

One person who consistently enjoys Dave’s exercise company is Rob, who says he is motivated both by having a workout partner as well as the ever-changing workouts provided by John. In addition to gym time, Rob is incorporating more movement activities into his life.

The aspects of the program Rob continues to tinker are food portion control and meal planning. He remains very enthusiastic about creating healthier habits in this realm. One area of his diet that he’s greatly improved is reducing sugar intake and incorporating more greens and lean meats.

Rob notes that he’s continues to see an increase in his energy and flexibility. He also recognizes that he’s better able to deal with stresses that used to have a strong negative impact on him, and he says he is thinking more clearly. Overall he feels that he’s more balance. He attributes this the months-long consistency of creating healthier habits.

John is thrilled to see the guys are sticking to their commitment and by how accountable they are. All of us at Body Balance are cheering Rob and Dave on and love seeing the ever-increasing improvements in their lives. 


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The Fitness Friend Challenge: Month Four

The 2017 Fitness Friend Challenge has reached the end of month four of ten (or make that twelve, maybe—I’ll get to that in a minute), and we’re here once again with a monthly update on how the guys are doing.  As we’ve been doing, we’re tracking the fitness, health, and nutrition journeys of two clients, Dave Liebman and Rob Perez, who began this undertaking January 17. Each month we update progress to date, physically, nutritionally, and mentally. So far, it’s been all positives, with a lot of learning; month four showed more of that, and a gaining momentum. 

As a reminder, these two friends, both of whom were looking to make some major life adjustments in the realms of health and fitness joined forces, under the watchful eye of Body Balance personal trainer John Perez and massage therapist and nutrition coach Kristi Reed. To add fun inspiration and competition to the endeavor, they put a wager on the line based on who loses, combined, the most weight, body fat, and inches by the end of the challenge.

So where are we now?

We are seeing progress with both participants. While Dave continues to lead in losing more in numbers, both men are continuing to make progress. To date, Dave is down 11.5 pounds, 7.24% body fat, and 12.75 inches, while Rob is down 6 pounds, 5.4% body fat, and 6.25 inches. But probably most importantly, they are both more enthusiastic than ever to continue on with the program of at least four workouts a week and following a healthy diet, and to continue to more firmly lock in healthier habits.

Rob expressed a beaming enthusiasm for the movement aspect of the program. We caught him on a week off from work and he’d committed to getting in to train or take a boot camp class every day, sometimes coming in twice a day. He’s experiencing continued strength and flexibility, the latter especially in his back, which had previously been a consistent source of pain. And he’s fitting into clothes that used to be too snug, and holding onto even smaller sizes in happy expectation of fitting into them soon—whereas before, he was just looking to get rid of them.

Rob also noted that he really thrives working with a personal trainer; that extra support inspires him to work harder, as does working out with a friend. “I’m really motivated, and I feel like I can do anything,” Rob says. “I just need some direction. And, when I’m working out with other people, the time just flies by.”

For Rob, a sticking point continues to be portion control. “I just get really hungry sometimes,” he says, “and that’s when I slip.” He also notes that his cooking isn’t as flavorful as the meals that Kristi comes up with, so one strategy is to learn to use more herbs and spices to create more fulfilling meals. “Sometimes I feel like the food I make just isn’t very satisfying,” he says. “It feels like by cutting out the less healthy options I’m missing out on something.”

But he recognizes that this is all a matter of altering long-held habits and retraining his palate, and he’s fully committed to continuing to hone in on more and more consistently making better choices. He does note that having a hectic workweek and keeping up with family doesn’t leave him with as much time as he’d like to dedicate to making healthy changes, so he’s making changes as he can, with the understanding that this process takes some time. To further progress, he’s keeping on with working closely with Kristi to iron out better shopping, cooking, and portioning habits. It is clear, Rob is steadily on track to ironing out the ever diminishing bumps in his health path.

Dave is also more enthusiastic than ever to keep at it! “I’m really starting to feel the benefits of being healthier,” says Dave. “I’m stronger, both cardiovascularly and muscularly. I really feel like I’ve turned a corner when it comes to making better choices for my health. This is a major life change.”

Like Rob, Dave is having no problem sticking to his workout regimen. When these two are at Body Balance together, their “Let’s do this!” attitude is palpable; both men are working out harder and more often than ever before. Also like Rob, one of Dave’s big challenges has been diet, with Dave’s sliding being more toward rich gourmet options. But that’s changing. “The big shift with food is that I make the healthy choice,” says Dave, “even when the bad decisions are right there in front of me.” He added as an example, “I forgo the fries option and choose the salad instead.” Dave’s conviction is rock solid and his increased energy and well-being are noticeable.

Getting back to what mentioned up top, that this is no longer just a ten-month challenge, this truly dynamic duo is so enjoying this friendly competition that they’ve decided to keep it going until the end of the year. At Body Balance, we’re thrilled to get two more months to follow their health and wellness pursuit. Stay tuned! 


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The Fitness Friend Challenge: Month Three

Welcome to the third monthly installment following the ten-month Fitness Friend Challenge, where we’re tracking the fitness, health, and nutrition journey of two clients, Dave Liebman and Rob Perez, whom we introduced earlier this year. Each month we check in with the guys after they get their routine assessments, which looks at body composition, weight, and circumference measurements of numerous body parts (aka “inches”). These are the parameters that will determine who wins the big prize of an all-expenses paid weekend trip, paid for by the one who’s numbers aren’t as favorable come October.

As a reminder, Rob and Dave joined forces, under the watchful eye of personal trainer John Perez and nutrition coach Kristi Reed at Body Balance to embark on their fitness and health journey. Both men were at their wits end with not being able to keep off excess weight and commit to an overall healthy lifestyle; as inspiration and to offer mutual support, they put a wager on the line to jumpstart a renewed commitment to fitness and healthy eating and living.

So where are we now?

We are seeing progress with both participants. This month, Dave leads the charge. He was down 3 lbs, 3 inches, and 1.5% body fat (and he specified that he’s overall down 10 lbs, 7.5 inches, and 7% body fat since the beginning of the challenge!). Rob wasn’t quite to that point, though he was close. 

But, hey, it’s not all about the numbers! Both challengers are stronger, more flexible, and have much better cardio than when they started. In particular, Rob says his lower back isn’t achy like it used to be, and he has a lot less pain in that area. He also says that because his body feels better and he has more energy due to working out, it’s easier to get out more. Trainer John noted that the workouts are becoming much more challenging and both Rob and Dave approach them with great enthusiasm and commitment.

A primary element of the program Rob and Dave are completely excelling at is getting in their workouts four or more times a week: three sessions together and Boot Camp on Saturdays at Body Balance. A side happy happening that’s still gaining momentum is that the Sunday walking excursions at the Sports Park continues to be a community building event, around fitness and movement. To show support of Rob and Dave, family members, friends, and Body Balance staff show up to walk with the guys and also do their own training. Rob is even excited to get out more to walk both Saturday as well as Sunday and also after work during the week, as he is recognizing that he has more energy if he gets out more.

The ongoing but ever improving challenge for both participants is nutrition, aka eating. For Rob, it’s an ongoing refining of portion control and food choices—in particular, not succumbing to fast food; the food aspect, he says, “is still challenging.” So how is he addressing that? By prepping meals so he doesn’t get to crisis points when he reverts back to old habits of grabbing whatever is easiest—namely, yes, fast food. His strategy this month is to prepare meals at least two days in advance and use containers provided by Body Balance nutritionist Kristi Reed to portion out appropriate amounts to eat throughout the day. This creates a no-brainer of bringing along for the day his high protein and high veggie eats. “I feel satisfied with these portions,” Rob says.

Rob also noted that he feels it when he doesn’t eat well: “I really feel it when I eat the junk food,” he says. “I feel it in my mood. It slows me down. I feel so much more sluggish.” Rob also incorporates carbonated water into his regime because, as he says, “It helps me feel full.”

For Dave, the issue isn’t falling back onto junk food, but eating too much of rich gourmet foods, especially when out at nice restaurants with friends and family. “It’s been a long, hard struggle,” he says, “but now I can go out and ‘be good.’ I don’t cheat as much anymore.” He recognizes that the competition with Rob is helping his motivation, as are his friends and family. He notes that he’s totally cut out bread and isn’t eating nuts as a late-night snack. Overall, “I’m doing pretty good. The eating is less of a pull,” says Dave. “I’m cheating with good stuff.”

Talking to both Rob and Dave this month, they sounded so upbeat and enthusiastic. Changing habits can be challenging, but these two are recognizing the benefits of making healthier choices. And it’s fueling greater changes.

Keep your eyes open in next month as we continue to follow Dave and Rob’s fitness challenge! 

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The Fitness Friend Challenge: Month Two

Welcome to the second monthly installment following the ten-month Fitness Friend Challenge, where we’re tracking the fitness and nutrition journey of two clients, Dave Liebman and Rob Perez, whom we introduced last month.  Each month we’ll check in with the guys after they get their monthly assessment, which assesses body composition, weight, and circumference measurements of numerous body parts. These are the parameters that will determine who wins the big prize of an all-expenses paid trip, paid for by the one who’s numbers aren’t as favorable come October.

To recall, Rob and Dave joined forces, under the watchful eye of personal trainer John Perez and nutrition coach Kristi Reed to embark on their fitness and health journey. Both men were at their wits end with not being able to keep off excess weight and commit to an overall healthy lifestyle; as inspiration and to offer mutual support, they put a wager on the line to jumpstart a renewed commitment to fitness and healthy eating and living.

So where are we now? The guy’s numbers just about matched this month: they both gained about two pounds, lost about two inches, and lost about 5% body fat! It’s important to remember here that muscle does weigh more than fat, so these numbers are promising! Both Rob and Dave have been committed to their three-times-a-week workouts at Body Balance, and Rob has consistently shown up on Sundays to complete his three miles of walking as the Ken Mercer Sports Park in Pleasanton. Around nutrition, Dave has reported that he’s eating better now than in the past, but isn’t following the meal plan to the letter. He expressed frustration that he hadn’t made greater progress.

As regards Rob’s nutrition, he says he’s been challenged by portion control. Also, thinking that because of his increase in movement—he’s working out five to six days a week total—he didn’t have to be quite so dedicated to the meal plan, he also hasn’t followed it strictly. He’s committed to refocusing on nutrition and says he loves drinking more water. He also notes that he feels more flexible, finds work to be less stressful, is sleeping better, and has better energy throughout the day; importantly as well, he has noticed his back doesn’t hurt as much.

While Rob and Dave have stuck to the movement part of their program, but have been more challenged by the nutritional aspect, Kristi is stepping up the coaching. To start, she’ll be taking the guys grocery shopping to help make sure they are getting the items they need to follow the plan. She’ll also be redoubling her oversight of their intake to help them create better eating habits.

A side happy happening that’s gaining momentum is that the Sunday walking excursions at the Sports Park have turned into a community building event, around fitness and movement. To show support of Rob and Dave, family members, friends, and Body Balance staff have begun to show up in greater numbers to walk with the guys and also do their own training. As to the latter, it’s dove-tailed into also being a time for people to get together to train for the upcoming Rugged Maniac obstacle course race and mud run, which will take place May 27 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join the group, whatever your movement interests and whatever level of fitness you are currently at!

Keep your eyes open in next month as we continue to follow Dave and Rob’s fitness challenge! 

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The Fitness Friend Challenge: Introduction

Happy 2017 and welcome to the first installment of what will culminate in tracking the ten-month challenge between two friends seeking better fitness and health, with the help of the Body Balance crew.

So what’s the challenge?

Whomever can lose the most weight, reduce body fat percentage, and inches lost collectively, in a healthy and well-monitored fashion, at the end of the ten months—October 17, to be exact—will receive an all-expenses-covered weekend for two to a local destination of choice—paid by the not-winner!

Meet Dave Leibman and Rob Perez, who individually had gotten to a wits-end point with feeling overweight and then experiencing health and pain issues that follow along with that. Both middle-aged, they also recognized not dealing with these issues now would have some increasingly unpleasant consequences in their futures.

For the past many years, each has committed to fitness time and again and experienced some yo-yoing weight loss, but the take-it-off-and-keep-it-off, finding total health and fitness results just haven’t come. Body Balance co-founder/-owner and personal trainer John Perez (full disclosure, yes, Rob is his brother, and Dave is a long-time client) had an idea: since both men were facing the same sorts of challenges— namely, carrying around unwanted pounds and needing to eat more healthily and move more—How about they team up and put a wager on the line? Create a support structure, along with a little fun and healthy competition. Rob and Dave eagerly agreed, and now it’s game on!

The challenge having begun right around the New Year, we’re roughly a month in. The plan to date is three one-hour Body Balance High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts together per week overseen by John, focusing on cardio and strength to burn fat and increase lean muscle mass. The duo also team up once a week for at least a three-mile walk. In addition to exercise, both men are keeping close track of eating habits and working with Body Balance nutrition coach as well as co-founder/-owner with John, Kristi Reed, who’s developed high protein meal plans with lots of veggies.

A recent assessment tracking weight and measurements revealed that both men have dropped some pounds, with Dave having a small lead in that race. But we’re just getting started, and the determination and enthusiasm from both parties is definitely on par. Dave is motivated by being “tired of being overweight, not feeling good, and getting sick!” For Rob, he’s looking to feel more energized and have greater flexibility; being in his current shape, he says, “This is not what I want for myself.” For both, the general sense is, It’s time! An inspired feeling that’s palpable during their workouts and around their excitement about cleaning up their diets. And both men recognize that while they’re having fun with the challenge aspect, the end game is to have this kick-start life-long habits of healthy living and being.

All of us at Body Balance are thrilled to watch this friendly and invigorated “rivalry” progress. We’ll keep you posted as Rob and Dave keep at it! 

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