Bellingham Athletic Club

How BAC Changed My Life

Jane’s Story

As I write this I have lost 47 of my 50 pound goal weight. It has taken me over a year to accomplish this. BAC was one part of that journey. My inspiration to even begin the journey was from a fellow BAC member and friend. She too, has lost many pounds via BAC.

My weight loss quest began after I had gained considerable weight due to a certain cancer drug that promotes weight gain. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. After surgery and radiation I began a five year program of this medication. I survived the cancer, but as a side effect of the medication and just plain indifference the pounds added up.

As I began my walk toward weight loss it occurred to me that first I must discern why I eat. We all need to eat to maintain life but beyond that an emotional component comes in. Only in an affluent society like ours where food is so available and most of us have plenty to eat—indeed, too much to eat—do we even need to think of the psychology of eating. If you are poor and not sure if you will eat each day, ‘psychology’ plays no part in that picture.

Given that we have plenty of food available to us and we find ourselves over weight and want to lose that weight, we need to understand the reasons for that weight gain. The reasons differ for each of us. For me, I discovered I ate for solace, for entertainment, and mostly because my busy ‘monkey mind’ was driving me toward obsessive eating. Once I realized the reasons for overeating then I set a goal and a plan by which to achieve that goal.

Through study and discernment I became less diet conscious and more in control against the urges to overeat. I joined BAC in order to increase exercise through swimming, which I continue to do two to three days per week. I used a well known ‘point plan’ to manage the calories.

Focusing on dieting and trying to exert sheer will power does not work for long term results. Trying to rely on those superficial modes will soon find us once again overweight, we just cannot maintain that pressure.

To my mind the key to maintaining an attractive and healthy weight is inner change. Instead of seeking food for emotional and spiritual fulfillment, and a knee-jerk reaction to stress, I now refocus my mind away from food and look toward more fulfilling inner resources. Eating will never solve a problem or calm distress.

In summary, I have found this to be true: eat only when hungry and stop; exercise; understand yourself and know that food itself is only for the maintenance of life, not for the answers to it. Its not about dieting, its about living fully.

Thank you BAC for helping me reach my goals and by having such a welcoming and encouraging staff and for providing a variety of workout programs to meet most needs.

Ofelia’s Story

In January 2009 I made one of the best decisions of my life, I joined Bellingham Athletic club. After getting a new knee in February 2008, I experienced a very LONG and BAD recovery.

Knowing that I needed a 2nd new knee, I made the decision that I would not be going through the process without the proper preparation. I contacted my insurance company to get advice about pre-therapy was recommended that is when I learned about BAC and their water aerobic classes, I immediately came in and talked with the staff and joined that day.

At first it was awkward that someone my age would be doing this but Jill Robertson made me feel so comfortable in my very first class! (I am one of the youngest in most of my classes.)

On August 2009 I got my 2nd new knee and had the very BEST recovery EVER! 3 weeks after surgery I was doing water aerobics; I came back to class with everyone cheering me on. I have made so many new friends and enjoy the results so very much that I now participate in at least 8 classes per week and I tell everyone I come in contact with about my great experience at BAC.

THANKS to al my water aerobics instructors, Virginia, Gayle, K.J., Jill, Carrie and Pam. Thanks BAC, for changing my life!

Marilyn’s Story

For me the benefit from BAC is nothing short of a miracle. I was born in 1943 and lived a relatively active normal life growing up. In the early 1970’s that changed. Long story short, I acquired a degenerative nerve condition similar to M.S. It took years to diagnose and when that time came I was told I probably would not see my children grown. Over the years I struggled back and forth with complicated health issues some very lengthy and complicated. Three years ago I began swimming at BAC through the encouragement of a very dear friend. At first I could only swim half laps and needed to rest a lot. I was determined to stay with this and slowly began to get stronger. Each day seemed a little better and realized what was happening both physically and mentally. What began, as a small exercise regime has become a way of life for me. I begin every day swimming 1 hr. 7 days/week. I swim only on my back as I can always rest if needed. I have just reached my ‘1000 mile!’

I am registered to participate in the senior games in St. George, Utah in October. Something I never thought possible.

If this story has surprised you, you should see the reaction of the doctors who treat me. BAC has changed my life forever and I will never stop swimming!

Swimming liberated me into good health and a stronger body.

Jake’s Story

When my family joined the BAC I was barely walking. AS a two year old toddler, I was just beginning to watch racquetball. Little did I know that ll of these years later, I would be a national champion going to the racquetball world junior championships for the third time.

When I was only four years old, I started to go in the court with my dad. Over the years as I progressed I stated working with the club pro, Wanda. After a couple of years of lessons and drills with her, I was good enough to go to the national Tournament for juniors. I have been going won All-American Athlete award for the last five years. Thanks to these experiences, I have friends all over the U.S.

At the BAC I have used the nice courts, learned how to swim, had great adventures at summer camps, and have used the cardio machines to train. With all the advice I have been getting from the friendly racquetball atmosphere and all the drills from Wanda, I am excited to compete at Worlds in L.A. The BAC has been a big part of my life, I love it!

Shawn Marie’s Story

I have always enjoyed physical activity. However, with my family responsibilities, I tended to be inconsistent. Having a membership at the gym holds me accountable. A year after losing two grandparents, I was diagnosed with chronic leukemia! It gave a whole new meaning to the word EXHAUSTED! I started chemo and promptly gained 25 lbs. When I was responding to treatment, my doctor said to me, ‘I’d like you to start exercising.’ I am grateful for my doctor’s attitude of expecting me to succeed. His confidence and some friends’ encouragement fired me up and I joined the BAC. I started out walking on the treadmill. It’s amazing to me that it has been over a year now and I especially love Zumba and TRX. I have lost the 25 lbs. I gained during my struggle. It feels so great to have energy again. I am in remission now and praise God for my healing! I feel that exercise had a lot to do with it. If I want to stay healthy through the years with this illness I must continue to exercise consistently. Through my cancer I’ve learned that if I take time for myself I will be better able to pour my heart into my family. I also learned that I don’t have to control everything and that God is good ALL the time. I learned that my family, friends and strangers are more precious to me than I ever knew. I wish I could tell young moms to stop long enough to take care of themselves, to find their passion in exercise and go for it, to join a gym, to work hard at being consistent— and that they really need this to function better mentally, physically, and emotionally! It took some stressful years, cancer, exhaustion, some fin folks encouraging me, and a great gym to get me to realize what I was missing.

The gym is a vital part of what I like to call the ‘new me’-the me that can handle stress better, is more confident and chooses to take time for fitness. I don’t take my gym for granted. I know a lot goes into running a quality place like the BAC. It takes strong leadership and employees with great attitudes, a dedication and passion to help people reach their full potential. I am always greeted by name and a friendly smile when I walk through the door. I feel like Norm on ‘Cheers.’ It makes me laugh. I love that my son has such a positive experience in kid’s club and is excited to be dropped off. It makes my time at the gym even more relaxing.

Thank you, BAC for helping me to a better, happier more fit and healthy person on so many levels. Somehow, ‘thank you’ seems so small.

CamE’s Story

I have been a member of the BAC since 2005. At this time, I was just returning home finishing my undergrad degree from Georgia and my Chemical Operations School/Army Basic Training from Missouri. I joined the club to continue to keep up with the level of fitness I had obtained during training and to better be able to have the support around me that I needed to work on maintaining my excelled fitness levels for further career and life goals.

After joining the club, I began to exercise in a way that I had never trained before. I mean, let me tell you, I’ve always been a ‘cardio queen’ but besides being an athlete and an avid runner, I had no idea what I was doing in terms of conditioning my body and getting the total body work out. To put it realistically, I’m one of those people that played sports growing up and through college. End of story. If I had to work to fel the burn, doing something absolutely boring, I just wouldn’t! I had never taken a fitness class and I had definitely never spent any quality time at a gym other than to tan or use the hot tub! As soon as I got introduced to the area, I decided I would try a class or two. I fell directly and quite happily into quite impressive fitness instruction and into a great group of local gals (and a few guys) that I soon began working out with on a daily basis. The different classes I began involving myself in began to grow on me. The classes kept me interested while having fun, gaining great friendships, burning calories and allowing me the intense cardio workout that I loved so much. Through the next few years to follow I exercised at the BAC nearly each and every day and let me tell you I had never been in this great of shape in my entire life of being an athlete, soldier and a leader.

The women and men I had met in class and through the gym alone gave me the upport to know that would never alone while on my journey. And though we all had different fitness levels and customs to mold our exercise and ambitions, the classes the BAC had to offer, kept us all, coming back day after day, motivating one another and in a sense becoming a family in the process.

In 2008, after completing my Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology, I got deployed to Iraq with my Brigade. My company was tasked out to perform the job of running ‘Convoy Security Operations’ up and down throughout Iraq. This was quite a change from working with a Medical Military company in the civilian world as a mental health clinician/psychologist. This meant that during a mission, we as Military Personnel would control between 10-15 Gun Trucks (or MRAPS-Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles), while securing between 50-75 fuel and ‘reefer’ trucks, making sure that the appropriate supplies and fuel made it to several bases throughout the Country of Iraq. During my tour, I was injured in the line of duty. My job was that of a Truck Commander.

During mission ‘outside of the wire’ or the zone for Military Safety, my vehicle caught fire and there was a problem with one of the locking mechanisms called a Combat Lock, that would have allowed me to evacuate the vehicle quickly. In trying, I had broken my elbow.

In brief overview, I was misdiagnosed with ‘tennis elbow’ (due to the lack of medical equipment in country) for nearly the entire year that I served overseas, while still running missions with my platoon and leading my soldiers. Once I returned back to the states in Sept. 2009, I continued to be misdiagnosed by military personnel, to be followed by the V.A., until April of this year, 2010. The misdiagnosis, kept me from receiving any type of incapacitation pay, let alone being able to go back to work in the civilian sector as I was forced to undergo hundreds of doctors appointments within the military system across the state of Washington for nearly another year since my return from Iraq. To say the least, the year has been absolute torture, not only for me physically but for my career goals of becoming a Federal Agent, for my financial state and for my overall health and welfare.

In August, I was released from the V.A. to the UW Bone and Spine Clinic. A Retired Colonel from the Marine Corps performed my elbow surgery, just one month ago. I have since been allowed to return ‘home’ to Bellingham after being overseas and living ‘on the road’ for nearly two years.

I am home, I am healing and I am starting over with new fitness goals at the BAC, like I did back in 2005. I joined back at the club 3 weeks ago now. I am thrilled to see the same fabulous group of fitness instructors, and new ones too, and even more excited to be reunited with the group of individuals that I started my ‘excelled fitness quest’ with nearly 5 years ago. I am back in classes and work out at either facility every single day. I will continue my mission until I am back in the physical shape in which I left. All I can do is thank this great organization and the individuals that join and unite for giving their time and sharing their lives to make this health and fitness experience absolutely life changing. I am so eager to see where I will e at in just a few short months. Thank you to staff and the members here at BAC!

Nick’s Story

I was 1 when I went to the BAC and my dad was playing racquetball and I wanted to play. So I waited 4 years and I started to play but I went to racquetball lessons with Wanda Collins and my dad and mom for helping me figure out how to play racquetball. It was really hard for me at first, but now I am going to play at the world tournament.

Tari’s Story

Coming to BAC three to five times a week can’t help but make a profound change on a life. Working with my trainers, Tara and Tiffany through their weight loss program, Life In Balance, has allowed me to shed 34 pounds, shed over 30 inches and lower my body fat percentage 13 points. BAC provides the Life In Balance program with a nutrition consultant, Kellie, who not only meets with me at the club, but is in regular email contact supporting my diet habits with grocery advice, recipes and strategies. Kellie also leads me in a brand new weekly group called Clean Eating that reinforces my new lifestyle with discussions on healthy food preparation. I devote Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings to Zumba. What a fun way to burn 500 calories. Between the trainers and the consultant I feel as though I have my own personal BAC cheerleading section whenever I’m there. I never predicted that in my 50’s I would feel so much better than my 30s or 40s. healthy brings on pride and pride brings on happiness.

My body looks quite different lately when I walk through those cordata doors than it did a couple of years ago. These days, besides being three sizes smaller, I stand straighter with tighter muscles. My golf swing is longer due to a tighter core and greater flexibility. My knees don’t hurt climbing stairs any more on account of the many squats and lunges the trainers have be doing. Tara and Tiffany have me actually sprinting on the treadmill building cardio strength. It’s a good feeling walking out the front doors with wet hair knowing I was nudged to give it my all. Giving it my all only happens when I work with a trainer. I’m now sold on this concept.

I have to mention my Body Bugg. For 2 years my left arm has sported a small black computer chip worn on a velcro armband. BAC issued it to me when I joined the weight loss program and I have since purchased it. The Body Bugg records all of my movements in terms of calories expended to be uploaded to the program’s server. I then type my daily food diary so all can be calculated into a visual presentation of weight loss. Tara, Tiffany and Kellie have access to my account and can oversee my progress. This accountability has been key to my lifestyle changes.

As a 54 year old daughter of a mother who had a major stroke when she was 53, BAC couldn’t have happened at a better time. I’m grateful to my good friend Janet for guiding me to BAC and the rest of the smiling, helpful BAC family that add to my visits.

Pat’s Story

To celebrate my 65th year, I decided to join a group of female friends planning to hike the Grand Canyon, down to Phantom Ranch at the bottom, and back to the top. Having been involved in sports and outdoor orientated activities most of my life, I knew that the mind might be willing, but possibly not the old body!

So…in late 2007, I joined BAC in an attempt to get into better shape, primarily for the Grand Canyon hike. I tried a number of different classes, and settled upon Pilates, for core strength, and jazzercise, for aerobics 9and fun!), plus working out on various machines.

I’m delighted to report that the trip went very well; I was one of the oldest, and fittest, thanks to my time at the club! The first three miles down were on snow, with narrow switchbacks, and no margin for error. It was a cool 32 degrees at the top, and over 50 balmy degrees at the bottom, so as we progressed, the weather got more salubrious, and the footing less slippery. Everyone agreed that going down was much more difficult, albeit shorter, than climbing back up, and many were moaning and groaning about various aches and pains! Not only was I pain free but also was able to thoroughly enjoy the majesty of my surroundings!

My family history includes high blood pressure, arthritis, and high cholesterol, and my past three years at BAC have definitely helped me in keeping these under control. I have more stamina, and energy, for walking our two adopted dogs, doing all the yard work and gardening, downhill skiing, sailing, kayaking, backpacking, hiking and bicycling. It always tickles me when someone says, ‘oh you still ski?’ My ladies’ backpacking group takes an annual week-long summer trip, and we’ve hiked Mt. Baker, the Olympics, Glacier Peak Wilderness, The Enchantments, Yellow Banks and the Enchanted Valley to name a few.

Speaking of backpacking, a major goal is to ‘travel light,’ and we go to great lengths to pare down the weight! Well, for years, I had been carrying around 13 extra pounds (NOT in my pack!), which I’d lose and gain like a yo-yo. Since joining BAC, I’ve managed to keep it off, another benefit of membership and regular exercise. It’s really great when the clothes in your closet grow, rather than shrink, too! All of my other activities have also become more pleasurable as I have a general feeling of well being: extended energy, less stress and a positive outlook.

I’ve discovered that the discipline of attending classes works for me, and have found the instructors, and staff, very well qualified and encouraging. Additionally, I’ve met people in class who have similar objectives and interests, and look forward to my time at BAC. You might say, ‘I’m hooked!’

What do you think I should do to celebrate my 68th year?

Wendi’s Story

The BAC has been instrumental in changing my life. In 2009, at age 45 I weight 316lbs. I was going to my doctor quite frequently. I was borderline diabetic and had chronic back pain from an injury I had in 2005. I also had sleep apnea and used a CPAP to sleep.

Then my husband and I joined BAC in January 2010 and my life began to change in a very positive way. By May, I lost 15lbs. I gained confidence. I finally realized that I do have the ability to make changes in my behavior to become healthy. I knew that I had issues with food still so I made the decision to have gastric bypass surgery. A combination of exercise and eating healthy has resulted in my current weight loss of 121lbs! Today, am no longer borderline diabetic and my back pain has gone away. My sleep apnea has also diminished.

I am now able to do any physical activity that I choose. I am even playing soccer again!