Wednesday Wellness

Q & A with Sandy Garrett

Sandy's Success Story

You may know Sandy, she serves as President for Jackson & Coker and resides on the 3rd floor. Her charismatic personality and caring leadership style are certainly contagious, and as many of you have witnessed, her example extends to her lifestyle and dedication to personal wellness.

I had a Q&A session with Sandy and asked if we could share her journey over the last 3 years. She agreed and below are her answers to 7 questions. You will be encouraged not just from her incredible before and after photo, but from her sense of humor, personal words of wisdom and her transformation inside and out.

Q & A with Sandy...

1. What first got you motivated to take training seriously and make serious changes?

I come from a long line of big eaters and dessert lovers. Unfortunately, I also have parents who both have hypertension, type two diabetes, and my grandparents from both sides all died from heart disease. My father had high cholesterol, type two diabetes, and had major by-pass surgery 15 years ago. Three years ago he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. There is no good outcome for an 80-year old man with a weak heart, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a cancer diagnosis. The only option was to make him comfortable for as long as possible. When I got home after hearing the news, my husband looked at me and said “it’s time – your family has the trifecta of health issues”, and he was right. That was in January of 2011. I took everything out of the pantry that was not considered healthy and threw it in the trash or donated it if it was unopened that weekend, and I just started counting calories, and eating more fruits/vegetables and natural foods. I had no intentions of going to the gym – I’ve never been athletic (mostly just a Klutzy Nerd). Just ask people who have worked out with me.

2. How long have you been training?

Coincidentally, a good friend of mine decided to start working with a trainer at the coliseum, and it was less expensive to find a buddy so she asked me to join her two days a week. I started working out two days a week in January of 2011. And things fell into place from there because Len launched the very first 5 on 5, and I joined up with a group. I started training two days a week, and then kept adding days as I felt more comfortable or as I hit diet plateaus. The 5 on 5 definitely kicked it into higher gear for me. In August, I started going twice a day. I’m doing classes in the morning before work, and then I’ve kept the evening personal trainings. I have a goal to run a marathon before I turn 50.

3. Please share any numbers you like with us, pounds lost, body fat drop, etc., since that time.

I did the very first hydrostatic body fat test that was offered, and even after I had dropped about 25 pounds, I was still in the worst category on the sheet (I think it was 35% body fat). I started out at over 200 pounds, and I was tired when I walked up one flight of stairs, I was exhausted by the end of a day of work. My blood pressure was high, my cholesterol was high, and my sugar was running a little high, and I was told I was borderline pre-diabetes. I took 3 more hydrostatic body fat tests along the way, and the last test I was in the “Excellent” category. My blood pressure is normal, I have no blood glucose issues, and my cholesterol levels are perfect. My weight… my biggest guarded secret??? Really? Okay, I’m 124 pounds, and I’ve dropped 95 pounds total. (you can do that math, but please don’t).

4. Who has helped to push you along the way, and how valuable is accountability?

Every time I have had a low moment or a plateau what kept me going was the people in this building. I can’t tell you how many times someone I didn’t even know came up to me to tell me I was their inspiration or that they were amazed at how good I looked. Everyone from my boss, colleagues, people from other companies have been so incredibly kind and supportive. It would be really embarrassing at this point to gain the weight back or lose focus because I feel like I would be letting other people down who really inspired me and encouraged me.

Writing down everything I eat and turning that into a nutritionist – boy was that an eye opener. When you record your stats like your workouts and your food every day it really changes what you eat. For me the scale has been my constant companion. I weighed every day when I was dieting, and it was just a constant reminder to ask myself “Do I really want to eat that piece of cake in the break room?” Now I’m on maintenance, and the maintenance plan that has worked for me is weighing once a week. I’m either below goal or on goal, and if I’m on goal, no cheats this weekend. If I have a big event like a trip, I diet for a few weeks before hand to lose a few extra pounds because I know I am going to want to have some cheats on vacation. The maintenance plan that has worked for me is to never go above my weight loss goal by even one pound. It’s just not an option to ever let myself get that out of control. I want to live and to me that means getting out and being involved in life not sitting on the sidelines observing others live their lives.

I know how good this feels, and if I could offer any advice to anyone it’s just “try” – I didn’t commit in January of 2011 to lose 95 pounds. I committed to making small changes, and those small changes just added up over time to 95 pounds.

5. How important has it been to have the Coliseum in your office building?

I honestly believe I would not have accomplished any of this without it. It’s so easy, and there are absolutely no excuses. The trainers are all incredible, and I’ve had wonderful experiences with all of them at different times. For me having the appointment with a trainer is crucial because I know I have to leave and show up at a certain time. I also get an opportunity to turn off my brain for a few minutes and have someone just tell me what to do. It just works so well. It’s a great stress buster. I’ve left work after a rough day or rough meeting, and after 30 minutes of Dawn, I feel better. (please do not share that with her :).

On days when I leave early or can’t train, there are always classes in the morning and at lunch. I think I would be devastated at this point if I had to develop a new routine outside of the coliseum. It’s become part of my life.

6. What has this healthy journey meant to you and your family?

My family and my team at work are really getting tired of me peddling healthy food and exercise. I took my mom on a nice vacation for a week and put her on the “Sandy diet”, and she didn’t have to take her insulin. My husband struggles at his work because of the quantity of doughnuts and baked goods that arrive in his office. He doesn’t get the support that I receive here, but he’s definitely trying to keep up. He’s lost 30 pounds “by osmosis” as I tell him. He just signed up with his own personal trainer and is getting on board. We hope to hike the Grand Canyon some day, and we both got scuba certified – something I could never have done when I was overweight. What’s next on the bucket list? I think beating Dennis at that Yoga move he sent me.

7. What encouragement would you have for those who are on the fence about training, not sure if it will be worth it…

Just try it. I didn’t go gang busters when I started out, and I do not consider myself to be an athlete. I trained two days a week when I started, and the trainers kept it to my level (which was beginner for sure!!). They made it fun, and they were so encouraging. I think you just never know what you are capable of unless you give it a try. I love the energy I have – I don’t need nearly as much sleep, I rarely sit down or sit still (okay, that may drive some of my friends a little crazy). It’s fun to plan the next way I’m going to challenge myself. And, it goes without saying that beating Dennis Stockwell on the plank contest made all of this worthwhile (Dennis please do not increase my legal bills).

The bottom line is that there is no price tag on your health. I think about my dad, and I know he’s smiling because he was my inspiration to change. I want to have a long healthy retirement. Nobody wants to spend their golden years sitting on the recliner eating chips, watching reruns. I hope to spend mine traveling, hiking, dancing, and laughing!

Thank you Sandy for your transparency, for living life by disciplined example and for being an overcomer! We salute you.