Houstonian Club initiation fees are increasing October 17, 2017

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Four years ago I had everything: a loving family, good health, the perfect career, a nice home in a great community and the respect of my peers. Nothing held me back . . . except my weight. I weighed in at 322 pounds. Putting on socks was a major undertaking. A three-year-old son was not easy to catch while carrying the equivalent of an adult woman. Dropping keys was practically a disaster.

The problem: I simply ate too much for my metabolism and activity level (calories in > calories out). I vowed to lose 100 pounds over the following three years, just a little more than half a pound a week.

For me, the solution was going to have to come through discipline, will power, and a lifestyle change. I chose a longterm weight loss plan that would allow me to make gradual life changes to allow my body to adjust to its new habits. I had dieted before, but absent a life change I knew the weight would return.

I really didn't enjoy working out until I started taking the group exercise classes at The Houstonian

I wasn't ready to diet so I started reducing my portions by a very modest 100 calories per meal and I gradually increased both the frequency and intensity of my exercise. I forced myself to exercise, but I really didn't enjoy working out until I started taking the group exercise classes at The Houstonian. With world-class instructors, I fed off of the energy created by a room full of people motivated to meet their fitness goals. Since commencing my weight-loss journey, my group-exercise classmates and instructors have become an important part of my support network. Although all gyms offer fitness equipment and many offer instruction, what sets The Houstonian apart are the membership and the staff.

I take several early morning classes to get a variety of cardio, strength, endurance, flexibility and balance training. I try to take five or six classes to burn an extra 3500 – 4000 calories a week, according to my Polar heart-rate monitor. My favorite classes are the dance-based classes, where I can burn up to 800 calories an hour without even realizing that I'm working out. I also enjoy Cutting Edge and High Intensity Interval Training for cardio strength and sculpting. I take traditional bench aerobics and Thai Boxing classes to add cardio variety. For more diversity, I take Muscles, Meltdown endurance, and cycle classes. I supplement classes with a small amount of gym time to work whichever muscle groups I feel could use some extra attention.

I lost about 70 pounds through consistent exercise and portion control, but I realized I was going to have to modify my intake to lose the last 45 pounds. I used a free online site to calculate a daily caloric intake of 2700 calories based on my age, gender, weight and fitness level. I kept a food journal to monitor my intake, started counting calories and trending toward complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and more fresh vegetables. My family was very supportive of the new eating habits – my already fit wife lost eight pounds on our new family diet. We limited our intake of white bread, white rice and white pastas, opting instead for their whole grain counterparts. I did not shy away from good fats such as those found in nuts, olive oil and avocados and even allowed myself room for a small daily chocolate treat.

To help control cravings, I removed artificial sweeteners from my diet. I also seriously reduced the amount of high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar. I kept portion-controlled bags of raw almonds and fresh fruit on hand for mid-morning and afternoon snacking. I also switched from diet sodas to plenty of water throughout the day.

Our investment in The Houstonian was an investment in ourselves. It was some of the best money we've ever spent.

Because of my activity levels, I made sure to get plenty of complex carbs in the morning to burn fat and keep my metabolism high. I added a lean protein meal, such as egg whites or chicken breast, after muscle-burn classes. Throughout my weight-loss journey, I avoided fad diets, caffeine, diet vitamins/supplements, meal replacements and surgical remedies.

Did I make my goal? Not exactly. Four and a half years and 115 pounds later …err lighter ... I can say that our investment in The Houstonian was an investment in ourselves. With my whole family in great shape, and it was some of the best money we've ever spent. My overall health has gone from good to great, my 8-year-old son thinks his new skinny dad is more fun to play with and I can put my socks on while standing up.

Its time to start your journey!