My family and I joined FFC as Charter Members last summer. I couldn’t wait for the Park Ridge facility to open. I had been going to another gym; however, I knew that FFC was going to fulfill all my needs. Little did I know, though, that it was going to put me on weight loss journey of nutrition AND exercise – not just a fitness routine.

Our family has always exercised; my sons were both athletes through their school years and my husband can still pick up a basketball and shoot like he did when he was in high school. I had to work out to have the energy to keep up with the three of them.

However, as I aged, I realized that the routine I was following wasn’t enough — I had put on weight and had constant pain in both knees. Having had both my hips replaced due to arthritis, I knew the arthritis had set into my knees. I visited the doctor in October, 2016 and I was informed that I was bone on bone in both knees; thus, surgery was needed.

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With my diagnosis and the thought of yet another joint being replaced (after three months of physical therapy that didn’t help), I decided to take the bull by the horns. I took three of my free training sessions with Tony at FFC; he took the time to listen and understand my physical issues and showed me various exercises that helped strengthen my hips and legs. But I knew that the exercise wasn’t going to solve all my physical issues; I needed to lose weight. I have lost weight before doing Weight Watchers but wasn’t keen on the whole group setting at this point in my life.

With our Charter Membership, we received a free consultation with the onsite registered dietitian. It was slightly ironic; the week before I heard about the dietitian at the facility, my husband had suggested I see a nutritionist – the timing was perfect. I set up a time with Alicia. She is a spunky, kind-hearted individual who wants you to meet your goals, not hers. I knew the minute I met her that she was going to lead me in the right direction.

We discussed my health thoroughly, including my arthritis issues. I have been gluten free for about 1.5 years, as I had learned that omitting gluten from your diet does help lessen arthritis pain. It worked for me, but not completely. I had also just had my blood work done for my annual physical and my sugar was 101; no need for alarms to go off – but I refuse to have any diseases like diabetes.

Related: how member Sal got his health back on track working with registered dietitian Amy Silver at FFC Oak Park.

Alicia and I met again about a week later. She had put together a plan that she thought would work for me. She supplied about 10-12 options for each meal along with snack ideas (I get 2 a day!). One of the challenges I experienced with the plan was that our family does not eat prepared food nor do we eat anything low fat due to added chemicals and sugars. Thankfully, she agreed with my family’s methods.

I am now counting calories, not points. I have never lost weight so easily, to be quite honest, nor have I felt deprived. Also, since I continue to lose weight, my calories remain the same. When doing other diets in the past, every time I lost around 8 or 10 pounds, they would take away some calories. I know eventually my calorie count will go down as I’ll probably hit a plateau, but not to date. As of my last weigh-in, I have lost 25 pounds. Alicia has been very keen on what my final weight loss should look like to me, not what she thinks I should lose. Personally I’m thinking another 20 pounds.

Is it always easy? No, however, we have celebrated two birthdays since I began this weight loss journey and I have had cake both times… and I have still lost weight those weeks. My arthritis pain is still in my knee, but I’m not in as much pain as I was previously. The combination of exercise and weight loss have worked together to improve my mobility.

Will I need surgery? Maybe, but at this point I’m waiting. Could I have followed a program like this somewhere else? Most likely yes, but the staff at FFC is so supportive and always willing to find a way for a person to meet their goal. I truly believe that is why this program has worked so well for me. As I continue to work with Alicia, I’m thinking it is time for something new at the gym. Maybe I’ll try out a new yoga class!

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