WEIGHT BEFORE TRANSFORMATION: 282 pounds
WEIGHT NOW: 230 pounds
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
My father was in the Air Force, so we moved around every 4 years. My wife and I moved to Philadelphia in 1992 for graduate school and have really set up roots here. We love Philly and its neighborhoods and enjoy living in the city.
What do you do for a living?
I am a family physician at Mazzoni Center where I am the medical director. The best part of my job is forming lasting relationships with patients and their families while trying to keep them healthy. I really like the preventive focus in primary care, although I also enjoy helping people manage their chronic diseases.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to cook and am definitely the chef in the family. I also love nature, so we try to go hiking on all of our vacations.
How did your transformation journey begin and how did you hear about Unite?
At the end of 2014 I was the most unhealthy I had ever been. My clothes no longer fit, I couldn’t go up a flight a stairs without fatigue and my weight had peaked at 282. My cholesterol was out of control and my liver enzymes were elevated. Although part of my job was to encourage and support healthy habits in my patients, I was certainly not demonstrating any of my recommendations by example.
Coach Gavin, a friend and founder of Unite fitness and I had a meeting where he talked to me about his fitness center and their upcoming transformation challenge. He described the Unite philosophy of “Heart, Muscle, Mind” which I found very intriguing. Knowing Gavin and trusting him, he encouraged me to give it a try and more importantly made me believe that I COULD do it, so I signed up!
How has Unite changed your health?
I have never been an athlete, nor have I ever enjoyed exercise. I used to think my wife; a marathon runner was crazy for training like she did. How could she WANT to do that?? I didn’t know this when I started Unite, but I have now become THAT person who goes to the gym no matter what! I honestly thought I would get in better shape; lose some weight and probably ping-pong back to bad health like I always had before. Not this time.
Walking into the gym the first time was intimidating. What if I can’t do it? Do I look foolish as a 45 year old, overweight, un-athletic guy in a gym full of younger, fitter, hipper people? Thankfully Gavin set me up with a personal trainer to start. Coach Austin was great at being patient as I learned proper form for each exercise and slowly discovered how to make my body do the things he was asking of me. In the beginning I would come home and fall to the floor exhausted, barely able to make it up the stairs to the shower. I honestly did not enjoy going at first, but I had signed up for the 8-week transformation challenge and I wasn’t going to quit. After about 3-4 weeks my body got more used to the exercise, my weight was quickly dropping and I was just overall feeling better. It was around that time that I started to look forward to my workouts, I increased the number of days I worked out each week and I finally had the confidence to add the Unite group workouts to my routine…that’s when I fell in love with exercise! Coach A
ustin and I often remark after a difficult workout “There is no way I could do that a mere few months ago!”
The atmosphere at Unite Fitness is really is one of community. We are all there to get better and to work together to improve. The coaches, all of them, are 100% committed to helping each person in class push their limits and get stronger, faster and healthier. The Unite model of cardio, strength and stretch helps diversify every class to ensure a total body workout. At last I discovered why people enjoyed exercise.
Although I didn’t “win” the transformation challenge, I really did WIN. At the end of the challenge I immediately signed up for a spring boot camp, just to try something different. For me, this was a huge step because it was basically doing workouts outside in public, with people watching! It also was designed to be a goal oriented 8 weeks in which I challenged myself to lose another 10 pounds and run my first ever 5k. I was successful at both! My wife and I ran it together, and now we are planning other runs in the future.
Do you follow a particular diet?
Part of the transformation challenge included nutrition counseling. My coach was super excited about healthy eating and helped me solidify a diet plan that was full of variety and most importantly was delicious. As a physician, I know the basics of nutrition and I talk to patients about daily. However, as a busy doctor I made a lot of “I don’t have time” excuses as a reason for my poor eating habits. After a week of eating whole, unprocessed foods I felt amazing and much more full of energy. Much like I had to force exercise into my daily routine, I forced myself to shop on the weekend for the week and make plans for meals ahead of time. Six months later I am still practicing those same principles.
No matter how many times you have failed in the past, ANYONE can make fitness a part of your life. The most important thing is to find support. For me, Unite is that place. Also, you have to set some realistic, short-term goals so that when you achieve them you have a sense of accomplishment. Then you make different goals! Fitness isn’t achieved as an end point. It is a continual process. Therefore, you have to find ways to incorporate it into your routine in a way you enjoy!
Any advice to others who want to make a healthy change, but feel daunted or intimidated?
You also have to find a way to be accountable. I chose to post my progress on Facebook. I found an amazing amount of encouragement on social media. Interestingly, it has now become part of my daily conversation with patients. They have followed me this process and watched me stick with my lifestyle changes. It has given them motivation to make changes themselves. Now, I can actually give advice about nutrition and exercise with a personal story! One patient told me “I kept wanting you to fail, so that I could say, if Dr. Winn can’t do it neither can I. But you didn’t fail. Now I think I can actually make some changes myself!” Now THAT’S a great outcome!
What are your future fitness goals?
I have come a long way in losing weight and trimming down my body, but there is more work to do. Since it took me 45 years to get unhealthy, I know it will take a while…but that is OK. I’m enjoying the weekly improvement I’m seeing in speed, strength and endurance. At some point I’d like to do one of those outdoor obstacle course type runs. Six months ago that would have been impossible, but now I’m 100% sure I can do it soon.