Thirteen weeks ago I was certain that I had lost my mine by signing for the 2017 Fitness Challenge.

A couple weeks in and I found myself checking the defibrillator at Anytime Fitness to make sure the lights on it were working and it was fully charged in case I collapsed.

About half way through I started to realize that this was a good decision and I was, in fact, likely to survive it and benefit from it.

Fast forward to just a few minutes ago when we finished our last session with trainer Bryan Seibel and thanked him for all the help he’s given us.

It won’t be a long farewell, as we’re going back to see him and sign up for more sessions on our own starting next week.

I’d like to say congratulations to all of the other challengers. Christy juggled five young children and an injury but remained positive and upbeat throughout this challenge. Talking to Taylor this week compared to 13 weeks ago blew my mind in how much more confident she is with herself. I’ve been so impressed and fortunate to meet both of them.

Courtney, my wife, is disappointed in herself for not losing more weight this challenge even though she had lost more than 100 pounds going into this. She jogs now, lifts weights, goes on bike rides with our children and signed up for a 5K with her work friends – so I’m positive she has nothing to be ashamed of.

For me, the reality is I have a long ways to go. I constantly try to balance being happy with what I’ve accomplished with being aware of how much more work there is to do.

That’s probably why I like Bryan Seibel so much. He likes to give high fives and fist bumps when we have a good workout, but he also knows there is a larger goal. He could simply put in his time, give us a diet plan and run us through a workout. Instead, he talked with us about what is realistic, what our goals should be for the short and long-term, and how we can accomplish them. Between Bryan and his coworker, Cindy, a smiling face and a few words of encouragement were never far away.

Having a trainer that truly cares about you probably isn’t essential to losing weight, but it certainly helps. I’ve lost a good amount of weight over the last 13 weeks. In return I feel better, have more energy and more hope for what the future holds. In addition, I feel that Courtney and I have gained a friend and someone who will help us blaze a trail to even better things.

To everyone who has followed our progress in the newspaper or online every week and offered words of encouragement, thank you! To Bryan Seibel, my ambassador of sweat and vegetables, I offer my sincerest thanks. And to all of the challengers, congratulations on what you’ve accomplished and good luck in the next chapter.

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