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How One New Year’s Resolution Saved a Life

One woman’s story of how she fought depression and obesity to reach her goal of being a “Healthy Mom”.

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Holly Kieft Before and After Her Weight Loss
Holly Kieft Before and After Her Weight Loss
PRLog (Press Release) - Jan. 11, 2011 - Holly Kieft was very depressed last January, and by all accounts, she had good reason to be.  Two years ago, Holly’s Mom, Bonalee, had died a mere five weeks after Holly’s only child, Erik, was born.  Erik was Bonalee’s first and only grandchild and she was so excited to finally be a grandmother.  She and Holly were planning to do so many things together. And, like most new moms, Holly had been looking forward to having her mom’s help and advice and was excited about watching her mom shower her son with grandmotherly love and attention.  Then, not long after Bonalee died, Erik became very ill with a blood disorder and required a blood transfusion.  Shortly after that, Holly’s dad, Tom, suffered a major heart attack and was transferred to Shand’s Hospital in Gainesville for a life saving procedure.  He stayed there for eight days, Holly by his side, terrified she was in the midst of losing her only surviving parent.  

Food became Holly’s comfort and soon, she weighed 224 pounds.  At only 5’2”, she was obese and suffering the side effects of obesity, including very high triglycerides, low HTL’s, low Vitamin D and of course, depression.  She was also suffering from the onset of Fibromyalgia and was extremely tired, napping all day, yet unable to sleep at night.  The muscle and joint pain she endured was excruciating, her knees, lower back and ankles so painful it made functioning in daily life nearly impossible.  Holly’s mental outlook on life was bleak.  She knew she was fortunate to have everything she did.  She was able to be a stay at home mom, something she and her husband both agreed was important to them.  She had a beautiful home in a private neighborhood.  And she had many friends, all of whom supported and loved her during her mom’s illness and subsequent death, her son’s scary illness and her dad’s hospitalization.  Yet, she was depressed, angry, and sad.  “I would get up in the morning after a sleepless night, and eat something to give me energy.  A couple hours later I would crash and nap when Erik did”, Holly remembered.  “Then we’d have lunch, something kid friendly, but not weight friendly, and nap again.  We’d have your typical dinner with lots of carbs and then hang out for the evening watching TV and playing with Erik.  By the end of the day, I had consumed a couple thousand calories.  But I thought because I was running around after a toddler all day, that I was burning those calories.  At the end of the day, I would be so depressed and angry at myself for eating like that, but I would just get up and eat something else to make myself feel better.  It was such a vicious cycle.”

At the end of 2009, Holly knew things had to change.  So, she did what most people do and made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight “I had made resolutions year after year, but this time, I knew I had to commit”, she said.  “My life literally depended on it”.   Holly joined her local gym.  She began going every day for an hour, running on the treadmill, going to all the aerobics classes, or doing some other type of cardio.  After a couple months of that, she had only lost a few pounds, was still tired, still obese and still sick.  She lost motivation and stopped going.  

That’s when Personal Trainer Matt Elliott called her.  “I noticed her at the gym working out on cardio all the time, and she really was working hard, but I could tell she wasn’t getting results”, Elliott said.  “We decided to do a “Biggest Loser” type of contest and I immediately thought of her.  I called her and convinced her to come in and join the program.”

Matt, a Certified Personal Trainer and Manager at Grand Island Athletic Club, went on to describe the beginning of Holly’s transformation.  “The first time we did this contest, eight people signed up under several different trainers; three signed for my team.  Holly came in first place, losing almost double the pounds that the second place competitor had lost. Two of my other clients came in third and fourth place. The second time we did the contest, several weeks later, and after seeing Holly’s success, twelve people signed, three for my team.  Once again, my clients came in first, third and fourth, and Holly was number one with almost triple the pounds lost over her nearest competitor.”   In less than ten months Holly lost a whopping 90 pounds.  

What made the difference for Holly?  And what made her so successful compared with others?  Holly will say it was Matt, and Matt will say it was Holly, but it really was a combination of the two.  Matt’s Personal Training philosophy is simple.  “You really have to weight train to burn calories but you cannot have a “cookie cutter” approach to weight loss and training.  Each individual’s body type, lifestyle, motivation, determination and even their budget has to be taken into consideration”, Matt stated.  “I also don’t believe in keeping my strategies a secret.  I want to share them and I want to see people lose weight, get healthy and be able to maintain on their own.”

But still, Holly only worked with Matt three half-hour sessions a week, so why the dramatic weight loss?  “Holly gets it”, he said.  “She really listened and paid attention.  She asked questions about everything.  And she understood why we trained the way we did.”  Holly says she never has been one to go about something half way.  “I really wanted to be healthier.  I now had a son who needed me and depended on me.  When my mom died, it made me realize the impact of a parent’s death on someone.  I was determined to be there for my son.”  But she also admits she could not have done it without Matt’s program.  She believes that all the determination and motivation in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have the knowledge to back it up.  “Matt’s specialty is women’s weight loss.  He has specific training rules that help burn more calories faster, while also getting you toned, the goals of every overweight woman.”

Today, Holly is a svelte 134 pounds, and a size 4 with a body fat of 16%.  She dropped 45% of her body weight and 25% of her body fat.  She also dropped an unbelievable 18 dress sizes in 8 months.  And although not everyone gets those huge results, it’s possible to lose 20 pounds in as little as 6 weeks with the right training program, and no drugs, no shots, no starvation diet.  In fact, Matt believes you have to feed your body to keep your energy level up and to prevent your body from eating your muscles.  “It’s a numbers game, but it’s not rocket science either”, said Matt.  “My goal is to make all my clients self-sufficient with their maintenance plan, so I make their fitness plans easy to understand and follow.”

The weight loss and toning of her body has given her a renewed self confidence she hasn’t had for a very long time.  But, more important to Holly is that she is now a “healthy mom”, which was her ultimate goal.  She has the energy to chase after and keep up with her now 3 year old son.  She has competed in several 5K races, running an average 11 1/2 minute mile.  Her depression is a thing of the past too.  “I’m truly happy now.  I feel good and, I feel like I look good too.  I still miss my mom of course, that will never change.  But I feel the best way I can honor my mom’s memory now is to be a good mom to my son and to keep myself healthy for him.”  
I’m sure Bonalee would agree.  

About Matt Elliott
Matt Elliott is a Certified Personal Trainer and Manager at Grand Island Athletic Club in Stuart, Florida.  He is a former Martin County lifeguard and collegiate baseball player and has been a gym manager for 5 years.  He will be hosting another “Biggest Loser” contest in January. He can be contacted at 772-634-6804 or emailed at matt.elliott.mvn@gmail.com.  Grand Island Athletic Club & Grand Island Salon & Day Spa is located in the Wedgewood Commons, 3216 SE Federal Hwy., Stuart, FL 34997.

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