Exchange Weight Loss

Downstate woman finds solution to keeping weight off

ABOVE PHOTO: Katie Barling works with weighted ropes during her workout at Fitness Connexion in downstate Bloomington. | David Proeber/AP/The Pantagraph

BY PAUL SWIECH
The Pantagraph

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Katie Barling waved battle ropes, walked sideways using resistance bands, performed sumo squats and did lat pulldowns, step-ups, squat presses, hip adductors, stairs runs, Romanian dead lifts, crunches, Russian twists and reverse torso curls.

That high-intensity interval training was preceded by 10 minutes on an elliptical machine, resulting in a workout of about 40 minutes.

How did she feel? The perspiring, 25-year-old Bloomington woman gave a thumbs-up. “Pretty good,” she said.

“You’re sore,” she explained. “You hate it and you like it.”

What she hates and likes is a full-body workout that is clearly not a quick-fix exercise and diet plan that many people — more so women — jump on after Christmas.

“There is no such thing as a quick fix,” Barling said.

She knows.

The Bloomington native always has been overweight and tried quick weight loss and quick fitness plans. They’d work for awhile but then she’d go back to her old habits and gain the weight back.

In summer 2012, the 5-foot, 6-inch woman weighed 307 pounds when she began a fitness program — coupled with dietary changes — through Fitness Connexion, a women-only gym in Bloomington.

She has lost 62 pounds — she’s down to 245 pounds — and wants to lose another 65 pounds to get down to 180 pounds.

“I feel healthy,” said Barling, the manager of Kenney’s Delivery, a longtime, Bloomington-based moving and storage business.

“I feel good about myself. My self-esteem is up. I’ve gone from a size 24 to 16 and soon will be 14.”

“It’s been a long road,” she confessed. “But I’m happy with everything.”

Barling symbolizes many busy Central Illinois women whose responsibilities make it difficult for them to commit to a dedicated exercise program and healthful eating, said Dafne Greene, Fitness Connexion owner and group fitness director, and Nicolette Isaacs, head personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

But Barling proves that exercise and healthful eating ultimately work, they said.

“She has had setbacks like anyone,” said Isaacs, Barling’s trainer. “But she has learned what is right, what is not right and she can make good choices.”

“I’ve always been bigger,” Barling said. “I like to eat and be comforted.”

When she returned to Bloomington from college, she was up to 307 pounds.

Around that same time, she had an ankle injury and her weight slowed her recovery. She also was told by her obstetrician/gynecologist that her weight would complicate her future plans to have children.

“I had to do something,” Barling said.

Coincidentally, she met Isaacs, told her that she wanted to get into condition and Isaacs invited her to Fitness Connexion.

“I told her that I wanted upper body strength and I wanted to lose at least 100 pounds,” Barling recalled.

Isaacs started Barling slowly with walking, jumping jacks, push-ups from a kneeling position and crunches.

“We worked a lot on my balance,” Barling said.

Trainer Nicolette Isaacs works with Barling at the Fitness Connexion in Bloomington. | David Proeber/AP/The Pantagraph

Trainer Nicolette Isaacs works with Barling at the Fitness Connexion in Bloomington. | David Proeber/AP/The Pantagraph

Gradually, under Isaacs’ training, the workouts got more intense. Now she works out for about 40 minutes four days a week.

Isaacs changes the workouts to keep them fun and so Barling gets the full benefit. When people do the same workouts, their body gets used to the movements and the benefits lessen.

During a recent workout, goals were to keep Barling’s heart rate up and to work her entire body.

So, the elliptical elevated her heart rate, got her blood flowing and her muscles warm; rope waves built muscle endurance in her arms; band walks worked the side of her hips; sumo squats worked her lower bottom and inner thighs; lat pulldowns worked her back; step-ups worked the front of her thighs; hip adductors targeted the inside of her legs; squat press worked her entire body; stair runs kept her heart rate elevated; Romanian (partial) dead lifts worked the back of her legs; and crunches, Russian twists (sitting with her feet off the ground while rotating a ball from side to side) and reverse torso curls worked her abdominal muscles.

“I’ve learned a lot about my own body,” Barling said. She’s also learned that she enjoys some of the exercises.

Meanwhile, she’s adjusted a diet that was predominantly fast food. Typically, she’ll have yogurt and an apple for breakfast; crock-pot meals of lean protein and vegetables or stir fry for lunch; and a dinner of grilled lean meat and veggies or another crock-pot dish.

Chicken, fish, brown rice and sweet potatoes are among go-to foods. Almonds are great snacks between meals, she said.

In addition, she walks her dog once a day.

Isaacs helps, not only during workouts, but in between by sending helpful text messages to encourage Barling.

“Today, she encouraged me to have a good lunch,” Barling said. “On days when I’m not doing good, it helps me.”

Barling plans to continue her gradual progress.

“I want to continue to be healthy,” she said. “This is a lifestyle change. I want to be there for others. But, ultimately, I want to be there for myself.”

AP