Hi Michelle! Please tell us about yourself.

Hello, FF family! I am seriously honored to be member of the month and appreciate all the inspiration, encouragement, and happiness you all provide me. It really is the best thing ever. My name is Michelle, and I love Figarelle’s Fitness! I love being healthy and active. I have lived in Alaska since day one, I am 28 years old, and I have worked at API for almost 8 years. 

I work in the Supply Department purchasing supplies, receiving and delivering them, managing inventory, and other various duties. I love it and have no plans to leave. I also take at least three classes a semester in pursuit of my degree. I am working on earning a BBA in Management. School is great but I cannot wait to be finished, I am ten classes away from my degree after the current semester. 

I am looking forward to completing the accomplishment of earning a degree and having more time to spend helping others, being with my family, and doing the outdoor activities I love. Speaking of that, I enjoy hiking, biking, running, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, and anything outdoors. Honestly I just love adventuring, being active, facing my fears, and doing new things!  

How long have you been working with FF, and what initially motivated you to seek us out?

I’ve been with FF about 10 months, and I owe it all to Laurel! I joined in March 2015, and here is a fun fact: I CRIED BEFORE MY FIRST BOOT CAMP! I was a wreck. 

ff_transformation(38of285)I played fast pitch softball in high school and I have always loved being active and athletic, but I got way out of shape after high school. Then years later I lost a ton of weight, like 70 LBS by making better food choices, logging, and hitting the treadmill 5-6 days a week with my mom. And then gained half of it back. TERRIBLE. I was not feeling fantastic about myself or super athletic.

Also, I was definitely intimidated! I get very afraid of new things, but always do them anyway. So, basically I was terrified and panicked and then decided to join immediately after because I loved it so much. I continue to love FF more every day. 

What goals have you’ve achieved since working with us? 

I have lost 12% body fat, accomplished doing a dead hang unassisted pull up for the first time ever, and have gained muscle and the ability to do things I couldn’t before like climb the rope and jump on the big box and just perform better athletically. And I absolutely love that because I love being able to do things with my body and being fit and athletic. And healthy of course. Being healthy is what it’s all about for me, but being fit and athletic and strong and capable is right there with it. 

You regularly attend both Small Group personal training, and Boot Camp classes. What are a few of your favorite things about each of those programs?

I honestly love everything about them; the coaches, the FF family, and the workouts. The people at FF really make all the difference for me and make me so happy. The workouts are absolutely amazing and the kind of stuff I really love. 

I love how high energy boot camps are and I love getting to lift more weights in small group personal training. I love how boot camps incorporate cardio and strength and are a total body workout and I love that I get to lift heavy in small group because it is something I have wanted to do consistently for years. 

Boot camps and small groups make me happy. These programs are enabling me to get into the best shape of my life, and they make it possible for me to do so without getting overwhelmed with work and school. What’s not to love? 

How about a few of your favorite exercises?

The rope climb, pull ups and big box jumps; they provide me with a sense of accomplishment, and they are fun! Tire flips, the sled, and Deadlifts; I dig feeling strong doing these! The agility ladder, and super band run; I like that they are high energy and interactive. 

ff_transformation(253of285)What kind of changes have you made to your nutrition since starting with us? Do you have any food tips?

I have learned to hit my macros, and finally feel confident in my ability to do so, but still need to work on nailing them consistently. I honestly don’t have any food tips for you all because I feel like you are all much wiser in this department. I guess I can say that hitting your macros is possible and it can be done with foods that don’t take a ton of work, although I am not sure it’s the most ideal way. 

I stick to pretty simple things like protein shakes, steamed veggies, ground turkey, cottage cheese, canned chicken, protein bars, protein pancakes, and turkey bacon. I think it is all about taking the time to plan it out and prep anything needed and honestly keeping it simple if that is necessary for you. Also, water is fantastic and necessary and I really think drinking enough makes a huge difference. 

You completed our Fall Transformation Challenge a few months ago, and it seemed like you learned a lot about yourself. What new goals do you have for the Winter Transformation Challenge? What are you hoping to take away from that experience?

The Fall Transformation Challenge was amazing. I really enjoyed doing buddy workouts, I got so much closer to accomplishing my pull up, I lost 18 LBS and 3.9% body fat, and I got into a great routine of working out 6+ times a week and not being overwhelmed by it in addition to managing work and school. 

This challenge is off to a rough start because I had a Fairbanks trip with friends the first week, in addition to school starting, but I am excited to make the most of the rest of the challenge. This challenge I want to get in a lot of buddy bonding workouts, lose a couple more percentages of body fat, get down to the 180’s, which will be a big deal for me, and I want to continue getting stronger and healthier. 

I also have a goal of doing something charitable each week and I am excited to accomplish this and learn new ways of doing this more often after the challenge as well. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to get fit but may not know where to start?

I get a lot of comments about my weight loss, and it is always interesting hearing people’s reactions and perspectives on it. 

Some people seem to be convinced that I am doing some “quick fix” or something other than working out and eating healthy. I always tell people that the transition from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one is the hardest part, but it is so worth it and it really is possible. 

I think the biggest thing when starting out is to check nutrition labels and make healthier choices. Buy the tortillas with a quarter of the calories and use spaghetti squash and PB2 instead of noodles and regular peanut butter. Things like that. 

I know when I originally started making better food choices I didn’t realize how awful some things were and when I saw how terrible they were it wasn’t worth it to me to eat them. 

In the beginning, it’s about making an effort to find healthy food alternatives and moving your body doing anything you love. Yes, that is also key advice, get moving however you will enjoy it most. Whether it is biking, running, walking, or swimming. Just get moving everyday. My dad likes to say “You just gotta break a sweat.”

You’ve worked really hard on your pull-ups the last several months. How did it feel to do your first unassisted pull-up for the very first time? Any tips for those who have this same goal?

ff_transformation(233of285)It felt amazing because Krissy was right there, and she has been my mentor with this goal. I really didn’t expect to do one, it just happened and blew both our minds. It was hilarious. 

Then to top it off the FF family started hooting and hollering in encouragement which is just a ridiculously rad feeling and it was such a special moment for me. 

For others with this goal I suggest practicing every boot camp and workout you do and getting a pull up bar at home so you can practice as often as possible. By practicing, I mean doing negatives and even having someone hold your feet lightly while you do a few. 

Steph, Lela, and Charlene are the experts and can really show you the ideal way to practice – which I recommend asking to see because there is something to practicing with the right form. I really love the pull up bar idea because you can just do a couple pull ups or negatives several times throughout the day. 

Steph helped me with pull ups at one of the boot camps, and suggested I do 20 negatives a day and I never did that many. My arms get so exhausted after a few so doing them throughout the day would be perfect. 

Also, you have to believe in yourself. Krissy had such absolute belief in me that I could do it and I honestly thought it would take much longer, but she was right. Definitely tell yourself you can do it, and one day before you know it you will. 

What new goals do you have planned for 2016? 

HAPPY 2016! 

I want to get to a healthy body weight that I am happy with and lower my body fat percentage. I imagine I will be working on improving both beyond 2016 before I get to a place where I am maintaining, but I feel I can get to a healthy weight before the year ends and I am already in the athlete body range where I want to be, so I just want to improve that a bit more. 

I also want to kick ass at the 2016 Golden Nugget Triathlon. I would love to finish in an hour and thirty minutes, but that is a lofty goal. But hey, why not? Go hard, or go home! 

Last year I finished the GNT right around two hours, but I did use a bike with flat tires (unintentionally) so that wasn’t incredibly helpful. I also want desperately to run the Lost Lake race with you all for the first time and crush a goal time on that, but I will be out of town so I will just have to train with you this year and crush it with you next year!

I have a goal of completing Mt. Marathon so I registered for the lottery but am not sure I will get in. If I do, completing that is a goal and if I don’t – hiking it for the first time is. Thanks for reading! I can’t wait to encourage you all and cheer you on as you all kick total ass on completing all of your 2016 goals!