1. Hi Shelly! Please tell us about yourself.

I’m 40 years old. I’ve lived in Alaska for more than half my life, moving here with the Army from just outside of Chicago in the early 90s. At first I lived in Fairbanks and moved to Anchorage about 12 years ago. I’m married, have two kids, work as a professional communicator and love acting and directing local theatre productions.

2. What initially motivated you to seek out a fitness program?

Well, I’ve generally been pretty active most of my life despite some serious accidents that set me back along the way. But, I started to struggle a bit in my 30s when a serious health issue reared its ugly head followed by some major surgeries. I bounced back from those okay and ended up only being a few pounds heavier. But, then my mom was diagnosed with cancer and was given a short time to live. Without realizing it, I became incredibly depressed and put on a great deal of weight. I just felt very sad and very lost. At some point after my mom passed, I knew I had a choice – stay stuck in the depression I was in, or fight against it. I felt like I couldn’t do it on my own and knew that I needed help. My friend Chris was attending FF and he seemed to really love it, so I looked it up online – sent in my info and attended my first bootcamp (during which and after which I thought I was going to die).

3. I know you’ve set a few goals over the last year. What are some that have had the biggest overall impact on your life? 

The biggest overall impact was just understanding how to set and stick with goals and FF gave me the knowledge and helped me set a path forward to do that. Last January, I attended your vision board seminar. I’d never been to one and really was a little iffy about the whole thing. I’m not a super touchy feely person and it sounded a little touchy feely to me. But, you kept challenging us to go outside of our comfort zone, and creating a vision board was definitely outside of mine. So, I thought I should challenge myself to go. Looking back, that board changed my life!

I made it on PowerPoint, created a .jpg file and put it on my phone. That thing was in my face every day so I was always reminded of what I needed to stay focused on. That was great because the bullshit fell away. The vision board helped me diminish distractions. I knew what I wanted. It was on my board. It was in my face 24/7 so I stayed committed.

10 K classicMy big goal was to weigh as much on my 40th birthday as I did on my 20th. I actually weighed 3 pounds less. I felt really good about that and I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I wanted to try yoga and a bunch of FF peeps said I should join them at Anchorage Yoga – so I did. I wanted to spend more time and become closer with my family and really concentrated on that. I especially wanted to do this for Cady.

I think the years my mom was sick were really hard on her and on our relationship, so I put a lot of focus there. That’s been great for us and we’re a very active and close couple. We made a goal together to go to Italy and we bought our tickets in December. And… I wanted to be able to do a perfect pushup and I feel like my pushup form is pretty damn sweet after a year of doing them six days a week. This goal, as small as it was, makes me feel like a bad ass every time I can do one – so it motivates me to stick with my fitness program.

4. What would you say were your most significant fitness accomplishment(s) in 2014? What do you have planned for 2015? 

Well, I was one of the spring Transformation Challenge winners and that was AWESOME! It was amazing to share that with Jeni. The Challenge was great because of the social media group and the support that everyone had for each other through that group. People were running together, posting their workouts, giving each other virtual high-fives, and being so encouraging. I just loved that; it really helped me stay focused on my goals for the challenge.

Tracking my food was HUGE. Using myfitnesspal.com and gaining an understanding of my caloric intake and expenditure was a difference maker for sure. You always say there’s no magic to fitness, and that is totally true. But, there is a big learning curve. So, after I attended your nutrition seminar, I felt like I had a better understanding of what I needed to do to take better care nutritionally. That part was always missing for me before FF. I learned that working out really is only one part of the equation, nutrition is the other and both are equally important.

I’ve also checked off a few bucket list items this year. I ran two half marathons, with my second under two hours. I ran in 6 other races as well. I don’t like heights at all, but I climbed to the top of several day-hike able mountains this summer. Normally, I would stop when the climb got vertical but I pushed myself to keep going. I did an obstacle course run and that was super fun.

For 2015, I’ve signed up for the Big Wild Life Runs marathon on August 16, 2016. I’m going to do a Spartan Beast. I’m going to try like hell to get into the Gold Nugget (which sells out in a hot minute) and I’m going to be on a team of FF folks doing the Klondike Road Relay this fall in September. I also am going to have a six-pack and be able to do 5 unassisted pull-ups in a row. My vision board is made and on my phone!

5. You recently started personal training with Charlene. What are some of your goals with this particular program?

I’ve attended two trainings so far and I really like it. It’s very different than small group and bootcamp. I’ve outlined three main goal areas: six pack, bigger arms and a more defined back and getting myself ready from an overall strength standpoint for my marathon and the Spartan Beast.

Personal training is such a unique experience. Charlene is an awesome trainer. There’s time to go over form so I can really maximize the work I’m doing. She’s helping me get my breathing under control when I lift. That has been huge and something I wasn’t even aware of at all.

You guys also sent me a photo of my posture. I have had some pretty significant injuries and it is taking a toll on my posture b/c I underuse one side of my body subconsciously. So, you came up with some recommendations and I’ve been foam rolling my lats and scapula. Getting my posture right is a goal now that I’ve been working on every day.

You guys have also pointed out that I need to switch up some aspects of my nutrition. So, I’ve been actively working on that as well.

You know, those two things really blew my mind when they happened. I mean, I think it speaks to the type of attention you give to your clients. You took the time to go through the myfitnesspal diaries and looked at my posture. Correcting these two things is already having a positive impact on my training, so it’s just amazing really. I can’t wait see what happens at the end of my first round of personal training sessions in 8 more weeks.

6. You’re also a regular Boot Camper. What are your favorite things about FF Boot Camp classes?

I’m sort of addicted to bootcamp. I really do just love it. My favorite things are:

  1. The people! FF is not just a place to workout; it is a community of goal-oriented people that support each other. It’s very different for that reason. I love working out with all those crazy and fun peeps. They challenge me! We push each other and celebrate each other’s successes. It’s awesome! What I mean is, say someone climbs the rope to the top or is just killing it on an exercise people will yell for them! Or if you’re struggling and having a rough day, someone’s going to say – “come on you can do it!” That’s just so cool!
  2. The diversity of exercises is great. One day we’ll do a hurricane where you’re sprinting or bear crawling, the next day is stations and agility ladders, or maybe we’ll be competing in a tug-o-war contest. I love that I don’t have to think. I can just walk in and concentrate on pushing myself with what is on the board.
  3. The focus on form is also great. I love that you guys show proper form at the top of the class and that if I’m totally fubaring an exercise, one of you guys will come by and help. I feel like you’re looking out for my safety and helping me avoid injury so I can continue to train.

7. How about some of your favorite exercises?

This may sound a little sick, but I play this game in my head where I make my favorite exercises the exercises I actually hate so that I can psyche myself into getting better at them. I learned this with ALL kettle bell exercises initially. I hated them when I first started so I told myself they were my favorite. Now, I really do like them a lot with the one-arm kettle bell swing as my favorite. The next one was the goblet squat – I loathed that when I first started – but now it is one of my favs.

So, with that in mind, my new “favs” are the Bulgarian split squat, barbell thrusters and hyperextensions. Someday, they’ll be my real favorites too. I have to say, I’m a little nervous writing this because I think they may show up a little more in my PT sessions now!

8. You’re always cheering on those around you, and everyone can agree that you bring a ton of great energy to every workout. What motivates you to work so hard at every session and give it your all?

You know, I think it is really cool that people see me that way, but I really just see it as doing what others are doing for me. I posted this on the Facebook group the other day and it bears repeating here: the FF difference really is the community of people that remind you daily that you are stronger than you think you are – that you can do more than you think you are capable of. I think it is the culture of the place mostly.


I also know someday that I won’t be able to do these things. Someday I’ll (hopefully) be very old and I won’t be this strong, or young, or able. I want to enjoy every single second of it while I can. As someone who has struggled with health issues, I get so much joy out of being able to run, jump, do pushups and feel strong and healthy. It makes me happy beyond belief. When I’m working out, I’m just so thankful that I can be working out in that moment, on that day. I get really excited…like Christmas morning excited! So, sometimes I yell. I’m just in awe sometimes of what I’m doing and so so grateful that I am healthy enough to do it.

9. What advice would you give someone who wants to lose body fat and get in shape, but might not know where to begin?

Listen! Come to FF and listen to the coaches. You have to check your ego to be able to do this. You have to get over yourself to be able to do this. That was a hard one for me initially. When I would hear you guys say things that I knew I needed to change in my life, all of these automatic defenses in my mind would tell me to shut out what you were saying. But, I saw others listening and getting results and I thought, I need to get over myself and listen – then apply. That was a process and it needed to be a process so it would stick.

To those who are trying (and I have been there!) I say this with love – get over yourself and love yourself enough to commit to improving your health. Just shut up and listen – then apply. Oh, and cut yourself a little (but not too much) slack if you fail. Factor in failure as part of the process, but know that you have to have conviction to hold yourself truly accountable. Last but not least – SET GOALS THEN MAKE A PLAN TO ACHIEVE THEM – THEN STICK TO THAT PLAN!

10. Nutrition has undoubtedly played a large role in your success. What are some of the changes that you’ve made to your diet? 

I track my food. That has been the biggest thing for me. Knowing what food going in and the macro breakdown is very important to my plan. I know what crap food is going to cost me in sweat equity. It’s so easy to pass up a piece of the pie someone brought to work because I know how much I’ll have to work out to burn that crap out of my body and how hard I’ve worked to get my body looking the way I want it to.  So, just that knowledge has been huge for me. I try like hell to stay within my calorie count for the day and my macros. I allow myself one day a week to go outside of them.

It’s great though because I’m also learning new things from you about nutrition. Like, I just learned I need to eat more protein in the morning and I needed to up my caloric intake.  I spend time trying to learn more about how to fuel my fitness by looking up meals and recipes. It’s still a process for me but it is very cool to be in control of my food instead of food controlling me. I also have noticed that my overall mood and health is so much better since I’ve cut out a lot of the unhealthy foods I used to eat. So that makes choices easier as well.