Get Fit Challenge 2015 Grand Prize Winner
"Since Get Fit started, I've set new personal bests. My eating habits are far better and I'm generally happier. I can truly say that I wouldn't have gotten as far as I have without my trainer and the Challenge."
Briaun Isreal, I was blessed and honored with my daughter's presence on April 4, 1995 at 10:49 am. I can think of no greater honor or responsibility as a man, than that of being a father. An honor and responsibility that I shall guard and protect with my life. It has been that way with me all of my life, based upon values instilled within by my mother Phyllis Jane Waters, who departed this earth on October 3, 2006, her spirit lies within and guides me on a daily basis. She insisted upon giving your all in any and everything that you did, no matter what the consequences or situation. She told me hard work pays off and that actions had consequences. She valued education and a commitment to excellence. She was valedictorian of her class in high school. She told me that the true measure of man was not how he acted during times of comfort or convenience, but how he acted during times of conflict and controversy. She also told me that the color of one's skin truly does not matter, but rather the content of one's character. She was a single-mother and I am a single-father. Words I have taken to heart and live by. I seek to honor my mother's memory on a daily basis. It prepared me for the most important responsibility in my life.
Her values have been instilled within my daughter, which has allowed her to gain entrance to Lehigh University, where she is now a rising sophomore. An education whose total annual cost is estimated at $65,000. My daughter and I both knew then and now that I could not afford that amount. But no matter, we would figure out way to do it through hard work, and we did. Her hard work in high school my daughter to earn a series of scholarships that left a balance of $20,000, which we made up through loans and my savings. However, this past December, I received a letter informing that tuition has increased again for 2015-2016, and that we would now have a shortfall of $25,000 that we must once again make up. And we will, through hard work.
It was around this time this my fiancé emailed me about the 2015 Get Fit Challenge and included the words in bold capitalized lettering YOU CAN DO THIS! We both had decided "again" to begin exercising more. But life had gotten in the way. I had ballooned to 240 lbs and did not like how I felt inwardly and outwardly. Weight has been a challenge for various members in my family and I assured myself that I would not succumb to this, but I was failing. The stress of work and life was getting the best of me, and yes these were excuses, which I never EVER allowed from myself nor tolerated from anyone else. I had gotten into a rut. But I vowed to change.
About a year ago, my fiancé and I began looking at the various fitness options in our area. After visiting several facilities, we walked into XSport Fitness where we met with Alex Clemente, who assured us that XSport Fitness was the best fitness facility in the area not only because of its first-rate many amenities, but more importantly because of the human factor. Alex informed that we would be surrounded by knowledgeable individuals that would be willing to answer questions about fitness and nutrition at any point in time. What Alex didn't know was this was our fourth visit to a fitness facility and we had been through several high pressure presentations with our facilities and been subjected to hard sell pressure tactics and were quite sensitive to insincerity. We found none of this when we sat down with Alex, which caused my fiancé and I to put confidence in what he was saying. After our tour, we signed on the dotted line. Everything Alex told us about XSport Fitness has been true since day one! At that time, I had absolutely no idea how LIFE-CHANGING that seemingly benign act would become. An act of over a year ago that has resulted in forever changing how me and my family now live our lives, and has provided me with tangible how in being able to provide for my daughter.
I have stressed to my daughter and family that the two most important responsibilities of any man is to protect and provide for his family. NO EXCUSES! "Excuses build bridges to nowhere and monuments to nothingness." Upon reflection, without Alex, I would not be in this current position of hope, as other facilities aren't running a contest of this magnitude. And for this, Alex will always have my thanks, appreciation and gratitude for his commitment to his job and I am thankful that it was he with whom we met. And I am also thankful for my fiancé whose initial belief in me set this train in motion. Because without her confidence and belief in me, I wouldn't have given the flyer a second notice. It was her urging that I even gave the notice about this competition a second look. And this is the other aspect of this challenge one does not fully consider, and that is the effect on family members, friends, work colleagues that have to deal with the change in your temperament throughout your competition. In this regard, my love for Dianna Wilson and my new daughter Alexis Wilson has deepened and grown throughout this journey as their love and support has been absolutely critical. They were the ones that dealt with a sore, starving, exhausted, and at times short tempered Troy. And my fiancé has opened my eyes to what women across this country contend with on a daily basis, THE SCALE! It became my nemesis.
I was working harder and yet the pounds still were not coming off as I had expected which caused me to research about nutrition, fitness, food, cell biology, etc. And then I hit pay dirt. Insulin is the devil and sugar is poison! I discovered the depth of misinformation and downright lies from the food industry. We only need two teaspoons of sugar on a daily basis for our bodies to function and fat is not evil. Hell, 55% to 60% of our brains consist of fat! Once armed with the knowledge that fat not carbohydrates is the body's primary source of energy and that dietary fat does not affect cholesterol levels, I became energized because I could now EAT and be a little more approachable at home.
However, I still wanted to get even better results, so of course I go to my Captain who’s directing this ship, big John Hastings. Without John, I would have never been able to achieve the results I have within this short measure of time. The routines he created were tailored for each stage of my development. I knew that in order to be successful in this competition that my choice of a personal trainer was absolutely critical. I would putting my faith and confidence in this individual and would be seeing them on a daily basis. When I searched I was looking first and foremost for knowledge, then temperament, then wisdom. As a 51 year old aging black man, I wanted someone who had experienced for at least as long as I had, because with experience comes wisdom. I needed someone who could let me be me and know when to interject and know when to just let be me. I can push myself extremely hard without any yelling or screaming. All of the trainers I came across were certainly knowledgeable in their craft, but I was still looking for age factor and there he was. I could see through his credentials that he clearly knew what he was doing, but more importantly how to communicate it to various types of individuals. The only critical drawback that I could find with John, which I struggled and agonized with and didn't know if we could ever resolve such a significant difference of opinion on this highly controversial issue, was the fact that John was Washington football fan and I am die hard Dallas Cowboy fan. And yet we found a way to work through it.
John recommended that I speak with Akia Jenkins, which I did right away. She came up with an excellent nutrition plan that made me aware of that I was not consuming enough water and not eating as frequently as I should. I have followed her nutritional plan ever since and had amazing results. Her plan allowed me to continue working harder and smarter while increasing lean muscle and dropping fat like butter. Which led right back to Brian Stone, who gave me awesome advice on supplements. The right multivitamin and protein supplement is absolutely critical when subjecting your body to such rigorous physical conditioning. Thanks Brian, the ON multivitamin continues to be my vitamin of choice. Brian also recommended another supplement that I wasn't quite sure about. After doing my research, I sought out Brian, made my apologies for doubting him because everything he told me about the natural testosterone booster and its ability to assist with fat loss was dead on. Thanks again Brian.
I also want to thank all of those trainers who have absolutely no idea that they played a significant role in ability to push myself in this competition. Yes, $50,000 is highly motivating factor coupled with the fact that it represents the primary method by which to pay for my daughter's college education because I don't have one now. But when you're on the treadmill after burning 1,000 calories at 14 percent incline, or swinging kettle balls, jumping rope for what seems like a 1, 000 resolutions, you have to dig deep and push yourself. And they have no idea, what their words of encouragement meant to me. When Ben Hartley, pulled me aside to say Troy, "You're 1 in 100. You said you were going to work hard and you did. I just want you to hear this from me because it comes from the heart." Yesterday, I had just finished 8 sets 10 lat pull downs and tricep pull downs, after burning 1,700 calories on the treadmill doing my interval training of 30/30 that I created from one John's workouts, and felt like I was going to fall over. Ben saw me and gave me a fist bump. I did another set of each, even though I had already finished. And how did I know, I burned 1, 700 calories? Because on day one, Big John said, you're going to need a heart monitor if you're going to do this thing right. So, I went over to the desk, where Dennis Holmes was working. And I asked if he could help me out with a heart monitor.
I had no idea how absolutely critical this technical device would be to me in this competition, but Dennis did. He informed about the various models and then asked what I was trying to accomplish. His recommendation was dead on with the FT60 heart monitor from Polar. I'm wearing it now. It has allowed me to tailor my non-John workouts to achieve the same level of HIIT (Hastings Intensive Interval Training). I never left home without. I was able to figure out my the calories I burned throughout the day, which then allowed me to adjust my nutrition plan so that I would always be in a hypocaloric state. I knew second how much I was burning in calories. I was able to keep my intensity level at 95% of maximum heart rate on a daily basis. This has been the single most important device in my training and I could not have been more intelligent or efficient in my workouts without the expert recommendation from Dennis Holmes. His advice was key to my success in this competition.
Earlier I mentioned, my use of the phrase "No Excuses" and the associated poem, which I have quoted to my daughter and family for years. So when John "The Machine" Williams, gave me the nick name "No Excuses" have after seeing the fresh scars on my arm I obtained during one of Big John's workouts, he gave me the nickname, which I wear proudly on a homemade t-shirt. "The Machine" had no way of knowing how deeply his words meant or how much I live my life based on these two words. And each week, during Johns Iron Warrior games, he actually wants me to be on his team. My nickname for John is "Captain America". And when Kevin McClinton shouted, "Way to work big man!" I never forgot. It rings in my ears on daily basis, but especially near the end of a workout when every muscle in your body is aching and you have no breath left, it is these words I hear and it is these words that allows me to push further. And when I went to thank him while in my work clothes, he didn't recognize me and said it wasn't him that offered the words of encouragement. I wasn't completely sure either because when I start to push myself I get in phase and kind of zone out. So I couldn't really see him completely. But when I was working out on the treadmill, he said, "It was you!" I look totally different when I'm working out.
My thanks to the trainers wouldn't be complete without including Brian, the former General Manager at XSport Fitness who signed me up for personal training. He went over everything and created a payment structure that was convenient and conducive to my lifestyle, and I appreciated this and increased my time as a result. I hope he's doing well in Texas. All of the XSport Fitness trainers have demonstrated a high level of professionalism, knowledge and commitment throughout my competition experience that was absolutely essential to my success.
My experience in the 2015 Get Fit Challenge was life changing as a whole. My eating habits have been forever changed with my newfound nutritional knowledge. I am not dieting, which is typically temporary in nature, I am eating in a more healthy and natural manner with the elimination of sugar and limited starches from my daily dietary intake. It is primarily a low-carb method of dietary nutrition that does not involve counting calories. My experience in the 2015 Get Fit Challenge has forever changed my life for the better whether I win the competition or not, I have already won through the invaluable nutritional knowledge I gained to live a happy and healthy life through good nutrition and physical exercise.
Lastly, I would thank the men and women of the Armed Forces that also provided me with incredibly powerful motivation. They put their lives in harm's way on a daily basis, protecting the freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis. These men and women don't drive fancy cars or make $100,000 a year. Yet without their sacrifice, our lives would be significantly different. And so I made a point of often viewing movies such as American Sniper and Zero Dark Thirty and read the book. Watching the 300 a hundred times only goes so far. I wear an American flag when I wear a suit, not because I'm a black republican (which I am not), but I wear it because I am patriot, would have no problem sacrificing my to defend this nation, which is the greatest and best on this earth. I didn't say perfect, I said greatest. And I say this as a black man who was living in southeast DC during the 1968 riots and watched the fires and walked past tanks.
My success in this competition was due to the good human beings regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. And that's what America is all about! It's also about opportunity. No one said life was supposed to be fair. If life was fair, there wouldn't be any rich people. But America says, we'll give you a chance, which is embodied in this competition. And that's what XSport Fitness does with the Get Fit Competition. The competition says, will give you a chance and it's up to you to do with it what you will. If you work hard, you might be successful and win. And even if you don't, you should realize the value of your hard work regardless of whether you win or not.
I've met some incredible individuals along the way and gained an amazing amount of knowledge about nutrition and fitness. After one of Big John's challenging workouts that involved multiple workouts, I finally noticed the HUGE American Flag hanging from the ceiling, that's when I knew that I was truly home. My grandfather Dewey Isreal Sr. and my cousin Wallace Johnson served in the navy. My nephew Christopher John Isreal served as a marine and did two tours in Afghanistan. My cousin Tammy was a marine and her son Adrian is following in her foot steps My family has served proudly and they too served as motivation. My father, Dewey Isreal Jr., provided me with my guidance by the manner in which he lived his life, he departed this earth May 5, 2007. My ultimate motivation remains my daughter and to make my mother proud. I hope I have accomplished both. Only time will tell. I am thankful for the opportunity.
Farifax, VA Gym