OCR Transformations- Tara Lind

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Within these past few years I packed on a lot of weight and became diabetic. I was also diagnosed with high blood pressure, chronic pain throughout my body, and was taking about 15 different medications every day. I am a wife and a mother of three beautiful children, so as my life began to spiral downhill I realized that I needed to do something about my health. Our family goes camping every summer and last summer we hiked up a mountain and it took me almost 4 hours to get from top to bottom. As my children and family witnessed my struggle I became heart broken. At my highest weight of 286 pounds and standing at 5’3 I knew my body couldn’t take anymore.

Tara Race 1

IN NEED OF CHANGE

From that day forward I started walking every day while my kids were in school full time. I also started signing up for multiple races with friends and family so I could keep myself busy. As I started to lose weight I knew that I had the right mindset, but I was also putting my body through a lot of punishment. So after a lot of contemplation I decided to go through with the weight loss surgery process. I continued to give 100% towards my goal of becoming a healthier person. I continued with my walking and working out and before I knew it I lost 60 pounds on my own (IT WASN’T EASY… A LOT OF BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS) before I had a gastric bypass in January of 2016. I had changed my diet, started eating healthier with a well-balanced diet, my exercise routine changed, my walks turned into runs and I became a happier me.

Tara running group

CONQUER THE WALL

After my surgery and healing process, I signed up for my first Rugged Maniac obstacle course race and all though I was able to finish the race I wasn’t able to complete all the obstacles. When I hit the last obstacle (which was the warped wall) I didn’t even give it a try. I looked at the wall and gave up before I even gave it a chance. When I was finished, I signed up for the following year and told myself I will do it better next year! When it came time for me to complete my next Rugged Maniac I was able to conquer the warped wall and it felt like such a great deal of accomplishment.

Tara Rugged Maniac

SUPPORT SYSTEM

I have had so much support from everyone who surrounds me. My husband and children have been my biggest supporters. They have had to watch me put myself through so much and all they could do was be by my side and keep my mindset positive. The support and encouragement I have from my immediate family has helped me through so much! My family has signed up for races with me, and started training with me for half and full marathons. Having everyone be so proud of me made me just push myself even further.

Tara Trail

Friends of mine also stepped up and became a part of my journey. From doing races with me, going to the gym or just going on a walk. Along with having an amazing group of friends throughout social media and colleagues… I couldn’t have asked for a better support system. I have also brought so many people into my life along my process and helped them become a better person too. I started running with a running group that consists of other moms from my school and that was a huge impact for me. Although I have such an amazing support group… I still do a lot of my training and runs on my own, but I completely appreciate everyone who has stepped up to help me become a healthier me. I’m currently training for my first Spartan Super in April of 2017. I just recently ran my first full marathon with the ladies from my running group through Big Basin and the Saratoga Hills, called Skyline To The Sea. I am still in shock that I completed it in under 8 hours!

Tara Tranformation

CURRENT ME

I have a few more races before my Spartan Super to keep me out there running. I run anywhere from 3-5 days a week, hit the gym 4-5 days a week, and I hold down 3 jobs which I am on my feet for all of them and with working and raising a family, I am always busy and on the move. As of today I weigh in at 137, but from the beginning I started at 286 and lost 60 pounds through diet and exercise and I’ve lost 94 pounds since my surgery in January. A total of about 150 pounds in the past year. I’m well past my goal weight and I’m now working on toning my muscles and that is why I’m so excited to do my first Spartan Race. I’m still doing my running, but have also added in steep hiking and lifting heavier weights. I don’t shy away from yard work and when it comes to the chance of working in exercise with my daily activities.

tara-transformations

Follow Tara on Facebook!

OCR Transformations- Amelia Koeppel

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Amelia’s story begins with the odds stacked against her favor. She was born premature and did you know that premature babies are more inclined to be obese? Growing up she had always been more round shaped than her friends. She was never into sports and she always seemed to find an excuse to drop classes at school. As a teenager, Amelia tried many diets to become slimmer. However, she would never add exercise to her regiment or become more active so she would easily gain back any weight she lost.

After a long and toxic relationship, Amelia decided to go back to school to become a Software Engineer. So far, it has been the best decision she has ever made. Unfortunately, some bad habits followed her along the way. Between work and school taking up most of her time, Amelia would was finding easy short cuts with her food. She became a pro at ordering pizza, burgers, Thai, Indian, and anything else that helped her to not have to cook. She was never the person to prep her meals, or even eat that healthy…but her new lifestyle was getting out of hand. Amelia also had a foot surgery during this time, which really affected her habits and caused her weight to go up even more. In 2015 she weighed 65kg (~143 pounds) at 157cm (~5ft 2in), which put Amelia in an overweight category.

march2015-side

When Amelia moved to Canada, she wanted to try a Spartan Race because a friend of hers ran one in France the year before and she wanted to impress him. She began to do Crossfit at Missfit in Montreal, Canada once a week. She remembers it being very hard and she was not losing any weight and that frustrated her. While talking to some of the girls she trained with, she learned about a winter race in Montreal called the 5k Polar Hero Race. On February 21st, 2015 she ran her first ever OCR.

She started in the open wave with some of her friends. She was stressed out before the race, but began to feel a sense of euphoria when she started running. That feeling didn’t last long… she became breathless almost immediately after about 200m. Amelia couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t run, couldn’t jump, her grip wouldn’t last more than one second. She walked nearly the entire race and barely finished 50% of the obstacles. Although she didn’t do as good as she had hoped…she felt a sense of success at the finish line that made her yearn for more.

Polar Hero

Amelia realized that she needed to learn how to run and she also needed to lose weight and gain a healthy balance of muscle in order to be successful in obstacle course racing. So step-by-step she started to run/walk and in July of 2015 her first 5k time was 45 minutes. She even began to meal prep…sometimes.

After meeting a friend (Palmyra) through an OCR Facebook group while looking for a training partner, the two signed up for another event called the Dead End Race in Saint Sauveur, Canada on August 30th, 2015. This was one of the hardest races for Amelia. She had no idea that Eastern Canada races had that much hiking and such large obstacles. After meeting the rig for the first time, Amelia realized she had a lot more work to do with her training. She started organized training sessions in a group at Coexiste (an onstacle training center) in Montreal. The training center, along with the help from amazing people she met in her OCR Facebook group allowed her to reach the goal of conquering an 8” wall, to climb a rope, and many other OCR specific events. Amelia also started to see a nutritionist, Catherine Naulleau, to help her understand how to eat healthier and to be better prepared for her workouts and races.

december2015-absprogress

In 2015, she ended with 7 OCR events from 3km to 8km. She also managed to do her first Spartan Race in Boston that November. After her first OCR event, Amelia suffered from an injury in her same knee she injured from a motorbike accident when she was 21. She no longer had Synovial Fluid between her bones, which meant she should sustain any high impact on her knee. However, the more she trained the better she felt because she was gaining muscle in her thighs that helped take away the pain she felt in her knee.

For 2016, Amelia set a goal for herself to qualify for OCRWC. At the time, she thought it would be impossible, but she continued her training. In April, at the Spartan Beast in Vermont…Amelia qualified for OCRWC. She finished that race in tears because she knew she accomplished the goal she set out for. OCRWC made for her 29th race for 2016 and she was also celebrating her birthday.

OCRWC

CURRENT TRAINING SCHEDULE 

Amelia’s training schedule isn’t really stable. She goes at least twice a week to the gym and the other days she goes climbing, running, and roller-blading. She is usually found racing most of her weekends, but when she isn’t you can find her hiking, kayaking, and biking. She tries to spend most of her time outside and last winter she even found that running in the snow is easier on her knees.

In March of 2015 Amelia weighed 65kg (~143 pounds) with more than 33% body fat. Today she is a healthy 57kg (~125 pounds) and down to 23% body fat.

amelia-transformation

You can follow Amelia on Facebook and Instagram!

OCR Transformations- Mandie Hoppe

Mandie had been overweight most of her life. She had gained and lost weight on all types of fad diets throughout her life, but as an adult (and after her pregnancies) she became obese. One day in September of 2013, Mandie decided to go for a walk with her daughter and her life was changed. They only walked a mile or so, but she felt hot…sweaty…and alive! That very day she made the decision to change her ways.

Mandie with son

Her life changes happened quickly. Mandie signed up for a 3k local run that was at the end of the same September. She would get up between 4:00 and 5:00 every morning to train and run. Mandie was able to transform a room in her house into a makeshift gym and started her training at home. Her main goal for the 3k event was to not walk any of it and she was able to accomplish that goal. Although it took her 28 minutes to do a 3k, she didn’t walk and that’s all that mattered.

Mandie Before

The next week was her birthday and she wanted to celebrate with a 5k run. Mandie loved the way she was feeling and she knew she had to just keep going! She discovered an ad on Facebook for Spartan Race. It looked like something so cool and different that she knew she had to try it. That June, Mandie convinced her sister to do the Hurricane Heat and Sprint back to back.

Mandie with Children

This race was her most sentimental event to date because she did it with her sister. Each year they make sure to do that race together for their “Spartan anniversary”. Also, from this event Mandie’s training changed and she was able to add in a mixture of weights, cardio, and some OCR specific routines. Mandie continued to use her home gym and she would teach herself workouts through research on Spartan and other OCR sites.

Mandie Gym

In September 2014 (one year later), Mandie started working at a local fitness facility…Peak Fitness. Her boss, Nic Palidwar started helping her with her training. She had lost about 120 pounds by this point and went for an abdominoplasty to remove about 10 pounds worth of loose skin along her core area. In January of 2015, Mandie was able to resume her training and she has been training with her boss ever since. Her parents have also helped her along her journey by providing encouragement; love, support, wisdom, and a swift kick in the butt when needed.

Mandie Pants

The hardest and most challenging event that Mandie has participated in was the race in Owls Head in Montreal this year. Mandie and her racing buddy, Keith Oftebro, have been traveling around this season doing a bunch of races together and they raced both days. Both days they raced elite…the super the first day and the beast the second day. The super was so hard that she contemplated not even doing the beast the second day, but she knew she had to. She knew that her training would help get her to the finish line. Although it took her just over 7 hours, Mandie was able to cross the finish line and earn her double trifecta for the year.

Mandie Spartan

Mandie’s current training schedule is Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are functional weight training. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are endurance days (teaching classes at peak, long runs, hill repeats, etc.). Sundays are used for “rest” days, but as a single mom of two…Mandie doesn’t know what “rest” means. She also uses Sundays as her meal prep days so that way she is able to stay accountable for what she eats. Mandie was heaviest at 310 pounds and she is currently about 170 pounds.

mandie-transformation

Follow Mandie on Facebook and Instagram!

OCR Transformations- Jules Smith

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Author’s Note: The following transformation story is being told by Jules herself. No better way to see the impact of someone’s story than through his or her own eyes. Enjoy this month’s OCR Transformation brought to you by Jules Smith!

BACKGROUND 

My name is Jules Smith and I was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport is in Northeast Louisiana about three hours from Dallas (to give you a generalization). Although we have a great deal of traffic coming and going to the major cities around… this is actually quite a small city. Most everyone knows everyone, has gone to school with, or knows someone you know.

I had a more normal childhood than most. Saying this because I know that there are kids who are born in more difficult situations than I. The problem I faced most was the wanting to be accepted and understood. I tried hard to fit in growing up despite being made fun of because I was the biggest kid in class. One of my problems that spurred from this was noticing the way other people would look at me. This was very uncomfortable and unnerving.

Young Jules

Little did I know that the way people looked at me when I was younger would still haunt me later in life. As I grew up I reached a point where I stopped trying to be understood and stopped caring. By the time I reached high school, my over all care for anyone or anything was gone. I started rebelling and making youthful teenage decisions. I’m sure if you’re thinking it right now, I probably experienced it.

I struggled in high school everyday and stepped through the entire five years (yes, I did say five not four). My poor choices were not just in the foods I ate, the negligence towards my school work, but also in the company I kept. Everything stemmed from one place, this one circumstance I faced and had no control over… my body. I was angry all the time because I was not like my friends and other girls. If other girls were playing sports and on diets, they had the body results to show for it. Not me. I loved sports too, but I hated the way my body felt playing sports. It’s not the pain from sore muscles that bothered me, but the way my body felt as my weight shifted while playing them. This had to be the most disgusting feeling in the world to me. Not to mention the way my skin rubbed together in the humidity and heat down here. I was a walking dermatologist text book. So naturally I didn’t like wearing short sleeve shirts, or even gym shorts at school. I remember how as a child every time I was called fat, ugly, pathetic, loser, sloth, disgusting slob, POS… I would go straight for the things that made me into this. I ate my weight in feelings. Granted most of the time I was being called these things was because I was mean. I was mean because I was unhappy and I was unhappy because I was overweight. The only time I was at peace was when I was creating art. “I AM MY OWN VICIOUS CYCLE!”

Jules in Highschool

WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

Youthful teenage decisions we all face, yes we all face them in some sort of slightly altered manner, lead up to a moment in my life that would be one that changed me forever. Not just change in one sense, but in many more ways than I would ever expect. After my first year in college, struggling with acceptance still, I came home for the summer and with no ambition or want to proceed in anything in life. Not even a month later, I found myself with what I call a party favor. I WAS PREGNANT!

There was no father, I was not financially stable, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t even have a car. Worst part was having to break my parents heart by telling them I had failed my life again. These were the thoughts I had going through my mind when I found out. However, 9 months later with loving support from my entire family… I realized I was not alone.

Jules

My whole family… aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandfather all helped me. My mother was a saint and taught me step by step and day by day how to be a mother. A year later we were celebrating my daughter Ariella’s first birthday. What a year it had been. It had ups and downs. There were days where I would fight with my mother to be a mother. There were days where I would consistently praise my mother for being a mother. It is very difficult being a new mom, not only being a new mom but a young mom at that. My daughter was a joy, she was never problem. I knew one thing with her and that she was a blessing. I have always known this. Not because she didn’t cry for 10 months. She cried when she needed something but as soon as her needs were met, she was always satisfied. Always smiling and always happy. We even used a program much like the baby Einstein’s, “Your Baby Can Read”, and she would read the flash cards and respond to the by point to a nose or clapping her hands. She loved attending church with my parents. Her favorite part was attending the children’s church and seeing all of the other kids.

At around 10 months old, she started getting sick. I think over the next three months I took her to see about 7 or so different doctors. I even took her to her pediatrician several times. It was a couple weeks after her first birthday, I took her back to her pediatrician demanding an X-ray on her abdomen. She had a huge bulge protruding from her stomach. That day was the last time I napped with my daughter. From that doctor, we were sent to another, then another, before she was admitted into the hospital. The next day going against medical advise, I left with nothing but the clothes on my back for St. Judes in Memphis, Tennessee.

They had already accepted her before my plans of travel had even been made. I never realized that this blessing bestowed upon me would ever have a one in a million disease. A cancer so rare that there are only two cases in the United States per year and that only one would end up at St. Judes. Theres my “Million Dollar Baby”. I arrived on a Saturday and she was admitted into the ICU that Monday. Two and a half weeks later, she passed away from a second one in a million disease that forms due to more intakes than the body has outtakes. Kidneys had shut down and dialysis wasn’t working. The body had to release the toxins the only way left, through the skin. That’s my “Two Million Dollar Baby”. My blessing, dying in my arms. All the nurses would call me such a humble person. I had no idea what they meant. This was one of the first times in my life that people called me anything that wasn’t negative.

I didn’t know how far this word humble would come to play in my life. After that my will to try and get healthy for her, to find her a father, give her the family she was supposed to have..was gone. I remember, its been six years since her passing for those reading this article, people at that time would bring over trays and trays full of food. Dishes, casseroles, and SWEETS!!! My mother, was always good about telling me when I was over doing it on eating. Normally, I would stop but the day of the funeral, I came home after being around friends all night and went straight to the kitchen. I did what I always knew how to do best. I looked at all this food sitting out and started with that one brownie. When my mother saw me that night she reminded me as always, that I was over doing it, I just remember turning to her and saying, “Mom, I just lost my daughter, now please let me eat my feelings in peace.” She did and I did.

The impact of losing her on me was so much more weight than the 250lbs of fat I carried on my skeletal system. First off is the everyday routine. I mean I should say “what everyday routine?” now. I went from waking up to a baby needing to be changed and fed a bottle. To “whats the point of waking up?”. I think for the first week or two all I did was eat and cry. I didn’t even know what to say for the longest. Someone had given me a book at the funeral, “Surviving The Loss Of a Loved One.” I thought it cliche, trivial, demeaning to my situation. I read that book not longer after. That book helped me to find a routine. You see… that book was about the impact that a wife and husband had to endure after loosing their child. It was not at all what I perceived it to be. Just like those stares I got growing up, I would become more than what they all perceived me to be. This was the first time in my life I began to stop judging everyone and everything around me. Before I got half way through the book, I remember asking my mom, what is my everyday routine? In the book this family had other children, this was their everyday routine. My mom replied to me, “Wake up, shower, brush your teeth, brush hair, and get dressed.” There are days where I still wake up lost and confused even now. I wake up, shower, brush my teeth, brush my hair, and I get dressed. I got that down, then decided I might as well go back to work. It could have possibly been too soon but I needed to be doing something aside from looking at her face in pictures trying to understand why my blessing would be taken from me. Why would God, bless me then take from me. Work was all I had left.

Going back to work, stocking merchandise seemed like the only other plausible answer. After a couple of weeks, I was pulled aside and was told to make a decision, either I needed to pull myself together for the job or I needed to resign. Working that day, I thought and debated plenty in my head. The reason I had that job was for her. To get discounts on children clothes and house hold items, I would need to start my family. I don’t have a family anymore, the one person I thought would never leave me, is gone. She’s not coming back. So I resigned and decided to go back to school. After all I have the time now to focus on my studies instead of worrying about my daughter and her needs.

I have a different outlook on life now, maybe it will be a better experience going back to college. Maybe I would mentor troubled kids. That year was even harder than I thought it would be. Although it was tough being away from my family, I needed to rediscover who I was. All I discovered was more trials and more food. Now I started facing real health concerns. I was not able to eat certain foods without getting very sick. I had no idea what was going on. I went to a couple different doctors before one discovered I had gallstones the size of lemons and the only option was to remove my gallbladder. They did laparoscopically.

My mom sat with me the whole time (this was beginning of that spring semester of 2011). Not long after, her and my father began talking to me about this surgery they wanted me to have to help me with my weight. They had mentioned it numerous times before when my daughter was alive, but I lived in fear and worry then. I was afraid of something happening in surgery and leaving my child without a mother too. I didn’t realize that I was already facing these issues being obese. When they mentioned it would be preformed the same way my gallbladder was removed, I said to myself, what else do I have to lose at the point. Aside from the obvious (my daughter), I was about to lose over 100lbs and an entire person all together. I decided to have a gastric bypass. Meaning, I had made the decision to have my stomach stapled down to keep my from eating.

Jules Modeling

I still continued being angry for a long time. Even after the surgery I can remember my mom cooking for the family and being so angry at how good the food smelled, this was during the first month of my recovery when I was only allowed to have water, broth, and juice. I swear I didn’t think General Sao’s chicken could ever make me so upset from just the smell. I think I stayed in that anger phase for almost the entire next year. I was so angry that everyone around me could eat and I couldn’t. I even wrote across my mirror a new motto, “I eat to live, I do not live to eat.” This still holds fast to today. I retaught myself portion control, because at this point, it was no longer an option choice for me, but a life or death choice. I followed my recovery diet to a T and lost 125lbs. I no longer eat certain things either because it. I thought I would miss beef. I really don’t.

MOTIVATION

After a couple months into recovery I became a nanny. I needed to do something, work, anything, to get out of the house and keep my mind off of the FOOD I could no longer have. My grandfather always says a busy mind is a healthy mind. This holds truth for me in so many ways. When I transitioned into being a nanny, it had been a little over a year since the loss of my daughter. I had time to think. So much time to think. I wasn’t able to keep my mind busy during that first year. Some days were better than others. Some days all I could do was think about that everyday routine and think about what I would be doing if she was still with me. One of the things I came to have a realization on was, even if I were to have another child in my life, they would not be her. Nothing will replace her. I always had a void in my heart due to this as well. Not having a child to focus my love on was part of this void. When I became a nanny, I found that void being filled. It was replaced and she’s always in my heart but the emptiness I had inside me after her death was being filled. Like planting new seeds in an old pot. These children, even though they were all boys and not babies, put seeds of faith back into my heart. Where I would once cry, I now began to laugh. I now was laughing so hard I cried. I started hoping again.

Jules Flex

By the time, I reached my goal weight, I was new again. I lost that 100 lbs of hurt, I lost that anger, I stopped being so mean all the time. I started giving. I gave these children what I always wanted to give to my daughter. I gave them a care taker who was happy, fun, and was for once in her life excited to play games outside! I wanted to run. I wanted to do more than I had ever wanted to before. I WANTED TO LIVE! I wanted to give to those in need. I wanted to make laugh those who cried. I wanted to inspire those who’ve lost hope. Because coming from place where I had no faith and no hope, I saw come to pass the blessing I felt promised in my heart for so long. I knew there was something inside me when I was younger, but I wasn’t able to have the faith I needed to see it through. Promising myself after she passed away, that there’s a reason for this. Even if I spent everyday of my life after determined to create a reason why in that day. She Died So I Could Live.

Not long after I felt the urge to go back to school once again. Taking courses strictly for my own knowledge. I took weight training thinking it would help me gain the definition I was now seeking. I started searching everything online from workouts, programs, to even athletes. I wanted to become more. I have such a strong desire to become great now, it can be scary to those who’ve never met me. I always felt held back because of my weight that I feel now, there is nothing holding me back from anything I want to achieve. This digging lead me to Spartan Races. I wanted to be a Spartan. They were tough and over came challenges. I knew enough about the races to get me started or so I thought. Weight training was causing me to plateau. I was keep up with average standards but I wanted to be above average. I took yoga next. This will help me tighten up this loose skin and give me that muscle definition I am seeking. Lets face it although I can fit into a bikini, I still didn’t look good in one. I was also nervous about training my core without instruction. I was told to be very careful after my surgery not to pull a staple or I would internally bleed out so to speak. How am I ever going to be strong enough to climb a rope or jump a huge wall?!

Jules Crossfit 1

I had no initial formal fitness training. Before sports were a way to try to fit in and make friends. Now it’s about the will to thrive. BUT HOW?!!!! Then I found out about Joe De Sena and soon discovered his book, Spartan Up. Reading that gave me what I had been looking for. Theres no correct way to train for a Spartan Race. But the next best thing that could help would be Crossfit. It wasn’t long after finishing my yoga course, did I find that we have close to seven Crossfit gyms in the area. Now which one and how do I choose. I choose one that a friend of mine was going to at the time. I went in to check it out and a couple months later, I became a member of Crossfit SBC. This has been the best decision I have made for my life since deciding to have the gastric bypass. When I started my journey, I wanted to be thin. When I became thin, I wanted to be defined and strong. My goal when I started, was to loose the weight and after a year, the weight was gone and I had a new goal. I wanted to be strong and I wanted to be a Spartan.

I started at 250 lbs and got down to 125 lbs. I started as a person miserable with herself. Now I am 155 lbs with muscles I never knew I had. I heard through out the last five years about how strong I am. Today though, I feel strong. I know I am physically stronger than I was when I started out. July 7th this year I will have been doing Crossfit for two years. I have now an entire Crossfit Family. They’re not just friends you work out with. These people, who I worked very hard day in and out for months to prove that I wanted to be in that gym, have become my family. They do not just encourage me in the gym but also in life. Crossfit while is very intimidating to people looking in, has taught me to be proud of the shell I live in. My gym has taught me to love my body for what it is. Crossfit taught me that while things may seem to be this way on this day, with hard work and consistency, it wont be the next day.

I say things in generalization, because I take what I learn in the gym and apply it to my everyday life. We all face events and unexpected occurrences in our life, yes everyone’s is different from each other’s, but the one thing that holds constant is our reaction towards these circumstances. When in the gym if you can’t get that last rep, you don’t cry about it and give up. Like life, when misfortunate events happen, you don’t cry and give up. You dust yourself off, pick that bar back up and you try again and try harder. My goal while it started as just to become thin, has changed so much. I wanted to be a Spartan so I started training like one. I always dreamed I would become a model and show those who doubted me what I was worth. I have been modeling since last fall. With that has come opportunity after opportunity. Even now, I still look and search for that motivation and inspiration.

Jules Powerlift

I never stop seeking guidance and wisdom from mentors. Some of the things I like to do are listening to Podcasts, reading books, finding mentors, and above all asking questions. Podcasts have got to be the best. I like to listen before bed or in the car. Actually I started with Joe Rogan Experience, then found OCRMedia, and after reading Lewis Howes, The school Of Greatness, found him on podcasts. I also read a great deal of Joel Osteen, he’s a feel good preacher and he makes me feel good. He also part of that mindset I keep so that when I feel stressed or anxious, I can turn those negative feelings into positive ones. His books aren’t the only way to gain this type of mindset either. I have been expanding my spirituality as well. This journey while is about fitness, is also one about faith and hope.

SUCCESS

I owe all my success to God and my parents. Without their constant support and guidance I would not have become the person I am today. They have always pushed me to do the right things. Make the right choices. Be the bigger person. All these morals and values they bestowed upon at a young age were what shaped me into a God fearing young woman. A woman who is grateful and not selfish. A woman who is loving and caring. A woman who is patient and kind. I find these qualities make me richer than any dollar ever could. I also want to say thank you to my mentor Andy Shaw. Starting as my fencing coach at 15 years old, has never given up on me and always been there for me as a coach, friend, but most of all a mentor. He saw the real me when I could not. I’d like to thank my teacher Darrell Chitty for believing in me as a student first but for also unleashing the model within me, that I always wanted to be. Last but of course not least, I just want to say thank you to my coaches, Angelina Moreno and Tyler Bray, you guys have stuck by me from the beginning of my Crossfit journey until now and I know I would not be where I am right now writing this article without you both. Y’all helped me to build that strength I wanted from the first day starting out with that 15 lb training bar. Having people like you all in my life aid me into becoming a stronger, faster, more inspiring athlete and model. I am so grateful to not just know you all but have you batting on my team.

CURRENT TRAINING PLAN

As far as an obstacle race, I have yet to sign up for my first one! I am so ready to be a Spartan, that I am willing to do it alone. I started to sign up last summer but couldn’t get my registration to go through on the website. I have been trying to get my gym to start a team but I haven’t gotten the feedback I am looking for. I know I will be doing plenty of penalty burpees and walking some of the race but to be called a Spartan is worth every burped.

On a usual basis I train at my Crossfit gym every Monday, Wednesday,and Friday 5:15am-7:00/7:30am. Tuesdays and Thursdays I was going at 7:00pm-8:30pm but now I’ll try to get in there during lunch from 11:00am-1:00pm. With my new job, trying to find a happy schedule is key for me. If I can’t make it to my Crossfit gym, I’ll go to a regular gym or try to run over to the high school stadium and do stairs. I have quite a few different things I like to do when I cannot make it to Crossfit. My previous weight at my biggest I think I was close to 270 lbs. They made me lose around 30 lbs before surgery and pre surgery I weighed in at 248 lbs. Now Im a solid 155 lbs. It will fluctuate between 145-160 lbs.

Where this started as a story about a fitness journey, and with careful thought upon many rewrites, I wanted to convey a certain point throughout my story. The message I wanted my readers to gain from this is one of hope and faith. Hope in something and have faith that it will come to pass. While we cannot control the circumstances we are faced with, one thing holds constant, that is our reaction towards these circumstances.

Jules Transformation 3

Follow Jules on Instagram and Facebook!

OCR Transformations- Tarren Soukup

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Author’s Note: The following transformation story is being told by Tarren herself. No better way to see the impact of someone’s story than through his or her own eyes. Enjoy this month’s OCR Transformation brought to you by Tarren Soukup!

TARREN’S STORY

My weight was never something I had to work at. I was always little. 5’1 and maybe 105 lbs. I was never very active, partly because I didn’t have to be. That all changed when I became pregnant with my son. I was 22 years old, and extremely naïve about the whole thing. I had it in my head that the second I gave birth, I would return to a size 0. The first 5 months went pretty smooth. I didn’t gain too much weight, and I felt good. However after my wedding, my health started declining.

The first indication that something was wrong, was my blood pressure spiking. The doctor’s felt it was too early for pre-eclampsia, so they sent me home with instructions to take it easy and follow up. Over the next few weeks, my family watched helplessly as I worsened. I started ballooning out in an almost comical way. I felt like the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka. Later we learned it was my body filling up with fluid because my organs were failing. By the time the Doctor’s finally realized the severity of the situation, I had already lost function of both kidneys, and was in the midst of liver failure. Just about 2 months prior to my due date, I was being taking to the hospital in an ambulance, with a shaky prognosis.

Tarren Hospital

After several more complications, I had an emergency C-Section. Despite the trauma of it all, I birthed a healthy, albeit tiny baby boy. He would be my only child, as the risk was too great to birth another. When all was said and done, I went from 105 lbs, to 196… nearly doubling my weight.

YO-YO

The next several years were fraught with yo- yo diets and inconsistent workout routines. Despite being married to a professional athlete, I couldn’t seem to make anything work. I would go through bouts of depression, not recognizing the girl in the mirror. Even after a corrective surgery, to restore some of the damage done abdominal wall, I was unhappy.

I remember one time in particular. I was on vacation with my family, and feeling a bit more confident, as I’d recently lost some weight, being the lightest I’d been in years, which was somewhere around 145 lbs. On this day, I was walking down the beach with my husband, and we were laughing at something my son had done. I remember looking up to see two young women walking past us. Tanned, and toned. Beautiful. They were looking at my husband…and then at me. One turned to the other and asked why he was with that.

Tarren Beach Before

WANTING MORE 

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to fuel the change for me. I hovered around 140 for the next few years. I worked out sporadically, and only to keep up with my family. I did some road races with my husband, and a few triathlons. It was still a struggle. At this time, my husband found a new love. OCR’s. As a former professional downhill mountain bike racer, he was always looking for the next thing. He started Spartan races in 2011. The Killington Beast was his first. I remember hearing him recap his experience and thinking “oh hell no” no way would I ever do that.

Then last year he talked me into doing the Tuxedo Sprint. He would run the elite wave in the morning, and then again with me. When it was time to jump the wall into the starting corral, I need a boost. It made me feel insecure, as though I shouldn’t have been there. Despite struggling through the course, with the help of my husband, I didn’t do terrible. And crossing the finish line was a feeling of pride and accomplishment that I hadn’t felt before. It made me want more.

That summer, I did three more races including the Palmerton Sprint (killer) and the Barre Sprint. While I wasn’t training as much as I should have, I would get excited about the races, and felt as if they brought me closer with my husband. The day before the Barre race, I was outside with my dogs. One was roaming free, and the other attached with rope lead. I was tired after working all day, and not paying close attention. I threw a ball for the dog running loose, will the other ran for it. Unbeknownst to me, his rope was wrapped around my ankle, and when he ran, it cut me nearly to the bone. However being the stubborn person I am, I taped it up and raced anyway.

Tarren Spartan

I was hospitalized later that night with a severe infection. The antibiotics weren’t taking, and there was a real threat of having to amputate me foot. Luckily they got control of the infection before it reached that point. Yet the recovery was a rough one. I was on a crutch for a few months following that, and started eating like crap. Over the next few months I had gained 20 lbs.

ENOUGH

In December of 2015 I had enough. My marriage was on the rocks, and I was miserable. I knew that the only person who could change that was me. So I signed up for cross fit at a local gym, Pioneer Valley Cross Fit. I started going 3-4 times a week, and absolutely fell in love with it. The coaches were super helpful, and felt extremely invested in my success. Although I felt myself growing stronger, I didn’t change my poor eating habits, so the weight didn’t really change.

I did not truly have my “ah-ha” moment until the Socal Super of 2016. It was my longest Spartan race to date, and didn’t do very much training for it. And boy did I suffer. I huffed and puffed along the rolling hills, dragging my tired body over the obstacles. I was unable to get over any of the walls unassisted, and failed many obstacles. When I crossed the finish line, I felt an overwhelming disappointment. It was in that moment I swore to myself I would never feel like that again. This was something I could control. I didn’t have to be a slave to complacency. I would become the person I felt I was meant to be…leaner, faster, stronger.

Immediately upon returning home, I did something that would ensure that kick in the ass I needed. I signed up for a bikini competition. It was a training program I had done before with real results, and the trainer was a former body builder, Bonnie Lefrak. She had the nutrition down to a science. Along with my nutrition program, I continued doing cross fit 4-5 times a week, and cardio at least 5 x a week. I began incorporating hill work, and mountain climbs. In the first couple weeks I dropped 10 lbs and felt unstoppable. With the mentality of “Go big or go home” I signed up for the NJ Beast. I was seeking redemption.

Tarren After

By the time the Beast rolled around, I was down to 125 lbs, and was stronger than I had ever been. I was still unprepared for how well I would do at the race. I nailed most of the obstacles, including the rope climb (thanks to my Cross Fit coach) and powered through the entire course. This time crossing the finish line, I felt like a god damn super hero.

The people who helped contribute to my success are first and foremost my husband, Jason Soukup. His drive and motivation keeps me going every day. Also Ryan Katz, and the team at Pioneer Valley Cross Fit, for helping me find a love for weight lifting, and providing an amazing community of support. And Bonnie Lefrak with the Fitness Asylum. Bikini Boot camp will whip anyone’s butt into shape.

CURRENT WORKOUT PLAN

My current work out routine is 4-5 days of cross fit, 3 days of elevation work, 2 days of running, and I try to walk for at least an hour on my lunch breaks. I am training for the Killington Beast, and am hoping to do the Montreal Beast and Super as well. I am trying for a triple Trifecta this year. My weight February was 141.3. Today its 120.

Tarren Transformation

Follow Tarren on Instagram!

OCR Transformations- Jason Gelleny

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Jason grew up playing all types of sports. Weight lifting and baseball were his main concentrations through high school and he had hoped to earn a scholarship. However, a major back injury during his senior year eliminated his chances for a scholarship to the states to play University baseball. Without a real back up plan from playing sports, Jason quickly joined the work force after high school. He struggled for years to find his calling, but he eventually found a career in Emergency Medical Services.

Jason Beach before

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

The job market for an EMT was extremely competitive and typically takes several years to your first full time job. The first few years, Jason often spent his time working for multiple companies in casual employment positions including some volunteer positions. His shifts would end up all over the place anywhere from 24-96 hour shifts at times. This crazy routine took a toll on Jason’s life in more ways than he realized. There were periods when Jason would have to work for four different EMS services and travel all over for stretches up to 31 days at a time. This lifestyle caused him to make some pretty poor decisions for his health which ended up becoming bad habits over the course of three years. His social life diminished to just the people he was working with any given day due to his sporadic and hectic schedule. Jason had also stopped working out and his eating habits had taken a nose dive. His meals would consist of gas station quick stops, to fast food, or even hospital vending machines. His weight and overall health took a negative turn and before he knew it he had gone from a size 28 pant to a 38. His weight had also gone from a healthy 150 pounds to an unhealthy 210 pounds and at 5’6” he was considered pretty overweight.

Jason Fishing

FRIENDLY MOTIVATION 

Jason was finally motivated to change his years of bad habits once they all added up and he hit his all-time low. It had gotten to a point where his stress levels were mounting, his health was poor, his confidence was shot, and he did not feel like he had much control over his own life. Thanks to his best friend who had stuck by Jason’s side through the ups and downs… he was motivated to get back into the gym once again.

Starting back at the gym was a little uncomfortable for Jason, but he knew that if he kept going that he would eventually get his feet under him again. The gym used to be his comfort zone and the place where he felt at home, but it had become foreign to him and he now felt like an outsider. What kept him going was realizing that although he felt that he had lost control of his life… the one place he could regain that control was in the gym. As Jason continued to get back in shape his confidence was slowly coming back and he was able to find happiness once again.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED 

After seeing an ad on Facebook one day, Jason decided to sign up for his first Spartan Sprint. He wanted to challenge himself and try something he had never done before. The event took place in Red Deer Alberta and Jason remembers a time where he was all alone running through the trail and he fell in love with the trees and environment around him. With only the wilderness and the sound of his heart beat surrounding him… Jason found himself again and knew that this was going to be his new life.

Jason Beach

TESTING LIMITS 

Jason’s second race was BattleFrog Race Series elite heat in Las Vegas back in February 2016. He was able to take plenty of time to prepare for this OCR event because he wanted to test his limits and see how hard he was able to push himself. He even hired a personal trainer in January to better prepare himself for the race. For his second event and first elite heat, Jason really proved himself by finishing 15th of 77 men in the heat. This success gave him hope that maybe he could really get good at this sport. This was the turning point for Jason’s training that took him from a body building program to full on OCR addict.

Jason crawling

SUPPORT SYSTEM 

In the past year since starting his transformation journey, Jason has been very fortunate to have such a great group of people contributing to his success. His best friend who got him back in the gym, his family who have supported him through it all, his colleagues who supported his crazy workouts between calls, his trainer who continues to bring out the best in him, and his sister who he trains and runs with. Recently, he had the chance to attend an OCR training camp where he got to meet some amazing people who inspired him to push harder in his own training.

CURRENT TRAINING PLAN

Currently, Jason trains with his friend and personal trainer Kory Allen who designed his program. The program consists of mostly two-a-days with sprint circuits, EMOM’s, and 60km of running a week with a ton of grip work mixed in. April 2015, Jason was 210 pounds and dropped to a healthy 150 pounds by November 2015. He is now about 160 pounds with muscle mass and specialized training built in.

Jason Transformation Pic

Follow Jason on Facebook and Instagram!