‘I learned how to exercise the right way’and lost 50 pounds.’

Erin Toole had been going to the gym without results’until a gift of personal training sessions made her rethink exercise and healthy living

'I learned how to exercise the right way'and lost 50 pounds.'

Source: Web exclusive: May 2009

Erin Toole, a 20-year-old living with her mom on Salt Spring Island, B.C., didn’t have a inkling how unfit she was until she set her sights on being a lifeguard at the local pool. ‘When I tried to train, I could barely swim anymore,’ she confesses’despite the fact that she was hitting the gym regularly. (She was also hitting the bars regularly with friends, where she drank and partied late).

Toole says she was ambivalent about the excess weight she was carrying around, as well as her spotty skin. But she admits to later realizing, ‘I just wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.’ When her mom offered to get her a personal trainer for her birthday, she figured, ‘Why not?’

The breaking point

‘My first workout with Deb Leblanc was my first real workout ever,’ says Toole. ‘I had been going to the gym for so long and nothing had happened. It was because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I loved working out for real. Breaking a sweat. Elevating my heart rate.’

The challenge

After that first session, Toole was hooked. However, she would have to undergo a complete lifestyle change to incorporate exercise into her life, and that involved setting goals and shifting her focus away from friends who didn’t have her newfound passion for exercise.

The plan

To learn how to exercise and do free weights the correct way. With the help of Leblanc, Toole lifted weights, and regularly went swimming and took spin classes and yoga. Toole also cut back on high-fat dairy and reduced her portion sizes.

The biggest obstacle

‘Some of my really good friends still drink a lot, and we aren’t interested in the same things anymore,” Tools says. “That’s been difficult. But I’ve made new friends who inspire and challenge me. Rather than go to the bar at night, I go to bed early so I can get up and go for walks or hikes. I enjoy that so much more.’

The results

‘I always kind of thought I was a happy person,” Tools says. “Now I know I am. I’ve been told that I smile when I run, although I don’t notice it.’

Toole surpassed her first goal, to become a lifeguard, well ahead of schedule and recently accomplished her next goal, to run the BMO Vancouver (half) Marathon on May 3, 2009. ‘It felt pretty amazing,” Toole says. “All the training was definitely worth it. A part of me wanted the race not to be over yet’it was the fastest one hour and 47 minutes of my life. I’m hooked!’

In addition to shedding a whopping 50 pounds from her 5’8″ frame (‘I had no idea I was that overweight!’), Toole says that her acne-prone skin has cleared up.

The tips

Set realistic, consecutive goals
‘You need to set goals that are hard enough that you have to work for them,’ explains Toole. ‘And then set a new one that’s a little bit harder. You have to push yourself.’

Ask for help
Toole says that she wasted years at the gym working out incorrectly. ‘I’d choose a recumbent stationary bike or reduce the amount of weight on weight machines instead of increasing it.’ A personal trainer can provide direction and give you the confidence to exercise right, she adds.

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