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Category: Success Stories

Success Story- Cristan Robertson

Success Story- Cristan Robertson

Good Afternoon Everyone, its’ another Throwback Thursday!!!! Check out this great success story that started in March 2016!!

I have another success story I’m excited to share with you!!! Cristan Robertson is a Retail Coordinator in Muskogee, Oklahoma and has made some significant lifestyle changes. She has lost 65lbs since March 2016 and has become a motivator and encourager to those around her! Please take a few moments to enjoy her story .

“Almost sixteen months ago, March 2016, I had my first baby!! I started to lose weight and was able to take off 30lbs over the next 10months. My Doctor encouraged me to continue to lose weight due to some health concerns and it was at that point I decided to make some serious changes. I started Nutrisystem on January 16th and started working out on March 1st with a trainer three days a week and did cardio on my own twice a week. It really took a lot for me to make time for my workouts. Living 55 miles from work (one way) and having a new baby made it extremely hard to work out BUT, I made it a priority to FIND time. I know that I may not always have the time like I used to so I purchased some gym equipment for my home so I can use it when I have time on weekends or evenings. To be really honest with you, the McKinley Wellness Challenge had a lot to do with motivating me. When I saw the pictures and success stories of other employees I thought, “I can do that too”! It started with the simple diet changes and then I wanted to see more results and be healthier so I incorporated the workouts. My manager here, Frank Cooper, actually got me started. He wanted all of us to think about getting more active. We started bringing our workout shoes to work to walk first thing in the morning or during our lunch break. As of today I have lost about 35lbs since January and I have lost around 18 inches since I started at the gym!!”

Thanks for sharing Cristan!!

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Meredith Mitchell
Corporate Wellness Director

Success Story-Cecilia Williams

Success Story-Cecilia Williams

Good Morning Everyone!
I have an inspiring success story to share with you! Cecilia Williams is a Tenant Services Coordinator for our commercial team in Norfolk, Virginia. Since March 2017 she has lost 24lbs, lowered her cholesterol by 92 points and has earned 1,154 points in the McKinley Wellness Challenge!!! If you haven’t earned your first 100pts in the MWC to receive your $50 gift card, there’s still time!! See the attachment to learn how you can start earning points today!
I asked Cecilia if she would be willing to answer a few questions that I felt would be helpful to many of you or are either ready to change or contemplating it. Thank you, Cecilia, for sharing your journey with us!!

What prompted your desire to make a change? – I’ve been having issues with my cholesterol levels for approximately 10 years now. I was able to reduce it by 40 points back in 2012 when I worked out and changed my diet for 2 months. However, I was not consistent and it has spiked since then. After seeing my doctor this past March during my annual physical, he suggested I start taking medicine to try and lower my levels. I informed him I wanted to try and avoid taking meds for this issue and asked if I could try on my own. He agreed to give me 3 months and I did it!!! Having two kids to care for, I didn’t want to jeopardize my health any longer. I want to be strong for them both physically and mentally. This also gave me an opportunity to lose weight which has been a struggle for me since I had my son in 2008.

How did you decide what plan would work best for you? – In March I joined Planet Fitness to get more active. I was consistent for a month but was still struggling with my diet and exercise. I stumbled across a post on Facebook in May where one of my high school colleagues stated he was a personal trainer and I posted “I need a personal trainer!”. I started working out with him in June and have been consistent ever since. I knew I needed to stay active but I was also making better choices with my diet. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it at first and I’m still learning along the way, but I do know that positive progress today is better than no progress yesterday.

What did your wellness plan consist of? – Regular physical activity, incorporating more vegetables, eliminating fried foods, limiting red meats and pork and DETERMINATION!

What kind of support system did/do you have in place? – I utilize the Fitbit and MyFitnessPal app a lot and participate in challenges with friends and even strangers. My sister is on a weight loss/healthy journey with me as well and we typically hold each other accountable.

What kind of obstacles did you encounter? – Food! I love food, all kinds and I’m always whipping up something in the kitchen. It’s been hard eliminating certain foods from my diet, especially pasta, rice and red meat. Also finding the time to incorporate cardio outside of workouts with my trainer. I still don’t 100% have a grasp on both but will power plays a role in keeping me focused.

Do you have an example of a day where you just didn’t want to work out? How did you deal with that? – Unfortunately, I’ve had a few of those days. I’d say typically it occurs on a weekend when I want to get things done but by the time it rolls around I just want to be lazy after staying busy all week. Usually what I’ll do to get over this is, instead of doing 30 minutes to an hour all at once, I’ll do a little bit at a time throughout the day. For instance, if I’m watching a show on television, during commercials I’ll jog in place or do pushups, planks, squats etc. and then resume during the next commercial until I get at least 30 minutes in. That way I’m pulling myself out of a slump a little at a time versus doing nothing at all.

How did you overcome those obstacles? – Seeing physical changes and wanting to stay active especially with my children and reaching my goal weight keeps me going. Also, finding substitutions for certain foods that I love with healthier options.

What favorite foods have you found substitutions for? I love pasta, rice and bread. I started using whole wheat pasta, quinoa in place of white rice and whole grain bread in place of white bread. I’ve also used portabella mushroom caps as “bread” for breakfast sandwiches as well as turkey burgers that I make once in a while. I’ve started using egg whites instead of the entire egg as I found that over 100mg of cholesterol is in the yolk. I’ll use turkey bacon instead of pork bacon. Also if I desire cheese on something I’ll use low fat mozzarella instead of cheddar or other high fat cheeses.

What is your plan for maintaining? – Continuing to make better food choices and staying active.

What do you do to keep your routine exciting? – New moves and different recipes. My trainer helps keep things interesting by having me jump with weights, pulling on ropes and lifting things I never knew I could. My workouts are never boring and keep me challenged. I made some vegan/vegetarian recipes that I’ve never tried before, one of which were some amazing meatless “meatballs”! I’ve noticed switching things up keep me engaged and wanting to do more, so that’s my goal to keep it going.

What is the best piece of advice you could give someone who is contemplating making a change? – Don’t give up, never doubt yourself and remain positive even when encountering negativity along the way. It won’t be easy and you may even fail in between, just always remember to do more today than you did tomorrow. Also, think about participating in the McKinley Wellness Challenge. It really helped me because I am always up for friendly competition, even if it’s just against myself. I don’t like failing and I enjoy having tangible challenges that I can participate in. As much as I want to, I won’t always get active on my own and the wellness challenge was a way to hold myself accountable for what I have not accomplished. It helped get me moving again and motivated to making better choices. I appreciate the challenge and Meredith and Stefanie for offering the opportunities. I always look forward to see what’s coming next!

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Meredith Mitchell
Corporate Wellness Director

She Lost Weight AND Quit Smoking – Nicole’s Success Story!!

She Lost Weight AND Quit Smoking – Nicole’s Success Story!!

Hi Everyone!

I want to share an incredible and unique success story with you.  Nicole Pickering is a Commercial Assistant Property Manager for McKinley who has made some significant changes in her life.  These changes that have led her to lose 15 lbs, drop 5 bmi points and go from a size 8 to a size 4 in the last 30 days!  One of the best parts of Nicole’s story is she accomplished her weight loss and body transformation all while QUITTING SMOKING!!  Wow!!  Read on and get inspired!!  Way to go Nicole!!

What motivated me to change?

I really made the decision based off of our wedding coming up this fall and making sure that dress fit. But then after I started seeing the results of being in the gym, it pushed me even more. I worked out even harder and I even started to dislike how I felt if I missed even one day of the gym. I printed up signs that hang on my fridge that say “Shredding for the Wedding” and “Hot Mess to Wedding Dress”. It definitely helps remind me when I want to reach in the fridge for some ice cream. I think I’ll post an old picture of myself up there once the wedding is over. It’ll remind me who I don’t want to be again.

What about the smoking?

I’ve been an on again / off again smoker since I was 16. Yes I hate to even admit that. I think the longest stint I’ve been without smoking was when I was pregnant with my children. Over the last two years I’ve really tried to focus on quitting completely. I would get very close and then jump back into it. I realized when I started working out again that I just couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even walk 2 miles without needing to stop for a breath. Now, I can do full exercises without being out of breath. My skin has brightened up and I overall just feel more alive and in control. In all honesty, I think I swapped out addictions. I went from being addicted to smoking and nicotine to being addicted to working out. That can’t be bad right?  You would think my stress levels would have increased due to the lack of nicotine but with the additional workouts, the stress is being relieved.

What exercises do I do and how do I fit it in with my crazy work schedule?

Let’s face it, we all want to have the excuse that we “just don’t have time”. I realized that I needed to make time.  I asked myself what was more important, going home after work to have dinner and sit on the couch watching TV or going to the gym and fueling my body. Instead of sleeping in, I get up an hour earlier and start work earlier than the normal 8am time. It also helped knowing the 320 office had a gym and that employees were taking their lunch hour to work out. It made me realize I could do that too working from outside the 320 office. Now that I have this crazy “2 a day” routine, if I don’t make it one day or I miss a Zumba class, it makes me slightly thrown off for my day. Yes I am in the gym two times a day. I found taking that break mid-day to relieve stress, use your body and get your muscles flowing really helped my productivity.

I do travel a lot for work here at McKinley. I found the best way to work around this is to have a membership to a gym that is national. I am a member at LA Fitness (McKinley has a corporate rate with LA Fitness, ask Meredith for details) and I can go to ANY of the locations in the state of Florida at no additional cost.  This has allowed me to visit my properties and still be able to fit in a workout somewhere else if I’m staying more than one day. When up in NY, it only cost me a $15 fee to work out at the LA Fitness locations up there. It was better than the hotel gyms that didn’t really cut it for me. Personal choice.


My normal day to day routine is as follows:

Awake and up at 6am

Have breakfast and start working around 7-730am

Take early lunch for my 11am class at the gym (either Zumba or Cardio)

Back to work and leave typically around 5pm and head back to the gym

Evening routine is strength training (Alternating – Back & Biceps / Legs / Chest and Triceps)

Home around 630p-7p and have a healthy low cal, protein dinner.

On the weekends, I still am at the gym. My next goal will be to get myself into Yoga classes. They offer them at LA Fitness and I just haven’t fit them in. I’m thinking of swapping out my weekend workout with the Yoga class.

A big accomplishment for this year?

Back in 2010 I got into an accident which tore 3 ligaments in my knee. Since then, I have had the hardest time with exercise. I never thought I would ever be able to run again. There are still things I am unable to do to this day. I realized that I needed to build up and strengthen those muscles that support my knee. Just last week, I was able to run a straight mile without stopping. The first time in 5 years. I was so excited over this accomplishment and felt that I was finally getting my old pre-accident body back.

How I increased my water intake?

I used to be so dehydrated due to my lack of H2O intake. In addition to other obvious ways of knowing you’re dehydrated, I would get dizzy and lightheaded just sitting at my desk. Once I started forcing myself to drink more water, the changes became dramatic. My skin is much healthier, my body temperature is more controlled and I don’t get the hunger pangs anymore from being dehydrated. I found a water bottle that is exactly 23 oz and I make sure to drink at least 7 of them a day.

From chips to veggies?  I can’t lie, a huge part of my transformation was my eating habits. I am a junkie for junk food. I love anything that is unhealthy for you. I would eat an Airhead or a bag of chips everyday if I could. I knew that my diet was what was going to hold me back. As much as I love sweets, I changed up from eating candy to eating grapes and bananas. Those fruits gave me the sugar to curve my craving on more a healthy side. I started eating breakfast in which I hardly ever used to do and I was really strict on my dinner. A typical daily meal plan looks like this:

  • Breakfast – one piece of 100% whole grain toast with fat free peanut butter topped with bee pollen particles, piece of skim milk mozzarella cheese and a hardboiled egg
  • Post Workout – Protein Shake
  • Lunch – Salad with additional protein (kidney beans, seed mix, hemp seeds, chicken breast) with a homemade dressing
  • Post Workout – Protein Shake
  • Dinner – Grilled Chicken Breast. Sometimes I will throw in some veggies, depends on the mood. And when I start to feel too low on iron, I will stop at the Fresh Market and get a grass fed steak and have just that for dinner. That’s rare though, usually only once a month.

I do allow myself one CHEAT MEAL a week. Not a full day of cheating, just one meal to help with the urges to eat badly.

One more piece that has helped in my transformation

My physical transformation wasn’t the only item I was working on. I really wanted to work on a mental transformation so back before the holidays I started meditating at night. I thought it was super weird at first. I didn’t know with my over active brain if I could do it. I started (and still use) the guided meditations. I lay in bed (no, I don’t sit like a lotus) turn off all the lights and put my headphones on. What it has allowed me to do is release all the negative energy that I may have built up from the day. It allows me to wake up the next morning with a fresh mind. I don’t let any “worries” from the past day carry over into the next.  Each day is brand new just like it should be. A positive mind can ONLY lead to positive results!


Dexter/Ann Arbor Run 2013

Dexter/Ann Arbor Run 2013

Hey McKinley!!

Check out Team McKinley for the 40th Annual Dexter/Ann Arbor Run!!  From left to right in the photo Nina Szegda, Martina LaRock, Adam McMichael, Me and Becky Garbutt!  This was Nina and Martina’s first 5K!!  They were so inspired by the DXA2, they already have their next 5k insight.  They will be participating in the Kensington Challenge in September.  Click the link below for more info:
Adam ran the 1/2 marathon making this his 3rd year running in the DXA2.  His is currently training for a 1/2 triathalon which will take place in Grand Rapids in August and plans on running another 1/2 marathon in September.
Becky ran the 5k making this her 10th race.  Next she will be participating with her family in one of the most challenging and FUN FILLED races at the end of this month…the TOUGH MUDDER!
The DXA2 was my 2nd 10k and I plan on participating in 2 Duathlon’s (one in July and the other in August) and a 15k in September!

If any of you have completed a race or an event or have one coming up, please email me so I can share your great success with everyone!  Have a great afternoon 🙂

Yours in Health and Wellness,


Couch to 5K Success Story!

Couch to 5K Success Story!

I wanted to share this “Couch to 5K” success story with you.  Shannon Fleshman, a Renewal Specialist for McKinley started the program in January of 2012.  Read her story below 🙂

“I truly did start at a place where running 90 seconds was a challenge for me and today I regularly run 3 miles as an “easy” workout. It’s amazing what starting out slow and sticking with it can do. The Couch to 5K program eased me into it so I never felt like it was too hard. One day I was happy to complete 90 seconds of running and before I knew it I was completing 9 minutes and then 9 miles when I ran my first 15K. Now I am registered for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. on October 27th, 2013!  It’s a great way for anyone to ease into running and not feel discouraged or overwhelmed.  🙂 So far I’ve lost 52lbs!  I still have 30lbs I’d like to lose and my goal is to do so before the marathon.   I’ve been working on it for probably a year and a half. I’ve found that taking it slowly has helped me to keep the weight off and avoid feeling deprived like on some more strict diets that I’ve been on in the past where I gave up and ended up gaining it all back plus more! Using Weight Watchers as my eating plan and running has been very manageable for me and even though the progress has been slow the numbers continue to go down. Some months when I have vacation, holidays or other celebrations just maintaining my weight is a success and I definitely attribute that to my running program.”

Shannon, great job and THANK YOU so much for sharing your story!!  I’m excited for all of you to start your own “Couch to 5K” journey!!  Please email me when you decide what race you are going to enter and if you know of other races I have not listed.  Enjoy the rest of your day!

Need Some Inspiration?!

Need Some Inspiration?!

I want to share a story with you about a woman who made a choice to make a plan instead of making excuses.  Her name is Tamara Thoma and she is a Commercial Tenant Services Coordinator for McKinley.  Change is never an easy thing to go through because it’s uncomfortable.  Tamara didn’t let the discomfort stop her, she just pushed through and CHANGED! I hope that after you read this incredible story you will be inspired to make the changes you’ve been wanting to make, but for whatever reason have chosen not to.  Here’s her story.

“I was probably a good 150 pounds overweight.  The killer was I went to a doctor’s appointment and they wanted to do an MRI.  They doubted I would fit in the machine and wanted to measure me around.  I wanted to die when they had to walk the tape around me twice.

My son was my initial inspiration.  I had days when he would ask when I was working out and if I ever said I wasn’t going to he would ask why not.  He’s 23 so I never had a good enough lie and ended up working out anyway.  The results ended up being my motivator.  You hold in one hand your results and in the other hand the tv show you’d rather watch.  Which one would you pick?  Eventually one of the Bob Harper DVDs had a moment in there when he says, “you have to work out daily.  This is no longer what you want but what you need.”

It’s a pathetic struggle every day. I almost want to cry. I hate activity.  My dad would ground me by sending me outside when I was growing up.  But now I do it by telling myself about how far I’ve come.  Any day I don’t work out (that’s beside the one day I have to rest) feels like a betrayal of all of the other days I worked out when I didn’t want to.  I imagine my fat-self back a year and a half ago, begging the fitter me to keep going.  She reminds me that I’m the only one that can do it.

I also think of the gift God gave me in my body.  Did you ever lend someone something and they abused it, I mean really crapped all over it?  Sometimes I wonder if that’s how God feels.

I started with weight watchers in Sept of 2011 and started working out Feb 29th of 2012.  Yes, that’s right it was leap year and I was admitted to the hospital with cardiac symptoms.  Lena Sparks, Kristy Coleman and Jessica Furlong bullied me into going to the hospital where after 3 days I was cleared by the doctor who told me to, “knock myself out.”  He said I had a wonderful, beautiful heart that could take it.  Since then I’ve worked out 5-6 days a week for about an hour.  I started out with Bob Harper’s Biggest Loser DVD’s, graduated to Bob’s High Intensity and then Insanity.  From that September I have lost 96 pounds and I fly through my sizes.  I would really like to lose another 50, but that may be too much so 30 would be nice.  Like Shaun T says, I will have to love the body that I will have and not the one I want. I have also busted down two pairs of work-out shoes with Insanity!  They take quite a beating.  With Insanity I have only lost 12 pounds over the two months, but my strength, balance, flexibility and endurance have gone off of the charts.  I can do things now that I couldn’t imagine doing two months ago.  I’m really excited to discover my progress as I go through the first month again.

I downloaded the workout schedule and stick to it.  I also found the nutritional guide and follow it pretty close.  I use the EAS Soy powder with water and drink it twice a day as my morning snack and after my workout.  I’m also going to drink the last of my diet coke at home and I have resolved to not buy any more.  It may be tough. I like my diet coke.  But I consider that I will use the same thought process; if it helps me lose weight and get leaner which would I rather have?

It’s not a pretty story and I’m ashamed that I let myself get so out of control.  It’s not a race and it’s not a marathon, it’s an “about face” and a march into my new future.”

Thank you Tamara for being strong enough to make the changes you made and brave enough to share your story with all of us:).  I am so proud of you!!