Healthy Directions

Carol Mottet and Vicki Ryan's Success Story

Working out with a personal trainer has been both a losing and a gaining proposition for Vicki Ryan and Carol Mottet. On the debit side, there's a loss of 120 pounds between the two of them. On the plus side is a tighter friendship, in and outside of the gym.

Talking to the two of them is a bit like watching a tennis match. Stories volley quickly back and forth, with one friend frequently picking up where the other left off. Their tale starts with Vicki Ryan's (IT department, John Deere Harvester Works) decision to work with a personal trainer in 2001.

Vicki says that she wanted to take advantage of the free personal training sessions included in her gym membership. But there were other reasons, too, including a long-awaited Hawaiian vacation and dissatisfaction with the way she looked and felt. "I wanted to look at myself in the mirror and be happy, and I wanted to get back to being an athlete," she says.

In a year of working out with her first personal trainer, Vicki learned how to use the gym and the critical difference between losing weight and toning muscle. Healthy habits were also part of the approach. Pointing to the soda on the table, she notes, "For every pop, I had to drink that much more water over 64 ounces [daily], which was hard enough. That was quite an incentive."

Today, her tall frame shows the results of all that work. And with that 40-pound weight loss - and reduction to a size eight - the results were also evident to her then co-worker, Carol. Because Vicki's original female trainer had left the area, the pair ended up working out with a male trainer of the "old school," but it wasn't a good match. So the two switched to Rachel O'Brien Zimmerman.

Vicki recalls, "the first thing she asked us was what do you want to do?' I said, 'I'm here to support Carol.'" Carol, who has the more compact frame of an avid softball player, notes. "I'd lost and gained forever all my life. Rachel said, 'give me a year, and I would make a lifestyle change.' She asked what I wanted to weigh, and didn't laugh."

Rachel placed the pair on a nutrition program that involved journaling what they ate. Combined with a "killer program" that mixes a total body weight workout and cardio work on the treadmill and elliptical machines, Carol is now half the woman she was. Since starting their program in March 2005, she has dropped more than 80 pounds and went from a 24 to a size 10. Vicki has lost 10 more pounds, too.

Though Carol now works in the Accounting Service Center at the Southwest office building, the two have kept up their regular 4:45 a.m. workouts. They continue to work with Rachel once a week, and though they get a discount for sharing her time, it would be worth it even if they didn't. Both praised her flexibility and willingness to adapt their workouts. "But she's tough," adds Carol. "She still circles items in our [food] journals. She really makes the workout. I'm in better shape now than I was in high school by far," agrees Vicki, leading Carol to reply, "It's been worth every penny."

Both are big believers in starting the day with exercise. Carol "fought herself everyday" when exercising after work. "Now I enjoy my time," she adds. "You get it done and over with before you have time to think about it."

Comments Vicki, "I just drag [all day] when I get up and can't work out. It wakes up your body and gets you going."

"But on Friday night, we're worthless," laughs Carol.

One core to their consistency is the knowledge that a friend is waiting at the gym. It's a formula of part cheering section, part challenger and part shared successes. "Looking back, it was just fun," says Carol, noting that 'I can't' has now been removed from her vocabulary. "It would not have been as fun if we hadn't worked out together. It's the challenge thing," says Vicki.

Besides golfing and keeping up on Cardinal games, the two friends have rediscovered shopping. "It used to be you couldn't get Carol into a store. Now shopping tends to a little different," says Vicki. "We're doing things we would never have done before," adds Carol, noting that the two ran the BIX 7 road race for the very first time this year. Carol finished the hilly, seven-mile course in 78 minutes and Vicki in 85 minutes.

"Through all this, we've become the best of friends," says Carol, adding that she "about fell out of my chair" when Vicki offered her support on that first day with their trainer. "I know to this day that if I started to go through that [weight gain] door again, I'd have at least two people who would say something to me. I have no doubt in my mind that it's a lifestyle change. Before it was an event. Now I have no doubts I will ever gain this weight back."