In the quest for un-fatting, the right fitness buddy is key

Over the last few months, I went from the worst shape of my life to the best while continuing to eat like a food critic. Don't punch me in the face; instead, read how I did it in this series:

As internet memes go, I really hope this one is just about to gasp its last breath before being lost in the annals of history forever and ever and ever, so I'm sorry for using it...but its application to what the personal trainer actually does is true.

At least it is in my experience. When Jamie Atlas, owner of Bonza Bodies and personal trainer extraordinaire, took on responsibility for un-fatting my ass despite my work requirements and occasionally terrible attitude, he also became, essentially, my therapist.

Last time I wrote about my ongoing quest for the perfect bod, I talked a lot about the gross emotional parts of weight loss that no one really tackles. I was the food critic whose friends and family respect her for being up for eating or drinking anything at any time. My concept of what made me a fun person to hang around was tied up in my ability to continue to eat and drink whatever I wanted at any moment without being a ninny about it. I scoffed at special ordering. And I was first to join in with the peer pressure to have another dessert, another drink and, sometimes, another dinner. Because two-dinner nights are gluttonous, hedonistic and wonderful.

Unfortunately, the token beer-guzzling, two-dinner consuming, pork fat fiend is rarely the skinny one in her group of friends, unless she's blessed with some kind of freakish metabolism or working out every moment she's not eating. I have neither a furnace for insides nor the time or desire to work out more than I absolutely have to. So if I was going to really create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, I was going to need a little coaching through my co-dependent relationship with food. I needed a buddy who was going to keep me honest while helping my tackle my personal obese demons without judgment.

Enter the personal trainer. I can't even count how many hours Jamie spent talking to me about my family history, checking in on how I was doing on his food plan, berating coaxing me into coming to class when I didn't feel like it and forcing encouraging me to work harder than I thought I could. This is what Jamie gets paid for -- to be the best fitness buddy ever, especially in the trying moments of attempting to shift a routine permanently. And there's the key. A lot of fitness advice out there harps on the importance of finding a friend to do exactly what Jamie did for me. So if you've got an amigo that's committed to kicking your ass in the nicest way possible, then that's all you need to get started. I didn't even want to tell my boyfriend or parents that I was jumping on this wagon until I'd dropped at least twenty pounds for fear of their eyebrow raises and skepticism, so you can imagine how good I felt about divulging all of the secrets of my fat-clogged heart to one of my besties. It wasn't going to happen.

As my new lifestyle became a little less shaky, though, I found my need for a fitness buddy shifting. Calls from Jamie became less frequent as the prospect of me slipping back into the delicious, buttery oblivion faded. As I tried to implement this lifestyle wholeheartedly, I realized I'd benefit from having social outlets that, oh, say, didn't totally revolve around all things food and drink. Things, therefore, changed for the better when a close friend of mine joined the program.

Reasons for this were two-fold. For one, I suddenly DID have a bestie that knew exactly what I was going through, thereby keeping me honest even when I didn't want to be honest. We'd already spent countless nights eating and drinking together, which made it easy to take our socializing to more active pastimes and the kitchen, where we'd cook up healthy feasts. And going out to social events together helped, too. Because somehow, it's easier to skip the crappy gin and tonics you're just drinking because you have to drink something when you have a sober friend ordering club soda right there with you.

But having a close friend on the wagon also spawned a little good-hearted competition, which ultimately benefited us both. No way would I skip a class, because that would put her ahead of me in the get-in-shape journey. No way would I cheat on the plan when I wasn't eating for work, because she wasn't. And when we worked out together -- which was frequent -- her eyes on my back made me give just a little more to whatever I was doing.

Sure, weight loss comes from within, and I've had personal peaks and valleys with this plan since day one. Having the right buddy for wherever was in my quest for a healthy lifestyle made the whole thing a lot easier to stomach.

Following the plan? The step-by-step:

- Step one: turning the corner with a high protein breakfast

- Step two: cutting the trash

- Step three: getting a handle on the booze

- Step four: the short workout key

- Step five: eat more like a food critic

- Step six: surviving a multi-course feast plus a re-feed workout video

- Step seven: staying on the wagon for the long haul

- Step eight: avoiding diet food while losing weight

- Step nine: making a St. Patrick's Day resolution

- Step ten: Creating a sustainable workout routine

- Step eleven: Dealing with the gross emotional side of weight loss

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