This week our Member Spotlight is focusing on Andrew Link, who was Coached by Coach Aaron Bellotto.
What’s your name? (First and last names, pretty please)
Tell us a little about you in 5 sentences or less. Where are you from? Are you a parent? What are your hobbies? Anything unique about your life that you want to share?
I am 41 years old, married to an awesome woman and have three kids that I couldn’t be prouder of. I was born and raised in San Diego and we relocated to New York 9 years ago for work. I have been fairly active most of my life both in the gym and outside with activities such as softball, golf, snowboarding, and surfing. I work a lot but fortunately, it has provided the opportunity for myself and my family to travel and have fun. I started CrossFit 2.5 years ago right as I was starting my MBA and it has been one of the best choices I have made.
What led you to join Stronger U?
I train CrossFit at Intrepid Strength and Conditioning and there are a number of members who have had great success with Stronger U and had recommended it to me. Though CrossFit was helping with increasing my strength and endurance, it wasn’t really doing much in helping me to shed the pounds I needed to lose. I knew I needed to do something with my diet and had talked for a while about joining Stronger U hadn’t taken the leap. My wife, Jenny, signed me up for a year as a Father’s day present. I was traveling in Europe at the time for my MBA when she told me about the gift and I broke down being reminded again how much she and the kids cared about me and I needed to make this work so I could give myself a better chance to be around as long as possible for them.
What dieting experience have you had previous to Stronger U? Was there a reason you were or were not successful? Why did you stop?
I did the South Beach diet a few times and some short-term success but it didn’t last as I eventually went back to my old habits and types of foods that I like to eat. I also did Metafast a few years ago and had even more short-term success but once I weaned off the shakes and their food back to “real” food, I put the weight back on. I also stress-eat and these diets never gave me a good way to combat the situations that seemed to plague me the most as once I had a bad day, it became two or three and then I gave up.
It’s clear Stronger U worked for you. Why do you think Stronger U worked so well when other programs or diets may have not?
My original undergraduate degree was in Exercise Science so I was fortunate enough to have a good background and understand the whole premise of being at a calorie deficit to lose weight. Where Stronger U helped me was in providing both a practical application and the accountability piece. I don’t like turning in a “bad” spreadsheet. It is also about the consistency. I didn’t get to be overweight because of a few bad days just like it has taken more than a few good days to lose the weight. I also don’t beat myself up for a bad day but I find myself wanting to get right back on track as soon as possible.
Can you give some insight on your eating habits BEFORE joining Stronger U?
I tended to eat larger portions. I can be a stress eater. I also really enjoy good food so I would plan around trying new restaurants but now plan on how eating at those places fit into the overall day. I consumed alcohol multiple times a week. I wasn’t aware of the amount of fat in a lot of foods that I consumed and so I thought I was eating fewer calories than I really was.
Now that you’ve joined Stronger U, how have your eating habits changed?
My portions of calorically dense foods have gone down. I am okay just having a small amount or a taste of something special and pairing that with less calorically dense foods that fill me up. I still enjoy alcohol every once in a while but consume nowhere close to what I did before. I tend to eat the same things now which might sound boring but have found ways to really enjoy those same items and I know it works which overall takes a lot of the stress out. I know what fits my macros and can plan the day out. I make conscious decisions about what I am going to eat vs. just grabbing something and not thinking about what is in it. I think more about the long-term goal vs. the short term indulgence and if I will even remember the short term indulgence in a month or a year.
If you exercise or train for a sport, what does a typical week look like? Did Stronger U have any impact in your decision to start exercising or training for a sport?
I try to train CrossFit, weight lifting, and cardio at least five days a week. Stronger U has made training more fun as I have been able to achieve movements and improvements that seemed out of reach at my previous weight. It also has given me the confidence that I can take the training even further and even try out some local meets and competitions.
Has your change in body weight or composition improved other areas of your life? If so, explain what areas and how.
I have less joint soreness and back pain. I have had some serious accidents and injuries throughout my life. As a result of carrying around less weight, I don’t feel these past injuries as much as I used to. I also needed a new wardrobe and get to wear clothes that I thought I never would which is pretty cool. I always thought I would be a “big” guy and that I would never weigh what I do now. I
can tell that achieving this accomplishment has really helped my confidence in other aspects of my life.
Are there any tips or advice you’d give to new members of Stronger U to help them succeed early on?
Trust the process, put in the time, and be consistent. “Wash, Rinse, Repeat!” You didn’t get to where you are because of a few bad days and you won’t get to your goals as a result of a few good days. You don’t know it now but you will end up being more successful than what you originally thought when you signed up so enjoy the journey.
If someone is thinking about joining Stronger U, what would you tell them?
It has all the pieces one needs to be successful. Coaches that can provide the tough love and a “kick in the ass” whenever you need and also be very supportive both in helping with behaviors and with knowledge. You can also get a ton of support, tips, encouragement, motivation and find a lot of people who are just like you on the facebook group. The resources are endless.