This week the Stronger U Member Spotlight is shining on April Yahonek, who was coached by Coach Syndi Acampora
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’m from Whitewater, Wisconsin. I have 3 kids. and we love to family road trip all over the US for baseball games!
What led you to join Stronger U?
My best friend and I always tried diets together. She said she was going to try a program called Stronger U. I barely looked into it because if she was doing it then so was I!
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 have done all sorts of protein drink diets, elimination diets, Weight Watchers, Atkins, and supplements. I did everything except track and weigh my food. I actually said that was the only thing I would never do. It was too calculated for me. I didn’t think I had the personality for something so regimented.
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?
I think this program worked for me because I was forced to learn how to eat. No one made my meals or told me not to eat this or that. This ownership of my own success taught me to make good decisions and plan for special meals. It was also easy to jump back on track after vacations or holidays. I knew my numbers and I knew what I had to do. So many of the other diet programs I did were so hard to get back on track because I don’t think I had a solid foundation to start with. I’m also thankful to my coach Syndi for her love and support. There was never any food shaming or guilt when I messed up. She was the perfect fit for me. And last, the SU FB group is a true inspiration. I saw people who started before me and I was able to watch their journey. When they would hit a milestone I knew I could hit mine. I also love to see people post that started a year ahead of me. I would see them post about their 1-year anniversary and 2-year anniversary and I knew this would work for me long term. I still follow my favorite people and they continue to inspire me day in and day out. They help me reach and set new goals that I didn’t dream of before SU.
Can you give some insight on your eating habits BEFORE joining Stronger U?
I was an emotional eater. Sad, happy, excited… you name it. I would eat. Looking back it felt like I ate blindly. I would emotionally binge as well. I could polish off an entire bag of chips without realizing it. I would also eat because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings for not eating the food they made. And I never wanted to stand out so eating like everyone else made me feel like I could hide.
Now that you’ve joined Stronger U, how have your eating habits changed?
I feel so free. I barely eat because of emotions. I can’t say it never happens but it doesn’t rule me anymore. I feel like I have control now. I always felt like food controlled me and there was nothing I could do about it. I don’t eat for anyone else anymore and I found they respect me for that decision and they don’t feel bad like I thought they did.
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?
Before Stronger U I would try to get on a good workout routine and gain ten pounds every time. I would resent working out because I never lost weight from it. It wasn’t until Mike D. said something along the lines of use nutrition for weight, weight training for body shape, and cardio for the health benefits. It was like a lightbulb went off. I was seeing all of these things with the wrong lenses! After about 6 months of SU, I got the courage to try Crossfit. That was going way out of my comfort zone. I never really liked group classes and I never did any type of weight training. I quickly fell in love. Before SU my feet would fall asleep after running for about 2 miles. I didn’t realize it was from being so heavy. Running is like a whole new sport 65lbs lighter. My typical week is 3x a week at Crossfit. I’m currently training for a full marathon, so I’m down to 2x a week at the gym and 4 days running.
Has your change in body weight or composition improved other areas of your life? If so, explain what areas and how.
So many areas of my life have changed but my marriage is at the top of the list. I’ve been married to my husband, Nick, for nearly 14 years. We have 3 very active kids and we had a stretch of our marriage that was really tough. He loved me no matter what size I was but looking back, I didn’t love myself. How can you expect someone to love you when you don’t love yourself? I gained weight after each child and my self-confidence took a plummeting dive for the worst. Since starting Stronger U I found myself again. My husband also started watching what he ate and we both started Crossfit together. We are feeling our best together and that has been the greatest gift I could have asked for.
Are there any tips or advice you’d give to new members of Stronger U to help them succeed early on?
My tips are these: Trust the process, Do this program with a friend or find a friend in the group, keep at this no matter what the scale says. Your body will catch up to your positive changes, just give it time.
If someone is thinking about joining Stronger U, what would you tell them?
I recommend signing up for longer than you think you need. If you think you only need 3 months, then sign up for 6. I signed up for 3 months initially and quickly signed up for a year. I didn’t want the pressure of 3 months to fix a lifetime of bad habits. It was the best decision I made early on.