Featured in Body Confidence
"I now have the tools to teach my kids how to eat correctly."†
- Claudette Foster
see Claudette's results >>
<< backread more about Claudette in our book, Body Confidence >>
The program has become part of our lives and I now have the education and tools to teach my children how to eat correctly.
Results: Weight: 23 lbs % Body Fat: 12% Body Fat: 23 lbs LBM (Muscle): 0 lbs
"My body now runs at a high performance level 24 hrs a day."†
- Joe Foster
member + pro race driver
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<< backread more about Joe in our book, Body Confidence >>
My body is now like a machine, it runs at a high performance level 24 hrs a day.
Results: Weight: 42 lbs % Body Fat: 14%
"After years of yo-yo dieting, I finally found the answer."†
- Shana Nozick
read Shana's story >>
<< backread more about Shana in our book, Body Confidence >>
I have been a yo-yo dieter since I was a pre-teen. My mom took me to a doctor when I was 12 concerned about my rising weight. Looking back, maybe I was 15ish pounds overweight. I started the first of many “diets” at that time. A doctor put me on the “metabolic” diet. I mainly remember having to pee on a stick once a week. The darker purple the stick turned meant that I was in “ketosis”. And that, I was told, was a good thing. I think I lost a handful of pounds on the metabolic diet. Although, I also remember sneaking around to eat my favorite candy bar whenever I had the chance, a reese’s peanut butter cup. After that, and throughout the next 20 years, I did everything from nutri-system to weight watchers to the cabbage soup diet, which was the last one I did about ten years ago. I actually lost eight pounds the first week I did that one. A few months later, I did it again. This time, I lost ten pounds in one week. Of course, I was vomiting by day five, but that was all a part of it, I supposed. After all, I did lose ten lbs in one week! After each diet, I always proceeded to gain back what I lost… with a little extra insurance weight. The big issue, excuse the pun, was that my gains were getting greater and greater each time. I would lose 10 and gain 20, lose 20 and gain 30, lose 50 and gain 75. This was definitely getting out of control, and it was definitely unhealthy. I was on a bad track...
One Tuesday morning in October of 2003, I woke up with double vision. Driving was definitely out of the question. A friend took me to a “doc-in-the-box” facility that evening. The doctor told me I had the flu, gave me a shot in the butt and told me if I wasn’t better by Friday, I should go to the eye doctor. Needless to say, Friday, I was at the ophthalmologist. He looked into my eyes with a device and told me, “If you were my wife or my daughter, I would be taking you straight to the emergency room.” After drilling him on what it could potentially be, the only thing he would commit to was that it was definitely something neurological. He threw a couple terms my way – Lupus, MS,… I had no idea what any of this really meant. So, to the emergency room I went. Within minutes of an MRI, the doctor arrived at a diagnosis. I had multiple sclerosis. I thought my life was over.
After heavy doses over several days of intravenous steroids, my vision started to improve. I took the next couple of months to feel sorry for myself. After all, didn’t I deserve to do that? I then took the next couple of years trying to escape from what had been passed my way, the MS. I was definitely coping with my sadness by eating a lot…just about anything that crossed my path. By the summer of 2006, I ballooned up to my heaviest weight, 228 lbs. Then, one day in the fall of 2006, I got a flyer in the mail. As it turned out, this was to be the beginning of my new life. I attended a meeting at a new gym in the area, and I immediately liked what I saw. I joined a new workout group at the Forum Athletic Club that was headed up by one of the owners, Dan Owens. Dan was the inspiration to my new beginning. Because I was a part of this group, for a four-month period we were mentored by trainers three times per week on what we ate as well as staying on track with pre-arranged workouts.
Being a former college athlete (I had played competitive tennis), I was familiar with the high one gets after a long workout or from a tough match on the court. I could actually feel my life coming back to me. I started to feel good again. I started to feel like me. I lost 28 lbs. on the plan through the gym. That winter I proceeded to gain back each and every one of those 28 lbs. I was back up to 228 lbs. That fall, I started working out at the gym once again. This time I had the luxury of working with a nutrition coach as well. I followed the plan and worked out again with a new group of faces. I proceeded to, once again, drop 28 lbs… but I wanted more. After my first go-round on Venice Nutrition, I dropped about 10 lbs in six weeks, but I still wasn’t “getting it.” I was just “sort of” following the plan. I was not using the food and exercise journal to track my progress. Several months later, I was lucky enough to connect with the CEO of Venice Nutrition, Mark Macdonald. Mark helped immensely in “educating” me on the Venice program. I actually saw myself slowly learning the educational side of the nutrition program and learning how my body works. Thanks to Mark, I learned how to make better choices, what an ideal and satisfying meal consists of, how to enjoy working out again, and that I can’t always be perfect. And, that it ok to “cheat” and occasionally treat myself to dessert or to a random martini. I have since, over the last eight months, dropped another 25 lbs. So, in the end, I have gone from 228 to 145 lbs. I am truly in awe of the fact I have lost 83 lbs….and I am oh, so proud of myself!
I have not experienced any MS exacerbations in the last two years. I truly believe my newly adopted regimen of implementing healthy eating habits along with consistent exercise is the reason I am doing so well and feeling so good. Without a doubt, this has greatly contributed to my physical well-being and positive attitude. Making my own health a priority is one of the best moves I have ever made! Life has become about the here, the now, and the anticipation of what tomorrow has to offer as I continue to stay focused and motivated on maintaining my new, healthy lifestyle.
Results: Weight: 80 lbs % Body Fat: 27% Body Fat: 79 lbs
"In 5 months, I went from the most frustrated with my health I’d ever been, to feeling the best I’d ever felt in my life."†
- Tom Barone
read Tom's story >>
<< backread more about Tom in our book, Body Confidence >>
I grew up playing sports year round and have always been active. In high school and college I played (weighed 185) tennis and after graduating went to work for IBM, and a few years later franchised two Goddard Pre Schools. As my life kept evolving, business owner, marriage and children (two wonderful boys) my nutrition and exercise continued to deteriorate. I proved it was hard to eat like I did in college without all the exercise to offset the calories. For many years I attempted diets to lose the weight I seemed to be gaining every year, unfortunately I would always gain back whatever I lost.
In July 2009 I was at my highest weight of all time: 220 lbs. I felt very frustrated, it seemed like I could not find a program that worked for me and my lifestyle. Then fortune struck, Mark and Abbi Macdonald enrolled their 4 year old son, Hunter, in the Georgia Pre-K program at my Goddard School. When I met Mark we talked about the weight challenges I was experiencing and he shared the science behind what was happening and was confident I could drop the 30 lbs I had accumulated over the years.
I started Venice Nutrition and just as Mark told me, the weight and body fat started melting off. What was even more exciting is that I began to truly understand how my body worked. Within 6 months, I dropped 31 pounds and 12% body fat! I was once again at my tennis weight.
The most important benefit for me is that I now have the tools and ability to educate my family including my wife, our children, my parents and my sister. My kids have been saying for the last few months that dad is on a new diet and each time I correct them and let them know that this isn’t a diet – I tried diets. I make healthy balanced eating choices every day and exercise intelligently and efficiently based on the knowledge I continue to gain from Venice Nutrition. My boys are even asking me to “make them some of the chicken I eat”.
My wife has been “watching my progress from a distance” and is getting started soon and has asked me to take care of all the food for the kids now since I am making so many healthy choices and she has seen first-hand the amazing and sustained results.
My sister had IBS for years and struggled severely and after seeing my results has begun the program and is back to being active, gaining the weight she had lost when sick and available to be a full-time mom to my 3 awesome nieces and a great wife to her husband.
My dad is 74 years old and is always looking for ways to stay in shape and young. He still officiates sports, hikes, bikes and even does snow shoe hikes in Colorado with his wife. Now he’s is working with VN to improve his already amazing energy levels – I think he has another 25 years of quality living to go.
My mom is overwhelmed with the eating and fitness changes she has watched me undergo since August and is starting VN with her husband and is learning how she can improve her eating and exercise habits. She was really able to tell the difference over the holidays when I didn’t gain the traditional 5-7 lbs most of America does despite her amazing cooking. It was tempting to over eat but I stayed with the program and still enjoyed the great food.
I tell my family and friends all the time that this isn’t like any fad, program or diet – it is education about the body and using that education to create a Healthy Lifestyle that will last a lifetime. The bottom line is that VN has provided me with the knowledge to make the program part of my daily life and I now have the tools to teach my family how to eat correctly, take my body to the next level and work it into our busy lifestyles. My family members range in age from 7-74 and each one of them is following the program. Each has different goals and lifestyles and some have health challenges, but we will all be successful in Venice Nutrition because each of us wants to be happy, feel good, have consistent energy, and to live the fullest life possible every day. We have all made the choice to take control of what we can - our nutrition and exercise.
Results: Weight: 38 lbs % Body Fat: 16% Body Fat: 39 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lbs
"I finally understand how to eat well, exercise & enjoy life."†
- Tally Sanders
member + fitness model
read Tally's story >>
<< backread more about Tally in our book, Body Confidence >>
Growing up, I was constantly active, participating in gymnastics, competitive cheerleading, and fast-pitch softball. Because of my high level of activity, I did not have to focus on nutrition—I just ate whatever I wanted. However, due to pressure to be thin in high school, I struggled for several years with an eating disorder, which eventually damaged my metabolism. A lack of physical activity as well as my flawed understanding of nutrition caused me to gain almost twenty pounds in college. I rarely exercised, and my idea of a healthy diet consisted of food that was “low-fat.”
Things naturally began to change once I graduated from the University of Georgia. I started teaching high school Spanish, coaching cheerleading, and I got engaged. A more consistent routine, as well as the motivation of my wedding day caused to me get below 120 pounds again. However, what really made a difference in my level of fitness was signing up to run a half marathon with my husband and a few friends in 2005. For the first time since high school, I had a fitness goal and began working out on a consistent basis. I also became a certified group exercise aerobics instructor through AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America). I learned two valuable lessons during this time in my life: the importance of setting goals and the importance of relationships. Setting goals is important because it is impossible to get somewhere if you do not know where you want to go. Knowing where I wanted to go helped me to do things that seemed impossible, but became possible by breaking them down into small, manageable goals. I also believe that it is essential to have people in your life who believe in you and encourage you to move towards your dreams.
Yet another change took place in December of 2007, when a close friend and I decided to pursue Ms. Fitness together. My dream to compete began years ago when I saw Ms. Fitness USA on television. I was inspired by the women who competed—I admired their physiques, and their fitness routines were amazing! To my surprise, I got first place in my division in my very first fitness competition in Dallas, Texas. However, just a few months later, I was ready to quit. I was working out hard, but I hated what I was eating, I constantly had sugar cravings, and I wasn’t seeing the results that I wanted to see. Fortunately, that is when I met Mark MacDonald, the founder of Venice Nutrition.
Through Mark and Venice Nutrition I have learned so much: the importance of eating every three to four hours, the importance of food ratios, the truth that fat is not something to be avoided, and the most efficient ways to work out. My sugar cravings ceased, and I actually enjoyed eating food again! Meeting with Mark was invaluable—I discovered that there is so much power in accountability. Yet another life lesson that I learned during my months of meeting with Mark had to do with my perspective on perfectionism and failure. Ms. Fitness was a risk for me. However, my personal Ms. Fitness experience taught me that failure is not my enemy and that perfection is a myth. Someone very wise said that “the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people fail more.” I am learning to view failures as stepping stones to success, instead of opportunities to throw in the towel. Preparing for Ms. Fitness taught me about the importance of self-discipline and perseverance, in more ways than just fitness and nutrition.
I am amazed at the journey that I have been on over the past few years. Because of what I have learned, I helped my husband lose over twenty pounds.
Because of Venice Nutrition, for the first time in my life I truly understand how to eat well and exercise in a way that produces results. Venice Nutrition helped me tremendously in my fitness competitions, but even more than that, it has changed my lifestyle. I cannot express how thankful I am for all that I have learned.
Results: Weight: 5 lbs % Body Fat: 8% Body Fat: 10 lbs LBM (Muscle): 5 lbs
"I gained 21 lbs and transformed my once 'skinny' body into a muscular masterpiece!"†
- Don Maclellan
read Don's story >>
<< backread more about Don in our book, Body Confidence >>
I was introduced to Venice Nutrition as a client. I came into the program very close-minded, thinking I knew all there was to nutrition as it related to weight training and athletics. I thought educating myself through fitness magazines and websites was enough of an educational foundation to allow me to change my body permanently. What I didn’t know as I wasted time reading countless articles and training websites, was that the majority of the information I was relying upon was based primarily on fitness myths and hearsay passed from personal trainer to personal trainer. Frustrated by the slow, and then stagnant, pace of my improvement, I signed on with Venice Nutrition. Through Venice Nutrition, I received an education on the body, based on science. Venice Nutrition taught me to eat balanced meals consistently throughout the day with the proper ratios of Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates. As a result, I was able to regulate my blood sugar and metabolism, and I found I had more – and better yet, more consistent - energy throughout my day. With the Venice Nutrition Program and the help of my own coach, I was finally able to reach my goals of gaining lean mass and shedding the body fat that had previously covered the physique I was working so hard on. Most importantly, I learned how to make my body work for me, for life. Venice Nutrition gave me back control of my body, my health, and ultimately my life. Venice Nutrition isn’t a quick-fix diet, it’s a lifestyle. It has given me the tools I needed to reach my goals and maintain for life, giving me a self-confidence that I hadn’t had before. The education and coaching I received from Venice Nutrition was a priceless gift.
I was so motivated through my results with Venice Nutrition and my desire to guide others to improved health and well-being, I chose to become a nutrition coach and license a consulting practice.
The Certification process was as powerful as my coaching program as a client. The information and support educated me on the exact science of the body and delivered the information in a way that was easy to comprehend and most important teach my clients. Getting certified was the first step and the momentum kept going…through Venice Nutrition’s Support I was able to Partner with a Health Club with 8 locations.
I have been able to successfully work with 100’s of clients and now have a team of nutrition coaches that work for my Consulting Practice… my next step is wellness.
I have been with Venice Nutrition as client, coach , and now business owner... The amazing thing is every step was fairly simple because of the infrastructure and support VN provides.
I strongly recommend all of Venice Nutrition’s services, they are by far the best on the market.
Results: Weight: 21 lbs % Body Fat: 4% Body Fat: 5 lbs LBM (Muscle): 26 lbs
"In a 6 week period I took my body to another level and got the fitness model look!"†
- Kati Duwa
read Kati's story >>
<< backread more about Kati in our book, Body Confidence >>
Even at a very young age I remember turning to food when I was stressed, angry or sad. My parents were divorced when I was 12 years old and during this time I began coming home after school and eating everything I could get my hands on. I remember thinking how uncomfortably full I was but that I just couldn’t stop eating. Luckily it was not in my genes to put on weight, but what it did do was create a dangerous relationship with food. As time went on the pattern didn’t stop and once I got into college I noticed my metabolism wasn’t keeping up with my emotional binge eating. Most of my friends were gorgeous, everyone in magazines was perfect, and it seemed that no one needed to watch what they ate to stay in shape. I’ll never forget the first time I decided to throw up after I ate. I remember thinking I didn’t know how anyone could choose to live that way because it was so disgusting and humiliating. Somehow 5 years went by before I could admit to anyone that I was bulimic. I finally told a few friends that I was suffering and that I needed to get it off my chest. I believe many people who knew me had suspicions of my illness. By this time I was 25 years old and I knew that I needed to break the cycle before it killed me. I had grown up playing sports – gymnastics and swimming at 18 months old, as well as, softball and track all through high school. I continued training hard in college and always dreamed of breaking into the health and fitness industry. I knew to be successful I must live the way I expected my clients to live. I struggled for the next few years to clean up my act with no counseling and for the most part was successful, only rarely relapsing. During this time I tried every possible nutrition plan on the market; the zone diet, the Atkins diet, the Body for Life diet, and more. All of them seemed to work for the first month or so until I became so lethargic and my cravings came back ten-fold. It was not until a year and a half ago when I found the Venice Nutrition Program that I completely gave up the bulimic tendencies. The Venice program gave me the education I was looking for to truly understand my body. I learned that the way I had treated it over the past 7 years had severely damaged my metabolism but that through proper nutrition and blood sugar stabilization I could gradually reverse the damage. Since finding the Venice program I have never felt so free and comfortable with food. I no longer fear social events or feel guilty when I indulge because I’ve learned what works for my body. I’ve learned that by stabilizing my blood sugar I will no longer have physical sugar cravings which helps reduce my psychological sugar cravings allowing me to focus on other things besides food. I now can think about my family, my friends, my career, my training, my clients, and more without thoughts of food interfering. What I love most about the Venice Nutrition Program is that I know what works so if I fall off the plan for a day or two or go on vacation I don’t stress out because I know exactly what to do when I “get back on” and that education will always be mine. Because I loved Venice Nutrition so much I decided to become a certified Venice coach to add as a service I can provide my training clients.
Results: Weight: 11 lbs % Body Fat: 8% Body Fat: 12 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lbs
"I hit size 33 waist and thought, I finally feel like I have my life back!"†
- Scott King
read Scott's story >>
<< backread more about Scott in our book, Body Confidence >>
I have had such a blast working with Mark over the last 8 months. In years previous I tried to lose weight on my own or tried some hokey diet from friends that they printed off the internet or got out of a magazine. Obviously none of those worked for me.
The VN program has given me much more than just amazing results. I have learned so many things about food and the quality of foods, size of portions and how often you should be eating daily. When i was introduced to eating 6-7 meals a day I thought it would be impossible. I remember saying to myself thinking how in the heck am I gonna lose weight eating so many meals a day. For years i had been skipping meals during the day or not eating until late at night. I would get these really bad cravings and sit down and eat so much food at one sitting several times a week which then turned into months and then years of overeating and not exercising. Over the years i knew i needed to do something about my appearance. Not to mention my clothes were getting tighter by the month.
The VN program has given me new tools to use for the rest of my life that make sense. Making these changes in my life were easier to deal with as I began to see results. The education is so important and I know a lot of the other programs that are out there talk about the Glycemic index and other things that can be useful. It seems like to me the other programs leave out the key facts and fundamentals that are essential to being successful in losing weight and being able to keep it off, along with knowing how to perform the right fat burning cardio. I now understand why your body needs the proper ratios of protein, carbs and fats in each meal for blood sugar stabilization, the reasons behind eating 6-7 times a day to keep your metabolism going, and why it’s critical to drink the right amount of water. I have learned how to make better choices in food selection while being on the program. I seldom get get cravings these days.
So many people today are miserable and want to lose weight but are being given the wrong information just like I was for years. Growing up no one teaches you the right way to feed your body and why it’s important. I never thought losing weight would be as fun as it has been. I hope anyone out there that wants to feel great and look better will be inspired by my story.
Results: Weight: 38 lbs % Body Fat: 15% Body Fat: 39 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lb
"As a Type 2 Diabetic, Venice Taught me how to Stabilize my Blood Sugar."†
- Jim Gottschalk
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<< backread more about Bonnie in our book, Body Confidence >>
Imagine this, I rip off the calendar page to reveal 2007 and realize I will be turning 60 in September. I’m going to quit smoking. No more I’ve got to, after so many failed attempts. Whoops, didn’t make it on the January 1st date.
My wife and I planned a trip to Italy that coincided with my birthday, but I was still a smoker in Tuscany.
I have been a dues paying member of the Forum Health Club for a few years and now that it’s 2008 I have become a regular participant. I quit smoking January 23, 2008. I weigh 220 lbs and not in the best shape. My annual physical is scheduled for Feb. 15, 2008 and guess what, I am diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
My doctor writes me a prescription for Metformin, a popular medication for recently diagnosed diabetics. My A1c number ( a 3 month moving average of my blood sugar expressed as a percent) was a whopping 9.4%. No problem, I can handle this….I am going to continue to work my butt off at the health club.
On the evening of March 13th after some aerobics and trying to figure out how to use some of the equipment I realized this is bigger than me and I need help. I inquired at the Forum about the Venice Nutrition specialist who recently set up an office in the health club. He introduced me to Mark Macdonald and we set an appointment for the next day.
My official numbers at that time were:
Weight: 212 lbs
Body fat: 25%
So Mark helped we with a plan of diet, exercise and what have turned out to be inspiration meetings to help me reach my goals and stay focused. This has been a life changing journey and a special friendship for me working with Mark.
After 6 weeks of working out with a plan, meeting with Mark regularly and sticking with a well designed diet my A1c number dropped to 6.3%.
Now, nearly two years later, 1/15/10 this is how things are looking:
Weight: 189 lbs
Body fat: 12%
Blood Sugar is under control 6.3%
My goal is 181 lbs. And 8 % body fat.
It’s not the destination but the joy of the journey, so I don’t want to get there too soon; I’m having too much fun.
Results: Weight: 24 lbs % Body Fat: 13% Body Fat: 31 lbs LBM (Muscle): 7 lbs
"I never thought I would love my body type, yet, now I do."†
- Amy Henry
member + coach
read Amy's story >>
<< backread more about Amy in our book, Body Confidence >>
My whole life I was a “big girl.” “Big-boned.” “Broad-shouldered.”
As a child, these labels became a complex for me. This started when I was a child. I was compared to my older, more slightly built, sister. I was stockier, with shorter legs.
At the age of 5 my pediatrician did me a huge favor and told my mother that he thought I would be chunky when I got older. He made this statement based on the build of a five year old girl. My mother took it to heart. It’s amazing how something so small can really matter. Here I am, five years old, totally innocent, and a “throw-away” comment by a pediatrician in 1979 starts me on 30-year journey of deprivation and restriction.
Being introduced to these two concepts – deprivation and restriction - at such an early age was an enormous part of shaping who I am as an adult. I have a memory of sitting around the multi-colored rug in my kindergarten classroom and opening my brown snack bag, and pulling out my carrot sticks and celery. I look around at every other child’s snack of potato chips and Oreos. I remember thinking that I was different. I didn’t deserve those foods. Secretly I really wanted those things but I put on a brave front and quietly ate my rabbit food.
Growing up in an Italian family, we focused on big eating. Of course, this is totally at odds with my forecast of chunkiness. We celebrated by eating, we gathered together around eating. Food was definitely a focus in my family. However, I was told “that’s enough” and “kitchen’s closed” while my older sister was given free range in the kitchen and my younger brother was encourage to eat, eat, eat because he was a boy and he needed to be big and strong. The fact that I was big and strong was a negative.
My parents put us in swimming early; I was four when I started competing in the pool. I LOVED it. I loved the competition and because I was really good and fast. I loved being an athlete. I felt strong in the pool. I felt weak around food. I began sneaking food around the age of 8 when I began to train more in dance. You see, I was praised as a swimmer for having broad shoulders and strong muscles, but when I raced to dance class from my pool workout, I was chastised for being “too big.” The struggle internally to deal with my “bigness” made me very aware of my height and my size when hanging around my peers. This was true as I stood next to girls that were 5’2 and the size of pencils. I was a great dancer - passionate about dance - but my body wasn’t the norm. Being told that over and over again during my youth affected my confidence greatly.
During my youth, my food intake was restricted which made me put sweets on a pedestal. Sweets were the “end-all-be-all.” I would hide Whoppers and candy bars under my bed because I was never allowed to eat them. I would walk by the candy bar aisle in the grocery store and long to buy one. But I never asked my mother because I knew she would say no.
My near-constant internal focus on food would continue throughout my childhood and beyond. Luckily, I was athletic and my parents put me in sports where I excelled. Swimming and softball and basketball helped me develop my confidence since I was better because of my size, strength, skill and work ethic. My Mom actually gave me the choice between swimming and basketball around the age of 12. She really pushed me toward basketball because she had seen how “big” the female swimmers became once they started lifting weights and increased their pool workouts.
Basketball became my passion and for a while I envisioned myself playing in college. I loved it because my build actually worked for me, not against me. I was still dancing in a dance company but always my size and weight would be pointed out. I look back at old photos and I was pretty thin. I couldn’t help my big bones! In high school I had to choose between Varsity basketball and dance and chose to continue my basketball career. I still focused on food but due to 2.5 hours of basketball practice a day, my weight was fine. Plus I was playing with girls taller and bigger than me so I didn’t feel as bad about myself. I remember only eating pretzels and diet coke for lunch many times and not having any energy during practice. I never related this to my food though. It never occurred to me that the type of food I ate affected my energy level so profoundly – this is something that would come to me in my thirties and change my life.
College proved to be my downfall. I started out on the basketball team but quit because I had no social life. Not only was I insecure about my size, since most girls I met were, again, short and petite, but starting a new school and stepping outside my comfort zone caused my eating issues to become as bad as they were during my youth. And I didn’t have basketball practice to fall back on to burn calories. If I was depressed, I would go through my roommate’s stash of goodies. I couldn’t understand how the food she bought just sat there – the Eidmann’s pastries and the cookies. She would buy it but never think to eat it. I would have never bought it – just like I would never buy a candy bar – but would snack on my roommate’s nonfat pastries, because, in my mind, it didn’t count.
My freshman year I decided to become a vegetarian and took on the “no fat” diet. So, you can imagine what kind of food and drinks I went for – pasta, bagels, cereal, veggies, non-fat cookies, non-fat ice cream and beer. A lot of beer – I was in college and beer had no fat! My freshman year I put on at least 20 pounds, making me even more insecure and more of the “big girl” (in my mind AND in reality) around all my friends in the sorority.
I still continued to exercise – the Stairmaster was my favorite – but because my workouts weren’t intense it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Throughout college I pretty much stuck with the no fat rule, not knowing how important fat is to the body and how overloading on non-fat carbohydrates actually meant I was consuming more added sugar than I realized. You see, when food companies make a product that is supposed to have fat in it, say ice cream, and they create a “non-fat” version of it, something has to take the place of the fat. In most cases, to make the food edible and taste somewhat normal, they pump the food full of sugar to make up for it. So during my non-fat diet days, I was consuming excessive amounts of sugar in exchange for fat. And the kicker was, I was always hungry! I would eat a huge bowl of cereal and then be hungry 2 hours later. Starving, actually. So then I would have a bagel with jelly – no butter. Again, I would be starving. Of course I now know that what was happening was my body was dealing with all the rush of sugar from the carbohydrates and that my blood sugar would spike. My body would store the extra calories as fat and then insulin was released to counteract all the excess sugar. I was spiking and crashing all day long! And I was crabby and tired all the time too. To add insult to injury, I was a vegetarian and didn’t eat fish so I was not getting any protein to counteract the excessive carbohydrates. Boy was I misled with that “lifestyle!”
I continued to gain weight after college because I was hired in corporate America and, as most of us do, I sat all day long in front of a computer. During my twenties, I tried the Atkins Diet, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers (points!), the Grapefruit diet, the Fruit diet, etc. If a new diet came on the scene, Amy was the FIRST one to try it. I was constantly losing a couple pounds and then gaining it back - and more.
Most of these diets are totally unrealistic in real life. If you look at the diets out there, there is one common theme: you are told what to eat/what not to eat and are not educated on WHY. So, you lose some weight, hit your goal, and go back to eating normally again. Well, here’s a surprise: because you cut out all carbohydrates and/or limited your caloric intake – both unrealistic and non-lifestyle appropriate actions – you gain the weight back. It is unrealistic to NEVER eat a carbohydrate again (remember carbohydrates are veggies, fruits, whole grains) or to only eat 1,000 calories a day each and every day. Anybody that tells you different is lying to you to make money.
At first, you don’t question these things. But I realized later on in my journey and questioned how in the world Weight Watchers thought it was fine to eat all your points (calories) at one setting, or to consume 7 bags of 100 calorie Oreos – and only that – for an entire day. It was only 21 points! There was never any talk about how food actually interacted with and affected the body. What processed food does to the body – you can count on any “diet” to provide you with zero education on that point.
So I continued to struggle in my twenties with my weight. At my heaviest, I was 195 pounds. Holy cow! I have a photo of myself in a pink outfit that I wore to a horse race. It will never see the light of day. I call it my “Ms. Piggy” outfit. That very same year, I got engaged to Steven and, by goodness, I wanted to be thin for the wedding! I stumbled across the “Quick Weight Loss” diet and planned to drop 25 pounds before my August wedding. I started in April and was told to eat a 4 oz. chicken breast for breakfast, a cup of lettuce with no dressing, and a 4 oz chicken breast for lunch, a snack bar you had to buy from the diet plan, and some “herbs” in capsule form to help me increase my metabolism (scary stuff in those pills which increased my heart rate – I never questioned what was in them?!?!). Then, for dinner: another dry chicken breast with 1 cup of broccoli. At this point I had been a vegetarian for 6 years so I had to swallow my repulsion toward meat and start eating chicken. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: they told me not to exercise anymore. Some folks might jump for joy at the idea that they could lose weight and not exercise, but to me, since it had been my constant throughout my life, I felt kind of lost. I was even told that my gum habit had to go from 5 pieces of sugar free gum a day down to one - at the most. Yes, 5 calories per day is all they would “allow” me for a luxury item such as gum. I lost weight, I lost it quickly, and I lost my personality just as fast. Because I was basically starving myself, I was cranky and miserable ALL THE TIME. It got so bad once that my future in-laws invited me over for dinner with the whole family and I walked in, realized they didn’t have a baked chicken breast (she had a roast cooking) and proceeded to walk out, get in my car and leave. Can you IMAGINE what they must have thought of me? Steven actually asked me who I was and that he was not sure he wanted to marry the new person I had become. I was skinny but I lost myself and my happiness along the way. I dropped 25 pounds and looked good, but not great, because I had lost muscle and fat so really I was just a smaller pudgy version of myself. The wedding (yes, he decided to marry me anyway!) was amazing.
And then we went on our honeymoon. Well, my goal only took me to my wedding day … so my honeymoon became a free for all. I drank and I ate and I got sick because my digestive system wasn’t ready for regular food. My stomach issues lasted for 4 months. And I gained 7 pounds in 7 days. Imagine my depression seeing that number on the scale. I had worked so hard, starved myself, almost lost my fiancé because of my rotten personality, and when I ate normally, my body held on to every single calorie and then some.
That was one of the turning points in my journey to clean eating. From that point on, I said no to dieting. I eliminated the word from my vocabulary. This was a challenge because there was never a time in the last 20 years that I wasn’t either on a diet, or waiting to start one on Monday. I refused to diet because emotionally I couldn’t take the failure again. There had to be a better way.
That newlywed year I continued to gain weight but plateaued around 185. I felt good, still didn’t have the figure I wanted, but felt like I would always be a “big girl” and just had to accept it. I trained for a marathon, became a spinning instructor and was finally able to begin healing myself around food. For so many years I felt trapped – like a kid in a candy store – every meal. I struggled internally with what Amy wanted to eat versus what Amy could eat. After banishing the “d” word, I started being a little kinder to myself. After I ran the Chicago marathon, I became pregnant with my son. Wow, pregnancy sure makes you appreciate how amazing the human body is. Here I was growing a human being, feeding this baby, giving this person life. I began to see how strong the body is. I gained a healthy 25 pounds and proceeded to lose 35 the year after his birth. Breastfeeding sure agreed with me, but it was also my attitude about nutrition that helped. I wasn’t concerned with dieting and began to be more in touch with my body. I got pregnant with my daughter, gained 25 pounds again and after her birth, met someone who changed my way of thinking in regards to exercise. You see, I could run for miles and miles, I could teach an hour of spin class, no problem. But, because I was already a “big girl” I didn’t lift weights. Goodness, I didn’t want to look like a man!! 4 months after my daughter was born, I changed gyms and met the owner of the Forum Athletic Club, Roman Fortin. Roman was a former pro football player and held classes called “Fast Twitch” which is a weigh/cardio circuit class designed to work your fast twitch muscles. He convinced me to incorporate weights into my routine. He addressed my concerns about becoming “manly” and told me that was pretty impossible to do with medium weights due to a woman’s hormones. We don’t have enough testosterone to build huge bulking muscles. The benefit of lifting weights is to build muscle, which in turn, burns fat. BAM – a piece of the puzzle solved for me! Maybe all that cardio with no weights just allowed me to maintain where I was, but with weights I could actually get toned and develop muscle. Because muscle is 3 times smaller than fat, the more muscle you build, the tighter you get, the less fat you have. After starting Fast Twitch 2 times a week and dropping cardio to 4 times a week, I saw pretty good results. I saw definition in my arms so I dropped my rule of never wearing sleeveless shirts. My muscles really responded to weight lifting and I thought this was as good as it was going to get.
I also started to eat smaller meals. I would eat oat bran for breakfast around 8 am, workout from 10-11:30, and eat a Zone bar at noon. By 4pm I was on the couch unable to move. I thought it was just that I had a hard workout – it still had not dawned on me that my food intake was making that big of a difference in my energy level. I couldn’t play with my kids because in the afternoon I would crash. Can you imagine how hard it was to tell your small kids you couldn’t take them outside because Mommy was too tired? I would have some 100 calorie popcorn around 4pm but that didn’t help much. By 5pm I would start making dinner for the kids and because I was famished, I would proceed to pick at their dinner and basically eat a whole meal before sitting down to eat with my husband. I cook very healthy meals but I was getting a majority of my calories from 5pm on and I couldn’t understand why I was so tired all the time.
Another turning point in my life occurred in early 2008 when Roman introduced me to Mark MacDonald, creator of the Venice Nutrition system. Mark began to educate me on how food interacts with the body. Mark pointed out that I wasn’t getting any protein in the morning, I was working out hard, I was only eating a protein bar for lunch and that is why I had no energy to devote to my small children. He suggested I begin incorporating protein, carbohydrates and fat into 5 meals a day to keep my energy level up. What a difference! The longer I did the program, the more energy I got, the better results I saw. I started around 23% body fat and was now at 15% body fat by changing my workouts to incorporate weights and changing my food. That meant I was a “BIG GIRL” no more! Lean machine girl? Hell yes.
Having dealt with eating issues my whole life, I feel I have finally conquered them. I no longer dream about stopping at a Dairy Queen to order a Blizzard JUST ONCE, the candy bar aisle no longer calls my name. Because I became educated on blood sugar stabilization, I was inspired to become a Nutrition Coach and Wellness Speaker to help others find a way out of the “dieting hole.”
I am a firm believer in limiting processed foods and believe the cleaner you eat, the healthier you will be and the better you will feel. My husband has benefitted from my education and has dropped 15 pounds just by making small changes which he swears has not affected his enjoyment of food at all. My kids follow the Venice Nutrition program, meaning I make sure each meal consists of a protein, carbohydrate and fat and I minimize processed foods from their diets. They have limitless energy and the only time they are crabby is when their blood sugar begins to fall. Because I am so in tune with blood sugar stabilization, I am able to make sure they get a balanced meal when they need one. Everyone can benefit from this program - even a fetus. I am pregnant with my third child and, unlike my other pregnancies, I have no sugar cravings and I have great energy and am not putting on excessive weight. I continue to work out and keep my meals balanced and clean. It is critical to a developing fetus to get high-quality, low-processed nourishment. Simply put, I feel like Venice Nutrition is the way to ensure a healthy lifestyle for all.
In conclusion, being a chronic dieter gave me insight into how much misinformation there is out there about food and what we should eat. Being a wife and mother made me want my family to be as healthy as possible. All my experiences throughout my life lead me to a place I am content and happy with. Never did I think I would love my body type, yet, now I do. My daughter will benefit from having a strong, healthy mom, who will never utter the word “diet” to her. My son will benefit from having a strong, healthy mom, who will teach him about eating “brain and muscle food” so he can be as healthy, intelligent, and strong as possible. My husband will benefit from me teaching him the power of nutrition so he can make better choices throughout the day. My clients will benefit from the knowledge I can give them based on all the research I have done on food and the food industry. If I can touch 5 people’s lives and make a difference and they in turn touch someone’s life, then I feel my eating and food issues had a purpose in my life and made me who I am today.
Results: Weight: 37 lbs % Body Fat: 17% Body Fat: 39 lbs LBM (Muscle): 2 lbs
"I now have the quality of life I always dreamed of."†
- Bonnie Kieffer
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<< backread more about Bonnie in our book, Body Confidence >>
I’ve always had an active lifestyle growing up. I played softball and volleyball and never seemed to have a problem with weight. But as I got older, my lifestyle started getting a little less active. After having twins, I didn’t exercise, ate what I wanted and found myself gaining more and more weight. Before I knew it, I was up to 172 lbs and felt miserable. In addition, my doctor had been telling me for years that my good cholesterol (HDL) was too low and that I needed to increase my exercise and decrease my carbohydrates. I knew something needed to change. So I started walking everyday and worked my way up to jogging. I was eating better, at least I thought so, and exercising 5 days a week. I had lost 23 lbs and was excited about going to the doctor for my checkup. I just knew that since I had lost a lot of weight that my HDL was going to be normal. I went for my checkup and was shocked at the results. My HDL had dropped even more. I was told the same thing…..increase exercise, decrease carbs and come back in 6 months for a recheck. I was also told that even though my total cholesterol was only 110 that since my HDL was too low that I may still need to take medication for it.
At this point my frustration was at an all time high. I was already exercising 5 days a week and yet the doctor said I needed to exercise more. It was then that I knew that I needed help. What I was doing was apparently NOT working. My husband, Randy, totally understood my frustrations and got me a gift certificate to Venice Nutrition, and that was the beginning of my lifestyle change. Mark Macdonald explained nutrition, fitness and the science of blood sugar stabilization and how important they are to a healthy lifestyle. He also taught me the importance of interval training and weight training. I followed his system to a “T” and after 6 months, I went back to the doctor for another cholesterol check and got great results. My HDL had increased 13 points and was finally in the normal range and my bad cholesterol(LDL) had decreased 24 points. My doctor was amazed at the results and said, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
I’ve never felt better in my life. I’ve lost over 50 lbs, almost 30% body fat and built lean muscle mass. I weigh the same today as I did in college, but look and feel so much better because of the increase in lean muscle mass. I feel great and love going shopping for skinny clothes. I’m amazed at how much confidence I now have and how much better I feel about myself, just by losing weight and getting healthy. I’ve also learned that the key to achieving permanent results is to learn how to be better at your workouts and maximize your time, not just workout more. Everything is about Quality! My body has had a total transformation and I owe it all to Venice Nutrition!
Results: Weight: 48 lbs % Body Fat: 27% Body Fat: 54 lbs LBM (Muscle): 6 lbs
"My Days of Dieting are over! My new life has begun."†
- Eric Standridge
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<< backread more about Eric in our book, Body Confidence >>
All my life I have been over weight. As a child I pretty much lived on candy and soft drinks and continued to gain weight throughout my life. Finally I reached about 230 lbs when I was 18 years old, and that’s when I started to go on diets. I would go on a diet and lose about 15 to 20 pounds and then would plateau. After hitting that plateau I would give up and every time I would gain more weight back. It gradually went up each time more and more until I eventually reached 297 lbs and that really hit me hard. Later that week I went to the County Fair and soon discovered that I could not fit into any of the rides. The guy told me that I could try sucking in my stomach and he would jump on top and push it down. It really hit me that week that I could not let myself get over 300 and I promised myself I would not. I started dieting again and had hired a trainer to help me start losing weight again.
The next month I saw a family friend, Bonnie Kieffer, and she looked amazing! Bonnie was telling me all about the program she was on, Venice Nutrition, and she kept saying it was more of a lifestyle change and not a diet. It was a real inspiration to see her make such a transformation for herself; she had lost 48 lbs and put on 6 lbs of muscle mass.
2 months later, after another bout of yo-yo dieting, I finally decided to meet with Mark Macdonald (he was Bonne’s coach) and I began the Venice Nutrition program. Between my initial consultation with Mark and my first weigh-in I had gotten laid off from my job and made the choice to finally come out to family and friends that I was Gay. As well as coming out I had finally reached the point where I was okay with just being me and standing up for it. My new life had begun.
I worked really hard to ‘dial in on my nutrition’. Simultaneously I was experimenting with different types of exercise at the gym. I soon found my new passion, Running. I decided to enter into a 5k which I thought was crazy at the time. When I started Venice Nutrition I could not run around the track even one time. I entered to run the Brookhaven Bolt and finished the race right at 40 minutes. I was so happy that I finished and had my t-shirt to prove it. Over the next few months I went to Circuit training twice a week and then cardio about 3 times a week, gradually losing more weight each week. I was so motivated by my progress that I started working out 5 days a week with weights and doing cardio 5 to 6 days a week as well. I continued training and finished my first 10k, The US 10k Classic, in 1 hour 17 minutes. It was amazing to know that I ran in one of the hardest 10k races and once again I have the shirt to prove it. My next race is the 1/2 marathon on Thanksgiving Day which will be one step closer to my goal of running the Full marathon.
I have been on an incredible journey. Venice Nutrition has educated me on how my body works and how I can make it work for me for the rest of my life. It truly is an amazing thing that has forever changed my life. I have done things I never thought were possible. Now I see infinite possibilities for my future.
Results: Weight: 97 lbs % Body Fat: 29% Body Fat: 99 lbs LBM (Muscle): 3 lbs
"I learned how to work out and eat more efficiently, gaining muscle while I work and travel."†
- Dave Stockton
member + pro tennis player
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<< backread more about Dave in our book, Body Confidence >>
I have been using the Venice nutrition system for nearly two years now. I first met Mark when I was just starting to get serious about my health and fitness. I was 45 years old and had been doing primarily cardio for the last 10 years – mostly in the form of cycling. I had no real diet or exercise plan, and while I was not overweight, I certainly was not in shape. I belonged to a gym, but was not really taking advantage of it aside from spin classes.
I started working with a personal trainer as a way to jump-start a program to get myself in better shape. I realized that a lot of what I understood about weight resistance training was wrong. Like most guys, I was lifting weights in my 20’s. I was pretty diligent about it until my late 20’s, but the focus was on how much weight we could lift (e.g. bench press) and not on the quality and intensity of the workout. There was no cardio to speak of, and core exercises just did not exist other than crunches. Looking back, I think I got stronger, but that was about it!
When I met Mark I remember his first question: “What is your fitness/diet plan?” I did not have one. He filled me in on the principals of blood sugar stabilization, and what my diet regimen needed to be to get results and get the most out of my training time. I took the sugars, starches, processed foods, and high-fat foods out of my diet and the results started almost immediately. I just started leaning out. It was GREAT to see that ‘cut’ look starting to appear. During the course of the program, I have lost over 29 lbs. of fat and dropped from about 15% BF to less than 4%. With the fat coming off, I could start to really see muscle – and even abs. I think every guy my age wants abs, and this program delivered! And while I do have a core routine for my abs, I know that my secret weapon is Venice Nutrition since that results in leaning out the entire body, including the abs.
I would say the single greatest advantage of the Venice Nutrition program is that it delivers profound results from your exercise routine. Without the right diet for your goals, all the time in the gym just comes up short as far as changing your physique. For me, it was really important to get much more protein into my diet to gain the strength I need for my weight training. I am now convinced that strength comes from eating right! That in turn allowed me to really step up the intensity of my exercise routine, and it generated noticeable gains in my lean muscle mass. And as Mark will tell you, that increased muscle mass is critical to burning fat and fundamentally changing the metabolism rate of your body. I still do a lot of cardio to burn fat, but I know that I can keep my body in fat burning mode around the clock by using weight resistance to build and keep muscle mass.
The Venice Nutrition program is a permanent part of my fitness lifestyle now. It’s just how I want to eat and maintain my health. I do not consider it a “diet”. It’s really a way of understanding how your body works relative to how you are eating. That understanding allows me to use my nutrition as a tool to meet my fitness and health goals. I feel great, and I want to maintain the energy level and fitness level that I have accomplished from this program. I know a lot of people view nutrition programs as a temporary way to lose some weight. That’s what I would call a diet. And they become very hard to sustain because most don’t work, and they involve too much sacrifice. I don’t see Venice Nutrition being that way at all. Yes, it is a structured program. But I eat a lot and often! I eat 2500 -3000 calories per day, so I don’t feel like I am giving something up that I really want. I would not be able to stay on the program if I felt that way – and I think that’s where diets fail.
In addition to being so easy to integrate into your lifestyle, I felt it very easy to follow since there really is no ‘guesswork’. I just followed the program and got the workouts in. In my experience, if you do that, the results are guaranteed. I say that because your body will start burning fat – it’s the physiology of how the program is designed. And that’s not to say I understand how all of that works, but I don’t need to. I just know the program will deliver for anyone who follows the nutritional guidelines and exercises.
Like most people, I am very busy and my schedule is pretty packed with career responsibilities, work-related travel, and time with the family. I co-own a small consulting firm and am always traveling to meet with clients. It’s not like I have a lot of spare time to accommodate a diet program that cannot fit into my day and be flexible. But Venice Nutrition enables me to easily plan, prepare, and eat meals while on the go both at home and on the road. Since my goal was to gain lean muscle mass, I have been eating 6-8 meals per day. With that much eating the meals need to be easy to prepare! I also have to eat at restaurants or at fast-food locations (not much selection in airport terminals) when I travel for my work. In fact, when I meet with my clients I need to be performing at my best. My energy level, alertness, and ability to stay focused over long days is very important to my career. From a nutritional perspective I find it very important to stay on the program while on the road for this reason, and Venice Nutrition has really delivered in that capacity.
With Mark’s guidance and by simply adhering to the nutritional ratios and guidelines of the program, I have been able to stay on the program despite the everyday demands as a professional. Here are some tactics I have used to stay on the program and my time is limited or I am travelling:
• I bring single-serving powder mixes in small shaker bottles (e.g. Rubbermaid) to get a fast meal by just adding water. I like to blend Whole Gains with a Whey Protein Isolate. Ditto for protein bars.
• I have a “go-to” meal for most of the major fast-food locations. The meal meets the guidelines of Venice Nutrition and always me to get a meal quickly without guesswork or needing to be at home. I have a single meal each for Subway, McDonalds, Moe’s, Chipotle, Waffle House, Chick Fil-A, Pollo Loco, and even KFC. The program gave me the education to know what meals can work for me and keep me in fat burning mode!
• I like to have a single protein shake as one of my meals in the day, often in the late afternoon when I am most pressed for time.
• At home, I also have about a dozen reliable meals that I can prepare very quickly without advance planning and rep time. Especially in the morning, the ability to have a meal fast really helps.
• I will do some batch cooking in advance so I have meals ready to go later on. This works really well with grilled chicken breasts and baked sweet potatoes.
• I used the “journaling” feature of the program and I found that doing so periodically for a week at a time helped me recalibrate my meals and dial into better fat burning results.
• When traveling, I will locate a local gym and pay a single-use fee to have access to better equipment than available at a hotel fitness center.
• Also when traveling, if I am going to be at one location for 2 or more days, I will find a Wal-Mart upon arrival and do a little grocery shopping so I can have meals in my hotel room. Most hotel rooms have refrigerators, and it has worked well. I no longer eat the free hotel breakfasts – they are devoid of any quality protein! I will also make a sandwich or two for the day and bring it with me to the client location. I just find the fridge in the break room.
The reward of finding a program I can live with and easily incorporate into my daily routine is that I can maintain a level of fitness and health I never thought I would have. Since my blood sugar is stable, I do not have those mid-day energy crashes that we have all experienced (I always used to get that mid-afternoon). In fact, my energy level is so consistent that I routinely work out at various times of the day – and that is very important for when I travel on business and the only option is to work out in the evening. On Venice Nutrition, I can go into a local gym when I am out of town, and have a high-intensity workout from 8pm to 9:30 after a full day spent working with clients. I’ve done it many times. I know I never would have been able to do that previously.
Thing is, for me it goes beyond just the physical benefits. This program, and being physically fit, has boosted my confidence and helped me manage stress in my daily life. When you feel healthy and have a higher level of energy, getting through all the daily challenges as a working professional and parent become more manageable. It has also significantly enhanced the understanding of nutrition in my household. Especially for kids these days, it’s easy for them to be getting too much sugar in processed foods, and not enough protein. We have modified the foods we buy and are trying to teach our kids a better way to eat based upon the principals we have learned from this program. It’s amazing how much more calm and controlled kids are when they are not loaded up on sugar.
The program has even become part my family’s lifestyle. It is now a way of life for us, a way of life we love living!
Results: Weight: 23 lbs % Body Fat: 15% Body Fat: 29 lbs LBM (Muscle): 6 lb
"I dropped well over my goal of 30 pounds, and got back to a size 4!"†
- Jennifer Oppenheimer
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<< backread more about Jennifer in our book, Body Confidence >>
During the past 20 years I have belonged to many gyms and tried many different “Diet Plans”. Venice Nutrition is not a “Diet Plan”, but a healthy way of living that works! I personally found it to be a lifestyle change that actually did change my life.
In September of 2006, I had just turned 40 years old, I had a 2 year old, a 10 year old and 25 extra pounds. Finding myself having a hard time even to walk 2 miles, and with low energy otherwise, I made a conscious decision to focus on my health. My first step was to get back in the gym. I ‘thought’ I knew what I was doing; after all I had been doing the same thing for over 20 years, right? Wrong! The first month I found myself lost on the gym floor. I would go ‘workout’ for an hour and not accomplish anything except a little socializing. Also, I didn’t change my eating habits like I “thought” I should. I’m a big baker and southern cook, so my diet was high in sugar and fat. It was challenging to break those bad habits on my own.
Then in October of that year, a friend told me about Venice Nutrition. Along with signing up for a 16 week fitness program at the gym, I joined VN online. There were also VN coaches available at my gym for additional support. This was the beginning of my permanent change to a healthy lifestyle.
I lost 23 pounds and kept it off for over a year. In June of 2008, I decided to start training for my first Half Marathon. I wanted to lose 10 more pounds and I wanted to take my body to a FIT level (18% body fat). My friend, Dan Owens, introduced me to Mark Macdonald (Founder and CEO of Venice Nutrition). Mark educated me on my body and how to break through my plateau. I was also able to be in the best possible shape for my race. Not only did I beat my goal time for the race by 5 minutes, I also lost 10 pounds. Talk about an ego booster!!!
In my opinion, several things about the program set you up for success.
1) The accountability both with a coach or online keeps you focused on your goal.
2) The meal plans and recipes help you in so many ways, especially with portion control and variety.
3) It teaches you how to stabilize your blood sugar by eating frequent meals throughout the day.
4) The importance of eating the correct ratios of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
5) The value of regular exercise and weight training.
6) Most important is the education of how your body works and the cutting edge nutritional information that only Venice Nutrition can provide.
Sure I had challenges and obstacles to face throughout the program, but I stuck with it and was successful. I’m happy to say I did lose those 30 plus pounds…the Right Way! Most importantly I have the energy to keep up with my 2 active boys. Taking the time to get in shape has paid off. It wasn’t the “quick fix” we all look for, but I feel it has been a lasting one. My metabolism has completely changed!!!
Instead of trying to walk 2 miles, running has become one of my new passions. In fact, I am in the process of training for my 2nd Half Marathon! Fitness has truly become part of my lifestyle. No matter what is going on in my very busy life, I have learned to be flexible with my schedule in order to exercise and eat correctly. If I don’t exercise at least 5 days a week and keep my blood sugar stabilized I see a difference both mentally and physically (so does my husband!). Mark Macdonald showed me the importance of balance and taught me the tools on how to keep balance when ‘Life shows up’. Also, I still enjoy baking and cooking…just healthier and in moderation.
Now, it is my turn to be an example and encouragement to others. In February of 2009, I became certified as a Venice Nutrition coach and the experience of taking others on this life changing journey is beyond rewarding!!!
Results: Weight: 39 lbs % Body Fat: 23% Body Fat: 43 lbs LBM (Muscle): 4 lbs
"I am stronger, faster and better than Ever, My tennis game has gone to the next level!"†
- Brendan Zackey
member + pro tennis player
see Brendan's results >>
<< backread more about Brendan in our book, Body Confidence >>
Results: Weight: 20 lbs % Body Fat: 11% Body Fat: 21 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lb
"Losing weight was just the icing on the cake, I finally got my Body Confidence back!"†
- Paula Lippert
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What I initially thought was another attempt to lose weight... actually became so much more! Let’s be honest... life can be very difficult at times. Dealing with tremendous stress and grief, I honestly had no idea that weight loss was just a small part of the picture. In addition to losing 22 lbs and 10% body fat, I found peace, energy, happiness and an amazing ability to handle the daily demands of my life! By sharing my story, my hope is to show how you can travel through adversity by first dealing with your own health!
As a teenager, I watched my Mom struggle with weight issues...serious weight issues. Losing, gaining…losing, gaining; the typical yo-yo dieter…looking for the quick fix; using diet pills, the latest fad diet and always searching for that “magic bullet.” As a result, I totally understand the “diet” mindset. At first, my struggles with weight were smaller, 5-10 lbs and then these numbers became even larger with the weight gain after three pregnancies; and still further complicated with a complete hysterectomy in 2006. Throughout the years, I have probably tried every weight loss product on the market… diet pills, liquid diets, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach and Adkins… just to name a few. The end result of all these years of “yo-yo dieting” was a totally unhealthy relationship with food and a feeling of complete frustration!
Fast forward a few years, and once again, I am searching for answers. I am approximately 25-30 lbs overweight, and in addition, I am dealing with a personal crisis that is taking a toll on my health. My Mom, my best friend, is losing her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. It is very difficult for me to describe the amount of stress, pain and anxiety I was dealing with daily. Very depressed, I was filled with anger, sorrow and sadness as a result of losing one of the most important people in my life. I was smiling on the outside and absolutely dying on the inside. I remember asking myself: How do I continue to live through this long goodbye-- the long, unforgiving, painful process of Alzheimer’s, the disease taking away my Mom so slowly. What is it that will keep me moving forward through my life, when all I feel like doing is falling to my knees and giving up?
I had no clear answers; to be honest…no “diet” had ever helped me achieve anything permanent! I had always loved exercise, or at least I loved the way exercise made me feel, so I joined The Forum Athletic Club in hopes of simply losing weight. There I was introduced to Mark MacDonald, creator of the Venice Nutrition System. One of the first things I remember Mark saying directly to me was…”There are many things you cannot control in life; the one thing you can control is how you choose to take care of yourself.” This key phrase was the foundation in finding my “answers:”
The first and most obvious was creating a nutritional structure to balance and permanently maintain my body. As a wife and mother of three, I had simply been too busy caring for others to even put myself on the “list” of my own life. Ultimately, balancing my blood sugar with my food choices and making myself a priority contributed to the increased energy and stamina necessary to be my best for those I loved: my children, husband, family and friends.
Despite learning the proper way to eat, I had the most trouble learning to deal with the tremendous stress in my life. I needed to develop the necessary skills to combat the stress and alleviate my constant anxiety in a more positive fashion. I was walking through life completely internalizing my feelings of loss, sorrow and pain; this avoidance, this unacknowledged emotion, was causing a tremendous toll on my body and my mind. But what did that mean? It was not a short process, but over a period of months, I began making the positive shifts that the Venice Nutrition process encourages. These solutions significantly impacted my stress levels: doing regular cardiovascular exercise, starting a stress journal and actually allowing” myself to cry, release the emotions and “feel” the pain of loss. These positive ways of dealing with stress and anxiety made a huge difference in my life and are methods I continue to use even now.
Learning the “process” of incorporating health into my life and overcoming grief, anxiety and depression was the “real” journey. My exact success with Venice Nutrition is that by achieving a healthier lifestyle, I found the strength and ability within myself to actually live my life with peace and happiness… despite this terrible loss. I became a much happier, a much more joyful mother, wife, daughter and friend. I have transitioned, from mourning her loss… to celebrating her life! My enduring strength comes from God and the many wonderful friends and loved ones that support me during this difficult time…plus a strong direct focus of health… which to this day, will always bring me back to where I am best!!!
My amazing experience as a client also helped me become clear on my passion in life…serving and helping others through the Venice Nutrition system. I truly believe that everyone would benefit from the education of the Venice Nutrition system…and everyone should live the “process” and learn how to make permanent changes to their health and their quality of life. Venice Nutrition has customized programs designed to fit all people in every walk of life; those wanting to gain or lose weight… people with various medical challenges such as diabetes, high cholesterol, etc … athletes wanting to gain a competitive edge… people wanting to take their fitness to the “next level”…or anyone simply wanting to have amazing energy and feel great!!! There is a real connection between health, peace and happiness!
What decisions will you make that will affect the overall quality of your life?
What will you do if... you do NOT start taking control of your life and your health today?
Results: Weight: 29 lbs % Body Fat: 14% Body Fat: 31 lbs LBM (Muscle): 2 lbs
"Within 6 weeks, I took my body AND tennis game to the next level and became less dependant on my insulin."†
- Rachel Sampson
see Rachel's results >>
<< backread more about Rachel in our book, Body Confidence >>
Results: Weight: 12 lbs % Body Fat: 8% Body Fat: 15 lbs LBM (Muscle): 3 lbs
"I dropped 25 lbs and 11 percent body fat and won 1st place in my body building competition!"†
- Bill Murphy
read Bill's story >>
<< backread more about Bill in our book, Body Confidence >>
Bill Murphy lived a life of indulgence. Traveling the world to style A-list celebrities and work the hottest runways afforded Bill a life of glamour but left his body in disarray. In 1997, Bill was lying in a hospital bed, diagnosed with Graves Disease and congestive heart failure, told by his doctors his only shot at survival was a new heart—one he needed quickly.
Devastated by the news and not ready to give up, Bill challenged himself to a personal fight---one for recovery. In partial denial, Bill assured doctors he was fine and fought his way to recovery, without ever receiving the recommended heart transplant (“Save it for someone who really needs it,” Bill joked). He began slowly, gaining his strength through short jaunts of walking that eventually led to sit ups and push-ups, a few at a time.
Bill slowly recovered and hit a plateau for several years. As a husband and father, Bill wanted more energy and vitality, and as an upscale salon owner, he needed to be on his A-game everyday. Bill enlisted the help of the staff at Venice Nutrition and worked directly with Mark Macdonald and followed a prescribed Nutrition and Exercise regimen meant to build his strength and physique.
With a tempting celebrity clientele who were privy to shortcuts and medical or steroid enhancements, Bill vowed to himself he would approach his transformation naturally. To keep himself motivated and establish a goal date, he entered into the Men’s 35 and Over Category in the Georgia Bodybuilding’s Eastern Seaboard Competition, to which he garnered first place.
“I went from knocking on death’s door with congestive heart failure to a 98% recovery. This momentous year marks 40 for me, and it is a time I can proudly say I am the picture of health, a proud father and husband, and a strong business and community member. After surviving my medical ordeal and carving a sometimes tumultuous path through life, I will never again take my body for granted.”
For Bill, this was an emotional celebration of his capabilities and a testament to his journey and survival. Next up, another body building competition to keep himself motivated and to avoid letting old habits creep back into his life.
Bill’s word to others: It’s hard to do it alone. Keep people around you who will support your goals and offer encouragement along the way.
Results: Weight: 25 lbs % Body Fat: 11% Body Fat: 26 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lbs
"With Venice Nutrition, I was able to conceive a healthy baby despite my diabetes and thyroid challenges."†
- Megan Hall
read Megan's story >>
<< backread more about Megan in our book, Body Confidence >>
My name is Megan Hall, and I’d like to share my journey to better health. I was blessed to meet a wonderful man, and we were married in June of 2008. We wanted to start a family fairly quickly, so I stopped taking birth control pills in December of 2008. My menstrual cycle did not return, and by February I started to get concerned. I was under weight, pre-diabetic, and suffered from irritable bowel syndrome. I needed help! At this time, a friend of mine suggested that I meet Mark Macdonald with Venice Nutrition. She said he had experience working with under weight women (fitness models) wanting to restore their cycles. I decided to give it a try. He helped me structure my eating and exercise so that I could restore homeostasis in my body. He taught me about the importance of eating the correct ratios of protein, carbohydrates, and fats at 3-4 hour intervals to stabilize blood sugar. We knew I needed to gain weight, but that was not the main focus. It was more about making sure my body was getting what it needed. My cycle returned within a month or so, and my husband and I found out in May of 2009 that I was pregnant! We couldn’t believe it! We looked forward to meeting our “miracle baby” in January 2010!
I am forever grateful for the knowledge, support, and encouragement I received (and continue to receive) from Mark. This journey has been amazing, and I have faith that God worked out all of the details throughout this process. One of those details was the knowledge I gained from the Venice Nutrition structure. Mark has continued to assist me throughout my pregnancy because I developed gestational diabetes due to my pre-diabetic condition. My doctors immediately put me on insulin and stressed the importance of maintaining normal blood sugars for the safety of my baby. I had to email them and talk to them weekly about my blood sugar levels and insulin usage. Because Mark and I already had a blood sugar stabilization program in place, I required less insulin, and felt equipped to deal with this new challenge. My son, Zeke, has remained healthy and my doctors have been very pleased with the blood sugar control I have maintained. After I give birth, I will use the same nutrition/fitness structure to continue to bring my body back to homeostasis. Good health involves commitment and dedication, but with a nutrition/exercise structure in place and guidance from nutrition coaches like Mark, it is a realistic goal for all.
"Within a few months, I achieved my goal weight and body composition."†
- Sandy Haddock
see Sandy's results >>
<< backread more about Sandy in our book, Body Confidence >>
Knowledge is so powerful. Venice Nutrition has given me the knowledge that I searched for to enable me to finally lose the weight, but more importantly, keep it off.
I have struggled with weight since turning 18. It was as if my metabolism just stopped. After years of staying in the yo-yo world of gaining but never losing all that I had gained, I found myself at 235 pounds. I would try to lose weight. Sometimes I would go on diets and actually gain weight. I had reached the point many times when I would look to my ancestry as an excuse and try to accept that this was just the way I was meant to be.
In 2006, when I was 48, I made a commitment to be fit when I turned 50. I was not concentrating on a weight I wanted to reach. I just wanted to be healthier and able to face the next 50 years with as much energy as I could. Of course, I knew weight loss would be part of this process so I joined a friend in attending weekly meetings and weigh-ins, at a popular weight loss program. I lost 25 pounds in 6 months and then hit a plateau. For 6 months even though I was still following the plan and adding walking and other forms of exercise I could not lose another pound.
I searched for other eating plans that might work for me. I decided to try another diet that consisted of eating 4 meals a day. I was able to lose approximately another 15 pounds but, again, I reached a plateau. Luckily, this time in my life I was focused on a long term goal or I might have slipped back to my old way of thinking and given up once again.
I was fortunate to be training in a gym where Venice Nutrition was offered. I worked one on one with a counselor and by following the diet and exercise guidelines of Venice Nutrition I was able to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks! I then lost another 10 pounds in the next month.
When I turned 50 I had lost 60 pounds. Friends would tell me I was “transformed”. They only saw the change on the outside, not the huge change that had taken place on the inside. I now had the knowledge supplied by Venice Nutrition to lose more weight if I so desired, reach all my fitness goals, and achieve what I always thought was truly unreachable for me.
Results: Weight: 69 lbs % Body Fat: 22% Body Fat: 70 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lbs
Additional Success Stories
"I have confidence for the first time in my life."†
- Kelly Kaler
read Kelly's story >>
I have struggled with weight all of my life. I never had confidence. I tried every fad diet out there. A few years ago I started eliminating every single carb from my diet. It worked... I dropped weight – fast, too fast. Thing is, as fast as it went, it came back faster. I ended up on a roller coaster ride. I felt tired all the time, and I never felt truly healthy or good about myself.
After the birth of my first child, I couldn't lose the weight. I wasn't obese, but I was overweight. It was then that I gave up. After the birth of my second child I looked in the mirror and said "I will never look like this again.” The pain was too much and I knew I needed to do something about it.
I had known about the Venice Nutrition program for over 10 years and knew that it was a program that worked, but until that moment I’d never felt ready to make the lifestyle change. This time I was ready and more committed than ever.
I loved the Venice Nutrition program right from the start. I loved journaling, I loved learning, and I loved working out. Most of all, I loved that after just one week, I was already seeing results, and not only that, people were noticing! I finally have energy, feel great, and for the first time in my life I have confidence!!!
With the help of the VN support team and the online program, I reached my goal and I’ve stayed with the program. This is the most fit I have ever been in my life and it feels amazing. VN isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle change that teaches you a new understanding of food and fitness. It has changed my life forever, and best of all I can pass all of my new found education to my kids so they never have to struggle like I did.
Thank you Venice Nutrition.
Results: Weight: 24 lbs % Body Fat: 14% Body Fat: 25 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lbs
"I’ve never been hungry once during my whole ‘lifestyle change’."†
- Scott Jedlinski
read Scott's story >>
My name is Scott Jedlinski. I am very excited to be writing this testimonial for Venice Nutrition!
After being completely focused on my career for the past 15 or so years, my weight grew from 210 lbs in 1994 to about 305 lbs in December of 2008. During that time my knees went bad so my exercise decreased to playing basketball once a week (which wreaked more havoc on my knees). Thankfully, my wife Beverly persuaded (read: forced) me to start going to the gym again in January of 2009. She also signed me up for the Venice Nutrition program in April.
The first step was visiting my Venice Nutrition Coach, Lori Davis. What I love about Venice Nutrition is that they start by asking what you WILL NOT eat. For example, I hate beets, green beans, etc. I hate measuring food as I am still very busy with my job. So Lori introduced me to protein shakes and supplements to accommodate my busy schedule (read: laziness). That’s when my fat loss took off! Oh one more thing, I have never been hungry once during my whole “lifestyle change”. As a matter of a fact, sometimes it is hard to eat all this good food.
So how much have I lost? When Lori got a hold of me in April 2009, I weighed 295 (I was 305 in December of 2008). As of July 2010, I am down to 216! That’s 79 lbs in a little over a year!
And I am not stopping there. I want to get down to around 210 lbs. This will help me keep up with the young guys at the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu dojo…that I have been training at since mid-July 2009 because I have lost so much weight!
Results: Weight: 79 lbs % Body Fat: 19%
"Venice got rid of my stubborn fat areas & now I have the body I always dreamed of."†
- Erika Jacobson
see Erika's results >>
Results: Weight: 12 lbs % Body Fat: 9% Body Fat: 14 lbs LBM (Muscle): 2 lbs
"When I found Venice Nutrition, I finally found the missing piece to my fitness puzzle."†
- Matt Dean
member + nutrition coach
read Matt's story >>
I have always been an active individual. I have competed in many high school sports, but even with a high level of physical activity, my weight would fluctuate. I would eat whatever I wanted; I thought the only way to get into shape was through intense exercise.
I thought staying active was enough. I never understood why I was overweight even though I led an active lifestyle. When I found Venice Nutrition, I finally found the missing piece to my fitness puzzle. Venice taught me that exercise alone is not enough. I now realize that my fitness goals and my nutrition will forever be linked. I learned that if you fuel your body with the right nutrients, success is inevitable. When I finally made that connection my whole life changed!
Venice Nutrition has shown me that they are a company that will always be showing other companies what it means to be “cutting edge”. They do not just stay ahead of the curve, they set the curve and they are committed to bringing everybody with them. For this reason, becoming part of the Venice Nutrition family was and is the best decision that I have ever made.
Results: Weight: 31 lbs % Body Fat: 14% Body Fat: 32 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lbs
"It is not a diet... It is truly a lifestyle change."†
- Kristen LeSage
see Kristen's results >>
I was pregnant with my second baby when I heard about Venice Nutrition. My mom started the program and over a period of a few months I saw drastic improvements to her body, and also her energy. I knew after seeing my mom do it, that after the baby came I wanted to start right away….and I did.
Two weeks after my son was born I started. The first change I noticed, was how drastically my energy increased, and with 2 kids, a full time job and a husband that travels…that’s something I desperately needed. I even found myself getting up to go exercise before work in the mornings!!
Over all I found the program relatively easy and well worth the effort. It’s not just a diet…it’s truly a lifestyle change.
Results: Weight: 18 lbs % Body Fat: 10% Body Fat: 19 lbs LBM (Muscle): 1 lbs
"I have learned secrets to maximize my performance each race."†
- Nic Jonsson
member + pro race driver
see Nic's results >>
<< backread full story >>
Results: Weight: 13 lbs % Body Fat: 8% Body Fat: 15 lbs LBM (Muscle): 2 lbs
"I use to need Chocolate every day, now I rarely even want it!"†
- Helene Jonsson
see Helene's results >>
<< backread full story >>
Results: Weight: 12 lbs % Body Fat: 6.5% Body Fat: 12 lbs LBM (Muscle): 0 lbs
"I thank Venice Nutrition for being my foundation of nutrition for life."†
- Ellen Como
member + fitness expert
read Ellen's story >>
I believe I was born to teach and train people to be fit and healthy. When I was 19 years old I had my first job in a gym; that was over 25 years ago. I am now in my late 40's, a mother of teenagers, and have been in the fitness industry most of my life. Helping people become fit and healthy is my passion and I am proud and ecstatic to share it.
Over the years I have seen diets come and go. I have seen too many people lose weight only to gain it back, plus put on additional weight in the process. Diets and quick fixes fail people. Proper nutrition works. I was always searching for the right nutrition program that I could teach and endorse to my clients. While hosting a healthy lifestyle fitness radio show I heard about Venice Nutrition. I was hesitant to believe this was finally going to be a program to really help people live a healthy and fit lifestyle. I decided it was worth a shot and I met with the creator of the system, Mark Macdonald. It took me only 10 minutes to know I finally found the real thing, the real foundation of nutrition for myself, all my clients, and anyone else who was looking for a healthy nutrition program for real life lasting results.
Venice Nutrition has taken my good nutrition and made it GREAT!! Every client I have referred has embraced and adjusted to the program easily. They look great and feel great. Mark and the Venice Nutrition team have come up with the way to make proper nutrition available to everyone. Personally I thank them for being my foundation of nutrition for life.
"I feel better and look better than ever!"†
- Scott Spiro
read Scott's story >>
<< backwatch video >>
I have always lived a busy lifestyle. My business has always seemed to be my top priority. That changed when I was confronted with high blood pressure, known as the 'silent killer'. I had a choice to make, make my health a priority or deal with the consequences, and frankly I like living. I sought the help of the Venice Nutrition Program. My results were fantastic and my weight, body fat percentage and blood pressure are now under control. I want to personally thank the Venice Nutrition Program for teaching me the power of blood sugar stabilization and to how balance my health with my business.
"I am not even the same person anymore."†
- Lisa Datelle
enlarge Lisa's photos >>
"I've lost over 40lbs."†
- Jim Wahlstrom
read Jim's story >>
Before I began the Venice Nutrition Program, my weight was at it’s highest of around 267 pounds. Since then, I have lost over 40 pounds and my cholesterol has dropped 60 points. I have also been able to get off of my blood pressure medication and it is now in a very healthy range. My endurance during exercise has improved drastically.
Because of Venice Nutrition, I have learned how to eat and exercise correctly and this is the best shape I have been in a long time.
"Venice Nutrition provided me the Education to Build Lean Body Mass while losing Body Fat."†
- Mark Hall
Nutrition Coach + Body Builder
see Mark's results >>
Results: Weight: 22 lbs % Body Fat: 11% Body Fat: 28 lbs LBM (Muscle): 6 lbs
"Venice Nutrition taught me the tools to break through my plateaus."†
- Shelley Tucci
see Shelley's results >>
Being Nurse and Mother of 3 Kids, I thought I knew Nutrition, The Venice Program provided me with the education to take my body to the next level and work it into my busy lifestyle.
Results: Weight: 11 lbs % Body Fat: 11% Body Fat: 16 lbs LBM (Muscle): 5 lbs
"Choosing to Invest in my Health was the best decision I've ever made."†
- Jennifer Hill
see Jennifer's results >>
Results After 8 Weeks: Weight: 18.6 lbs % Body Fat: 7.2% Inches: 10 3/4"
"I'm over 60 Years old and I feel younger than ever."†
- Lee Bourney
see Lee's results >>
Results After 8 Weeks: Weight: 27.6 lbs % Body Fat: 6.7% Inches: 11 1/2"
"Thank you for helping me to achieve my potential!"†
- Austin Crochere
power forward, Golden State Warriors
enlarge Austin's photo >>
† individual results will vary
Venice Nutrition has 1000s of Testimonials of all different goal types, for information on additional success stories please email testimonials@VeniceNutrition.com.