Fitness Challenge

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12 weeks and 64 pounds later

Gregory A. Summers
Katie Stogner is smiling a lot now than she was in February and there’s a lot less of her to be smiling.
Stogner completed the grinding 12-week fitness challenge at Island Sun Fitness and Tanning, and the new mom is 32 pounds lighter. After giving birth to her son, Thaxton, on Dec. 7, 2011, she hoped to lose 30 pounds and exceeded her target.
“I’m very happy,” she said. “As most women would say, it’s not perfect, but I can actually look at myself in the mirror now.”
Something else is missing, too.
It’s those black leather pants that were hung in the closet of her Indian Land home. Stogner was hoping to wear them again, but they have disappeared. She said she thinks her husband, Jay, a full-time trainer at a gym in Charlotte, might have thrown them out.
“The only thing I can say for sure is they are gone,” she said laughing.
Stogner’s success is just half of the story. The rest belongs to Jeff Holden.
Holden, who like Stogner agreed to be videotaped for 12 weeks in the same style as the hit NBC show, “The Biggest Loser,” lost 32 pounds as well. A gym rat and Island Sun Tanning and Fitness regular, Holden said he’s noticed a marked increase in his energy level.
Six months of working out-of-town in Hilton Head for Absolute Fire Control had Holden falling off the fitness wagon.
“Throughout the day, eating all that junk food just robs you of energy,” he said. “Foodwise was a big thing for me because I know what you’re supposed to eat. The hard part for me was coming up with the time to work out.
“I normally want to work out when I get home in the afternoon, but with family responsibilities, I was up here at 9 o’clock some nights,” Holden said. “With our daughters, I had to make sure my family was taken care of first. That’s the priority.”
Holden said many people fall into the “I can’t find the time” trap when it comes to getting into shape. But if you are motivated, he said you can find the time to do what needs to be done.
“I’m not judging anybody, but I hate to hear somebody say they don’t have the time to do something,” he said. “If I can run  three kids places and take care of things at home and do this, you can find time to do the same thing.”
Stogner agrees. She said finding time to work out with a new baby was a bigger challenge than she anticipated, especially when Thaxton was hospitalized three days at Levine Children’s Hosptial at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
The balance between family responsibility and personal time, Stogner said, can be precarious.
“It was hard to fit in, whether I was working out with Steve (Island Sun Tanning and Fitness owner Steve Lewis) or on my own.
“My husband was very supportive and made sacrifices on his own so I could get the workouts in,” Stogner said. “Sometimes, it was hard, especially at night, but I did it.”
Lewis designed the 12-week challenge several years ago, based on his own personal experiences as a high school teacher, coach and trainer. When Lewis taught math at Buford High School, he also oversaw the Yellow Jackets’ weight room regimen.
The 12-week Challenge includes rigorous workouts and a meal plan that includes lean meats, vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates and plenty of water.
Lewis was also able to coax Stogner and Holden into filming the segments and chronicle their progress on his website, stevelewisplan.com. They also wrote blogs and updates for readers of The Lancaster News.
Lewis said the “before” and “after” photos speak for themselves.
Stogner dropped from 164 pounds to 132 pounds. Stogner said by the fifth week, she hadn’t lost as much weight as she had hoped, but she was wearing clothes she had not worn in years. The website feedback generated some unexpected and surprising encouragement, which made her confidence soar.
“I learned I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for being,” she said. “Now, I feel like the old me. All the extra weight had made me into a person I didn’t like.”
Holden dropped from 192 pounds to 160 pounds. About nine weeks in, Holden said he had to “throttle back” because he was losing too much muscle mass. Holden and Lewis have been workout partners and friends for more than 20 years.
“I’ve had good results in the past and knows what works for me. My weight fluctuates like crazy, but I can look at myself and see a big difference. It was tough, but I made it through,” Holden said.  
“It just goes to show what a person can do when they fully commit to a healthy nutrtion/exercise program,” Lewis said. “Neither one of them could’ve gone any harder or done any better.
“I hope their efforts will inspire some people to take charge of getting themselves physically fit,” Leiws said.
Their effort, Lewis said, shows that if a father of three who works out of town for the most part, and a new mom can do it, anybody can. It’s a matter of deciding to do something and then getting started.
“You don’t need to spend lots of money on doctors and prescriptions to help you lose weight,” Lewis said. “Do it the right way; Eat right and exercise.”
Contact Gregory A. Summers at
(803) 283-1156