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Audrey's Story

My name is Audrey and just 6 years ago I was pushing 180lbs. I am 5'10" so it wasn't so apparent to others but I was not happy with the way I felt, physically or mentally! I felt awful about myself and always made, what I now call excuses about my weight and why I couldn't find the time to workout or eat healthy. I thought I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I got to the gym for some light cardio a few times a week. Bahahahh!! Was I wrong!!

After joining a fitness challenge at my local gym, a few years back, I learned a little more about nutrition, lost some weight, and gained some muscle.  However,  I was not happy with my body...and was anxious to see more results. I had dreamed of having a defined body and was often discouraged because I felt like no matter how healthy I ate and how often I went to the gym, I was still not seeing the results I wanted! 

For the past 8 months, I've been hitting the 12:15 class at FitLife and started nutrition with Tessa, 3 months ago. Did I have a portion control problem, even though I was eating healthy stuff....

With her help, and not increasing my workouts, I have lost a total of 17.4 pounds, 17 cumulative inches and over 18% body fat! I feel amazing, inside and out and now I know that it is just a daily balance, which requires giving yourself grace and challenging yourself to do what you never thought possible!! 

It's not over for me, this was not a 3 month diet, this was and is a lifestyle change that I will continue on and so will my family!!! 

I could do it...I just had to convince myself that I could! 

Loree's Story

I walked into fit life for the very first time on January 23rd 2012 at 7pm. I walked in open minded and full of hope. I  had decided this was going to be MY year, MY year to put myself back on the list. For years everybody and everything else had somehow found its way up higher on my list than myself.  I am a very blessed women I have a loving husband, two wonderful teenage kids a very full life of family, friends and a never ending 'to do' list. Somehow in the chaos of everyday life I forgot about me. At a unhealthy weight I decided to take the plunge, I was determined to be healthier before my 40th birthday. I have known Tessa since high school and knew that she would be the one to help me set and reach my goals—boy was I right! 

I attended weekly nutrition classes and worked out at fit life 2 times a week.   I was diligent on my menus, attending my workouts and following my home challenges. At my weekly nutrition classes I was always given running as one of my challenges. I did as instructed and ran (if you can call it that) I felt pathetic yet challenged, that I could only run a block and then had to walk for a bit. I sit here writing this testimony just hours after completing my very first 4 mile race...... I was not the fastest, nor did I have the greatest form but there is one thing for sure, with all of the love and support of my Fit Life family, I ran with the fullest heart and the proudest smile. I have been very successful in my endeavor to live a healthier life. Because of Tessa and all who encompas all that is Fit Life I have given myself the gift of more time on my life clock.

Fit Life Wt loss: 15% body fat and 50LBS

Gained: Life Back

Julio's Story

I came into to see Tessa in July 2014 to ask her about nutrition.  I was looking to get some variety in the foods that I ate.  I typically would barbecue any meat product and cover it with salt and pepper or any other seasoning and have a salad that consisted of a lot of dressing and whole lot of cheese and a few pieces of vegetables.  I thought I was eating pretty healthy, but was I ever wrong, not so much in what I ate but the quantities of everything. Tessa not only informed of what to eat but literally the right portions.  Not only did we start changing what I ate but she somehow convinced me to have her personally train me.  I had no idea what I was in for, as far as training goes I have never had someone push me as hard as Tessa. 


I have lifted weights since high school and I can tell you when you get a work out from Fit Life Studio it is not like any other. We don’t lift anything heavier than 60lbs and I can tell you with some of the exercises that we do that incorporate balance and lifting you don’t need heavy weights.  I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at Tessa like are you kidding me with this exercise, and by rep 8 or 10  the look on my face is “Oh S*%^” this is tough.  There has never been a work out that my shirt is not a different color than when we started or drenched with sweat.  As far as the nutrition I have many options that are tasty and fill me up.  If you want to be healthy go to FItLife Studio, if you want to stay the same  then go elsewhere. 

Glori's Story

On May 2013, I walked into Tessa's office, at the recommendation of my daughter. Tired of the 256 lbs I was carrying around every day I asked Tessa if she thought she could help me. I shared my weight gain story with her and how I had tried all the diets you can name to get it off but nothing was working. I was at a cross roads in my life and I knew I needed help and accountability. Tessa was optimistic that if I commited to it she could help the process along with me. Actually she never doubted I could do it and with the great encouragement she offered week after week, it is happening.

The year and 5 months that have followed have been filled with life happenings and all the challenges that come with that. I have had great weeks and some not so great, but we pushed forward and little by little that weight has come off. There were times that I wanted to quit and Tessa reminded me that I didnt get to quit on me. This has been and is a process. In my desire to live a truly authentic life, my weight kept telling me it wasnt. I was hiding. I was surviving. Now 60 lbs lighter, I am seeing Glori emerge again. I am so blessed to have found Fit Life and Tessa. I can walk and breathe deeply, literally. I was very close to being diabetic and now that fear is not mine. My granddaughters like it when I get down to their level and playin the dirt, now I can. Eating clean is good!! I am gratefuly that a fit life is possible and so happy that Tess's Fit Life is here for those who need a hand along their journey. I sure do.

Julie's Story

My name is Julie, known to most as Jules. I started to gain weight after my chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer in June of 2010. Every three months I would check in with my oncologist and the dreaded weigh in. I often wondered how people gained weight without noticing. Well I had first-hand experience. You dismiss the first few pounds, then you justify the next few, then you buy a bigger pair of pants, then come the many excuses, of which I was good at, then shame and denial.

I struggled with side effects, fatigue, neuropathy, joint pain, anxiety and depression. Two and a half years out, I started to get rib fractures.  After scans, MRI and surgery to biopsy areas of fracture. No signs of metastasis. Everyone was surprised but joyful.. Not me,  unexplained fractures coupled with all my other side effects just pushed me further down a hole. After struggling I decided the answer was anxiety and depression meds. For two years I faithfully took them. Good days and bad days followed. Life went on…… In January of 2015, I shared with a forever friend ,I felt tired, overwhelmed and for lack of a politically correct term, fat.  I needed to do something for me.  Just me!

I was encouraged to do a drop in at Fit Life. Nervously, I showed up at the Thursday 9.15am workout. I was the new kid on the block. That first 45 minutes of the rest of my life nearly killed me. I say nearly as I was assured by Tessa Effland, “If you are still breathing, you’re alive” Everyone was encouraging towards each other and encouraged me as if my life depended on it. This comradery was new to me.  I continued to go to the work out sessions twice a week. Then in February I took the plunge and joined the nutrition program. Just like the work out sessions, it was challenging but doable. Of course they say things come in three’s , so I joined the FL running club. I started to lose pounds, my BMI went down, and I started to feel healthier. I was running, yes, running. OK sometimes a crawl. However, with the FL family a crawl, jog, or run was always celebrated as you finished each practice run. I looked forward to my nutrition check ins. I remained focused on the scale numbers. Tessa would encourage and still does, to look at the whole picture. I’m still working on this challenge.

Then in April, I had my six monthly check in with my lymphedema specialist. It was great to hear I looked so well. The best she had seen me in the five years she had been treating me. She measured my arms (for swelling) and announced that these measurements were smaller than the measurements she had taken when I first saw her in August 2010. I wasn’t particularly excited until she shared that each arm from the beginning of my treatment measured the equivalent of one gallon less of fluid in each arm. Now I got excited! All my hard work of nutrition and exercise were paying off. Bitter sweet as it was, she no longer needed to see me.

Here I am 6 months into my new world with Fit life

27 pounds lighter or 1 stone and 13 pebbles

-10% on my BMI

Down 3 clothe sizes

off anxiety/depression meds

One less specialist appointment

And a whole new circle of FL friends

Do I still look at the numbers, YES!

However, I am learning that the scale numbers are just a part of life.

“I am back to a better normal”


Jennifer's Story

I started with FitLife a little over 16 months ago. So, first off, I am a skeptic by nature, but I wanted to support my wife's attempts at FitLife. The reason I started was that I knew I was unintentionally undermining my wife's attempt to lose weight and she was using Tessa at FitLife and let's face it, I was fat.  So, I reluctantly went in and met and talked with Tessa about this whole program. 


Needless to say, I was impressed with her background, knowledge, and her gregarious personality.  I signed up.  I struggled for many months thinking the whole thing was just another scam, but I stuck with the program, sometimes better than others.  But I started to notice a change in weight, and appearance.  This past March I took a picture of myself in front of the Alamo and was startled as to my appearance.  I looked pregnant!  I decided it was time to get serious about this weight issue of mine.  So, I started following the plan religiously, and started the small group classes coached by Tessa and Jonathan at least 3 times a week, period.


My weight has continued to go down and I have noticed my body changing.  Recently, friends and coworkers have commented my weight loss and body changes.  I wear clothes that I haven't been able to wear in years, and you know something?  I really feel good about myself.   My goal is to get down to 25% body fat and be able to look and feel fabulous.  So, there is  more work to go, but I'm ready for Tessa and Jonathon at FitLife to kick my lower extremity, both physically and mentally.  It's all about me now!

60# down and 13% body fat

Denise's Story

When Tessa asked me if I would write about my experience and background surrounding my fitness journey, I went into avoidance mode.  My first thought was that I haven’t hit my goal, nor do I always work towards my goalsconsistently.  Why would she ask me of all people?  For there have been, and continue to be many starts and re-starts.  After numerous inquiries from Tessa, and finally a conversation about how my experience might encourage others, I caved.  So, here’s my story.  
Having been heavy my entire life, I didn’t know anything different about how my health and the condition of my body could be.  It wasn’t until I was in my thirties, when my parents died six months apart from one another, and I had two young kids under the age of two, that I began to realize that I wanted to be as healthy as possible as I moved into my future.  Thus began my journey towards health.  I dubbed my mission “Operation Hot & Healthy Mama”.  


So, I went to my Dr. for a physical, and she came into the room and told me point blank that my weight had gotten to a point where it could result in significant health issues in my future, and that the amount I needed to lose was over 100lbs.  I was shocked that I had gotten to this point, and was completely overwhelmed as to where to begin.  After taking this all in, I went to Weight Watchers, and it worked for a while.  I learned portion sizes, but I wasn’t eating healthy.  I lost weight, but my body wasn’t getting stronger.  I continued to be overwhelmed with the amount of weight I needed to lose, and got increasingly discouraged and disengaged.  I quit, and moved on.  Mix all this with a stressful job and two little kids, and it wasn’t a great combination. I decided to start a medically supervised weight loss program at my local hospital.  It was pre-packaged meals, and I knew that while this would work as long as I ate the food long term, I also knew that I wouldn’t eat the pre-packaged food forever.  At this point, I had gained weight instead of losing it.  At a check-in not long after this, I met a Doctor who was the director of the hospital weight loss and bariatric surgery practice.  She asked me if I’d ever considered looking at weight loss surgery, which I was adamant that I would NEVER do.  Surgery in my thinking was for people who wanted to take the easy route, and avoid doing the hard work on their own.  I didn’t give it much more consideration, until later she told me about a lecture she was giving on women’s health and invited me to come, even if I wasn’t considering surgical options.  

I went to the lecture and I had one question at the end “What’s the bigger risk, being me, or having surgery?”  Without skipping a beat, her answer was that it was much more dangerous livinglife at my weight than having surgery.  I was shocked.  I didn’t have any medical complications from my weight, and I felt like that made things ok.  

To make a long story long, after two more years and more weight gain, I decided to have bariatric surgery.  I knew it wasn’t a magic wand that would change my life, but I did believe that I had a better chance of losing the 120lbs + I now needed to lose with this tool.  I knew that if I did this, it would be one tool of many that I would need.  I knew my habits and life would have to change drastically to make it a permanent change.  Two and a half years later, I had the surgery, and my weight dropped.  I was eating better, exercising more.  At the four-year mark post surgery, I had gained some weight back, but was managing to keep off over 100lbs consistently.  As the years went by, my weight kept creeping up, and I knew that I was not going to waste all my hard work.  This is when another significant shift in my life happened.   A friend invited me to go to 90/Ten with her for a workout.  My first time ended with me in tears of frustration on my way home, but with the help of friends, I stuck with it.  I started working on weight loss with Robin, and got on a good path.  Then came the speed bump of needing to have an unexpected brain and spine surgery.  It was a long haul, but I got to the point I could return to working out.  There was SO much that I couldn’t do, I think I shed more tears than sweat at my workouts.  Not too long after that, I discoveredI needed to find a new place to work out.  There might have been a big temper-tantrum, anxiety, and resistance to finding a new place, but again, on the recommendation of a person whowas at Fit Life, I walked through the door nervous and pretty resistant.  
But, I liked Tessa and Jonathan, and they saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.  So, I started again.  Every time I went was hard, but soon I dragged one of my 90/Ten friends with me (Thank you Kaaren!) and it got easier to show up and exercise.  Then we figured that as long as we were working out, we should try working with Tessa on nutrition.  And so, another re-set happened, and over this last year, I’ve lost around 40lbsand almost 150lb overall.  I now know what healthy food is, my body is strong, and I’m working to redefine myself from the inside out.  I continue to have MANY ups and downs, and struggle to be consistent in my efforts, but step by step, with the help of Tessa, occasional cussing, and a lot of sweating in the studio, I’m moving in the right direction.  

I’m learning that I’m capable of more than I think, and that the negative messages I tell myself are the biggest obstacles I face.  So, I continue to plug away.  I walked a 5k with Kaaren for the first time this last fall, and it was no big deal, I survived!  Tessa and the Fit Life people I’ve met along the way are amazing.  They cheer me on and push me to believe that I can do this.  I’m re-defining, and as turning 50 years old is three years ahead, I’ve got my sight set on being a total bad ass by then.  I’m going to keep at it, listen to, and believe those around me who can see me for who I can become when I can’t see it myself.  I’m going to keep listening to Tessa, even if I disagree at times: ), and I’m going to keep working to become the best version of myself.  For any of you out there who wonder what you are capable of, take the jump and dare to believe that you have it within you to begin your own journey towards a fuller life! You can do this!


Kaaren's Story

My story is probably similar to so many other women.  I’m married, have two sons, work full-time and forgot to put myself on the schedule.  I stopped working after I had my second son in 2001 and returned to work full-time in 2004.  Once I returned to work, I slowly started gaining weight  (because who has time when you’re dropping kids at daycare, dealing with homework, sports practices, piano lessons, etc.)  In my late teens, I had three reconstructive knee surgeries and I was extremely cautious about reinjuring my knees (aka, a great excuse for not working out).  My knees hurt constantly and I was taking prescription pain medication in addition to getting cortisone shots.  On really bad days, I used a cane.


In 2009 I decided to make my already busy schedule a little bit crazier by going back to school to earn my Master of Public Administration while continuing to work full-time in a position that now required frequent travel.  By the time I graduated in 2012, I barely recognized myself.  I remember having to get weighed at the doctor’s office and I was stunned at the number.  I sat in the examining room and cried.  I made a decision to do something so I started working out with Robin Johnson at 90Ten Fitness.  She modified exercises for my knees and soon I was doing things I never thought I would be doing (burpees?  Me?).  I was getting stronger, but I still wasn’t losing weight because I hadn’t changed my eating patterns.  I was operating under the assumption that “I could eat that because I had worked out that day.”  In the spring of 2015, when 90Ten Fitness closed, I made the switch to Fit Life.  At the encouragement of a friend (thank you, Denise) I signed up for nutrition with Tessa.


My first appointment was on June 8, 2015.  Since then, I have lost 40 pounds and have actually started running.  I joined the FitLife running group and will run in the 5-miler at the Capital City Marathon in May.  I am looking forward to celebrating my 50th birthday in June and maybe, just maybe, competing in a triathlon.

Kim's Story

In June 2012, I walked into Fit Life for the first time.  During my initial consultation, Tessa asked me if I was a runner.  My response was “NO!” with a slight giggle in my voice.  Tessa’s response “well, you will be.”  I again smiled and laughed.  Later that night I told my husband about my conversation with Tessa.  We had a good laugh over it all.  One month later Tessa tells me my homework exercise is to run for one minute, walk for four minutes and repeat for one hour.  I was horrified at the thought.  For one, how would I run for one full minute and second, how was I going to find a hour out of my day to accomplish this goal?  Well, I did it and after I got home I realized I survived and felt great.  I was about to learn this journey wasn’t just about me losing weight it was about me taking time for myself and stepping outside of my comfort zone to see what I can become.  It was about making me and my health a priority and setting a good example for my daughters.

From August to November I continued to increase my intervals and found myself signing up for the Oly Trot on Thanksgiving morning and a 5k in early December.  Tessa proposed the idea of joining the running group to train for the Capital City Half Marathon.  I wasn’t sold on the idea and I believe I initially told her “no thanks.”  It was a huge commitment for me and my family.  After a few more conversations with Tessa and with the support of friends and family, I decided to go for it.  The day I received the training packet, I glanced through the routes.  I quickly decided I was only going to take one week at a time.  I had to believe that if I followed the plan, I would be able to run a half marathon.  

I am a firefighter’s wife and mom to two young girls.  Being married to a firefighter means my schedule revolves around my husband’s schedule.  Squeezing in runs around his schedule is very challenging.  It often means my mid-week runs are during my lunch hour and hiring a babysitter for the Saturday longer runs.  But taking it one week at a time and some careful planning has helped make me successful.

On May 19, 2013, I ran the Capital City Marathon and completed my first half marathon in 2:28.  It was an amazing experience.  Being surrounded by friends, family and strangers cheering me on as I ran 13.1 miles was exhilarating.  Two months later, I ran my second half marathon in 2:32.  It’s funny to say that I don’t consider myself to be a runner.  However, I will say that I am a girl who runs.

Nichole's Story

I have been going to Fit Life since the garage days, but after two kids, taking time away from the studio and eating whatever I wanted, my body definitely changed and it was time to get back to basics for nutrition. I have grown up playing sports and being active, so the working out part wasn’t the challenge for me, it’s NUTRITION!! Tessa helps you get back to basics with eating clean, correct portion sizes and gives you the encouragement you need to get the change you need/want to feel good from the inside out. ​

Peggy's Story

I was at my highest weight ever. I had aches and pains, was on high blood pressure medications and felt tired most of the time. I knew I needed to lose weight, but I had tried all of the popular diets and they either didn't work for me, or I would lose 10 lbs and gain 15 lbs back.  As a nurse on the night shift at a local hospital, I needed a diet that could work with my crazy life schedule. 

A friend told me about Tessa, and Fit Life Studio. I decided to try one more time to lose the weight. I'm glad I did! Tessa, with her bubbly personality, was the coach I needed to help me stay "on track" while still continuing to work the night shift. Her common sense approach to diet and nutrition, no ready made "program" meals made sense to me. 
The pounds started coming off, but I was always waiting in the back of my mind for the plateau. I'd always hit a plateau before, would get discouraged and then start cheating and gain the weight back. I did hit small plateaus, but Tessa was always able to show me that if I wasn't losing pounds, I was losing inches or body fat.


I'm now at a weight that I haven't seen in 25 years (since before I left the Army), and I have more energy that last longer. I may even try one of her cross fit classes!

Before & After

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