Kristi McNaron works in the Customer Care department of Lampo Group, a company
owned by Dave Ramsey, a best selling author and host of The Dave Ramsey Show.
She fields incoming calls and emails from people who have financial questions and provides
resources and referrals.
Every year, Dave challenges his Lampo Group team to a "Biggest Loser" contest. In January of 2007, Kristi decided that it was time for her to become serious about losing weight. "Every week, we have speakers who come in and they talk about inspirational topics-- and about health and exercise," said Kristi. "It dawned on me that I wasn't taking care of my body. I didn't have good eating habits. I needed some support and the contest helped me get off the couch."
Bruce Coleman, the Church Advisor for Financial Peace University provided the spark of inspiration for Kristi during one of his seminars with the staff. An active athlete his whole life, Bruce ran in marathons and triathlons. "Bruce talked about how important it was to be active and to take care of our body," said Kristi. "I wanted to be like him--he inspired me. I was never active when I was growing up and I didn't know where to start."
Kristi joined the local YMCA and she had to push through her initial fear just to get through the door. She had never been in a gym before and she found herself intimidated by all the machines and equipment. Walking on the treadmill was a real workout; she was quite out of shape. A few months later, she joined a water aerobics class.
Kristi started reading everything she could about health and exercise. She began changing her diet: eliminating fast food and substituting healthier choices and learned about portion control. "Portion control was the biggest revelation for me," Kristi explained. "I was eating way more than the recommended amount. I had to learn to cook in new ways and prepare healthy food. I grew up with a single mom and we just threw things in the microwave.'
Laura Ball joined the Lampo Group just a month after Kristi started the "Biggest Loser" contest. Laura was also looking to lose weight and change her lifestyle, so she approached Kristi to ask if they could join forces to support each other and work out together.
"Before I joined Dave's team, I started to realize that my health was going down. I was feeling ill all the time and feeling unhealthy. I knew what I needed to do-- I had just gotten lazy-- life was busy and I developed poor habits over time."
Just months before, Laura watched her father's health spiral into decline. He was diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes and then finally, lung cancer. "He didn't take care of himself, and after he passed away, I had to make some changes. I had to find someone to hold me accountable, so I reached out to Kristi."
The two began collaborating together, sharing support and spurring each other on. During their lunch break, they would head outside to walk around a nearby lake. They worked out after work and shared healthy eating tips.
Positive changes began to happen; clothes were becoming looser, their energy was soaring and their friendship was growing. There were days when it was slow for them both, the weight wasn't coming off quickly or they found themselves reluctant to head outside in the nippy Tennessee air.
"You learn to focus on one workout at a time," said Laura. "When you work out, you feel better that day and you're less tempted to eat the wrong foods. I would get up in the morning and ask myself, 'What can I do today to make changes happen?'"
The weight began to come off and Kristi won the office "Biggest Loser" contest. Fifty pounds had disappeared, but she had more to lose. The two gals signed up for a company half-marathon. Both were able to cross the finish line. "I was exhausted, but I felt great!" Laura recalled. It was exactly a year to the day that her father had passed away. "The year before, I was sitting at my father's bedside, and now I was accomplishing something that I didn't think I could do. It made me realize that if I really want to do something, and if I put the time and effort in it, I am able to do whatever I want to do."
A triathlon was next on the list for Kristi and Laura. Inspired by Bruce, they signed up for training sessions with him. There was only one hitch, Kristi didn't tell anyone that she couldn't swim and that she wasn't skilled on a bike. "I showed up at the pool and did my doggie paddle," Kristi laughed. "I had to learn how to put my face in the water and learn how to swim freestyle. That was a big step for me, as I was scared. Then I had to learn how to ride a bike."
Laura and Kristi have completed one Sprint distance triathlon and two Olympic distance triathlons (one mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run) together. Laura has since completed a marathon and plans to do a half-Ironman triathlon in Sandusky, Ohio this year. Together, the two of them have lost 150 pounds.
There was a point where Laura wanted to give up during the first triathlon. "I had just gotten into the lake and it was gross and smelly," she said. "I was thirsty, the sun was in my face and I was hitting waves. I wanted to quit." Laura knew she couldn't quit-- she didn't want to give up and look back with regret. "Besides, I had posted on Facebook that I was doing a triathlon--I didn't want to face everyone with disappointment if I didn't finish it!"
Kristi has some great advice for anyone who wants to make some changes in their life:
"Try something new. You might find something you love to do. When I started, I didn't know how to run, I didn't know how to swim nor ride a bike. I learned to put my face in the water. I learned how to ride a bike. I was scared. I said to myself, 'What if I'm not good at this?' I had to learn to change my attitude."
Take a look at the video of Kristy and Laura below. But before you do, Kristi has one more thing to say:
"Don't let fear hold you back. Just do it.".