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Cheryl and Connor’s Six-Week Challenge

TheGo reported on Body Torque’s Community Health Club last week. If you missed the story see here, but it’s essentially a free program that the Currajong gym runs over six weeks for people with an overweight or obese BMI. The mission is to kick-start participants’ weight loss journeys and offer education so they can develop healthy habits for life.

TheGo attended a session on Thursday night to see what it was all about and catch-up with two of the new conscripts — Cheryl Lawson and Connor Ashworth.

” I just want to get everything back in order and this boot camp is just a kick-start to the rest of my life” – Connor Ashworth

These two have bravely agreed to us following their journeys over the next six weeks and reporting back on how they are coping with the lifestyle adjustment and their progress towards their goals (no pressure guys!). They both have amazing stories and we wish Cheryl and Connor — and everyone in the Community Health Club — all the best over the next six weeks!

Cheryl Lawson, 55


Cheryl’s goal: Lose another 5kg and develop a healthy pattern to lose another 15-16kg by the end of the year.

Week 1 – Meet Cheryl

You could say it has been a rough couple of years for Cheryl Lawson: After battling a particularly vicious breast cancer that nearly killed her, her marriage ended after 40 years. Now 16kg lighter due to stress alone, Cheryl is aiming to lose at least another 15-16kg by January and become stronger through good diet and exercise. “It’s a new chapter in my life,” the mother of three says, determined. “I was always putting other people first and never used to eat properly or have time for exercise; now that has to change. I want to become a new person — stronger, fitter and healthier.” Cheryl would also like more energy to keep up with her three grandchildren; 12, 8 and 3, with another on the way. In the first week she hasn’t missed a session and is enjoying the fast-paced nature of the circuit classes. “I’m just throwing myself into it and really enjoying it,” says Cheryl. “I didn’t know if I’d take to it, but I’m looking forward to the classes every night.”

Week 2 – Check-in

“I lost 1.4kg in my first week and I’ve just weighed myself and I’ve lost another 1.4kg,” a proud Cheryl says, who wants to do something for herself after surviving breast cancer and going through a recent marriage breakdown. “My size 16 work pants are getting loose, so I’m really pleased. I’m feeling better for it and sleeping better as well. I’ve been coming here at 6 o’clock every night and doing a 30 minute walk before the class starts. My only issue has been my knees, which are sore and swollen, so last night I did a normal gym session instead of the circuit class, but I’m back into it tonight. I’ve come every day since I started the challenge and I’m feeling good.”

Week 3 – Half way point!

“I’m still going really good and, although I put a little bit of weight on over the long weekend, I’ve had friends say to me, ‘My God girl; you’ve lost weight!’. I’m really seeing it in the inches gone and how my clothes are loose on me. Yesterday I was sick — I had a migraine and was throwing up — but I was more upset about missing my first session. I’m back tonight even though I still feel a bit fuzzy and will do a circuit class on Saturday to make up for it. Now I’m at the half way point, I feel like I need to get more ‘mojo’ and work harder now — I’m happy with how I’m going, but I need to up it. Once the six weeks is up my plan is to start doing the hill and go to the gym two to three days a week. I bought some free weights the other day to tone up. I still can’t do things like burpees, but it’s my goal to be able to do them and — until I get there — I’ll keep doing squats. There’s no doubt this experience has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”

Week 4 – New pants!

“I’ve lost another 1.4kg so I went and bought myself some new clothes — I was getting sick of going ‘hitch, hitch, hitch’ and pulling up my pants all day. I have been coming everyday and I’m still getting here 30 minutes earlier to do a walk before the session and now Sandra [another Community Health Club participant] is doing it with me. Coming here has become a routine now and, even though I’m in the middle of moving at the moment, I wouldn’t dream of missing a session — I’m still really enjoying it. Next week I’m planning to do an hour of walking in the morning, then come here every night. There’s only 12 days to go so Sandra and I are planning what we’re doing after with walks at Riverway, The Strand and the hill. I’ve definitely got the motivation and the grounding I need now… this experience has given me that kick start.”

Week 5 – Still smashing it

It was just a quick check-in with Cheryl this week to see if she was still going strong. “I’ve had no weight loss this week as I think I’m starting to build muscle, but my pants are still loose and I’m still really enjoying it. I’ll do a boot camp over the public holiday. Some people are starting to look forward to the end next week, but I’m still loving it and starting to plan my next activities; maybe even a holiday too.”

Find out how Cheryl went in her final week and about her plans moving forward in our wrap-up story.

Connor Ashworth, 18


Connor’s goal: Learn everything he can about fitness and healthy eating; feel happier and more motivated, and take these new habits into his new life — the weight loss will just be a bonus.

Week 1 – Meet Connor

Connor Ashworth’s whole family has been a part of the Army, and it was always his childhood dream, until he found out he had a rare autoimmune blood disorder as a young teenager: “When I found that out and they said I couldn’t join, I pretty much gave up on it.” But Connor has since discovered there is a chance he will grow out of the condition, and doctors have told him that, if he gets on top of his health, his blood disorder and depression may clear up. So his girlfriend Mikaela Bridge signed them both up to the Community Health Club. “I want to get as fit as I can over the next six weeks and use exercise to improve my health, fitness and lifestyle,” Connor says. “I’ve been doing Extreme Boxing every day at 4.30pm, then coming here at 7pm.” He admits that in the first session he thought about quitting when he went too hard and got overheated (a side-effect of his condition), but now he’s taking it easier and going at his own pace. Michaela has also been a massive support, encouraging Connor, doing his meal plans and making sure he sticks to them. “She has been a lot of help,” Connor says with a smile. “Mikaela did a lot of research on both depression and the blood disorder and she is trying everything to support me and get me back to feeling and being 100%. Hopefully when I get fit my depression will go away too…. I just want to get everything back in order and this boot camp is just a kick-start to the rest of my life.”

Week 2 – Check-in

“I’m not weighing myself, but I feel heaps better already,” says Connor, whose goal is to get in shape to overcome depression and a rare blood disorder to get into the army. “I was dreading coming at the start, but now I’m looking forward to it and we (girlfriend Mikaela) are looking at joining another boot camp after this. The biggest thing I’ve struggled with is the food — it’s hard when you live in a house where everyone else gets to eat junk food… my little sister has a milkshake and I get a carrot. When I drive past Hungry Jacks I think I could just stop and have it, but then I think how long it would take to burn off.”

Week 3 – Sick

We couldn’t get hold of Connor this week for an update as he was unwell. Get well soon Connor!

Week 4 – Soldiering on

“It’s been hard lately as I got sick, and my blood condition has made it worse. I’m struggling to breathe and it feels like I’m back to scratch, but I didn’t miss one day of training. The trainers have been good and offered for me to walk on the treadmill for an hour, but I’ve just been doing the normal sessions at my own pace. It is annoying because I was at the point where I could run again, but now I struggle to do it without coughing my lungs up. But I’m going to keep pushing myself, although it’s killing me, because I don’t want to go back to being slack. I’m 124kg now and when I started I was 128kg, so I’m slowly getting there! My girlfriend Mikaela has been making me come and there’s still a lot of competition between us, although she’s been beating me while I’ve been sick. We are keeping our hopes up of getting one of the first, second or third prizes for the most weight lost — there’s still time, so we’re staying positive.”

Week 5 – Bring it on!

Connor is now back on form after a bout of sickness set him back. “Now I’m better I don’t want to fall back again. I’m working at getting back to my previous intensity — I went hard out last night. I’m feeling a lot better now than when I started the program — I probably would have thrown up doing the same thing then. Now I think, ‘Bring it on’. The hardest part? Sticking to the food plan definitely!” P.S. Girlfriend Mikaela let us in on a little secret — Connor has even been doing push-ups before bed every night… yes, he’s seriously hooked!

Find out how Connor went in his final week and about his plans moving forward in our wrap-up story.

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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