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Earned. Not given.

by Meghann on September 16, 2012

Awesome. Day.

Awesome company. Awesome city. Awesome people. Awesome day. ‘Nuff said. πŸ˜‰

My morning started with a rebel workout at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.


Our workout this morning was led by Josh, who I later learned has one hell of an inspirational story of his own. In his youth he was bullied for being overweight and, instead of giving up, he decided to fight against it by eating healthy, getting fit, and dedicating his life to coaching others to overcome the same challenges he once faced. Josh was awesome. He was so full of energy and so motivating that it was hard not to enjoy working out with him and the other rebels. Truly an awesome team.


I grabbed breakfast on my way back to the hotel and ate it between showering and drying my hair: oatmeal, fruit, and some sort of biscotti that came in my to-go bag.


Back at the Anytime Fitness Conference, the day’s activities kicked off with their version of “Ted Talks” or quick 15-minute sessions from a truly inspiring group of individuals.   


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First up, Kelly Olexa represented FitFluential nation with a quick speech on social media. Her down-and-dirty speech got one very important point across – social media is a tool you should use to start a conversation with your audience, not try to sell them through it. Yes. Yes. Yes. I think a lot of businesses are so focused on traditional advertising with a sell, sell, sell approach, that they forget the value of growing an organic relationship with fans or simply just letting them know you’re there to listen.

Next was Simon Keith, who had a heart transplant when he was just 21 years old, but that didn’t stop him from being the number one pick in the professional indoor soccer draft three years later. He had a very powerful message that reminded us all to live in the moments and not take anything for granted. Live life to your fullest potential, it’s too short otherwise.

I was really looking forward to Drew Manning’s speech. I’ve been following his Fit2Fat2Fit journey since the becoming and it was great to finally meet him in person.

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If you’re unfamiliar with his story, Drew was a personal trainer (at Anytime Fitness!) when he decided – in order to help understand his clients’ struggles with losing weight – he was going to purposely gain significant amount weight and then lose it.


What I found the most interesting about his speech was how he gained the 75+lbs in 6 months. It wasn’t by gorging on fast food on a daily basis, it was by simply eating a traditional American convenience-food diet:

  • Breakfast: bowl of sugary cereal + milk
  • Snack: energy drink + granola bar
  • Lunch: two sandwiches on white bread with full mayo
  • Snack: zingers + soda
  • Dinner: white pasta with sauce
  • Dessert: bowl of sugary cereal + milk

Seems pretty normal, right? On top of that diet, he became a couch potato for 6 months.

When it came time to lose the weight, he lost 19 lbs the first month with healthy eating alone – he didn’t start back at working out until month two. It took him 6 months to gain the weight and 6 months to lose it. Amazing.


He actually wrote a book about the entire experience, I plan on downloading it as soon as I get home.

As a special bonus during the morning’s talks, Anytime Fitness presented a handful of “2 Inspire” awards. The awards are presented to individuals who inspire their community to get out there and get moving.


Annie, Cassie, and I were honored to each be presented with our own own “2 Inspire” award. So humbled and grateful, thank you Anytime Fitness!


After the talks wrapped up, our group headed out for some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s


Because you can’t go to Chicago without getting some deep dish pizza, right? πŸ˜‰


Some local beer flava. Goose Island represent!


I started with the spinach salad.


And split a large sausage deep dish with the table.


Loved the sausage. And the cheese. One slice was more than enough to fill my craving. Yum. Yum. And yum. πŸ™‚

After lunch, Annie and I did a little exploring.

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And cupcake eating.


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Tonight’s dinner was the formal event of the weekend. Don’t we all look purrr-ty?


Cassie, Amanda, Annie, me, and Lee.


The eats.

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The main event.


The annual Running Man Awards were presented to the best Anytime Fitness owner, best Anytime Fitness manager, and four member success stories. Talk about inspiring! I needed a kleenex for the member success stories, those were the ones that really tugged at my heart.

The first went to an incredible women who was born with no arms or legs. When she turned 40 she decided to make fitness a priority and joined her local Anytime Fitness gym. There she met a trainer who was willing to work with her disability, and together they created a challenging routine that built her strength and aided in a twelve pound weight loss.\. Incredible.

The second was awarded to a very dedicated husband who agreed to join the gym after his wife’s doctor encouraged a lifestyle change when she was diagnosed with cancer. Over the next year he lost 100 lbs, while his wife lost 40. What I really took from heart in his video was the line “this[working-out] isn’t tough, this is easy. sitting in a cancer radiation waiting room, that’s the tough part. nothing beats that.”


The third went to a woman who lost 100 lbs with the help of her local Anytime Fitness and the final went to Josh, who I mentioned above.

The entire ceremony was very moving. The passion the club owners, managers, personal trainers, and members have for Anytime Fitness and their mission of health is incredible and inspiring. They truly live and bleed purple for Anytime Fitness and it’s refreshing see so many of their employees (and franchise owners) have so much love for their community. They work hard, they play hard, and they inspire.


The theme this weekend was “Earned. Not given.” I like that because it’s true.

If you want to be fit, you have to fight for it.

If you want to succeed in business, you have to work hard, kick butt, and take names.

If you want to be happy, you have to BE happy.

Thank you, Anytime Fitness, for an incredible weekend. I was proud to call myself an honorary member of the Anytime Fitness team.

1 Casey September 16, 2012 at 3:01 am

thank you for this πŸ™‚ i’ve been following your blog forever and thinking about starting my own for a while because seriously this is what people need. you are an inspiration!

2 Kathy September 16, 2012 at 7:19 am

Sounds like a very nice weekend….love the inspirational stories too….”Earned Not Given” So true!

3 Kristen @ notsodomesticated September 16, 2012 at 8:14 am

Wow, very cool weekend. I had no idea that that guy had gained 75 lbs eating things that really don’t sound “that” bad. I would have thought he would have been eating multiple Big Macs a day!
Kristen @ notsodomesticated recently posted..Parmesan-stuffed chicken breasts.

4 Grace @ Grace Dishes September 16, 2012 at 8:17 am

I love Chicago! I was born in IL so I used to go there often especially with cousins attending both Northwestern and U. Chicago.

You look like you are having a TON of fun enjoying the amazing weather and people. I miss living in a big city πŸ™‚

Enjoy the rest of your trip and safe travels!
Grace @ Grace Dishes recently posted..Feeling it.

5 Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale September 16, 2012 at 8:24 am

What amazing stories to hear first thing on a Sunday morning! I’m always so inspired by triumph, by overcoming one’s obstacles. Life is going to put barriers in your way, it’s inevitable. But are you willing to put in the effort and the courage to take down those barriers? Every single one of those people was dedicated, to sweat it out for what they wanted. They put themselves on the line to achive their goals. They accomplished what they set out to do, and they have a better idea of who they are and what they’re capable of.
Not easy to live up to! But if I’m half as strong, dedicated, and courageous as a single one of them, I’ll be happy! πŸ™‚
Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale recently posted..If you told me …

6 Natalie @ Free Range Human September 16, 2012 at 8:59 am

I’m so interested in Drew’s story. I heard about him sometime ago, and I wish more people would learn about the journey he went on. It’s so illustrative of the typical American that I think people could learn loads from his experience.
Natalie @ Free Range Human recently posted..Semi-Lazy Saturday

7 Cait September 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

looks like a fun time. I totally envy that you can eat all of those yummy foods and then get back on track to healthy foods shortly after. I try to stay away from cupcakes, pizza etc. bc I know I will not be able to control myself around them. Frustrating..

8 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles September 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

Those are definitely some inspirational stories!

I’ve been meaning to pick up Drew Manning’s book – what he did is pretty amazing. Just goes to show you how poor the regular North American diet is!
Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..My Mom Knows Me Too Well + New Blog Pages.

9 Hillary September 16, 2012 at 9:35 am

I think my biggest issue with Drew’s story is that, as a personal trainer (and someone who has an extensive knowledge about nutrition and exercise), he knew exactly what he needed to do in order to lose those 75 lbs. He also had the knowledge of what he would look like/how he would feel once he took the weight off to motivate him (that and the fact that being fit is his livelihood). I’m speaking as someone who has maintained a 45 lb weight loss for about 7 years: when I started losing weight, I had NO IDEA what I was doing (and therefore much of it was done in a not-so-healthy manner at first). I also had nothing to compare my body image to; I had been overweight since I was a child, so it was my standard. Some days I truly thought I would never be less than obese.

I’m not saying that was Drew did wasn’t incredible; I believe it was, but I also believe that his story is not representative of what the average person looking to lose weight goes through, either physically or mentally.
Hillary recently posted..The Good Stuff

10 Meghann September 17, 2012 at 9:19 am

I agree with you, but what I found most interesting about his speech was that he didn’t focus on losing the weight, instead he focused on how easy it was to gain it. He also had his own struggles with soda addiction (he started drinking Mountain Dew when he was gaining weight and started losing his mind when he tried to get off of it) and how the weight gain affected his relationship with his family (including his sex life with his wife). I think he went in to this thinking “if I can lose this weight, so can you” but it evolved to something so much bigger.

11 Hillary September 17, 2012 at 9:23 am

I can get on board with this part of his journey, at least. I know how easy it is for a few extra pounds to creep back on, and I know how easy it would be to let all of my lost weight come back if I didn’t proactively work out and eat well. Bad habits are easy to sleep into, and it definitely takes a lot of dedication and motivation to keep up a healthy lifestyle!
Hillary recently posted..The Good Stuff

12 Carolyn September 17, 2012 at 9:24 am

That’s really interesting. I only heard about it in the beginning stages, and I only halfheartedly followed – seemed a little too Zoolander to me. I’m glad to hear it evolved into something great. You should do a book review once it comes out!
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13 Carolyn September 17, 2012 at 9:21 am

I also wonder – was his body able to bounce back due to muscle memory? I would think one of the perks of being in peak condition would be an easier weight loss experience. Don’t pregnant women that are in good shape before pregnancy and stay active throughout bounce back easier?

I’m no expert, what do I know! =)
Carolyn recently posted..Sidelined

14 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More September 16, 2012 at 9:49 am

What a cool event! And congrats on the award. Well deserved. πŸ™‚
Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Plank A Day

15 Oceanside Chiropractor September 16, 2012 at 10:06 am

Wow! Seems like you had a blast! Cool event and you really deserve the award. Can we join the event next time? Or is it something exclusive?

16 Meghann September 17, 2012 at 9:20 am

The conference is really only opened to Anytime Fitness franchise owners and employees, we were just invited as special guests for the weekend. πŸ™‚

17 Courtney @ Journey of a Dreamer September 16, 2012 at 11:20 am

Congrats on your award! I’ve been intrigued by the Fit2Fat2Fit story, i’ll have to get the book!
Courtney @ Journey of a Dreamer recently posted..Coffee Date!

18 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats September 16, 2012 at 11:41 am

I have heard about Drew! So amazing. I have had his book on my to read list for a while. May need to push it to the top of my list.
Karen @ Runner Girl Eats recently posted..Grilled cheese face off

19 Kari September 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Looks so inspirational! Congrats on your award – you definitely are an inspiration to me.
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20 Amy September 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Congrats on your award! Hope you enjoyed Chicago! PS you went to the Lou Malnati’s right by my house πŸ™‚

21 Meghan @ After the Ivy League September 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Earned, not given. Great motto. So true that if you want to be happy, then BE happy. Do what you need to do, eliminate the things you need to eliminate, and enjoy life! Looks like you had a great time in Chicago!
Meghan @ After the Ivy League recently posted..Officially Responsible.

22 theantijared September 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

It is an awesome feeling to get up on that stage and win that award, isn’t it?

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