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The Coaster Has Finally Reached the Station

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The Coaster Has Finally Reached the Station

The Coaster Has Finally Reached the Station 

By Bobby Turnquist 

Farrell’s National Challenge Finalist 

My entire adult life has been a rollercoaster ride of weight. Even in high school, I was never happy with the way I looked. I was never what one would call “fat”, but I always carried a little extra. Thankfully, I was also blessed with a pretty decent athletic ability. This kept me active and is likely why I was not an obese teenager. I never had a grasp on good nutrition and have always eaten whatever I wanted. Surely, as I have discovered over the last year, this was going to catch up with me eventually… 

I graduated from High school weighing about 190 pounds. I went to college and discovered that the freshman fifteen is a very real thing. Unfortunately, I discovered this by the end of the first semester. By the end of my freshman year, I had put on a full 30 pounds! I took a job the following summer doing hot tar roofing. This was the most brutal job imaginable and I would not wish it upon my worst enemy! On the plus side, I lost nearly 40 pounds and entered my sophomore year of college at around 180 pounds. I felt great but because I still hadn’t changed my eating habits, I put it all (and more) back on in no time flat. Because of this, my sophomore year of college was one of the most depressing periods in my life. I just couldn’t understand why I kept gaining weight! In hindsight, I suppose the case of beer I drank each week coupled with a large pizza nearly every night was not helpful… I found myself falling deeper and deeper into a sedentary life. Partying became much more important to me than anything else. Aside from intramural broomball I basically sat around playing video games and watching movies. I knew at the end of the year that something needed to change when I stepped on a scale and saw that I now weighed 230 pounds. 

I did not go back to my roofing job that summer as the drugstore I was working at offered me a full-time management position that paid better with a much better commute and hours. I was determined to lose the weight again though and realized that it was going to be a much more difficult task this time around. Enter my fad diet phase. I basically starved myself for three months. I also tried to exercise at least three days a week. I was more successful than you would imagine and managed to lose about 30 pounds. I didn’t feel particularly good though as I was always hungry. I was back down to 200 pounds, but I still felt fat. Worse yet, I knew that when I went back to school, I would not be able to maintain my minimalistic eating habits. I was afraid of what was going to happen. 
I started to do a lot of research on diets and routines to lose weight. I needed to find something easy though as I was admittedly lazy. The secret is out…there is no such thing as easy! But it would be another 18 years before I figured this out. I was back down to 190 pounds, and I met the girl (Becky) who would later become my wife! So, here we are going into my final year of school. I’ve found the girl of my dreams, I’m back at my high school weight, and I’m feeling pretty happy. I’m able to maintain this weight for a few more years. 

Becky and I got married in May 2004 and we bought a house. Then I took a desk job. Yup, the sedentary office life is now my reality. I’m 25 years old and my weight is slowly creeping back up. Before I knew it, I was back up to 220 pounds! This was no good. We were planning a trip to St. Martin with three other couples and I needed to find my beach bod! I bought a resistance weight training machine for an absurd amount of money and began using it according to the three-page exercise/nutrition plan that it came with. Exercise 30 minutes a day three days a week, eat 1200 calories, while drinking two or more gallons of water every day. Once again, I was able to lose weight. Once again, by basically starving myself. When we went on vacation, I was down to 189 pounds. I had reached my goal, so why in the world would I continue to use the machine in my basement? It quickly became a much more efficient clothes drying rack than an exercise machine. 

This rollercoaster ride continued for the next five years until our daughter, Evelyn, was born in October 2010. At this point, the coaster seemed to get stuck on the chain going up the track. I certainly managed to gain sympathy weight. About 30 pounds of it! Afterward, I just couldn’t find the motivation to lose weight. Instead, it slowly continued to go up. By April of 2019, I was 39 years old, 260 pounds, and I was squeezing into a 42-inch pant waist. I knew that I needed to make an actual change in my life. Especially since we were planning to go to St. Martin again with our friends in February 2020. I set a goal to be the fittest guy in the group. Evelyn was dancing at a studio in a mall in Shoreview, MN. I would walk the hallways during her classes and found myself stopping at the window outside of a really loud gym full of people kickboxing regularly. One fateful Monday evening I decided to walk into this studio. Little did I know that this was the start of a new journey in my life. This is my journey to fit. My Farrell’s journey! 


I spoke to a girl named Abby at the front desk and she told me that a new 10-Week Session was just starting that day! I decided I needed to try a class before committing and she was more than happy to set up a trial for me. I came in with the only pair of exercise shorts and a shirt that still (sort of) fit me. A Head Coach named Glen was there to personally work out with me on a bag and show me how to do all of the exercises. Remember earlier when I said that I was athletic? I discovered the truth and the falsity of that statement in one 45-minute class. Truth…I was able to catch on pretty quickly to all of the kicks and punches that Glen showed me. 

Glen was amazing! He was patient and encouraging throughout the entire workout. He sat down with me afterward and told me how great I did and that he felt I could really benefit from this 10-Week Session. After discussing it with Becky that evening, I figured the only thing I have to lose is the pounds! I showed up the following evening and enrolled! 

I was introduced to Beth Moore who was the 5:30 pm Head Coach (I could write a full page about how awesome Beth is, but I think this is already getting long enough). She did my pushups and sit-ups with me. I was able to do 20 of each. She worked out with me and encouraged me just the right amount. I found myself getting hooked immediately. I felt amazing after just one day! Really, just one day?!?! 

The following morning, I went in to do my first InBody scan. To say that the numbers were shocking could be the understatement of the century. I knew that I had gone past overweight, past fat, and pushing into the Obese label, but I did not expect to see what I saw. I started my journey at Farrell’s weighing 257.1 pounds with 39% body fat! Then the visceral fat level was explained to me. My number was off the charts at 20. This was scary. My last doctor’s visit had me classified as pre-diabetic, my resting heart rate was 74bpm, and my blood pressure was in the hypertension level. Suddenly this started making even more sense and I found myself instantly committed to this 10-Week Session. Plus, who doesn’t want a chance to win $1,000?! 

I spent the next 10 weeks of my life working harder than I have ever worked before. I came to every class. I followed the nutrition plan Farrell’s provided entirely. This was the hardest part. Becky was so amazing in her commitment to this part of the program for me. Even though she was not interested in joining a gym, she was happy to have a good nutrition plan that we could follow as a family. The keyword here is nutrition rather than a diet. By changing what I was eating rather than how much I was eating, I found that I was actually eating more food now than I was before! There were times when I would look at my plate of food and have to weigh it out a second or third time to make sure that it wasn’t way too much! 

I finished the 10-Week Session with results better than I could have ever dreamed of. I lost nearly 30 pounds and my body fat was down to 29.2%! I was able to do 48 pushups and 33 sit-ups., and I had lost 18 total inches! And, because I had the best results and won the $1,000! Cindi Nikituk, the owner of the gym, told me about the Farrell’s National Challenge. I didn’t have to even think about it. I was totally in! 
The next year of my life was a lot of hard work and commitment. I struggled to maintain the nutrition at times, especially during the holidays, but I always logged everything I ate which helped me keep accountability. I never had any problems wanting to come to the gym though! I was addicted! I even started coaching at the 5:30 pm sessions. Coaching was great! While helping others reach their goals is an amazing feeling, it helped me develop a better appreciation for my own workouts as well. 

Beth was such an inspiration for me in my journey, I felt that I had no choice but to pass that inspiration onto others as well. Pay it forward! For the fall session, I joined up with a few 5:30 pm veterans for a team FIT challenge. Ann, Andrew, and Nicole were the best teammates! We had a great time keeping each other accountable and working out together. While team Die Lard did not win the team challenge, I did win the individual portion for the highest percentage of fat loss! By the end of the session, I had broken the 200-pound mark! This was super exciting! For the first time in nearly 15 years, I weighed under 200 pounds, and I was achieving this while eating plenty of good food and exercising six days a week. No fad diets or magic pills, just a good nutrition plan and fun workouts with a bunch of amazing people! 

Things slowed down for me a bit during the winter session. It was getting harder to drop the fat as there was less available to get rid of. It felt as though my body just didn’t want to let it go! The holidays weren’t helpful either… I was able to lose about 10 more pounds though and when we went on our vacation, I weighed the same as I did 14 years prior at 189 pounds. I had accomplished my lofty goal of being the fittest guy in our group! It felt amazing to be able to walk down the beach with my shirt off and not feel ashamed or self-conscious. When we got back, it was crunch time. At this point, I now had about 14 weeks to lose as much fat as possible. Enter the invisible enemy…COVID-19. 

Right as my final 10-Week Session before testing out for the Farrell’s National Challenge was set to begin, Farrell’s was forced to close the doors due to COVID-19. This was a tragedy by definition!! The very thing that kept me motivated was being taken out from underneath me! I had never been able to motivate myself at home to workout. Farrell’s had been my reason to get moving. I had so many questions internally and I was concerned about how I was going to be able to push through these last three months to reach my goal. 

I am beyond grateful for Cindi, and the way that she managed her business through the shutdown is nothing short of incredible! Not only was I able to continue my daily workouts via online streaming options, but I was able to do them ANY time during the day. This flexibility was crucial as work schedules were all over the place. She even made herself accessible for one-on-one conversations with all of her members! I also stayed in contact with all of the other members through Facebook, and we all kept pushing each other to keep at it. It wasn’t easy to stay motivated at home, but I was determined to cut 15 more pounds of fat. I didn’t have a kickboxing bag, so the shadowboxing took a while to get used to. I also began running three times a week. I’ve never been a runner, but I surprised myself with the endurance I had! I was able to run a 5k without stopping. After a few weeks, I was even able to finish a 5k in under 30 minutes! 

With 3 weeks left, I had lost the 15 pounds I had set out to lose! Now I had to really try to get as lean as I could. This is where I would like to send a thank you to all of the chicken farmers in the nation for keeping me fed, followed by an apology to the rest of the state of Minnesota for eating all of the chicken! In this final push, I reached a bodyweight that had you asked me one year ago if it was possible to get to, I may have suffered a laugh attack. I weighed less than 170 pounds! I haven’t had a bodyweight this low since sometime in middle school. More importantly, it was a healthy weight for me. I wasn’t skinny and gaunt-looking. I was strong! I looked strong! And what were these strange bumps on my stomach? I had never seen them before… good gracious, I had defined abs!! The change in my body and mind in just one year was incredible. 

My final numbers were beyond my wildest dreams. I had lost 88 total pounds and weighed in at 169.6 pounds. My body fat was down to 11.4%. I was able to do 71 push-ups and 58 sit-ups! I was able to run a mile in 7:56. My visceral fat level was down to three! My blood pressure was normal, and my resting heart rate was now 49bpm. I felt and looked fantastic. The best number of them all though was the number of people I have met over the last year that have pushed me and encouraged me. These are the people I am now proud to have the privilege to call my friends! To Cindi, Beth, Team Die Lard (Ann, Andrew, and Nicole) as well as all of my 5:30pmer’s, I THANK YOU!

eXtreme Bodyshaping is nothing shy of what the name claims it to be! In just one year, I was able to reshape my body in a most eXtreme way and I could not be more grateful!

So now, after 25 years of riding on the most extreme rollercoaster ride, with many bumps that almost threw me right out of the car, I can say with certainty that the ride has finally reached the station! The ride has come to a complete stop! But I’m not getting out!!! No longer will this ride control me, but rather I will decide how we roll. I’m sure there will still be struggles ahead from time to time, but thanks to Farrell’s I now have the ability and desire to take control of the challenges. I love being a part of this community, and I will continue to work hard to get stronger. Next up for me? Hey Cindi, do you need any more instructors? 

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