Every week we highlight a Rise member whose story inspires us. Vlad started using Rise after hitting a plateau in his weight loss with calorie counting. By making small changes and adopting an 80/20 mindset (eating healthy most of the time, while still allowing the occasional indulgence) Vlad tuned up his lifestyle in a big way. Now he’s the fittest he has ever been, and his coworkers look to him for advice on getting healthy.

What does your average day look like?
I work for the federal government and travel a lot for work, so it’s not exactly the most conducive lifestyle for being fit.

What has your weight loss journey been like, pre-Rise?
A year ago I weighed 278. I played soccer for fun and thought I was pretty healthy. Then I went to the doctor and she said “You don’t drink or smoke, and you aren’t having health problems right now, but you should try to lose some weight.” So I started eating less and counting calories. That helped me lose weight, but then eventually I plateaued.

When and why did you join Rise?
I was counting calories and losing weight, but my progress slowed. Sometimes you don’t know what to do anymore. I was searching online hoping someone from a different perspective could give me advice on what to change to step up my progress and meet my goals.

How much weight have you lost?
Now I’m at 185. I feel great, and I’ve never been more physically fit in my whole life. My doctor asked me when was the last time I weighed this much, and I don’t know–maybe when I was a young kid!

What’s your favorite thing about Rise?
As long as you give 100% into what you’re doing, your nutritionist is gonna help you out. If you stick to it, then you learn your formula to eat right and feel good. You tinker with things here and there, with your coach’s help. It’s so easy to do and it makes my life so much more productive. I take a picture of my food and boom! I get feedback every day.

What has been your biggest challenge?
I travel a lot for work, and eating healthily can be tough on the road. I was in the middle of Alabama and two coworkers ordered Popeyes fried chicken for lunch. I used Rise’s CoachLine real-time chat option to ask a coach for advice (getting a response within 3 minutes is awesome). She suggested I try a Subway salad, which got me through that situation without veering off-course or going hungry.

I give myself a cheat meal once a week, so if I really wanna eat some triple pepperoni pizza, I can have some. That resets my internal clock and lets me go back to my normal (healthy) routine. Now after I overindulge I notice I feel physically ill from eating too much. That lets me know, if I’m going to eat something else like this that’s not my cheat meal, I’m going to feel those effects the day after and not feel my best. That helps keep me on track making healthy choices most of the time, without feeling deprived.

What’s your favorite thing about your Rise coach?
Jamie is supportive and knowledgeable about everything she gives me. She sends me stuff that opens my eyes (new tips and recipes to try, etc.) 99% of the tips she gives me are really good. I’ll often pass them on to other people at work.

Are there other ways your life has changed?
A lot of the changes have been small. Before I’d make a sandwich with mayo, but Jamie said try adding avocado instead. She’ll tell me what ingredients to look out for so I can make healthier swaps. When you’re trying to lose those last 5-10 lbs, all those little changes add up.

Rise has also inspired me to connect with other people around me who are trying to get healthy. Jamie gave me a recipe for homemade protein bars, which I passed along to some of my coworkers. All of a sudden everyone was trying them out and sharing homemade protein bars at the office. I felt like I started a revolution!

What words of inspiration would you share, based on your experience?
At the end of the day, you’re gonna get how much you put into it. I think of it as an investment in my life and health and happiness for $2 a day. If you really care about yourself and being there for the people around you, is that worth $2 a day?

We all have some “bad” eating habits. Now I’m closer to the 80/20 rule. Maybe you still eat 20% bad but it’s not as bad as you used to eat before — because most of the time, you’re making really healthy choices and you get used to that. Eventually it feels better and easier to make those good choices for yourself.

You could be our next member of the week! Work with Jamie Mortimer, Vlad’s awesome coach. When you signup with her, you’ll get $10 off your first payment.