Every week we highlight a Rise member whose story inspires us. Mike started using Rise after hearing about it from his coworker Vlad (whose story you might remember from last week). Despite a hectic work travel schedule, Mike is making great progress on his journey.

What does your average day look like?
It’s busy! I live in Maryland and work for the Dept. of the Army as a Project Manager for Army Medicine. That involves a lot of travel all over the country and world. Anywhere there’s an army hospital, I go there — so I’m basically traveling every other week. I’m also married and have three boys.

What’s your weight loss journey been like, pre-Rise?
It was up and down. When you’re active in the military you have the regimen, but since retiring it has been difficult. It’s like a yo-yo, dieting here and there — but it’s not the lifestyle change you get with Rise.

I had lost weight and put it back on, lost it and put it back on. It’s been a constant struggle, especially with the travel — being in a restaurant and wondering should I get the $14 salad or $10 burger and fries.

When and why did you join Rise?
I joke that it’s all my coworker Vlad’s fault. Vlad lost 93 pounds and you could see he had made quite a transformation and had a lot more energy.

It’s one thing to be accountable to yourself and your family, but having someone there to coach you into making changes to your lifestyle makes a big difference. At the office, Vlad and I have been encouraging folks to eat healthy. We’ll share recipes from each others’ coaches and swap stuff we’ve made at lunch.

Our office has done a “Biggest Loser” competition for the past couple of years. One year I actually won the Biggest Loser competition at work, but then bounced back to my old ways. Our coworker lost almost 50 pounds last year but has already put it back on, plus some more.

The first couple of weeks, my coworker ate just smoothies and a little bit of food (like a detox). Other people would just eat celery and lettuce. People tried fad diets and lost weight quickly at first but none were able to maintain what they lost.

Rise makes you rethink and understand that you don’t have to clean your plate like when you were a child. My coach Katie taught me to look at your plate size, divide it, ask for a to-go box and then you have leftovers for the next day and you don’t have to overeat and feel bloated.

How much weight have you lost?
In just under 8 weeks, I’ve lost 24.5 pounds.

I’ve just been eating super healthy foods in good portion sizes. I was never a big fruit or vegetable eater. We had a fruit basket and it would sit there until it went bad. Now I ride my bike for 20 miles a few times a week. Eventually you look forward to the different healthy foods that you’re making.

It’s fun to have someone you know doing it, because it allows you to share. We swap recipes for things like cauliflower pizza and pumpkin protein bars. It keeps your attitude positive, and next thing you know, you need to buy a new belt!

It’s super simple, it’s very easy, there is some planning you have to do but it’s nothing overly complicated. Then there’s a positive reinforcement part — It’s kind of like stroking the ego to keep pushing you to do the right thing.

What’s your favorite thing about Rise?
Getting positive feedback and direction from a professional coach is the biggest thing I enjoy about the program. Being able to ask personal questions, e.g. I have to travel next week, what types of restaurants would you recommend and how can I make healthy choices there, etc. And then she’ll give me followup feedback, like “that was a good menu choice, but watch the portion size.”

How is Rise different from things you’ve done in the past?
Rise has given me the opportunity to see that it’s not about dieting, it’s about the healthy choices you can make that allow you to eat the foods that you want. It’s about the portions, how you prepare it, etc. It’s recognizing that you do have choices, and that making those choices and learning how it affects you helps you make better decisions.

What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome in your weight loss journey?
I think the biggest challenge has been the fear to try new things new, and to not stress out and fear that it’s impossible to both travel and lose weight. In reality, being on the road for two weeks doesn’t have to set me back. On my last trip I still lost four pounds. Rise has helped me realize the choices I have that I can make for myself.

What’s your favorite thing about your coach?
She’s energetic, and to get that energy via messaging feels unique. She lifts you up and gives you the support you’re looking for and is tough when she needs to be tough, but also able to make sure you stay motivated and positive.

How has your life changed since Rise?
I just have so much more energy now. No more “blah” feeling.

What advice would you share to others on the journey?
Be honest with yourself. When you take the picture of your plate and then throw more stuff on it later, you’re not going to get the results you want to get. You have to be honest with yourself and your coach. Also, it’s a slow and steady progression. If you push yourself too hard you’ll falter. You have to be positive and stick with it.

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