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Cindy Shanley Cindy Shanley

Cindy Shanley

“Make it a priority. I have a bad habit of putting myself last, but now I don’t let anything – people, work, holidays, travel, or setbacks – get between me and my health goals.” - Cindy Shanley, Managing Editor, Pearland Administrative Offices Building

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Cindy Shanley, Managing Editor, Pearland Administrative Offices Building

February 2020

It took a lot of trial and error, but Cindy, who was out of shape and overweight, finally found the program she’d been searching for less than 5 miles from work. She signed up with a personal trainer who listened to her goals – lose weight, become stronger, and build up endurance – and developed a personalized diet and workout plan just for her. So far, she’s lost 70 pounds and is determined to achieve all her goals.

What was the catalyst for your focus on being healthier and fit?

Although it seems like yesterday, nine years ago my youngest sibling passed away from complications related to Type 2 diabetes. In the years since, I’ve became more aware of how family history and genetics might affect my health if I didn’t pay more attention to it. Overweight and out of shape, I tried various diets and gyms, read numerous books on nutrition, and bought workout equipment – all of which worked for a time but never for long. The problem was none of them were challenging enough, and as I became bored I’d abandon ship. Last year, I started looking for a program that would be a better fit. I wanted to improve muscle strength and endurance while simultaneously losing weight.

How did you go about finding the right program?

I had a good idea from past experience of what wouldn’t work well for me. I work in Pearland but live off Highway 290. In the past, I joined gyms on my side of town, and by the time I got home from work wasn’t in the mood to workout, especially when I knew I was going to be bored with it. This time, I looked for a place in Pearland where I could go right after work while traffic cleared out. Once I had the location decided, I started looking at nearby options. I planned to check out a couple of local fitness chains when I thought to check the Pulse employee discount page. A gym named HIIT Houston (formally named Pearland Strength & Conditioning) was on the list. It turned out to be 4.2 miles from the Pearland Administrative Offices Building where I work. I looked at the website, saw a diverse group of members who looked like they were having fun, and emailed the owner to set up a time to meet. I asked a lot of questions. HIIT Houston has group classes, but I had decided ahead of time I wanted personal training and wanted a trainer who would challenge me, keep it interesting, and push me when needed. When the owner, Minh Tran, who’s the gym’s head trainer and now my trainer, explained his philosophy of training, I felt HIIT Houston would be a good fit and committed to 12 one-hour training sessions.

How has it been going?

Since starting at the end of January 2019, I’ve lost 70 pounds and gone down five sizes, which has generated notice from coworkers, friends, and gym members. What excites and motivates me the most, however, is when someone notices how much stronger I’m becoming. Changes in how I look, although a nice byproduct – who doesn’t want to look good – is less important to me. What I value more is what’s on the inside and being the healthiest and strongest I can be – for me.

What’s your approach to fitness?

With guidance from my trainer, I track what I eat on MyFitnessPal, making sure I’m eating the right amounts of protein with healthy carbs and fats. He makes adjustments to the amounts based on the progress I’m making and other factors. He develops workouts customized to get the results that will reach the series of goals I’m working toward. I typically work out six days a week.  I recently upped my personal training from two to three days a week. On the days I’m not at the gym, my trainer texts workouts that I do at home or when traveling. The workouts he’s designed are a combination of cardio, high-intensity interval training, and weight training that involves free weights and my own body weight.

What keeps you motivated?

I’m pretty determined and don’t give up easily, which has worked in my favor. Once I commit to something, no matter what it is, I put my all into it. Otherwise, to me, it’s not worth doing. Seeing results is the best motivator and my trainer varies my workouts so they never get stale. Working out is hard but fun and I enjoy it!

What has been the most challenging?

Just starting was challenging. I never told my trainer this, but I almost quit after the first session when I realized how out of shape I was. Then again, he texted me the day before my next session to ask if I was going, so maybe he suspected! Fortunately, I have a long drive home and by the time I got there after that first session, I had made a deal with myself to stick with it for at least three weeks and if I didn’t like it by then would give myself permission to quit. When the three weeks were up, I realized that whenever training days rolled around, I felt excited about going. I’ve continued ever since.

What advice would you give others wanting to be healthier?

First, be sure you know what your goals are. I set big and small goals that keep me moving forward.
Find a program or gym or approach that’s a good fit. If you hate swimming, you’re not likely to stick with a water aerobics class. Once you know how you want to go about it, get referrals if you can – don’t be shy about reaching out to wellness heroes and picking their brains for insider information. Then do your homework. Ask questions. Determine as best you can what the success rates are. Previous gyms I joined seemed more focused on signing people up rather than helping them accomplish what they wanted, so I’m grateful to have found one that exceeds all my expectations.

Once you’re ready to start, put in the work. I don’t do every workout perfectly, but I give it my all. Anything less would be cheating myself and wasting my trainer’s time. Make it a priority. I have a bad habit of putting myself last, but now I don’t let anything – people, work, holidays, travel, or setbacks – get between me and my health goals.

Lastly, be patient, stick with it, and don’t forget that celebrating achievements is important, which I’m working on getting better at.

How important is having the right support?

It’s harder if you have to go it alone. Having the right person cheering you on, motivating you, keeping you accountable to yourself, and making you feel you can accomplish anything makes all the difference. Whether you have a significant other, best friend, family member, workout group, or an awesome trainer like mine who goes above and beyond, it should be someone you trust and can count on.

What’s next for you?

I have more work to do to reach my final goals but know I’ll get there. I already have a couple of new ones in mind that I haven’t revealed yet but will when the time is right. 

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