This month we are celebrating Wellness Warriors througout the western suburbs. Each of these amazing residents have a story that is both inspiring and worth sharing.
AMELIA HENDRYX, Naperville Growing up an extremely active person, Amelia’s desire to pursue a degree in dance was a natural fit for pursuing a healthy and dynamic lifestyle. She married and had a baby; but then everything changed in 2009 when she lost her second child at birth.
“The desire and motivation that I had always had vanished as the grieving settled into my life,” Amelia confides. “This was the most in-active time of my life and it was evident in not only my physical appearance, but in my diet, personality and overall health.”
Her world was rocked again in 2011 when her second daughter was born with countless medical needs. Amelia knew something needed to change in order for her to fully support her non-ambulatory child, who is not able to walk, or stand on her own. “She requires heavy equipment,” Amelia says. “I NEEDED to work out to handle all of her daily requirements.”
So in June 2013, she purchased ChaLEAN Extreme and followed the plan exactly; and subsequently, watched the inches fall off. She added Shakeology to her routine and went from a chronically stress-sick person to someone whose depression and anxiety were entirely under control. In 2015, at 37 years old, Amelia competed in her first bikini contest at the Beachbody Coach Summit and was featured on their IG account! -Kristen Kucharski
FUN FITNESS FACTS
Where do you love to work out? I love working out at home, very early in the morning, to my Beachbody workouts! What is your favorite workout routine or class? My top program is the 21 Day Fix Extreme! PiYo-low impact, crazy tone, and a feeling of everyday gratitude set you up for great days. What is your favorite healthy snack? Since sweets are my go to-I love to make Shakeology chocolate peanut butter cups! I also love banana boats - graham crackers, peanut butter and banana.
SUE ZUBEK, Wheaton Although Sue has always been active, as each year passed, it became physically harder for her to stay fit; and, finding the time to focus on her own needs felt daunting amongst her three tween daughters’ daily schedules.
Sue was aware that both her aunt and grandmother were individually diabetic and overweight, but when her own father, who had always lived a fairly healthy lifestyle, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and several other family members and friends were recently diagnosed with cancer, it made her think, "Wow, this could happen to me, too; I knew that I didn't want that for myself.”
These events reinforced the importance of a healthy diet and regular fitness routine for Sue. She began to eat “bad” foods less frequently and smaller portions of them when she does. Activities such as the Wheaton Fun Run in Color with her kids, triathlons in Galena and Chicago, the Spirit of Racine Half Ironman, and the Navy Pier Perfect 10 became mainstays in this suburban mom’s routine. She now centers her cooking on what healthy foods her kids might eat, and enjoys reading Outside and Experience Life for fitness information and ideas. “Small steps toward a larger goal are a great way to make a permanent change.” -Kristen Kucharski
FUN FITNESS FACTS
Where do you love to work out? I love variety so I love running/biking outside in summer/fall; and Orange Theory in Wheaton and my elliptical at home in the cooler months.
What is your favorite workout routine or class? In general, running, walking/jogging with my dog, biking, hiking with the kids, and gardening. Also Heaven and Hell boot camp (killer weights workout); and yoga, weight training and spinning at the Wheaton Park District and Lifetime Fitness.
What is your favorite healthy snack? I love nuts - especially toasted pecans; and KIND bars.
HANK EBELING, Wheaton When Hank was at Willowbrook High School, he was actively involved in football and track. He knew that in order to get better, stronger, faster, leaner, he would have to start working out on a regular basis. “Once I started, I never stopped,” Hank says. “You have to commit to ‘you’ to start any program.”
Hank is so passionate about wellness that he opened his own fitness studio, H4 Training in Wheaton. “Besides being passionate, I honestly enjoy working out and when I look and feel good, I have the confidence to attack anything,” he says. “I love the overall health benefits, and it gives me the energy to push through long days as an entrepreneur.”
Although fitness seems ingrained, Hank admits that even the most determined people have struggles in their wellness journey. “There were times in which I felt bored and didn’t have that extra push I needed,” he shares. “When you come to that place you must re-access your goals, and give yourself a spark with a new work out, and get back after it!”
Hank feels blessed that his fiancée shares a desire for fitness which helps each of them stay motivated. They enjoy local races, such as the Waterfall Glen 10K, the Wheaton Light the Torch 5K, and the Wheaton Color Run 5K together. Hank works to encourage others by posting daily fitness motivational quotes, tips and client success stories on his H4 Facebook page. -Kristen Kucharski
FUN FITNESS FACTS
Where do you love to work out? H4 Training in Wheaton, of course!
What is your favorite workout routine or class? I like a full body routine that is time efficient like the one we do at my gym H4. You get more bang for your buck and get big time benefits with strength and keeping lean.
What is your favorite healthy snack? Orgain shake or homemade trailmix
SOTIRIA “SAMMIE” KAPSIS, Naperville After moving to Naperville a few years ago, Sotiria “Sammie” stopped working as a school counselor and became a stay at home mom; however, she found herself feeling down and eating to cope with her emotions. She was also nearing her 40’s, her metabolism was slowing down, and weight loss seemed impossible. “I even caught myself making negative remarks about my body in front of my daughters,” Sammie says. “That is when I decided it was time to make a change. I wanted to be a positive role model in my daughters’ lives.”
Like many, Sammie made a New Year’s Resolution in 2011, but unlike most, as 2016 rings in, she is still going strong. She initially ordered P90X and became a part of an online challenge group. “If it wasn’t for that group, I would have quit on the 3rd day,” she says. “However posting sweaty pics, acknowledging others, and being acknowledged for my efforts was an extraordinarily positive and uplifting experience.”
She has since formed a private accountability group, called Team Friends n Fitness. Each person does their own home fitness program, follows a portion controlled nutrition program and inspires one another through their daily struggles and triumphs. Sammie shares her journey, favorite recipes, articles, and team successes via www.fb.com/teamfriendsnfitness and Instagram family_friends_n_fitness, as well as twitter and periscope. -Kristen Kucharski
FUN FITNESS FACTS
Where do you love to work out? I love working out at home best because I can play my music and dance in between moves, and get a little silly with taking selfies and videos to show my friends in the group.
What is your favorite workout routine or class? I love structured workouts that include HIIT (high intensity interval training), Tabata, weights and plyometrics; plus a day for yoga or stretching.
ASHLIE ANDERSEN, Geneva As an avid dancer, Ashlie Andersen was thrilled to take over State Street Dance Studio in downtown Geneva a little over a year ago. However, her life became more difficult when very shortly after, she gave birth to two twin boys two months premature and also struggled with her own health issues that kept her in the hospital for a month. Taking care of a new business and a new family was a challenge.
“It was a very difficult job to do,” says Ashlie. “At one point, I had a very close friend remind me that I have to take care of myself as well.” She worked hard to get her body and health back to where it needed to be to keep her energy level up for her family and her dancers. “My family pushes me to keep my lifestyle healthy because if I’m not, I can’t be there for them in the ways they need me to be,” she explains.
Typically, Ashlie does most of her workouts and conditioning in her own studio on her quiet time and also with the dancers. She wants to be a good role model for her students; she knows dancers have many difficult body image and eating issues. “It’s up to me,” Ashlie points out. “I need to promote a healthy balance and lifestyle as an example for them to live by.” –Mindy Kyle
FUN FITNESS FACTS
What is your favorite workout routine or class? I love a good Pilates class to strengthen the core.
What is your typical “start the day right” breakfast? As a mom, I’m sure many can attest that the kids eat first. I feed them and then cook eggs with toast or a bagel and fruit for myself and try to give some to the kids.
What is your favorite healthy snack? A smoothie! There are so many great and healthy ways to get in nutrients and calories through a fruity drink!
What is your favorite healthy snack? Chocolate Shakeology blended with 1/2 banana, tsp of peanut butter, ice, & water.
CHAD WHITE WOLF KOCH, Hinsdale For Chad White Wolf Koch, it became apparent after working for eight years as an architect that he felt happier and healthier when he got out from behind his desk and moved around. He is now helping others do the same as the owner of White Wolf Academy which teaches Martial Arts, Yoga and Tai Chi with multiple park districts and communities including the Community House in Hinsdale and Yoga Among Friends in Downers Grove.
“Health is comprised of four aspects: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual,” explains Chad. “I need all four of these to be present and healthy.” He feels Martial Arts, Yoga and Tai Chi bring all four together. He enjoys working with his students and athletes to show them good health isn’t always packaged in high-intensity workouts or competitions. Having a healthy diet and exercise plan is key. “Everyone trips over a crack in the sidewalk once in a while. As long as you continue walking instead of stopping to stare at the crack, it is not so difficult,” says Chad.
Chad also advocates being a part of a group as a fantastic way to continue a health journey. “It is important to me that my classes become a community. We help each other, support each other and hold each other accountable.” He would love to see a trend to “reject the cultural bias on how we ‘should’ look. It is amazing how your health changes when you find the beauty and strength within yourself.” –Mindy Kyle
FUN FITNESS FACTS
What is your favorite workout routine or class? I really can’t choose, which is why I teach all three. I love the strong kicks in Tae Kwon Do and when I’m standing on my head or doing an arm balance in yoga, I feel on fire.
What is your typical “start the day right” breakfast? I usually make a fruit smoothie in the morning to get me going.
What is your favorite healthy snack? I really enjoy fruit as a snack. Bananas, strawberries and raspberries are my favorites.
HRISTO HRISTOV,St. Charles Hristo Hristov built his fitness and wellness coaching facility, Higher Level Fitness in St. Charles, around a list of core values including two of which he thinks are the most important for a coaching center – accountability and support. “We help our clients find their most important reason for becoming healthier,” says Hristo. “Then we support them directly in their exercise and nutrition planning each time they come in.” He explains that everyone has tough times, but if his coaches hold their clients accountable to their goals and desired end results, success tends to follow.
Hristo also points out it is not enough to just want to lose a little weight or become healthier; to be successful, you need to find why you want those results. Perhaps you want to be a better role model to your children, or you want to excel at a sport. “The turning point for me was when I started wanting more meaning and purpose in my life,” he says. “The moment I started expecting excellence in myself is the moment I started focusing on nutrition, movement, emotions and the mind.”
A longtime athlete, Hristo’s focus has shifted much more to preservation and longevity of the body. He believes life’s challenges are an opportunity to learn and grow stronger, and “if you love yourself a bit more daily – things will get better.” –Mindy Kyle
FUN FITNESS FACTS
What is your favorite workout routine or class? My favorite movements that help get a body strong, lean and healthy are deadlifts, pull-ups, squats, push-ups and kettlebell swings.
What is your typical “start the day right” breakfast? Mostly raw veggies (green/red peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, etc.), 2-3 whole boiled eggs, some good quality cheese and turkey slices.
What inspires you to keep up your healthy lifestyle? My vision. I envision the world a place where people are awakened and see the value and meaning of being healthy and fit.
ELIZABETH GINDT, Montgomery Elizabeth Gindt is a busy wife and mother of 2 teenagers who lives in Montgomery. She also owns Touchpoints to Tranquility, where she dedicates her time to helping others relax and detoxify. Before she opened her business Elizabeth was faced with life-changing news in November 2003 when she was diagnosed with MS.
“At first I accepted my fate and just started taking any drug they’d give me…..within a couple of years I was taking 39 pills a day between supplements and prescriptions and that was my ah-ha moment. I was taking one drug for one thing and then 2 or 3 others to help with side effects and so on. I figured there had to be something more holistic that I could do, so I set out on a journey to research alternative treatments, etc. Soon after that I decided I wanted to help others feel as good as I did without the use of medications and other drugs,” she said.
When it comes to her favorite aspect of helping others, Elizabeth says she loves to hear how clients are sleeping better, having fewer aches and pains, etc.
“They all have different goals when they come to me for a treatment and when I help them reach whatever that goal is, there is nothing more satisfying than that,” she added.
Elizabeth also finds time to continue her own healthy regimen. She enjoys working out, she loves massages, and gets facials and other pampering treatments regularly to help her feel her very best.
Elizabeth is currently attending S.O.H.M.A.R in Downers Grove and expects to be a Licensed Massage Therapist by the spring of 2016. -Lindy Kleivo FUN FITNESS FACTS
What is your favorite healthy snack? Pretzels because I like the salt and when I eat them, it helps me get in a ton of water. Do you have a favorite fitness or health magazine tool that you use for tips & guidelines, etc.? I’m on Facebook constantly and I check out many of the posts that are on my page with all sorts of information regarding; health, wellness, aromatherapy, massage therapy.