Christine Hodges, 28, Eagan, Life Time Fitness National award winner
Fast forward to 2013. Hodges is now 150 pounds and hoping to become a professional bodybuilder. Losing all that weight took a lot of time, but the process revved up when the Eagan mom entered Life Time Fitness’ National 90-Day Transformation Challenge. She was named the winner last month, pocketing a hefty $10,000.
The journey to achieving her new body was filled with speed bumps. Along the way, she quit smoking and drinking. She joined Lifetime in 2012 but initially had a hard time taking her trainers’ advice. Still, she lost enough weight to step up to endurance training and complete a series of races: first a 10K, then a 10-mile, then a half-marathon.
She didn’t fall in love with fitness, however, until she discovered bodybuilding. Her “ultimate, ultimate” goal is to compete in figure fitness tournaments. In January, she’ll embark on months of training as she gears up for her first competition — Ms. Natural 2014.
Mirror, mirror “I was always active and involved in sports, but I was always the chubbier kid. After college, I stopped exercising and started eating a lot of fast food. It just happened; I had a busy schedule, and exercise wasn’t a priority. When I was at my heaviest I would look in the mirror and think, ‘This isn’t who I am.’ That was a huge turning point.”
Tough run “It took a lot of courage for me to go into the gym, to get over the fear of being judged. I lost 20 pounds in six months, and I was under 200 pounds. I was no longer the fat girl. That’s when I was like, now I need to kick it up a notch. I thought I was ready for a half-marathon, but at Grandma’s half [marathon in Duluth] this summer my knee was giving out at mile 11 — and afterward I just wanted to go home and not run ever again.”
No sugar? No problem “That’s when I started bodybuilding. I was about 180 pounds, and I knew I was ready for something — there was a fire burning inside me. I e-mailed Bob [Holper, Life Time Fitness professional bodybuilder and personal trainer], and I told him I wanted to win the 90-day [national competition]. He said, ‘Well, this is what you have to do if you want to win: You have to stop drinking alcohol, no sugar, no fruit, no dairy.’ I basically ate nine to 10 foods for 90 days. Now this is my life, and I love it. I feel so good; my skin is glowing and it’s amazing.”
Seeking strength “I work 40 to 50 hours a week and spend 25 to 30 hours a week in the gym. I wake up at 4:15 a.m. to get a pre-workout shake in. Then I work out from 5 a.m. until 7 a.m., and I go back to the gym for a p.m. session of cardio. I get home at 7:30 and my [3-year-old] son and I read together and he takes a bath and literally we’re both so drained we look at each other and pass out. The whole thing about losing weight is finding the mental strength. Your muscles won’t fail; your mind will.”
Go, mom, go “This morning my son said, ‘I’m eating asparagus so I can get big muscles like Mommy.’ I pack all my food for two weeks at a time; my mom has helped with my son’s food; she’ll send homemade frozen meals for him. If I’m going out with colleagues to lunch, I’ll call the restaurant ahead of time and explain that I’m an athlete and ask if it’s OK to bring my own food. They’re almost always supportive.”
Why am I doing this? “When I think about how many people were there for me for support I want to cry. I couldn’t have been so successful without the staff at Lifetime, and my friends and family. When you choose to start living more healthy, you really find out who truly cares about you, and those are the people who will support you and help you. During those 90 days [of the competition] I had to tell people, ‘I need you, can you remind me why I’m doing this?’ My second-in-command trainer, fitness model and trainer Tarah Andrews, really helped me from a woman’s perspective to find balance when my support from friends started changing. I was always open for new friendships, and some of the greatest people I’ve met in the last two months will be my best friends for life.” □