LifeForce Fitness is so grateful to have watched so many through their journeys to wellness.

All stories are from former or current clients of Keely Dedeo, CPT. 

Mary Coubal's story

Height:  5'3"

Age:  44 years old

Weight Loss to Date:  83 lbs in 11 months 60% excess body weight

Previous Dress/Clothing size: 18

Dress/Clothing Size After 11 Months:  10

Occupation:  Student Enrollment Coordinator/Data Specialist

Over the past eight (8) years I have gone through many traumatic life changings events in my life that pushed me to no exercise and eating whatever I wanted and not caring.  I was trying to fill a large void in my life and turned to food instead of healthy habits.

My ‘aha’ moment was when I had a physical and I was told I was borderline diabetic which is my biggest fear for my health and my future.  Having a family history of diabetes, I knew I had to watch myself and this was the moment that I knew it was time.  It took me approximately two years to reach my heaviest weight.  It was gradual but consistent. Weight was always and issue for me, I am somebody that must watch everything that I eat and the amount of activity I am doing.  If I do not exercise, I will gain weight fast.

I was very athletic as a child and through high school but after high school I sustained a few injuries which made me give up what I knew and that was sports.  I played soccer, softball, and swam for most of my childhood on a competitive swim team.

Diet had a large role in my weight gain and the uneducated portion of diet was a huge impact.  What I thought was an okay diet, turned out to hurt me more and more.  I tried every fad diet out there and each time I would gain the weight back plus some.  I used to eat pizza all the time and drink soda.  I no longer drink any carbonated beverages and still eat pizza but watch the portion and the things on the pizza, including the crust type.

To begin my journey of healthy living, the first thing I did was go see my doctor and had a complete physical and blood work etc.  Under his direct care I was able to connect with a registered dietician and my friend Keely, a Nationally Certified Personal Trainer.  I was early in the stage but I knew if I didn’t reconnect with Keely, I would get bored and frustrated with my workout program which would affect my results and perhaps success.  We discussed the importance of weight training to increase lean mass and intensity level in the weight loss process as well as consistent and adequate nutrition to fuel my workouts as I progressed.  Keely collaborated with the information that my Physician specified for me from my bloodwork and provided additional support on a weekly basis.

I belonged to a gym for years but never utilized it.  I would pay monthly and think about it, but would not make the trip to the gym.  My initial experience left me feeling nervous and I didn’t want to be seen or looked at by anyone.  It was intimidating but I quickly made connections with friends that attend there and I was able to make the commitment because I had connections waiting at the gym for me to show up.  I had a specific custom exercise plan for my body and my goals and Keely made sure I was being challenged at the right level, increasing my difficulty level and stamina progressively.

Initially I would meet with Keely once a month and work on what she gave me until I was no longer feeling challenged. My body needed a change and we would meet again to redesign my program.  As I was dropping my weight and gaining strength, I knew I needed to make a bigger commitment and be challenged to a whole new level weekly.  Keely and I now meet each week to push my fitness goals and work though nutritional solutions that fit my lifestyle.

The most significant changes that I have made includes portion sizes for nutrition and knowing what is good for me, which is completely different than what I thought. Exercise changes included making a commitment to myself and living up to it.  Exercise has become one of my everyday activities and if I don’t make time for it I feel guilty and I can tell physically.  Making time for fitness and nutrition has become a habit for me now.

The hardest part of changing eating habits was the portion sizes and educating myself of what a body needs to function for specific activity levels, understanding the nutritional levels and what each food group is.  The biggest help for portion size for me was eating off a child size plate versus an adult full size plate.  This works!

There are set backs as I use to like to go out and have a beer with friends or just eat without thinking.  Since the start I have learned to change my line of thinking and think before I put something into my mouth.  Empty calories is the question I continually ask myself and if it is empty calories, I pass.  Although I am not at my goal weight yet I get closer each day.  It has taken me 10 months to get to where I am today.  I am on track to hit my goal weight 1.5 years from my start.  My favorite part of the changes I have had in training are that I currently love working my back and upper legs.  I don’t have a favorite move as long as I can feel the burn, that is the best feeling!

I can now run 3-4 miles without stopping, when I first started I couldn’t run for 2 minutes.  Keely has added sprint intervals to my running program a few days per week to better challenge my current fitness level.  My family is very supportive and continues to encourage me.  My daughter is beginning to see the results and jumping on board which will help her physically and mentally as well.

If I could give encouragement to anyone it would be to talk to the experts and seek help, there are so many resources out there to help you, but you have to want to be at that point and seek to understand what will work for your body and lifestyle.  Make a change for your life not for an event or timeframe. - Mary Coubal

Kim Huemann'S STORY

Height:  5'2"

Age:  40 years old

Starting Weight: 186 lbs

Current Weight: 149.6 lbs

Weight Loss to Date:  36.4 lbs in 16 Months

Previous Dress/Clothing size: 12-14

Dress/Clothing Size After 11 Months:  8

My “ah-ha” moment came almost exactly one year after I suddenly lost my father.  My heaviest weight came after losing him, but weight had gradually come on prior to this.  It all truly began after the birth of my second child, when I was identified as having a thyroid imbalance.  The weight came on so slowly at first that I didn’t even connect or realize that it was happening.  I was so lost in being a mom of little kids and catering to their needs that I forgot about my own.  

Being overweight was never something that I struggled with as a child, I was a swimmer for many years on a competitive team.  This was something that I loved and never thought about as “working out”.  However, with maturity and high school my swimming opportunities diminished and I feel quickly into a stagnant lifestyle.  Along with this I was becoming independent with the freedom of a job and car, thus allowing me to make my own food choices, which most commonly was fast food.  These choices took many years to start taking a toll on my weight, but eventually it did.

 The first moment that I realized that I needed to really figure out my life and my weight issues was in January of 2010.  It was a year after the sudden loss of my father and I was sitting at my mom’s house still lost in depression and sadness.  I was looking at pictures and reminiscing old memories of my youth and realized that I was following the unhealthy path that my father chose.  This was the moment that I realized that I did not want to choose this for myself or my children, and that I held the power to change the destructive path I was on.  I had to take control of the problem of letting myself cope with my feelings with food, I was self-destructing.  

When I began my transformation I started where I thought I needed the most education, food and eating habits.  I jumped into working with Keely fully and was completely dedicated to learning as much as I could.  The DotFit armband was my saving grace in accelerating my knowledge on caloric intake, nutrient density, the importance of sleep and recovery and the role my intensity (MET) level played in fat loss.  It really helped me see where I was struggling in my efforts and was eye opening!   However, it was also truly empowering!  I quickly added in walking/light cardio and a personalized weight lifting program that Keely created for me including HIIT training.   Things all came together pretty quickly and I found myself craving my nightly workouts.  I actually got to the point that my body needed and loved to get a good workout.  As we re-assessed and upped my strength training goals I was capable of handling greater intensity and heavier weights. My body composition was changing, my lean muscle mass was increasing and my body fat was decreasing.  I was seeing inches lost and weight on the scale shifting.  I had more energy, strength and stamina to pursue the lifestyle that I wanted.  I participated in things I never thought I’d be able to including the Dirty Girl Mud Run and Cross fit Prevail.  

This whole life change process is one that has been transforming over many years, I have had to continue to overcome challenges and cravings and life changes that truly test my commitment to not allow myself to go back to old ways.  I have had periods of my life where I have regained weight and had to reconnect with my knowledge and commitment to my health.  I have continued moving and challenging myself to do bigger and more challenging physical things.  I stick to working out 3-4 times a week and watching what I eat based on the trial and error process of what works for my body and my lifestyle.  By remembering to prioritize myself I am at my best for me and my family. - Kim Huemann


Ellen Shiflet

Height: 5’3”

Weight: 150 lb (or so)

Birthdate: 7/20/1948

Dress size before: 14/16

Dress size after: 10/12


My “aha” moment occurred in 2012 soon after I committed to walking a marathon and a half over two days in Santa Barbara, California to support the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. My reason for signing on was not a lofty goal to help cure cancer, but rather to join a team of really fun friends on a wonderful adventure.

Soon the reality of the situation set in, and we all realized that we were not going to be able to just throw on a pair of shoes and walk all those miles. I was in the worst shape of the group of five, and almost the oldest of the group also. But once a commitment is made, it is not in my nature to back down, and so I knew a plan had to be put in place. Thus in January of 2012, I started working with Keely to be ready for the September walk.

I had always been overweight as a child…purchased clothes in the “chubby” section until I grew a bit taller around the age of 12. Unfortunately due to my mother’s on-going illness, we girls were left on our own to snack on whatever was available in the house. This often was carb filled foods, and a good piece of warm bread with butter is still like gold to me. I am the original carbs girl! It is my go-to food when sad, depressed, happy, and celebrating!

By the time I left for college I was well into size 16 clothes, and after my freshman year my mom took me to a “diet doctor” where I was given pills to lose weight. I really watched what I ate that summer and had a job as an industrial mail girl where I walked a million miles over eight hours, picking up and delivering office mail. The exercise, not the pills, worked. I went back to college about twenty pounds lighter.

I have continued to have weight issues my entire life, yo-yoing up and down, but as I have aged I have realized that my continued good health is tied to maintaining a healthy weight and a regular exercise schedule. Upon retirement, I joined a gym, mainly due to the good influence of my husband who after retiring several years earlier had made the gym experience part of his daily routine. I have never liked gyms, as I have always felt overweight and was intimidated by the many machines available. Gym activities were really not part of my college or post college experience as the baby boomer generation then was not into that.  I was concerned about using the machines incorrectly and thus either negating their benefit or hurting myself in some way.

My husband Jim continued to encourage me to go to the gym, but even with participation in Zumba classes, I didn’t feel that I was really helping myself. About five years ago, I took a fall and broke bones in my right foot. Having never had a broken bone before, I did not take this well, and really resented the thirteen weeks I was limited to sitting in a chair. During that time we purchased a stationery recumbent bike for our home, and I was able to do that exercise twice a day.This enabled me to limit my weight gain, and made me ready to commit to a future exercise program. Unfortunately after sitting for thirteen weeks I required therapy to walk correctly again, and after completing the rehab at our club, I was referred to Keely for further rehab in the gym.  I progressed from one session with her a week to two during the year I worked up to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. These two time a week sessions, combined with regular Zumba participation, helped strength my endurance. I embarked on a regular walking schedule, which I gradually increased from a thirty minute walk which left me exhausted to eventually walking just short of twenty miles in one day. In Santa Barbara, I found myself not only able to finish the walk, but have energy to spare! The second day, which was just over twelve miles, was almost a walk in the park!

So now, three years later, I try to continue doing some type of exercise daily. This schedule continues to be anchored by two thirty minute sessions weekly with Keely, which keeps me focused and motivated. Keely provides a good balance of exercises which I would not do on my own with suggestions on eating habits and exercise patterns for the rest of my week. My preferred exercise continues to be walking, preferably outside, but I truly appreciate the assistance with keeping variety in what I do each week. She is able to look at my progress, or lack of it, objectively, and keep me on track.

At sixty-six years of age, my goals have shifted from extreme weight loss to keeping my body in great working shape as I ease into old age! Keely helps me evaluate my aches and pains to determine which are significant and suggests solutions which are very helpful. I appreciate her holistic approach to my efforts for good health. Starting my day with thirty minutes of productive exercise with Keely gets me moving in a positive direction with productive activities that many retired people never do. I always feel better after leaving Keely…and am glad that I have chosen to make this a regular part of my life in retirement. - Ellen Shiflet

Patrick Knapp's Story

I believe that I have been, for the most part, one to exercise and stay in relatively good shape. However, I admit that in the past it was easy for me to allow physical fitness to take a back seat to other pressing issues in my life. And sometimes those lapses in my fitness inadvertently and unknowingly turned into extended periods of time. Case in point: in 2007 I experienced a particularly busy time in my life when I allowed my physical fitness to lag. During that time I started experiencing excruciating pain in my left shoulder and the left side of my neck. I blamed the
pain on stress and a new mattress that my wife and I purchased. By January of 2008 the pain/stiffness led me back to exercise and my first yoga class (which I fell in love with). Between yoga, a few rounds of acupuncture, and a return to good physical fitness (running, swimming, spinning, weight lifting) the pain in my left shoulder/neck/upper back seemed to abate. In fact, I even trained for several half marathons.

Old habits die hard. In 2012 I was finishing my Master's Degree and allowed myself, once again, to put physical fitness on the back burner (because it would only be temporary, right?). During that time I began to experience numbness in both of my hands after doing repetitive motions especially while working (dentist...not so good to have numb fingers while working on a patient). The numbness seemed to be self-limiting as it would pass soon after I stopped the particular movement/activity. And, per usual in my life, the stressful stretch passed and I was back into my fitness routines.


In May of 2013 I entered what was probably the most stressful and worst part of my entire life. The details aren't important but I believe that that time in my life was more stressful than Dental School (which had been the most stressful part of my life up to that point). Fear, fatigue, and despondency eventually overtook my physical fitness. By the Fall of 2013 my left side neck/upper back/shoulder pain returned (we purchased another new mattress so I blamed the pain on the new mattress again) and it was not going away. In fact, the pain was getting worse and
eventually started waking me up at night. The combination of stress/anxiety and left shoulder pain disrupting my sleep left me very fatigued and I finally had to seek medical attention.

I started physical therapy in July of 2014 and I initially achieved some good results. For instance, I started getting some better neck mobility and I was not being awoken as frequently at night with neck/shoulder pain. However, as physical therapy became more aggressive my pain returned with a vengeance. Toward the end of August, 2014, I was being awoken from sleep with stabbing pain in my neck/shoulder that was so bad I would feel like vomiting. Exercises that had once-upon-a-time felt good were starting to cause intense pain. There was little to no relief with physical therapy and sometimes I would leave my physical therapy sessions feeling increased pain. Worse, I developed numbness in my left thumb that would not go away and certain left arm movements would cause the feeling of pins and needles and/or electrical shocks down my left arm that would
culminate in intense pain and my left arm going numb. Sleep was becoming nearly impossible. I started cervical traction in September of 2014 which gave temporary relief but daily I would develop intense pain that made me feel like I would either vomit or pass out. Daily I took 800mg of Ibuprofen every six hours to help relieve some of the pain and I eventually started taking an even more powerful pain reliever called Diclofenac.

My turn for the worse prompted radiographs, an MRI, and a trip to an orthopedic surgeon. Diagnosis: two destroyed discs in my neck and carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. Treatment: spinal fusion surgery (C4-C5-C6) and carpal tunnel release surgery in both wrists. Prognosis: excellent with METICULOUS physical therapy followed by METICULOUS SUSTAINED physical fitness (with inevitable lifestyle changes). My surgery and post-surgical physical therapy/rehabilitation were a resounding success. I had my life back! But as I approached discharge from physical therapy I became very apprehensive to leave physical therapy. Further, I was nervous about my ability to sustain all of my excellent physical progress all on my own. Regressing into old habits was not an option! Jenny, my (wonderful) physical therapist, recommended I meet and train with Keely. Jenny said that she had never met a trainer with a better grasp of body mechanics and motion than Keely. What's more is Jenny assured me that she would work hand-in-hand with Keely to share notes and ensure my smooth and healthy transition from post-surgical physical
therapy to post-surgical physical training.

I met Keely and the rest is history. I train with Keely several times a week and Keely has me soaring above the progress I started in physical therapy. As such I am healthier, lifting more weight, and hitting higher maximum heart rates than at any other time in my life post high school graduation. I recently ran a 5K and I'm training for several 10K's. I have new confidence in my physical abilities. I am aware of my limits. I have a new and wonderful ability to say no to things that come in between me and my physical health/fitness. And I am confident saying that I feel the best I've felt in years. I am a new person and I intend to keep things that way. And I have accomplished this with Keely's watchful and encouraging
efforts. - Partick Knapp

Heather Mlachnik's STORY

I met Keely through a mutual friend who had trained with her for over a year with phenomenal results.  I have to admit I was skeptical having tried every weight loss option and gimmick as well as the usual suspects like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig with limited  or no success.  Keely was and is very good about listening and trying to provide programs and nutrition based upon your lifestyle and habits without trying to completely change your world.  She focuses on small changes and works with you to come up things that are manageable and doable.  I was especially encouraged to find she was the first person ever who did not tell me “you just need to learn to like more fruits and veggies” but rather tried to come up with ways that I could incorporate the few I like into my diet but also offered healthy options to make sure I get the nutrition needed to be successful in my health and weight loss journey.  She is phenomenal to work out with and has designed programs for my home gym use as well.  Additionally she is always pushing me to try new things when working out which keeps the work outs fun and interesting.  I would highly recommend Keely to anyone! - Heather L. Mlachnik


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