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Finding the Path

Mike Falkner looks you in the eye and says it: “I hate exercise.” He says it a lot.
But in early 2010 he reached the point where hate it or not, he had to do it.

“My clothes were tight, my back hurt, I added pounds every year and I felt like an old man, especially when I saw that seven-compartment pill box,” he says. “This had to stop.”

The 56-year-old program manager at Microsoft in Fargo put his analytical skills to work, reviewing past attempts at weight loss and exercise, and why they failed.

“I finally concluded some people are strong enough and they can do this on their own,” he says. “I couldn’t.”

A journey begins

A scroll through Microsoft’s human resources web page gave Mike a new idea: Sanford’s Healthy Lifestyle Program. Microsoft picks up the majority of the cost for eligible employees.

Well-researched and intensive, the yearlong program covers all the bases: eating habits, exercise and stress management. The format includes group classes, one-on-one sessions and take-home assignments. The experts come from the Eating Disorders Institute and Lifelong Fitness Center.

“The beauty of the program is it brings everything together,” says Mike. “It takes the mystery out of why you’re overweight and out of shape -- and teaches you what to do about it.”

No excuses

Mike’s top goal? Get healthy. But the exercise requirement in Healthy Lifestyle daunted him. With longstanding bone and joint problems, how would he get through 80 sessions with a personal trainer? “I have a bad back, a bad elbow and bone spurs in my shoulder. I’m pretty messed up,” says Mike. “Basically an exercise basket case.”

In March 2010, shortly after starting Healthy Lifestyle, Mike joined forces with Adam Krueger at Lifelong Fitness. Backed by Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine and the entire Sanford Health system, Adam is one of several exercise specialists who work with Health Lifestyle participants -- and any others who want healthy change.

“This guy’s super good,” says Mike. “I couldn’t have completed the program without him.”

Sweat equity

Despite his exer-phobia, Mike took the right actions. Adam noticed it immediately.

“He’d show up early, always warm up and was willing to try anything I recommended,” says Adam. “I had to get creative in working around his injuries, but within a few weeks we had a pretty good routine in place. From there we kept building.”

Month after month Mike put one foot in front of the next, attending the Healthy Lifestyle sessions, making smart food choices (but not feeling guilty when he didn’t) and working out with Adam.

In January 2011 Mike graduated. And today? “I feel better than I’ve felt in years,” he says. Changes include:

  • Free of muscle pains
  • No back episodes in more than a year
  • No more medications including Nexium -- and no more big pill box
  • Two inches off his waist and one size down in clothing
  • Twice the strength
  • Greater stamina

“I’m not ready to declare victory, but I’ve made strides,” says Mike. “I have the tools I need to reach my next goal: lose a few more pounds.”

A great fit

Many Healthy Lifestyle participants continue to exercise at Lifelong Fitness after they complete the program. “That wasn’t for me,” says Mike. “I wanted something I could do on my own time at home.”

Mike pursued the TRX exercise system -- a set of straps that attaches to an eyebolt in a wall. “TRX fits right into my lifestyle and I can do it in our small downtown condo,” says Mike. He saved his last two training sessions so he could get help from Adam on using the TRX safely and effectively.

One final discovery: biking. “But not in a gym,” says Mike. “I love to hop on my bike and in two minutes I’m on the paths. I can go for miles and have a ball.”

Oh, and please don’t tell Mike that biking is exercise. He’s having way too much fun!

How ’bout you? Are you ready for personal training at Lifelong Fitness? Call (701)234-8750. For more information about wellness programs, click here

Posted Date: April 2011