Losing weight has its own set of challenges, but Sabrina Haines had factors working against her that were out of her control.
In 2006, the Jefferson City resident was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Two years later, she had a bad relapse, resulting in a hospital trip, steroid treatments and temporarily losing mobility.
“I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t bathe myself or feed myself,” she said. “I had a battle coming back from that and knew I didn’t want to do that again.”
After feeling better and getting back on track, Haines was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2014. She had a double mastectomy the next month, then she started chemotherapy for a few months and taking medications that she will be on for five to 10 years.
“Every time I went back to see the doctors, they had me see a nutritionist, a dietitian, go to their gym for a week – nothing worked. I kept gaining weight,” she said. “The medication makes it hard to lose weight and you tend to hold onto it. I couldn’t accept that because I was feeling terrible.”
Haines wanted to get healthier. One day while on a walk along West Edgewood, she came across the person who would show her the answer: Angela Bax.
“We happened to cross paths and she gave me a high-five. She was running, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I wish I could look like that again and feel that way again,” said Haines, who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines as a corporal. “When she passed me going back, I stopped her and asked, ‘Are you a personal trainer? You look great.’ She said, ‘No, I’m not. I’m working on my journey, too.’”
Being involved in sports nutrition for some time, Bax became passionate about getting to the root basics of being physically, mentally, emotionally and financially healthy. That is the reason why she and her boyfriend Nick Baker, a longtime certified personal trainer in Jefferson City, decided to start their business, Training For LIFE.
“Anybody can go and pay for someone to have them kick their butts to get healthy. But what are they doing back home? … We brainstormed on a way to support an individual’s health on every level and during every change,” she said, noting they focus on nutrition, fitness, mindset and personal development through wellness assessments, personalized weight loss and nutrition programs, and emotional support.
Bax provided that support to Haines as she watched her go through a gamut of medically suggested diets and exercise programs, and helped her exercise, weed out Haines’ food pantry and taught Haines’ how to make healthy dishes at her regular cooking classes. Haines was getting on the right track, but her thoughts came back to a weight loss program that Bax suggested before.
“She has seen me with food, restricting my calories, trying to work out like crazy with slow progress,” Haines said. “She had mentioned Optavia before and I blew it off. … Finally, I asked her about it.”
Optavia provides natural food packed with nutrients the body craves and needs.
“Optavia offers different weight loss products for different budgets, but their most popular weight loss program is the 5 & 1 Plan. You eat five nutrient dense items and one lean and green meal,” said Bax, who became a certified health coach, doing just that for Optavia early last year. “Imagine you go to the grocery story and you are buying everything you need to put into your body for the day that is pre-portioned out. In this program, you learn portion control.”
Bax said each “fueling” or food item consumed in the 5 & 1 plan contains high protein and a patented probiotic, GanedenBC30, which helps with digestive health. All the food is natural and void of added preservatives that have made many mass produced foods unhealthy. There are also many gluten-free options.
“You can be a vegan and still be overweight because you don’t have enough nutrients in your body,” she said. “In this program, you eat pretzels, muffins, brownies – things that society says you shouldn’t eat. But they all have the probiotics, vitamins and minerals your body wants and needs to be healthy.”
Haines bit the bullet and started Optavia Oct. 1, the same day a 90-day health challenge launched for the Jefferson City area Optavia community that comprises about 1,400 clients under various health coaches, including Bax.
“I was reading about the 90-day challenge, and I thought I can try this. I have tried every diet under the moon. Something has got to work, because nothing had worked,” Haines said. “I weighed 202 pounds that first day, and we are now in week 10 (week before Christmas at that time). I have dropped 30 pounds and am currently in second place (in Bax’s client pool participating in the challenge).”
If clients decide to try Optavia’s 5 & 1 Plan after their general wellness and health assessment, Bax will typically select their first set of daily fuelings for them due to the large selection available. From brownies and pancakes to popcorn and mac and cheese, there are 60 different fuelings available to mix and match anyone’s palate. For Haines, one sweet treat is a staple in her daily fuelings.
“I eat a double chocolate brownie every night. … Sometimes I don’t make it quite to the three-hour mark after dinner,” she said with a smile, noting her grandchildren also love the brownies. “I haven’t had anything I didn’t like so far. … You eat every two and a half or three hours. You are constantly eating, which works for me.”
Bax has also converted her healthy cooking classes held twice a month at her home to lean and green meal instructional sessions, and Haines loves preparing them for her family.
“Angela is always sending recipes to me, too. One of my favorites right now is the spaghetti squash grilled cheese waffle. You feel like you are cheating, but the spaghetti squash is cooked in the waffle iron and makes this crust that is like a bread. Then, you melt pepper jack cheese in the center, and it is to die for,” Haines said, adding Ron, her husband and fellow retired U.S. Marine, also loves the meals and is losing weight. “We have done zucchini ravioli, spaghetti squash lasagna, crock pot chili. There are so many different food items that you can have.”
After seeing her mom lose weight using the Optavia 5 & 1 plan, her daughter Krystal has also started to use it. Both mom and daughter enjoy having Bax as their health coach and Krystal is training to become one herself.
“Angela is awesome. She comes up with all different things to keep you motivated. She is always encouraging you, and she is an all-around good person,” she said. “Anytime you have questions, you need help crossing that hurdle or obstacle in the road, someone is there. … They are more than happy to share what they know.”
Laura Sigwerth, one of the leading Optavia health coaches in Jefferson City, started the 90-day challenge to encourage 5 & 1 program users by offering $1,000 in cash prizes to the individuals losing the top body fat percentage. An after party was held Jan. 13 at Studio 573 at Capital Mall, where everyone who completed the challenge received makeovers from New Skinsations and Marshall & Co., clothing from Fine Mess Boutique, food from Love 2 Nourish and a headshot and group photo from photographers Tina Newton and Shelby Finch.
Haines is moving toward her goal to lose more weight, but it is not just about dropping the pounds. It is about living a healthier lifestyle. She has not had another MS relapse and she has felt better than she has in the last few years. She is becoming healthier and loving who she is.
“My goal is not so much the way I look; it’s the way I feel and desire to be healthy. I would like to walk into the doctor’s office and have him take me off my medications,” she said. “If you need to lose weight or if you are just trying to be healthy, this will help you become healthier.”
For more information about Optavia or Training for LIFE, contact Bax at 573-680-2295 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit facebook.com/trainingforlifewithnickandang.