Though JoAnn and Lennart Liffner had been members of the Y for a few years, they really only used the membership for their kids. Until a year ago, when JoAnn and Lennart changed their family's lifestyle for the better.
After seeing a poster at the Jamestown Y announcing the 2013 New Year's Challenge, a yearlong wellness and weight-loss campaign, JoAnn and Lennart decided that it was time to get down to business.
"I just didn't feel good about myself," JoAnn said. "We knew it was time to quit messing around, and the contest was the incentive we needed to get started."
JoAnn Liffner is pictured after her weight loss taking a break from Zumba to spend some time with the Nautilus machines.
The Y's resources gave the Liffners the routine they needed to be successful. While their kids took part in the Y's childwatch program, JoAnn went to Zumba classes every night, and Lennart worked out and used the Nautilus equipment. Both became runners.
For both of them, the difference between staying the course and giving up was having a partner to support and motivate.
"Having someone with you, to motivate you and to hold you accountable, makes all the difference," JoAnn Liffner said. "If I didn't have (Lennart), I wouldn't have made it to the end."
JoAnn and Lennart won the 2013 challenge, having lost 62.4 and 65.2 pounds respectively, and both agreed that the yearlong goal made the weight loss more manageable.
"Our goal was just to keep going, and the monthly check-ins kept us accountable for the entire year," JoAnn said. "We had less pressure on us to lose weight quickly and were able to make real lifestyle changes."
In addition to exercising, a change in diet and nutrition played a big role in their success.
"We ate real food," Lennart said. "We stopped snacking, limited sugar, and ate food that we made ourselves rather than something that came out of a box."
The entire experience and transformation has been rewarding for the whole family.
"Near the end, we kept saying, 'Even if we don't win, we won,'" JoAnn said. "The Y gave us a sense of community. Everybody there becomes your support system and cheers you on."
Now that they have won the challenge and met their own weight-loss goals, the Liffners' new goal is weight maintenance, and they hope to become resources to those participating in the challenge next year.
"We hope we can inspire this year's participants," said JoAnn. "We've been blessed, and we're so thankful."