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Teaming up to reach the goal; Sisters use the buddy system to stick to new diet, exercise routine

Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Perham Area Community Center Personal Trainer Marie Hanson, left, guides sisters Jodi Speer and Mari Truax on how to reach their weight-loss resolutions.

January is the time of year when New Year's resolutions result in a surge of memberships at fitness and community centers.

Many people resolve to become healthier or lose weight, with every intention to follow through with their plans. Yet the trend continues that, a couple months down the road, resolutions are forgotten.

"A lot of people quit because a goal is unrealistic," said Personal Trainer Marie Hanson of the Perham Area Community Center.

Others quit because they don't know how to go forward, she added: "It's so much harder to achieve your goal if you don't know how to get there."

But when two sisters, Jodi Speer of Ottertail and Mari Truax of Henning, came to Hanson in November determined to help each other reach their goals, Hanson knew their chance of success was higher because they'd be working together.

In an interview Monday, Speer said, "It is a team effort so we can keep track of each other."

And that seems to be working.

Both sisters made it through the holiday season, keeping mostly to their new diet and exercise regime. Though they both admitted to enjoying a few holiday goodies, just the thought of having to admit to everything they ate held them in check.

The sisters ultimately resolved three things: to lose weight, to strengthen, and to learn a workout routine. The sisters signed up with Hanson to help them through the process.

Today, the sisters are two-thirds through their program, and are seriously considering signing on for an extension.

The buddy system works well for them because they push each other to move forward. One's weaknesses are the other's strengths, so they pull each other toward the goal.

The sisters often goad each other, saying things like: "I think you can lift more," or, "Let's pick up the pace."

They help each other move past their individual struggles to maintain healthy lifestyles. Mari, for example, has a hard time motivating herself to find 90 minutes each day to exercise. Jodi has no problems there, but struggles with choosing healthy foods. They call each other often to make sure they're both staying on track.

Just like the sisters, everyone has different struggles; body types differ as well, and thus each unique person should have his or her own goals. Hanson said achievable goals look different for everybody. While one person may easily lose inches, another person more easily loses pounds. Setting smaller individualized goals has a higher success rate.

The sisters meet with Hanson on a weekly basis for a 60 to 90 minute intense exercise session. They have learned through the process that it's necessary to feel challenged and a little uncomfortable during a workout.

Two months in, they are seeing results.

Both women continue to lose inches and pounds, while gaining endurance and strength.

For example, when they started with free weights they were pumping 8-pound dumbbells. But today they are lifting 15-pound dumbbells.

Truax is no longer intimidated by machines and weights, and Speer has learned the power of mixing cardio and weightlifting in the same workout.

Between reps and during cool-down walks, Hanson helps the sisters consider the nutrition side of getting healthy, too.

"It's amazing how much better you do eat when you have to write it down," Hanson said. "Because 80 percent of losing weight is what you put in your mouth."

Both women said they now document everything they eat and drink, which holds them accountable. They both feel like Hanson is sitting on their shoulders, monitoring what they eat.

"I'm the best friend they've never wanted," Hanson said with a laugh.

The sisters joked, too, that they sometimes dread getting phone calls from each other - especially on days that haven't gone so great.

But all in all, the sisters are closer to one another than they were before, and two months closer to their individualized goals.