sam + brad stiles were pretty much soulmates from the beginning - he was a dashing pro baseball player; she was a bubbly + beautiful professional dancer. fit boy meets fit girl, sparks fly, they fall in love, they say ‘i do’, they live happily ever after. tale as old as time.
…only, this tale is slightly less fairy, slightly more modern-day. more real. and more relatable.
after brad’s sports career ended, he battled weight gain, particularly struggling with proper portion sizes. and after three kids and several health issues, sam was grappling with her own weight struggles as well. a health coach and fitness instructor, it was exceedingly frustrating for her that no matter how well she ate, or how much she worked out, she continued to gain weight. enter fitbook.
after randomly discovering our fitness + nutrition journal at her local target one day, sam was hooked. a former weight watchers coach, the premise of logging your food really resonated with her, and she loved how seamlessly it fit into other programs. she began recommending it to her clients. turns out, her fitbook affinity may have been written in the stars, as her husband soon realized his wife’s newfound obsession was the brainchild of none other than his childhood friend, angela mader - our chief fitlosopher.
that, along with a layoff from work, was enough to give brad the nudge he needed to take control of his health. and after all, the couple that fitbooks together, stays together.
we sat down with this absolutely adorable couple to find out more about their fated fitbook journey.
[so let’s start at the beginning. how long had you struggled with weight/health issues?]
brad: i was a professional baseball player for seven years for the kansas city royals and chicago cubs farm teams, so i lived a healthy, active lifestyle. but after it was over, i struggled with weight gain. my portion sizes were out of control, and just continued to increase on nights and weekends.
sam: i was a professional dancer, so i struggled with body image for years. after i got married and had kids, i had a lot of health issues pop up, some of which were a result of some of the things i did over the years to try and fit into a certain size or be a certain weight. last year, i reached a breaking point. i was overweight and gaining more at a pace that indicated there was something more serious going on. my hair was falling out, i had horrible skin issues, and eventually i couldn’t even really breathe or talk well. it took four months and many doctors and tests to finally be diagnosed with celiac, hashimotos, and a large thyroid tumor. i had my thyroid removed in september 2015 and from that point forward, i decided to take my health more seriously and be more proactive in learning about my conditions.
[so what finally led you to try fitbook?]
brad: in june of 2016, i lost my job due to company liquidation and hit my highest weight at over 315 pounds. i knew that i needed a change in behavior and daily routine. i decided that since i had more time on my hands, i would do a 60-day transformation focused around myself and healthy changes. my wife bought me a fitbook and the rest is history! it helps that i grew up with the creator of the book. angela really has done a great job with this product, so we love being able to support her and use such an amazing tool.
sam: i have actually been recommending fitbook to my clients and the people i coach through a health and wellness ministry for almost two years. i randomly found it one day at target and immediately fell in love! i am a former weight watchers leader, so tracking food has always been a huge part of my coaching philosophy. having something so accessible and easy made a huge difference in my health and the people i was giving it to!
i finally made brad try it when we started this big overhaul for us as a couple in june. it has become part of our routine to go over our book together. we can’t really hide what we’ve eaten when it’s right there for the other person to see! the funny thing is, while fitbook has helped me so much in weight loss, it was being able to use it to manage my autoimmune diseases that made the biggest difference. i am able to look back on what I have eaten and figure out why i may have a flare. it was extremely instrumental in helping my doctors figure out my diagnosis.
[we absolutely LOVE hearing things like that! had you tried other weight-loss or health plans before?]
sam: how much time do you have? i have probably tried every single diet on the planet. i lost weight after all of my babies with weight watchers, but after I went to school to be a certified health coach, i really started following the daniel plan, which is a faith-based program created by mark hyman and rick warren. last year, we both started taking plexus products, and that has helped us both so much with our weight loss as well! i love how fitbook fits so seamlessly into my healthy lifestyle, has made me more accountable for what i eat and lets me track my progress.
brad: we have each tried so many weight-loss plans, and being a health coach, sam was always trying to help me eat better, but we’d never tried something that we did together. while different health plans serve different purposes and can sometimes give you what you need, i still didn't have the tool that i needed the most, which was accountability. fitbook was the answer. it’s really helped me get control over my eating.
[why do you think fitbook works for you when other methods may not have?]
brad: the best thing about fitbook is the planning aspect: meals, workout routines. writing my thoughts and ideas on paper really reinforces my behavior. it doesn't happen until you do it! a lot of times my quote at the bottom of the page i write is "win the day”.
sam: it can be easy to use our physical challenges as an excuse for not making progress. it takes making the most out of every tool available to make changes, no matter how big or small they may be, and fitbook has given me such a great outlook on that.
[what is your favorite thing about fitbook?]
sam: i’d have to say the layout and the flexibility to use it with any eating and exercise regimen. i love the motivational quotes and tips, and that it forces me to constantly look at my goals and be striving for more!
brad: you can plan out your day, week, and routine for the gym. before, i would go and grab fast food, and didn't have an agenda for my workout and food plan. i share my results with my wife, as we hold each other accountable each and every week. we go over it every day, and we monitor our portion sizes and talk about shakes, meals and workouts throughout our fitbook goals
[love that!! so how has fitbook changed you?]
brad: when i think about my strengths as an individual, discipline certainly is not one of them. that being said, fitbook has given me a chance to better myself in my daily routine and prevents me from going off-track with my daily goals of calories, workouts and food intake.
sam: i found that even with my health training, i couldn’t seem to keep my progress in check or even see it unless i did it in a more organized way. fitbook has given me a way to tangibly see how everything is working together for my health. it’s also allowed me to look at where i am now, and even though i still have more progress to make, i can look and see how much i have accomplished and have a better outlook on getting well. in the past, i would only focus on the scale and how much weight i was losing, and i was down on myself for not being 100% fit and at goal. but fitbook has helped me see that being healthy isn’t always about being a certain size or even losing weight. it’s more about overcoming obstacles and always moving forward and in the right direction.
[now, the fun part: let’s talk about your results]
brad: in 60 days, i lost 34 pounds. fitbook has changed the way i eat and helps me make better food choices. i haven’t been this committed to my health in a long time. i even go swimming at 11pm some nights when i just can’t get it in otherwise, and it has really impacted my health for the long-term. i’m able to keep up with my kids!
sam: i have lost 29 pounds in the past 11 months that i have been using fitbook. i honestly didn’t think i was ever going to feel like being active again, so the fact that i can regularly go to yoga, barre and pilates has been such a blessing! before my thyroidectomy, i couldn’t really even breathe and towards the end, i had to use oxygen. it was hard to talk or really do much of anything, so i was a total couch potato. i am so thankful to be back to myself and to a place where weight loss is even possible! going into this whole process, i knew that it would take awhile to see any real changes because i had just been sick for so long! but i have 100% normal labs now, my hashimotos is in remission, and i feel like i am back to being sam again.
[chief fitlosopher's note to the fit couple] congratulations - you two are such an inspiration! can i just say that it brings me pure joy to know that my little 16oz, 12-week journal can impact anyone's life. but to have it be a childhood friend + his sweet-as-pie wife just means that much more. you both are such a shining example of how hard work + dedication pays off. not just to your workouts, but to your family, your faith + each other. God bless!