Li-At Ruttenberg

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Recently, Li-At, a Santa Barbara resident, competed against two other contestants in a 12-week Lifestyle Transformation Challenge sponsored by Conditioning Specialists. Before the challenge, Li-At had been searching for a way to have less percent body fat, more cardio capacity, and the tools she needed to continue on this path for the rest of her life. Twelve weeks later she realized she had achieved these goals in ways she never would have imagined.

Q: What led you to enter the challenge at this point in your life?

A: I started to wish for a reality TV thing. I couldn’t actually do reality TV but I wanted to be part of some sort of contest that would give me a makeover and give me the tools I need to get fit. The reason I applied was only so that I couldn’t say I didn’t try. I was in Israel at the time, I didn’t think I would be chosen. I went to the site and they chose me! Timing all came together but the truth is I would have welcomed it any time.

Q: What was the biggest challenge for you?

A: My biggest challenge was getting enough calories into my day. Stacey wanted me to eat 1500 calories a day, but no less than 1200. I ate way more often than I used to (every 3 hours or so versus starving myself for most of the day), but I felt full because I wasn’t sued to eating so often. Let me tell you, I worked hard for my calories.

Q: When did you start to notice a real transformation? How did that feel?

A: In the third week. That’s the week when I reclaimed my life and realized I have to start incorporating my workouts and eating habits into my life. It felt good when I started feeling like this really was the new me. There were two others times: when my dear grandfather passed away in our fifth week and I tried to think about the comfort would I wouldn’t have eaten if I wasn’t in the challenge but I couldn’t think of any! The second time when I came back from Israel and I’d both exercised and resisted tons of rich foods while there.

Q: Where did your source of strength and encouragement come from?

A: This is something I’ve always needed and wanted to do, so I did it for myself. But I was also doing it for my grandfather and for the rest of my family, who have always wanted me to become healthier. My encouragement came from everywhere: there were tons of wonderful people who told me that I’m inspiring to them and, in the process, inspired me to keep going. I’m so grateful to all the strangers and friends that cared enough about my own transformation. And the trainers were wonderful. Not only Stacey Cooper, my amazing trainer, but Marisa and Jesse too. And everyone else directly involved in the Challenge was a God-send.

Q: What has been the most rewarding outcome?

A: I fit into a size 12 now! As an adult I’ve never been able to go to a normal clothing store…I’m still getting used to it. This morning I went and tried on pants I had bought at Ross thinking maybe they mislabeled them. They fit, I started crying. To be close to a size 10…it feels amazing. I’m going on a shopping spree this weekend or next. It’s all settling in still.

Q: Do you have any advice for others wanting to transform their lives?

A: The biggest eye opener was how much mindless food I was eating. My advice is write down what you are eating and just take a look around and notice when you’re at a dinner party all the foods you should be eating if you were making wise choices. I realized the kinds of seconds and thirds I was eating but I have a balance now. Think about your choices.

You can read more about the Transformation Challenge and the journeys of all involved in the magazine’s Spring print issue.

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