Body: Transformation

Standing in front of thousands of people every month to introduce best-selling authors and researchers at Family Action Network-sponsored talks, Lonnie Stonitsch is one of the North Shore’s most visible people.

And many have noticed that over the last 11 months, Stonitsch’s appearance has changed. She’s known for adding a flair of blue or pink to her hair, but since last May the more dramatic change has been her weight. Stonitsch has lost 72 pounds as of our interview, and she looks fabulous.

“I had no history of working out; no history of dieting,” says Stonitsch. She met trainer and co-owner of Redefined Fitness Eric Smoot after a FAN discussion on student athletes and injuries, and the two immediately connected. “I walked in here almost 300 pounds… You think in your mind you might be ridiculed or people might make some judgment, but what happens is that they have respect for you. They’re supportive.”

Stonitsch started by walking 30 minutes a day and working with Smoot. “But then I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to completely commit to it and not waste Eric’s time nor my money doing it half-assed, or coming here and then going home and pigging out,” she says.

She completely changed her diet—eliminating red meat, pork, fried foods; avoiding white flour and white sugar; and eating mostly whole unprocessed food—which wasn’t as hard as it sounds since her husband is a vegetarian. She committed to going to bed at a reasonable hour, and working out with Smoot twice a week, plus three or four other workouts on her own. And the weight came off.

“She’s one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen,” says Smoot. “At the end of the day, that’s what it takes. You have to be willing to sacrifice.”

As he says that, Stonitsch interrupts him to note that while she’s given up some things, she’s gained so much more. “I just feel better. I’m still really assertive, but I’m less aggressive. My productivity has gone up. I’m nicer, calmer. I can still get knocked back if something happens that’s distressing, but I feel I’m better modulated and I feel more confident,” she says.

When we talk about why she decided that now was the time, she mentions her husband and son first. She says, “I’m 53 and I have a young son, and you know you don’t see a lot of 80-year-old obese people walking around.” But she also talks about the rest of her life, and adds that she felt that since everything else in her life was going well—marriage, professional and personal—now might be the time to tackle a hard change. “Four years ago I started see- ing a wonderful therapist from the Family Institute,” she says. And credits the work she’s done with Dr. Michael Maslar as groundwork for the weight loss.

“It’s changed my life,” says Stonitsch. “I don’t want to be that person again. Feeling trapped and knowing what you need to do, but being unwilling or unable to find the faith in yourself to say it’s time. It’s not tomorrow. I wish at 43 or 33 I had done this.”

Do You Need A Trainer?

The strong relationship between Smoot and Stonitsch has contributed in no small way to Stonitsch’s success. At one point during our interview, she tells me that “Eric saves my life twice a week,” and means it. But both Smoot and Stonitsch want the message to be that dramatic change is possible with or without a trainer.

“Everything’s on the Internet,” says Smoot. “You don’t need a trainer. People do it all the time without a trainer. You don’t need a special cook. It’s great to have those things, but if you plan out what you’re going to do (you don’t need them).” According to Smoot, the most important component is to have a plan, and encourages those trying to change their health to plan out their food, as well as activity.

The only other thing necessary is the dedication to follow the plan.