Tag Archives: weight loss

Conner Rensch’s Extreme Weight Loss

October 13, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Conner Rensch gets recognized pretty much everywhere—at the salon where she works as a hairstylist, when she’s running errands around town, and even when she is out with friends for the evening.

It all started with a January 2014 “Half Their Size” People magazine cover. Since then, her YouTube video has gone viral; she’s appeared on television shows like Good Morning America, The Steve Harvey Show, and Inside Edition; she’s been the subject of articles in local publications and national websites; and she’s talked about her personal journey with numerous youth and community groups.

“I never set out to be someone people would recognize,” she says. “I set out to inspire and motivate.”

Over a period of two years beginning when she was 19, Rensch lost a total of 130 pounds from her peak weight of more than 270.

“As many weight loss shows as I watched, there was never really anyone I could relate to, in terms of growing up being bullied and being overweight your whole life and not ever knowing what it was like to be in shape and be healthy,” she says. 

Sharing her story meant including the honest details as well as posting the “before” pictures and unenhanced “after” pictures.

“Initially I hesitated because it’s very personal and it comes with a lot of baggage,” she says. “When you share your flaws or insecurities—and I am very public about the way I look now—there is always going to be backlash. Stretch marks are not something that people necessarily want to see or want to share, but the reality of life in general is that everyone has things that they’re embarrassed about.”

People come up to Rensch now and share their own transformation stories or thank her for inspiring them, she says. So knowing she has given people hope is worth the occasional strange Facebook message from admirers, the razzing from her friends, or even the negative online comments like “She doesn’t need to show that” or “Why is everyone giving her so much praise? It was a problem she created.” As Rensch phrases it, “It negates the negative.”

“I never set out to be someone people would recognize,” she says. “I set out to inspire and motivate.”

-Conner Rensch

“I always think back to when I was losing weight, I wish I would have had someone to look up to or be able to say, ‘She went through hard times and so can I’…I really wanted to be an example,” Rensch explains. “I would never not want someone to come up and tell me their story…It always comes back to why I did this. It’s not for the people who have been in shape their whole lives but for the people who are struggling.”

More than five years into being slim and fit, Rensch says her goals have transitioned from weight loss to staying healthy through good nutrition and an active lifestyle. She hasn’t weighed herself in many months.

Her professional goals have transitioned, too. Her website and her public speaking messaging has become more about transformation than specifically about weight loss. A book is in the works, and she is also looking into signing with an agency to expand her motivational speaking and schedule more corporate speaking engagements.

“If the publicity was all taken away, I’m still me and I’m the exact person I want to be, inside and out,” she says. “The benefit is that I’ve helped others. I’ve never felt a sense of happiness like helping others reach their potential. It’s so powerful.”

Visit mybutterflyjourney.com for more information.

connerrensch2

Feeling Young on the Run

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Tori Young, 40, was on the drill team in high school. She never considered herself an athlete, and she spent most of her time eating whatever she wanted. But, as it always does, metabolism caught up with her. “I heard from my friends that things get more challenging when you hit 40,” she says. “They weren’t kidding!”

Although she doesn’t feel older, Young realized her body required more attention than it did back in her carefree high school days. She tried lots of things to get back on track—Jazzercise, tracking meals on the MyFitnessPal app, Kosama, running on the treadmill, P90X, yoga, dancing videos, Kettlebell workouts—but she always found it hard to stick to those programs.

She admits most of the problem was her hectic lifestyle. “I started each week with the best intentions…but like everyone, when we’re busy and on-the-go, it’s easy to make poor choices.”

As a technical recruiting lead with Client Resources, Inc., she’s constantly running around town and treating candidates and consultants to lunch, which makes eating well difficult. And then, of course, she didn’t want to cut into her family time with husband Chad, a teacher and football coach at Millard West High School, and their four kids—Elli, 12, Beau, 9, Leah, 6, and Reid, 2. “Having four kids is absolutely crazy, but it keeps us on our toes,” she adds.20130420_bs_8210 Medium Copy

But an opportunity appeared a few years ago when Young’s oldest daughter, Elli, told her about a school program for third through fifth graders called Girls on the Run. “It’s so cool,” Young says. “It’s all about girl power, being a good friend, and being encouraging and supportive of others while training to run a 5K.” She adds that the girls often included their moms in this program.

Elli, who was in third grade then, didn’t want to do it. “She said, ‘That would be like having gym class even more often!’” Young laughs, explaining that it was probably for the best anyway because she was pregnant with her youngest son, Reid, at the time and wouldn’t have been able to run.

“We did feel like we missed out though, so we signed up the next year. I printed off a Couch to 5K training program online and was able to get to the point where I could run four miles without stopping.”

During Elli’s fourth grade year, they both ran the program’s 5K. “I had to walk twice during that run since it was mapped out on their grade school playground, and it was 30-some laps around the blacktop, down a hill, around the playground equipment, and back up the hill,” Young says. “The hills kicked my butt!”

Although Young stopped running regularly after that 5K, she ran again with Elli in the fifth graders’ 5K. Later, they signed up for a Siena-Francis benefit run. “It was nice to do something that we could do together that was good for us but also benefited [Siena-Francis House],” says Elli, who’s now in middle school.

“I know I have to be aware of how I talk about my own body and my feelings about how I look. We’ve had conversations about not focusing on how many pounds we weigh and comparing that to others, but instead on how we’re treating our bodies and what we’re putting in them.” – Tori Young

Since then, Young and Elli have been participating in all the runs they can. They even participated in Papillion’s Half Marathon events this May; Young ran the 10K while Elli ran the 5K. Both agree that they really want to run The Color Run and Color Me Rad 5Ks, which they look forward to trying in the future.

Young finds running with her daughter to be an inspiring way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “I love when we practice and go to Zorinsky [Lake] together…We set some goals, like being able to run farther, and it’s fun to meet one and then set the next one.”

But it’s not just all about the run; it’s also about the time she gets to spend with Elli that keeps her going. “With four kids, I wish I could give them each more one-on-one time, so I really love just talking with her [during our runs].”

“We get to have an uninterrupted conversation and talk about my school, her work, our friends, and random stories,” Elli adds. “We also talk about our goals for the future, like other runs we’d like to do [and] ways to eat healthier.”

“I dislike the body issues that come for most females,” Young says. “I know I have to be aware of how I talk about my own body and my feelings about how I look. We’ve had conversations about not focusing on how many pounds we weigh and comparing that to others, but instead on how we’re treating our bodies and what we’re putting in them.”20130420_bs_8226 Medium Copy

Seeing Elli improve makes Young think they’re headed in the right direction, too. “She was born with a cyst in her lung, which resulted in a 12-day stay in the NICU and a surgery for her right after birth…they removed the top lobe of her right lung. Her scars are faint, her lung regenerated, and the only real lasting effect is some asthma.” Young adds that Elli has gone from feeling like she “can’t do it” and using asthma as an out to pushing herself harder.

Young believes it’s important for parents and their kids to be physically active together. “It’s so easy to get caught up in television…We have so many devices that capture our attention, and it’s hard to break away from e-mail, Facebook, and Instagram…Making time to be physically active together provides the opportunity for quality time and setting goals that we can work toward together.”

Because Young and Elli have been running so much in the last few years, it’s really started to rub off on the other family members. “My husband has been running more lately, and even recently admitted that he pushed himself faster on the treadmill than [me] because he didn’t like the thought of me outrunning him!”

Most importantly, Young feels healthy and happy right now. All she cares about is feeling good about herself, being a positive body image role model for her daughters, and having the energy to keep up with her job and her kids.