When Fit for Life founder and director Dr. Timothy McKnight was contacted for this piece, he was preparing to attend a conference on preventing and reversing heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases by losing visceral fat; exercising to increase natural muscle mass; intermittent fasting; and hormone replacement therapy.
Dr. McKnight’s ongoing quest to educate himself on the latest research into health and wellness exemplifies his approach to the Fit for Life program: evidence-based, scientifically driven methods that sometimes are in contrast to the narrative promoted by mainstream medicine.
Dr. McKnight has been developing Fit for Life on his own time for nearly 20 years and is the primary teacher of this curriculum. He was inspired in 2002 after attending a medical conference titled, “Writing a Wellness Prescription for Your Patients.”
“I love to teach,” Dr. McKnight said. “I love to make it simple and pertinent. I love to model correct principles and serve as a role model for health and wellness. I love to inspire and instill hope. It’s not enough to just educate. I feel it is my responsibility to touch and inspire the soul.”
Testimonials from past participants
Of course, Fit for Life’s success is found in the stories and testimonials of those who have embraced the program and have discovered a renewed quality of life because of it.
Debbie and Seth Angel
Debbie first heard about Fit for Life from friends who had already gone through the program and found success in improving their health. She decided to sign up and encouraged her husband, Seth, to follow suit.
“I had trouble attending due to my work schedule,” Seth said, “but the online classes worked well for me.”
Because of the classes, Debbie realized the impact the emotions and mind can have on the body and healing.
“The program helped me become aware of my own challenges,” Debbie said. “I wasn’t controlling my thoughts and emotions; this was leading me to unhealthy eating habits.”
She felt empowered by the program because it allowed her to make small changes each week.
“I learned the importance of stress management, nutrition, exercise, flexibility, strength fitness, disease prevention, and healthy aging,” Debbie said. “By the end of the 12 weeks, I was on my way to healing, not only my body, but my mind and spirit, too.”
Seth said he had a lot of trouble avoiding bad food choices. The Fit for Life program gave him the information and tools he needed to improve his eating habits.
“Intermittent fasting is one of my major takeaways from the program,” he said. “Initially, I thought fasting would be very difficult, but I have found that it is actually quite easy. I find that I am more alert, have a lot of energy, and am actually not hungry when I fast.”
Using the tools he received in the program, Seth has lost approximately 35 pounds.
“I feel better than I have in many years and am actually back in the same pants size I wore in high school.”
Debbie’s lab work has improved, she said, and she’s lost about 50 pounds.
“Now I am making healthier eating choices and am very active. This program taught me how important it is to have a proper mindset to become healthier. It was life-changing for me.”
Robert F. Michels
Robert F. Michels first heard about Fit for Life through a friend who was attending the course.
“He showed me his workbook which piqued my interest and led me to believe that it was a program of great value,” Michels said.
For him, the most challenging part of the program was developing a healthy eating regimen.
“There was so much good information, but learning what is healthy, what is not, how hidden sugars can be a problem, how your body reacts to food and how hormonal imbalances can be a problem are all very important aspects to a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight,” Michels said.
Since starting Fit for Life, Michels has become very active at the gym, training five to six times each week.
“The workout program does not need to be lengthy; 30 minutes is doable,” he said. “I have lost over 100 pounds and I have maintained a healthy weight. There are still challenges, but I know that I am in control. It is much easier to lose five pounds than 25.”
Pat Beadle first heard about the program from Dr. McKnight. Although the most challenging part for her was the 24-hour fast, Pat said she has since embraced intermittent fasting and doesn’t find it as difficult. Overall, she has seen her personal health improve drastically.
“My A1c went from 6.4 down to 5.4 on my last bloodwork,” she said. “ Identifying carbs has improved my energy level, and I’ve lost 20 pounds since last fall, so my self-esteem has also been enhanced.”
It’s easier to make time to walk or to engage in life-enhancement activities than one may think, she said. For example, Fit for Life taught Pat the value of label reading, and she became aware of the marketing tricks involved with the food we buy.
“I was stunned to learn that high fructose corn syrup is in too many of our foods,” Pat said. “I’ve been sharing with our family and friends the benefits of label reading, and sometimes they’re as surprised as I was by the tricks.
“Overall, I would recommend this program to anyone. It will not only improve your health, but the health of your family and friendship circle as well.”
Testimonial from current participant
Erica van Pelt first heard about Fit for Life from a friend who successfully completed the program about 12 years ago. At the time, however, she was living outside of the area and found the commitment to be intimidating.
“All other programs I tried didn’t delve into the mental and emotional hurdles that need to be addressed before making changes to your diet,” Erica said. “By not addressing those challenges, all other programs ultimately lead to failure when expectations are not met.”
Fit for Life, she said, is truly about learning to heal: mentally, emotionally, and physically. Furthermore, Erica has accepted that her pathway to health will be unique, a journey that belongs to her and no one else.
“The success of this program for me had very little to do with the number on the scale,” she said. “I know that my overall health has improved exponentially.”
Her life has been a happy one, she added. But she had never felt fully present.
“It always felt like I was watching from the sidelines as I cheered on my children, my spouse, and everyone present in my life,” Erica said. “I always felt that my role was to make sure everyone else felt supported. Now I know I deserve that same support and can now accept it.”
Thanks to the program, Erica has learned to accept herself for who she is.
“It’s silly to say I joined a weight loss program to lose weight, but ultimately, I gained: I gained confidence, I gained perspective, I gained lifelong friends and supporters, and I gained a healthier body, mind, and heart.”
Testimonials number in the hundreds
At the end of each 12-week session, Dr. McKnight said they allow participants to share their stories.
“There have been so many moving stories over the years. They normally leave Kelly and me in tears and fill us with gratitude and determination to continue to reach out and touch as many people as are willing to listen.”
Of the nearly 4,000 Fit for Life graduates over the last 16 years, Dr. McKnight said all of them have given the program their highest recommendation to friends and family.
“We have seen people lose over 100 pounds of weight, reverse chronic pain, stop taking medications, start running 15 miles a week, and most importantly, have an excitement for new opportunities in life they did not anticipate,” he said. “We have seen people heal as they have forgiven others and most often forgiven themselves. We have seen lives saved, marriages healed, and hope restored.”
Project Coordinator Kelly Bowe said her favorite success story belongs to Bob, whose name has been changed to protect his privacy. When Bob came to the first class, she said, he used a walker and could hardly breathe. He had to stop to rest several times before he could even make it into the classroom.
“He shared with me that his health was bad since he injured himself years before,” Bowe recalled. “He had become sedentary so his weight increased considerably. He shared that he had diabetes issues and congestive heart failure. He had tried numerous diet plans and nothing worked.”
Because of his health issues, Bob was unable to work and was mostly housebound. It was difficult for him to even go to the doctor, and friends had to drive him to the class.
“Each week I would weigh Bob and talk with him,” Bowe said. “His whole demeanor started to change. He followed Dr. McKnight’s program and did all of the assignments Dr. McKnight asked the class to do.”
By the end of the 12 weeks, Bob had lost over 40 pounds and was smiling all the time.
He wasn’t using his walker, and he made it into class without stopping to rest.
“Dr. McKnight and I kept in touch with Bob, and after one year, he was down 125 pounds and was working,” Bowe said. “His lifestyle change improved his diabetes, and the weight loss helped the congestive heart failure symptoms. Bob amazes me every time I see him. He praises Dr. McKnight and the Fit for Life program and says that Dr. McKnight ‘saved his life.’”
“There are hundreds of people who have had these experiences,” Dr. McKnight added. “All of them are my heroes. They have each touched my heart and deepened my resolve to change as many lives as I possibly can.”
For more information and additional testimonials about Fit for Life, please visit their website by clicking here.
Registration for the Winter Fit for Life Class 2023 will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Go to www.trinitytwincity.org and click on “For Your Health” followed by “Fit for Life” and “Register Here” to sign up.
The next Fit for Life class will start on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the Dover Library in Dover, Ohio, at 5:30 pm.