A12 Graduate: Andrea Erickson

Allow me to introduce our latest Amazing 12 Graduate, Andrea Erickson.

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Andrea came to the program with a history of severe back pain and had originally only intended to perform 6 out of the 12 weeks of the program.  Yet, 6 weeks into her training, she saw a photograph I had taken of her back after a training session. The progress and strength she discerned from that photo made such an impact on her that she re-enrolled for another 6 weeks and has now Completed the A12 in its entirety… and rocked it.

It’s been a joy watching Andrea literally transform in every way before my eyes: her posture and the way she carries herself has improved, she has dropped 4 pant-sizes and now fits into clothes that haven’t fit her for over eight years!  She has dramatically improved her cardio and can now complete 6 rounds of a circuit that would have been a pipe-dream 12 weeks back. She added 65 lbs. to her bench-press, 30 lbs. to her military press, and improved from deadlifting 75 lbs. to deadlifting her bodyweight for sets of 6…. PAIN FREE!

Our Next Wave of the Amazing 12 Omaha begins on May 8th.

Serious inquiries for this life-changing program can apply for more information or to reserve a future space in the program: APPLY FOR THE AMAZING 12 OMAHA HERE

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Read more about Andrea’s experience in her own words below…

Andrea’s Story in Her Own Words

“My name is Andrea – I am Age 34 & I was born with mild scoliosis, in a small hospital in the mountains of Rock Springs, Wyoming. In my 20’s, I was hit in a car accident by a drunk driver & diagnosed as a result with”chronic whiplash” AND 10% overall TOTAL body damage by a state certified spinal specialist; NOT just upper torso, mind you-OVERALL BODY DAMAGE.

In college I slipped down a staircase of unshaven, 90-degree angle brick stairs and rotated my pelvis because of it.  As a result of these main 2 injuries along with daily accidentals or incidentals, I’ve been chained to daily ibuprofen & prescription anti-inflammatories to help manage my pain for the last several years.  Often times feeling like I lived in the body of what I imagine an 85-year-old woman could feel like after years of “hard labor on the farm.”

I’ve explored & utilized every sort of treatment & pain relief therapy you can name or that I caught wind of – MRI’s were of no help, deep tissue & detox cupping massage greatly helped to ease the pain but they could not reverse the damage.  I am on chiropractor #3, who is BY far my “Body Jesus” for skeletal re-setting, ART and all around correction magic.  I’ve recently learned from him after TWO visits: my neck will not turn to the left in full rotation, my left knee is hyperextended, my upper thoracic refuses to move, despite 3 attempts from a full grown man (no surprise) AND I have TWO loose floating ribs.  I’ve had muscular physiotherapy treatment, acupuncture, stem therapy, physical therapy you name it.  I’ve DONE it.  All were wonderfully relieving but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel hopeless, like permanently damaged goods & had quite honestly given up the idea that I could ever feel strong or healthy in that regard again.  And as difficult as it was, I accepted that.

Why I am I telling you this?  Because anytime this comes up in conversation with people perhaps I am getting to know better, the FIRST response I hear is: “And you think Kettlebell & Lifting heavy weights HELPS this, Andrea??”  “No,” I say, “There’s no thought about it.  It IS the reason I am healing/have healed.  I allowed my muscles to defeat me & grow weak; not-so coincidentally, they were more susceptible to inflammation & pain as a result.  Stronger Wins.  Every Time.

Approximately ½-way through the Amazing 12 Program, we were simply POSING, not even planning to to do a full pull-up, when I realized how absolutely mortified I was at the thought of creating ANYMORE pain for myself. I consider myself an adventurous & brave person.  I’d like to skydive some day. I’ve also been bitten by a brown recluse spider TWICE (yes, very poisonous—ironically -or not so- to muscle tissue specifically) and am therefore terrified of spiders.  But you know what? In that moment? Given the option between doing a pull-up & possibly engaging my sore spots OR lying in a coffin of tarantulas, I totally would have slept with the tarantulas.  I did the best I could and honestly put my complete trust in my instructor and listened to what he said as he coached me.  He could see I was nervous, scared & uncomfortable so he did not prompt me to do anything further than was necessary to achieve what we had intended.

THEN, something absolutely miraculous happened. I mean this by no short measure.  Scott shared with me the picture of my back from that posing session, I believe the next day. In black & white, as muscle definition seems to be more visible this way.  I could not believe what I saw.

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Andrea at week 6.

What I saw was NOT the back of an 85-year old woman who had labored for years on the farm.  I saw the back of a young, very strong, very healthy & very healed, & Symmetrical Woman.  And she was me.  NOT damaged and broken but very much so VIBRANT and ALIVE.  Granted, I’ve become more of a sapp as I earn what I like to call “more levels” on my birthday each year ☺ but I was quite happy to have seen that, at a moment where I was alone and able to really study and stare and soak it in, that this. Was Real. And that it was ME.  It brought me to tears as I understood from that photo that the pain would be gone.  I could look forward to peace & comfort more regularly.

It was around that time I attended my son’s band concert, sitting on those god-awful bleachers and I realized I was able to sit up properly-straight backed, NOT rounded, with no flare-ups or pain.  Did you read that?  Should I write it once again?  OK. I won’t.  But seriously.  This was a first in a very, very long time.

“As I began to see my body changing and more importantly FEEL my
 body LITERALLY changing, I found a reason to hold my shoulders back and improve my posture and the way I carried myself.”

7 Weeks 8 Weeks -06.jpgAs I began to see my body changing and more importantly FEEL my
body LITERALLY changing, I found a reason to hold my shoulders back and improve my posture and the way I carried myself.  I wanted people to see that the way I have generally felt on the inside, which is: strong-minded, strong-willed, strong in my beliefs and in the ways I express myself, my body was now matching.  I had a reason to keep my eyes lifted and look people in the eye very proudly, but without ego.  Because. I was EARNING this. I was MAKING REAL CHANGE.  As I continued the program, others around me noticed change and complimented.  NEVER in my life have I been referred to as an “inspiration” or an “inspiring” person. I believe I’m energetic and do what I can to spread positivity & good feels, but INSPIRING!!!  ME? No longer damaged goods? Yes. Please, I’ll have another!!!

Andrea Blog Post Pullup Purple Bandana-08I am a M.O.B; Mother of Boys.  Age 12 & Age 8.  They are both energetic, athletic & spunky boys; very physical – like, non-stop, LOL and quite skilled and coordinated in their athletics even at their young ages.  Half the reason I have always stayed athletic & “in-shape” (for whatever that meant for me at the time) has been to keep UP with them, my busy job and my life in general! And they have been SO wonderfully supportive and quite honestly PROUD to watch me go through this program, prepare my meals, keep my food & water intake journal for accountability & guidance, maintain discipline by going to sleep about as early as they do, packing my clothes the night before,etc.  ALL to WATCH the results of my muscles forming & developing before their very eyes, on my back, my arms, even my stomach – which they find especially intriguing because they know that’s where they once were & just how BIG I was before they were born!!!  I gained nearly 75lbs with my first child, OK?

By Week 11, I dared to throw on a pair of jeans I hadn’t worn since before my 2nd child, Hunter, was born. I put them on and they fit me.  Hunter turned EIGHT years old the month before.  Nuff Said. #proudmoment   

One Friday night the boys were commenting on how I they could see me getting skinnier yet leaner.  They asked if I thought I could pick each of them up with one arm…& yes, I may have had little lug of help with my 12-year old, who is short for his age at the moment, but I did it!!! With all 3 of us laughing, b.c. how cool is it, to truly feel like a badass as a mom. And they knew it, too.  So, besides being a great little attraction on the circus train, it means so much to me still, that my children have WATCHED their mother make a decision about what she wanted and she DID IT.   Andrea Blog Post -02

It’s always been important to me as a mother that I never “lose myself”. I don’t criticize anyone that feels they have or finds themselves in that place temporarily because it is the easiest thing to do as we LOVE our children SO MUCH, that if it comes to sacrificing ourselves as women? We Will.  That being said, to have them witness me going through these past 12-weeks? To me, it sends a few messages:

  • Just because you have kids [OR xyz] in your life, this does not award you the right to give up on yourself.  WHY accept your injury, poor nutrition & body image or low self-esteem.  I know why – refer to the page previously – because we feel defeated, we feel scared, we don’t want anymore pain or WORSE, what if we fail.
  • My hope is my children also received the message that if you WANT something in life, It’s waiting for you.  All you need to do is make up your mind to COMMIT and then? You Take It.  Failure is not an option, there IS no Plan B.
  • When that time comes and my boys begin to look for qualities in a woman they find appealing later in their lives, I have faith they will see value in a woman who has ambition, drive, self-respect, self-care & self love, by knowing who she is & what she wants. And my hope therefore, is that this will be invaluable for my family.

You should know that BEFORE I began the program, I refused to body shame myself – sure, I can be critical of imperfections at times but that’s because I’m a perfectionist to both a fault & strength, but truthfully, I made a point to embrace who I was.  Because really, who wants to hate the way they look.  That feels awful.  Yet I knew I could do BETTER.

“The Fastest way to Self-Love is COMMITMENT.” 

Are you curious to know what inspired me in the first place? A longer story quite shortly summed up, I met a life coach/acting coach, as I am active in local performing of all avenues.  I attended his 1st 2 workshops held at The Haymarket Theater in Lincoln in the Spring & Fall of 2016.  The man is FULL of mantras & truths and he TEACHES while he coaches.  He is of the upmost caliber & expertise in the field and was drawn to Nebraska as a suggestion by Oscar-Award Winning Director Alexander Payne.  I was moved for a million reasons after both intensives, HOWEVER, the BIGGEST thing that actually VAULTED me INTO forward motion & say GOODBYE to STAGNATION? Is this very simple phrase, which inadvertently I just realized, I repeat to myself on a daily basis: “The Fastest way to Self-Love is COMMITMENT.”  That’s all, people.  And it LITERALLY prompted ME to change MY LIFE.

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At 1 point during one of our sessions I made the comment to Scott “I can’t wait to be the ME I’ve always known I am.” Sadly, I believe people often think they will become a “NEW” version of themselves.  It sounds worthy enough, right? But there can be a problem with that.

At that moment, after I had made this comment, Scott right then shared with me a video. (It is RARE to stop during a session, so apparently this was important!!!) It was a brief yet powerful video capturing the designer/creator of the Amazing 12, Paul McILroy as he is coaching instructors of the Amazing 12 on how to approach their clients.  He states as you talk with them, help them improve, that the message to be sent is: “Loving yourself as you are…Fine. But you really know, do you have any fucking idea who YOU really are? IF the person in the mirror is over-weight, out of shape, depressed, non-athletic, lacks confidence, etc.  then THAT? Is NOT YOU.”  These people have worked very hard to keep themselves this way.

Here is where I am today thanks to the Amazing 12 Program driven by the Humble yet Outstanding-I Dare you to Find Better: Coach/Instructor/Teacher, Scott Stevens:

  • I am currently able to deadlift my body weight at 36 reps.
  • I am able to see & feel, my hip bones again, which were hidden during my pregnancy of my 2nd child. 
  • I’ve INCREASED my benchpress by 65 lbs.
  • Increased my military press by 30 lbs.
    and…
  • I’ve DECREASED my PANT SIZE by FOUR!!!  I repeat, I have DECREASED my pant size by FOUR SIZES.

    All of this in 12 Weeks.

Andrea Blog Post DL WK 13-11-11.jpg

Started week 1 with Chronic Back Pain, finished handily deadlifting her bodyweight for reps …pain free!

The Last Sunday marking the end of my 12 weeks, even AFTER I had seen BEYOND success as aforementioned, I opened a drawer and pulled out a Camo print army skirt I couldn’t bear to part with that I’ve had since 2002-2003. It’s a size 5/6.  For some reason, I was ever hopeful that “one day I’d be able to wear this again” (without looping a hair tie between the button & the hole, to widen the waistline…LOL) And GUESS WHAT: it buttoned up. Fit me “like a glove.” I had honestly anticipated a few more weeks of good nutrition & exercise before I expected THAT to happen!

I am sharing my stories because I genuinely want people to feel good.  WHY the Fuck Not.  We are bombarded with things in every single angle every single day that we have to fight against in order to preserve happiness and true joy.

The Amazing 12 – will work for you.  There is no sugar coating or hidden agendas. The program is plain & simple – and it includes a finely tuned & fully functioning nutrition plan with expectation that you record what you eat.  If you follow the full plan, if you listen to your instructor and commit to what is expected of you, plan to work hard and earn your success? Then we can do cartwheels and heel-kicks in this “It feels great as Fuck to be a feminine yet powerful & strong woman,” Chorus Line of Life.  Together.

All women know it’s exciting when your waistline shrinks, or your “skinny jeans” fit with ease.  But we also know, same for men, what truly matters most is how you FEEL throughout.  And after this, I feel more EMPOWERED, more FEARLESS, more UNSTOPPABLE than I ever have in my life.  Emerged as the woman I always knew I was.

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LASTLY but surely not LEASTLY:
Let’s talk about the Man with 4 first names: John Scott Patrick Stevens.  If you think my writing is lengthy? Just ask for his bio, or even better, his list of credentials.  There are so many, he would literally need to carry around an 11×14 business “poster” instead of card for contact info & referrals.  100% true.  And he truly can walk the walk, but he would rather show you how.  He is a born teacher, it’s a true gift & it shows.
Since middle school, my personal interaction with fitness & sports has been school sports to cheerleading in college, a 12-year membership to 24-hour fitness, in which I participated in boot camps, aerobics, had a few personal trainers.  Incidentally, I ended up breaking my contract with the gym, once I discovered StrongFirst Kettlebell – as NOTHING, engaged my body in full the way the movements do in StrongFirst & I felt SO strong so immediately & saw the fastest results YET!  This, however, was nothing comparative to what A12+his expertise brings to you.  It’s effective, you see results quickly, the goal is not to throw up (that chaps my ass when programs think that’s the goal) and it is designed to dramatically & VISIBLY improve you, your health & your body each & every day.  There is truly nothing like it, in all the many vats of health & fitness I personally have experimented or engaged in.

There IS no one better than Scott Stevens.  The attention to detail of your every single move, is invaluable & inarguable.  Safety is ALWAYS #1 – so whether you might be about to put yourself at risk for hurting yourself, or to the point you need to un-learn poor form or bad habits, he will correct you & walk you through the process.  There’s no doubt about it, he can be tough, but never mean.  He will hold high expectations for you & plan for you to follow through. He is able to identify when you mentally don’t think you can go further, or get to those last 2 reps but he knows you are.  Yet all the while, he recognizes the difference between this and when you really ARE done.  This is very valuable to me personally because ultimately, WE, as the clients, are the ones doing the work and we know how it’s feeling to us.  I’ve tossed serious lip at past trainers who attempted to continue to push me and weren’t listening to me, because I knew I had reached a breaking point & they refused to listen.  I am happy to say, I’ve not been in a position where I felt I needed to do that with this teacher.

Your well being and success is always priority but you will be taught in a way that is meaningful, understood & effective. And you may just pay him the best compliment ever if, when you’ve really pushed yourself in the best way possible? You express your relief and your win by screaming an expletive that may or may not involve 4 letter words.
The way I look at working with him now? He is my teacher and always will be.  I ask you: why drink Evan Williams Whiskey once you’ve gotten used to 21-year old Red Breast – trust me. It’s expensive, it’s divine and you ALWAYS get what you pay for. HE is worth every cent.  Stop wasting your time shopping around.”

Andrea A12 Grad Approved Front Relaxed VS Front Biceps-02

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