Kelli Kocher is off her “diet.”

The concept wasn’t something she found helpful. It wasn’t until she made a lifestyle change that included hiking, biking and cooking more meals at home that she discovered the confidence that came with realizing her fitness potential.

When she started as a 24 Hour Fitness member, Kocher was a size 16. Now she’s down 52 pounds and wears a size 4. She does two days of weight training and four days of cardio per week. And given the level of her sports activities, that’s just the warm-up.

“If someone had told me I was going to be an endurance athlete, I would have laughed in their face,” she says. “I love it!  I’m a new woman! I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been in my life! My energy level is off the charts!”

Kocher’s success has spilled over and impacted other areas of her life just as positively. But the lessons started with appreciating what wasn’t going well and how she could make changes that would improve her physical health.

“I’ve learned a ton about myself,” she reflects. “I’ve learned that my body can do way more than I thought it could.”

The start of something new

For years Kocher struggled with “yo-yo” dieting. She admits she didn’t understand how food and fitness worked together. Finally fed up and ready to break the cycle, she turned to her avid gym-going husband who connected her with 24 Hour Fitness team member Brent Wade.

Nine years later, Wade is still her fitness coach and now a good friend. But on that first visit in January 2012, Kocher was intimidated walking into the gym. “My starting weight was 185 pounds. I wore a baggie t-shirt and hoped that no one noticed me. I told myself, ‘Just do what he says’.”

Fitness wasn’t the only thing she learned from Wade; healthy eating was also part of the mix. Her first food logs were a disaster, she says, indicating to Kocher that her bigger battle was with nutrition. But Wade gave her alternatives to keep her motivated and on track.

Still, she thought her progress was too slow. She adjusted her schedule to meet her calorie goals, increased her water intake—and then started to see the change she wanted. With a nearly 20-pound weight loss at four months, Kocher felt she had finally turned the corner and never looked back.

Little things with big impact

People respond differently to different forms of motivation. Kocher shares a mix of practical and mental tips that keep her striving toward her best possible self:

  • Enlisting the help of a coach is worth it. In so many other areas, people are willing to hire someone to help do something they’re not good at. The only difference here is that you “be willing to be vulnerable and go all-in a thousand percent.” For Kocher, it’s been a life-changing decision that has her living life to its fullest. “It has made me a better person, a better wife, a better friend, a better leader.”
  • She has a handful of mantras. “Just get there” is one, to help her remember how good she feels after a workout. “Why not?” is another, although with the pandemic she had fewer avenues to be adventurous, so she focused on “Stay positive and productive.” It was a business theme she adapted to her fitness routine, scheduling outdoor workouts, running a virtual 24-hour ultra challenge, running virtual half marathons with some girlfriends, and eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • She keeps a “dangle” on her training calendar. A race, a challenge, an incentive (like a beach trip) or an event (her son’s wedding) to keep her going. She also keeps herself accountable by posting goals, progress and struggles on Facebook. That’s built a community of online cheerleaders who give her energy and make her posts something she looks forward to sharing.

Five goals and a fulfilling future

It wasn’t until she began to lose weight that Kocher realized how passive she’d been in her life up to that point. “I had no voice. It was like I was lost in the background.” She began applying the same discipline she used on her fitness journey to try expressing her opinion. Now she’s known for her “Big, ballsy goals.” Since 2013, she’s set them for herself in five areas: personal, fitness, financial, spiritual and business.

Kocher is thrilled with how well it’s been working, and the resulting self-confidence has opened the door to many opportunities. She was the featured realtor on an episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” has been instrumental in building and leading a top-producing real estate team, has spoken at several professional events, has been featured in a YouTube series episode and graced the cover of an industry magazine with her husband.

And, of course, she’s crushing it on the fitness front as well. She’s completed around a dozen sprint triathlons and 20 half marathons, three full marathons, a 100-mile bike rally and, in February 2021, her first ultra-distance 50k trail race. Not content to rest on her laurels, her latest goal is to swim 55 miles this year to commemorate her 55th birthday at the end of 2021.

“I often hear how I inspire others. They see me as a true example of health and fitness,” says Kocher. She struggles with that responsibility until she shifts it into familiar territory. “Now I say that ‘it’s my goal to inspire others,’ and that feels good.”

Results not typical and may vary per individual. With a regular diet and exercise routine, typical weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. Please consult a physician before starting or changing a fitness routine.  Personal training and virtual personal training available to 24 Hour Fitness members for an additional fee.

Photo credit: Kelli Kocher