Jackie Securo of Columbus learned Monday that she won the R.I.P.P.E.D. national fitness challenge. The grand prize includes a trip to California, according to the program's website. We interviewed Securo for a July 1 feature before the winner was announced. Here's her interview.
How did you become a finalist in the R.I.P.P.E.D. national fitness challenge?
In May 2012 I became a R.I.P.P.E.D. certified instructor. I absolutely fell in love with this fitness format! I began teaching it on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Smith Gym on Fort Benning. I also teach Zumba Fitness, Aqua Fitness and Aqua Zumba at the YMCA. RIPPED was such a hit at Ft. Benning I added it on Monday evenings at Smith Gym between November 2012 and March 2013. I was teaching 11 to 12 classes a week. I had the mindset that I could eat anything and everything I wanted because I was teaching so many classes that I had to be burning most of the food off!
Boy, was I wrong. Between August 2012 and January 2013 I packed on about 20 pounds! Knowing that I had to make a change, I decided to commit to the “D” in R.I.P.P.E.D., the diet. I went to the website, www.RIPPEDPlanet.com and read about the diet. I printed out the “cheat sheet” provided on the site and that is where I started. By the third week in January I weighed 130 pounds. I was so pleased that I decided to buy the book that the R.I.P.P.E.D. diet was based on, "Body Confidence: Venice Nutrition's 3-Step System That Unlocks Your Body's Full Potential" by Mark MacDonald.
"Body Confidence" is a revolutionary approach based on three key nutrition factors that stabilize your blood sugar and keep your body in balance: eating at consistent meal intervals; absolute certainty in essential nutrient ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrates; and identifying and consuming the right amount of calories per meal. This book gave me a greater understanding of the why and how!
The biggest blessing on my journey was being added to the RIPPED 2 Fit pre-challenge Facebook group. It was a closed group for current instructors and master trainers. The purpose was to go through the challenge ourselves from February through April, so that we could gain the experience and knowledge to become a coach for our students.
It is there that I met my coach Erin Woodbury, the very first RIPPED master trainer. She helped us by interacting with us over the page through posts and comments and even through private messages. She gave us tips and trick, education, and tons of awesome healthy recipes, most of which she developed on her own. As participants we were able to share our own recipes and experiences and get feedback from Erin and the group. I learned so many things during these two months that were life changing and I gained many friends that I’ve never even met in person.
I never imagined that I would enter this challenge as a contestant. I enlisted about seven students to enter the challenge and they all did a wonderful job! I am proud to say that three of those seven challengers are now certified RIPPED instructors. I was on the fence about entering myself but Erin encouraged me to do it since I had been so active and made such big changes during the pre-challenge. It was only logical for me to ask her to be my coach! I call her my angel and she has literally helped me change my life from the opposite end of the country (she lives in Orange County Calif.).
Through the actual challenge phase, April 15-June 15, I have lost a total of 22 pounds, I’m down three sizes, and my body fat percentage is down to 17 percent. My biggest accomplishment is the building of lean muscle that has increased my metabolism so that I can continue to maintain the weight loss.
For the end of the challenge contestants were asked to write a 300-word essay and submit 3 "after" pictures: front view, side view and back view. I never imagined when I turned my final materials in that I would end up in the top 10! The experience itself was life changing, not just for me physically. I really wish there was a way to make the internal changes visible to an outsider.
2. You're originally from West Virginia. How did you end up in Columbus?
We moved to Columbus after a physician recruiter matched my husband with a position available at Valley Healthcare in 2007. We wanted to move to a larger area that was not a major city. Columbus seemed to be the perfect location! We met Sara Lang, the CEO of Valley Healthcare, who is also a West Virginia native. I will always be a West Virginia girl at heart, always rooting for the Mountaineers and missing the fall colors in October. But Columbus is home now. We bought a house a few years ago so we are here to stay.
What's your advice for exercising outside in warm weather?
This is an excellent question. I teach Aqua Zumba outside at Carey Pool on Fort Benning June–August every year. I teach from the deck so I have to be keen to these kinds of things for both myself and my students. Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. Exercising and the air temperature both increase your core body temperature.
During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness and confusion. When you notice any of these you need to lower your body temperature and get hydrated. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. Take off extra layers of clothing, drink fluids and fan your body or wet down your body with cool water. If you don't feel better within 30 minutes, contact your doctor.
When you exercise in hot weather, take these precautions. Be aware of weather forecasts and heat alerts. If you're used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, pace yourself when you first start to exercise in the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over time you can go at a higher intensity. Know your fitness level! Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks when needed. Always drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration will cause heat-related illnesses.
Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. If you plan to exercise intensely or for longer than one hour, drink a sports drink because they can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Dress in lightweight, loose fitting clothes and avoid dark colors that absorb heat. Exercise in the morning or evening, when it's likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shade or do a water workout.
Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, as a sunburn reduces the body’s ability to cool itself. If you're concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. If you have a medical condition or are on medications that can increase your risk of a heat-related illness, talk to your doctor about precautions before exercising in the heat.
Which songs are currently on your exercise playlist?
I have so many different playlists. I teach R.I.P.P.E.D., Zumba, Zumba Gold and Aqua Zumba currently. Each class has a different playlist. What I love about R.I.P.P.E.D. is that Terry Shorter, the creator of R.I.P.P.E.D., is very talented at singing, writing and producing music. So many of the songs on the R.I.P.P.E.D. releases are originals that Terry has put together. I love the music for this class.
Of course with all of the Zumba Fitness formats there is an abundance of Latin and international rhythms, with a few popular tunes on the playlist. Zumba Fitness exposes you to different worlds and different cultures through the music.
Aside from your business, what’s the best-kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?
I think the best-kept secret about the Chattahoochee Valley is the cultural diversity of the area. I absolutely want my children to grow up in a multicultural community and that is what we have found here. It is one of the reasons that keeps us here. I love to walk into my child’s classroom at school and see that they have friends from many different races and religions. There is so much for them to learn from their friends. There wasn’t much diversity in West Virginia!