Suzanne before and after

Age: 50
Lost: 32 lbs.

This year, Susanne Benjaminsen turned 50 -- and dropped from 169 pounds and a size 14 to 137 pounds and a size 4. Here, in her own words, is her story of transformation.

I found The Studio (MDR) last March in an interesting way. I first met Ky while he was at another SPX studio on the street where I live in Glendale. I trained with him consistently for 8 months and made astronomical progress. After he left, I missed him terribly, but continued working with several other trainers. Then, one night I met a friend for sushi at a restaurant across the street from The Studio. On the way in I looked over and saw Ky teaching a class! I took this as a sign. I was able to get into a Ky 75 class the following week and ever since, I've been coming to The Studio as often as I can.

I started out at 169 lbs. I had so much body shame (even though less than a year before, I ran and finished the LA Marathon). I remember how self-conscious I felt standing up on the machine, and especially doing any exercise where I had to stick out my butt. During my first 8 months of SPX training with Ky, I lost at least 38 lbs, and went from a size 12/14 to a 6. I hadn't been that size for more than 10 years and I didn't think I'd get there again. It took a while for my feelings about my body to catch up with this transformation. I was enjoying the workouts so much -- being in the moment, feeling every fiber of those French Twists -- that it seemed like the weight just vanished one day.

I currently weigh 137 lbs. I gained back about 6 lbs since last year, but interestingly, I wear a size 4. I know muscle weighs more than fat, so I try to stop paying as much attention to the scale.

I started working out at The Studio in March 2011. My journey here has advanced from weight loss and physical fitness to creating new pathways of mind-body awareness and connection. I've learned the hard way many times that it's one thing to make a physical transformation and yet another to "own" it psychologically. I think this is one reason I used to regain weight so quickly.

The biggest success for me has been developing a passionate commitment to my health and well-being. I've kept over 30 lbs off for almost 2 years now. I love that my motivation continues to get stronger the more I improve. I think of all the people who workout and go on diets to look good for a class reunion or to get into a bathing suit, and are too happy to kick back after they reach their goal. That isn't me.

What we're doing at The Studio has affected every aspect of my life. People ask me what I'm doing to look so good and I get so excited to tell them.

Of course, I have had some setbacks and ongoing challenges along the way. A year ago, a shoulder injury caused nerve damage, which weakened my right arm and I caused me to lose most of the muscle tone I had worked so hard for. Another setback -- or more like an ongoing challenge -- is "emotional eating." This past year I was having a hard time coping with what for me was a big psychological adjustment: I turned 50. There were times when I reverted to the old ways of "managing" my feelings by stuffing them down with food. But let me tell you, I do not dwell in this place anymore! One thing I've learned through and through on this journey is that all you ever have to do is the next right thing. For me this may be returning to my core food plan, reconnecting with friends who keep me accountable to my commitments, spiritual devotion, as well as reading and listening to inspired works. This gift of restoration is precious. I will never give up on myself again.

My hopes for the future include being in the best health and physical shape than in my entire adult life. I am actually pretty close to that now.  I hope to compare a picture of myself 6 months from now to the "after" picture today, and see even more visible progress.

As it says in scripture, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."  This is true for all of us -- however we may think or feel about our bodies, the way we look in jeans, or the laws of gravity for that matter. The image I see in the mirror changes all the time, but the truth never changes.

I remember the first few months when I was sweating it out but wasn't seeing a lot of change. I reached a point in one of the workouts when I think my endorphins kicked in. I had the experience of "losing myself." Ky talks about it all the time, and it was a breakthrough for me. Having lived a life of being hard on myself, thinking I can do anything by pushing harder, longer, or farther, it's difficult for me to make that shift. But when I do, something amazing happens. I resist nothing. When I don't resist, I do the opposite, and everything works in harmony. It's as though there are no problems, nothing to prove or accomplish, only the moment now, my breath, my heart beat, my body in motion, the energy in the room with all of us together, all connected.  I think when you go there, nothing else matters.