Written by Nicole
It is so rewarding for me to see people discover the inner strength and dedication that was always in them, but they never really knew they had. It shows that none of us ever truly know what we are capable of until we give it our all.
This month’s Goal Getters are doubly inspiring … because there are two of them! Twins Mary and Dee Sonntag, who used each other as motivation to push themselves beyond what they thought they could do to reach new levels in their health and fitness journeys.
Mary and Dee were born on July 23, 1983. Mary is the “older”, being born three seconds earlier. And you’re not going to believe this next one…they are married to brothers!
Both were very active in sports through their college days, but like many people, they led much more sedentary lives after college and adopted poor eating eating habits.
They tried various activities to get back in shape, but it wasn’t until Dee found my Challenges that she started seeing the kind of progress she was hoping for. She eventually convinced Mary to join her as a training partner for the 2019 60 Day Total Body Challenge and wow did it ever pay off!
To date, Dee has lost 42 pounds since entering her first Challenge in 2017, while Mary lost 30 pounds and was a runner-up in the 60 Day Total Body Transformation Challenge this year!
I’m super-proud of both Mary and Dee and the dedication to they put into achieving their goals. It shows what can be accomplished when you put in the hard work and trust the program to deliver the results. You can be one of those success stories you always read about but never thought you could be.
I’ll be on the lookout for all of you other Goal Getters out there, so we can share your story with the rest of our community here. It’s tough to keep track of everyone, so if you have an inspiring story to share send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear it!
What is your fitness/athletic background? Were you involved in sports during school?
Mary: We were involved in many sports growing up all the way through college. The sports included softball, basketball, volleyball, track, but we both grew to love cheerleading the most. We were fortunate enough to cheer in college at the University of Montana in Missoula. Dee and I would both consider ourselves always very active. It wasn’t until our early to mid twenties that we both put on some weight. With limited knowledge of nutrition and no desire to obtain healthy habits we slowly started packing on the pounds.
In 2010, we trained and completed our first sprint triathlon, ran multiple 5K’s, a couple of half marathons, and a full marathon in Portland, Oregon. Through all of this training we still never sought out proper nutrition.
Did you train regularly prior to doing your first Challenge?
Dee: Our training has always been sports related and rarely ever involved weight training. We play coed softball, tennis, and do a fair amount of cardio.
What prompted you to do your first Challenge?
Mary: Dee has done the 60 Day Transformation Challenge 3 times and invited me to join her this year!
What was your favorite meal or food on the menu?
Dee: The spaghetti meal from the 1st 60 Day Challenge and the peanut butter protein balls.
Mary: The yummy simple chocolate, banana, peanut butter shake for breakfast, the steak and strawberry salad, and the protein pancakes.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself?
Dee: How strong I could feel and the muscle definition with lifting weights.
Mary: How much I LOVED lifting weights. It was incredible how quickly I could increase my weight and how strong I felt.
Were there times when you felt like giving up? When you maybe cheated on your diet or missed a workout? When this happened, how did you deal with and get back on track?
Dee: With each challenge, comes its unique set of obstacles. I have started many of Nicole’s Challenges, and until the most recent Buns and Guns Challenge, I have only completed the three 60 Day Transformation Challenges. I start each year, lose 20+ pounds, and sadly spend the rest of the year gaining the weight back. However, this year I committed myself to attack the Buns and Guns Challenge as if it were the 60 Day Challenge, and I did it.
I pushed myself harder than I ever had. I lost 42 pounds so far this year. My biggest challenges are remaining social, not drinking, and eating on point macros. I love food, I mean, I LOVE food. I have gained 7 pounds since the end of Buns & Guns and the start of Summer Shred. I gave myself the week to indulge on the foods I crave and throughly enjoyed them.
My biggest obstacles aren’t during the Challenges, it’s afterwards. This is my year! The results that I know are coming with Summer Shred will be the biggest results I have seen since I cheered in college.
Mary: There were definitely challenges during the 60 Transformation Challenge and it pushed me. I remember when my husband and I were going out of town for our anniversary weekend to Orcas Island. These weekends normally involve fancy dinners, desserts, and lots of wine. However, I prepped and planned EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. We even stayed in a condo, not a hotel so I could have a fridge, oven, and microwave. Instead of dinning out, I was microwaving broccoli. It was such a mental obstacle.
After I stayed strong that weekend, I knew I could finish the challenge without deviating and was SUPER proud of myself and how I maintained my commitment to the program and to myself.I didn’t deviate from the food at all and was able to complete the Challenge without a cheat. I did however move the cardio sessions around a little bit so I stayed committed to the goal I had to workout everyday.
What are some tips/tricks you used to stay motivated every day?
Dee: I print the overview and put it on my fridge. At the end of each day, I put star stickers to mark that day as complete. I also create workout notebooks to take to the gym. I print all the workouts and tape them in a book so I can keep track of the weights used and how many reps. I leave a page in between so I can journal while I am in the sauna about my goals for the day, the struggles I am having, and how I can do better tomorrow. I also hang my goal dress in my bedroom so I see it everyday. I also take before, midpoint, and after measurements and photos.
Mary: This is going to sound a lot like Dee’s response because I learned a lot from her because she had done these challenges before. I too printed off the weekly schedule and posted them on my refrigerator. I gave myself star stickers for cardio sessions completed, weight lifting done, and on-point nutrition. My kids even helped me put my stickers on and were really encouraging me. The fitness journal with all of the workouts printed off ahead of time was a huge advantage and easy to manage while I was at the gym and it is so nice to be able to look back to the previous week’s page and see what weight I used and try to beat it.
I also took the time to watch Nicole’s videos of movements I didn’t know the night before so it didn’t bog-down my workouts. I meal prepped on Sundays and Wednesdays and set time aside to do so. I sat down with my husband each week and planned out our week and was intentional about when my workouts would be. Having everything planned out increased my accountability. I would even lay out my workout clothes the night before to ensure I was ready – no excuses. It was also incredible to be able to workout so many times with Dee and to have the support of each other. If I needed a meal or wasn’t feeling super motivated it was so nice to have her there encouraging me along the way.
What’s the most important piece of advice you can give to others doing a Challenge or trying to change their bodies?
Dee: Trust Nicole! Unless you have been a personal trainer for over 20 years and have won the Olympia 4 times, trust Nicole. I get annoyed when people don’t work the program and then complain about results. I get asked all the time what am I doing. I always send them to Nicole’s website and recommend nPower Nutrition products and the Challenges.
My support system is huge. My husband Joey and my twelve-year-old daughter Jade support me 100%. If you don’t have a support system, get connected to the Facebook page, because having support is vital to long-term successes. Lastly, go to an nPower Fitness Camp. Mary, Mandi, Shannon, and I went to the camp in Seattle this year and we LOVED it. We will be back!
Mary: Nutrition is a HUGE piece of the puzzle. You can’t out-train a bad diet. Counting your macros and staying consistent will give your body the fuel it needs to complete these intense workouts. Lifting weights was something I didn’t do prior to this Challenge. It has changed my body in such a positive way I have tears just typing this.
I weigh the same weight that is on my driver’s license. I haven’t weighed this weight in over a decade and I feel so strong and healthy. I lost over 30 pounds in 60 days, gained muscle, melted 16.75 inches off my body, and I was the runner up for the 60 Day Transformation Challenge! As a busy wife, mom, and teacher, I felt a little guilty for taking time to workout most days in the beginning. But, after I built it into my routine, I make it happen and I don’t feel bad/guilty. I am doing a better job taking care of my family because I am in a better place and take care of myself. I am healthier and I have more energy to keep up with my busy family.