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Lisa Butler: Developing Partnerships for Healthy Living

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Pen and paper. Weights and cardio. Coaching and counseling. Knife and fork. These are just a few of the tools employed by FitChix KC owner Lisa Butler as she guides her clients by partnering to build a healthier lifestyle. Based in Leawood, Kansas, she’s worked in the fitness and wellness arena for decades and established FitChix KC in 2007. She is double-certified by the American Council on Exercise as a health coach and personal trainer. She is also a group fitness and Silver Sneakers instructor. The mission she shares with her clients, ranging from mothers in their 30s to seniors in their golden years, is based on setting personalized goals while creating and delivering safe and effective exercise programs for individuals and groups and maintaining their efforts.

“People come to me for help, and through an initial consultation, we create a plan together to help them realize results,” she shared. “We might start with their top three goals for improving everyday life. Maybe that’s working on reducing stress, toning arms and abs, losing weight or just getting more energy and flexibility to play with their grandkids. I love to see those changes in people.”

Pen and Paper
You might recognize Lisa’s name as one of the contributing writers for HERLIFE Magazine, taking on the role of health and lifestyle contributor for more than ten years. Her decades of writing and her deep background in health and fitness, including running FitChix KC, have helped make her an expert in the field.

With a background in journalism, Lisa enjoys researching the fitness world and discovering new information to share. “HERLIFE readers are savvy and progressive, so my aim is to keep them updated on health and wellbeing,” she remarked. “Over the last year, I have written a lot about COVID and its long-term effects. Now, because of the circumstances of that same pandemic, more people are training virtually. We’ve learned that even though we were in a lockdown in our own spaces, we can still work out. It’s hard to find excuses for not being engaged in some form of exercise. Technology is continuing to evolve and there are so many more ways to work out at home. My personal favorite is face-to-face. There’s nothing quite like the motivation that comes from someone guiding you through that process.”

Weights and Cardio
At FitChix KC, Lisa is focused on evaluating each person’s strengths and weaknesses, while developing an individualized workout plan with accountability goals and timelines. Lisa highlights a group of clients who started working out together a few years ago. Among them, cholesterol, body fat and blood pressure numbers were high. The plan was to reduce these figures through a basic exercise program while monitoring food intake. Working together, they accomplished these goals. On the other hand, a client working alone lost 35 pounds in less than a year.

“What drives these success stories is the motivation that they wanted to work out, feel better or look better in their clothes. They devoted time in their schedules for their workouts and followed through,” Lisa said. “Through this process, they feel good about their accomplishments, which is a boost for their mind and body, not to mention their self-confidence.”

While most of her sessions are built for individuals, Lisa supports bringing along an exercise buddy for support. “Everyone is different. Some people prefer to work out on their own, while others bring a partner because they desire the accountability,” she stated. “Many times, they’re working out with similar goals, which makes it even more fun to train them. Sometimes they’ll push each other to move up in weights or add more cardio.”

Coaching and Counseling
Weights and fitness equipment aren’t the only tools Lisa calls upon in her line of work. She monitors a client’s success regularly with electronic equipment such as an Omron fat loss monitor, which displays BMI and body fat statistics. Of course, simple tape measures and weight scales are very effective as well.

“I’ll weigh and measure clients to set a baseline and then follow up regularly. Some want to do that every couple of weeks and tracking regularly can help clients ‘see’ their success,” she noted. “But sometimes achievements don’t have anything to do with digits. Maybe you feel stronger. Maybe you have more energy throughout the day. As a trainer and health coach, I have to take all of those achievements into consideration. Everyone is so varied in their goals; frankly, it all comes down to appreciating a better lifestyle.”

While individual training is a big part of her business, Lisa is also involved with wellness counseling. As a health coach with the Kansas City-based company Live Fit for Life, her role is to work with corporations to enhance their company wellness programs by offering one-on-one coaching to employees. “These are 20- to 30-minute coaching phone calls with employees who want to make changes in their lifestyle. We help them set healthy goals based on their wellness indicator measurements,” she remarked. “We’ll discuss where they want to be with their health and then devise the small steps to get there. I enjoy seeing their results. People can be amazing, turn it around and surprise you.”

Knife and Fork
Just as you change up a workout, Lisa advises that you do the same with your nutrition. Do away with unhealthy meals or fast food and focus on eating whole foods with dishes that are tasty and can be created quickly. Her secret to success is planning. Many fitness apps feature the ability to plan meals and figure calories with a few keystrokes.

“I find or create recipes I like for my family and then I share them on social media. I’m a basic cook who uses things from her kitchen to try to eat healthier, “ she noted. “Sometimes we are not honest about what we’re consuming or we underestimate the portions. Planning meals, or at least thinking about it ahead of time, can be so helpful, not to mention cheaper.”

She points to a change in lifestyle, not counting on restrictive diets, although she does say special regimens can help you jumpstart your efforts. But normally those efforts can’t be maintained for long periods and many may fall into the yo-yo diet category. “A person can lose 20 pounds on a commercial diet, but what happens when they go back to normal eating? We should think about nutrition every day,” she noted. “It’s more about trying to put good things into our bodies more often while cutting back on the unhealthy foods. We have to find what we can stick with long-term and still be happy. There will always be holidays or birthdays where we want a treat, but planning how we will eat for those events is important.”

She added that we all have food and health fears or self-doubt keeping us from being our best selves, but the idea is knowing when we are ready to make a change. This usually begins with a gut feeling or an event such as seeing a picture of yourself not looking your best, being winded going upstairs or at the extreme of finding yourself in the emergency room with a serious health issue.

Lifestyle Philosophy
FitChix is more than just exercise, it’s also a way for Lisa to help mold lifestyle changes that clients desire to make. “It’s not one or the other. You can’t exercise all day and not change your diet and vice versa. A healthy lifestyle is good food and portion control coupled with a sound exercise program,” she advised. “Some people think that they didn’t eat so well over the weekend but they’re going to get back on track come Monday. But it’s not like that; it’s a lifestyle change that you need to embrace. Eighty percent of the time it’s enjoying healthy foods and exercise while the remaining 20 percent can be indulging in actions outside those goals.”

After decades in the business and more than ten years running her own company, Lisa has seen thousands of lunges, crunches, push-ups, squats, burpees, triceps extensions and many more exercises. What keeps her going is the self-satisfaction she gains from her work and the achievements of her patrons as they realize their goals.

“In fitness, as with any business, you can either learn and grow or go with the motions,” Lisa affirmed. “I feel the best when I’m helping others be their best. We definitely develop a partnership, and I want to be there for them in their successes and through the hiccups. Some days are challenging, but they’re erased by the other days in which I am amazed by what someone can accomplish.”

Are you ready to begin your journey?

Lisa offers sound advice for taking the first steps to a healthier lifestyle.

• You have to be ready to make a change, not a spouse or someone else pushing you to do it. It’s great to have the support, but you have to have the personal commitment to see yourself through.

• It’s a good idea to work with a professional, so you are committed to keeping those appointments. Find a trainer/coach that allows you to be you, but still helps you achieve your goals. Most people know what to do but they have a hard time staying motivated on their own. They need someone to push them to new levels.

• Workouts don’t have to be so intense that you dread them. Challenge yourself but keep showing up.