“In 2005, at the age of 21, I was diagnosed with cancer.  At the time, I was a senior in college and in hindsight, extremely unhealthy.  I recall seeing my highest weight of 203 lbs, on a 5’8″ frame.  While being treated for cancer I was told I was overweight, actually obese.  I couldn’t believe it, I was classified by a medical professional as obese.  My Oncologist is an advocate of natural healing alongside of medicine.  He urged me that I must start eating healthy during treatment and continue after treatment; I was told I needed to get fit.  I was obese, had high cholesterol, and I recall reading one of my CT scans specifically stating I had an excess amount of fat surrounding specific organs.  Imagine that.   Attached is a photo of me from about 1/2 way through my 9 weeks of treatment.  I am partially swollen from the amount of steroids I was on but you can see, I was probably close to 200 lbs!  

I was diagnosed in August of 2005, given a clear bill of health by November, 2005, and I made a goal to myself that before my 6 month checkup in May of 2006 that  I would be fit, really fit.  I put off my efforts for a little bit as my body healed itself after the chemotherapy treatment and that January 1, 2006, I set out on my journey to get healthy.  I worked out twice a day, ate specific portions, and cut out certain foods, specifically fried foods.  I started taking protein supplements and really got my act together.  I would get home from the gym to find my friends grilling out and drinking beer and I would hop on my bike to go for a second work out.  My friends made fun of me but were proud of me at the same time.  They jokingly nicknamed me Hercules because I had become a health freak.  I weighed in at 147 lbs in mid April, a loss of 55 pounds in a little over 4 months.  I may have lost a little bit too much!  I have since been cancer free, year after year, and I attribute my keeping cancer away to a change in lifestyle.  Today, I am far from perfect with my diet and am currently not where I want to be diagnostically (body fat, FFM, etc), but I have sure come along way from where I was at 203 lbs in 2005.  I have been with Maxlife for over a year now and Maxlife preaches exactly what my Oncologist did and still does.  I set a new goal this past November to lose >3% body fat and I met that goal this past December.  I have set a new goal for myself to be <=12% body fat by March 1st.  It is a little bit of a stretch goal, but is a goal that is smart and measurable too.  Maxlife helps support me in being the best I can be.  It is up to me to meet my goals. “

-Joseph S.

I just started my 40 days with Max Life. I was fortunate enough to lose 165 pounds on my own over the last few years with diet and cardio only. I wanted to find something that would help me get to my goal, -200, when my friend Kellie turned me on to Max Life. I’m excited and looking forward to the challenge. My stories are below.



I’m always willing to share this when I get the opportunity because I’ve been blessed to help others. My sister-in-law has dropped 70 pounds and father has lost 60 because of the example I set. Almost 300 pounds combined! I was also told a story about how I inspired a wife to take her husband to the doctor and they found out he was diabetic. His condition was so severe that he needed to be put on insulin. 

I’m now off my diabetes medication and have an a1c count that is better than non-diabetics. I’m working to lose my other meds. I actually have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow to see if I can get off my high blood pressure meds. Fingers crossed.

-Ben C.


“I DO feel beautiful. I AM happier. I AM healthier. I AM a better wife and mother because of it. I have done other fitness programs and unfortunately, gained back the 15 pounds I lost. I am looking at this not as a 10 week challenge, but as a life challenge.
I’ve always been an on again and off again athlete. I always feel better (and naturally look better) when I am training for something. 4 triathlons and 3 half marathons later, I need to stop the cycle of up and down weight gain & loss depending on what event is coming up.

That said – since Drew was born 13 years ago, I have been off and on anti- depressants – directly related to having babies and then the cycle of lack of exercise. I just get into the negative thought mode, negative body image mode, negative eating mode. Then John will look at me and tell me that something has to change. That’s when the cycle of anti-depressants start up again. It’s been a long 13 years of that.”

Katie G   [Member since Jan '11]

“The combination of the right exercise/fitness routine paired with an awesome nutrition program made this a win-win, one stop shop for success.

There are so many things that I personally LOVE about your program.

1. The knowledge that the two of you have is amazing. I love that you are not trying to sell the latest fad diet or the latest pill claiming to burn fat, but rather that you promote what makes sense for long term success. The philosophy of feeding our bodies with what God intended and good old fashioned hard work is really the key to life time fitness and health management. It is obvious that you really do know what makes the body work to burn fat and get in shape with out any phony gimmicks.

2. I love the fact that you are not in it for the money. While I understand you have to make money to survive, I have never felt you trying to “sell” anything for the sake of your bottom dollar. What I find endearing is that your really, really do care about peoples health. I have been in very few fitness programs where we are encouraged to bring people and let them work out with us for free. And, you encourage us to bring friends to all of the nutrition talks and other activities all in the name of trying to turn people on to a better, healthier lifestyle.

3. I am excited by the enthusiasm and respect you two give to every single person. You treat everyone with open arms and truly believe in each and every person that walks through the door. Your interest in each person and how they are doing and your excitement for what you do is unsurpassed. I love that you are open to talk to us anytime and help us reach our goals.

4. The workouts you have us do are stellar. It is so much fun to come to class. The variety of workouts and the innovative things you do keeps it fresh and exciting and makes me want to see what is next.

5. I love the fact that I can come to a class for 20-40 minutes and be a fat burning machine for the rest of the day and days to come and that I don’t have to be in a gym or class for an hour everyday.

I have always struggled with Body Fat. I could lose weight but not get the Body Fat down. This is the only program in which I have been able to reduce my BF at either or almost 1% a week. That is incredible for someone my age and with a thyroid issue. Truly Amazing. And, I have never been in better shape in my life. I am actually dumb-founded that I can do the things I do. I had lost some weight and BF with Ryan earlier but after my Mother died I had a slump period in which I started to eat poorly and not work out as much, but mostly the food was the issue, however, I still applied the prinicples I learned and it was the first time I didn’t gain it all back and more, which is what used to happen. I was able to get right back at it in this challenge and get if off again. It worked before and it worked this time. I love the sensibility of the nutrition and workouts. I look forward to coming to class and being the best I can be. I love that I can keep up in almost any fitness class put in front of me. I know everytime I walk in the door for a workout, it will be challenging, different and I will feel great afterwards. I tell my friends all the time how much I love your program and how much I cherish the friendship I have with the two of you. I am so proud to be a part of this health program. Thanks for all you do!”

Mary M   [Member since May '10]

“I have been a part of many different exercise programs and been on a few diets in my day but I have never found something that I enjoy as much as the Live to the Max makeover!!!!

The changes I have gone through:

  • Sleeping better
  • Wake up easier
  • More alert at work and more productive during the day.
  • Fridge is full of veggies, eggs, meats, cheeses, nuts and flours all natural, cage free, grass fed.
  • All of my clothes fit looser, I am wearing shorts I haven’t worn in years.
  • Went from 96 oz. of Diet Coke a day to 0oz. a day. Now it’s a Gallon of Water a day!!!
  • Blood pressure lowered
  • IBS gone
  • Hot Flashes at a minimum
  • Bladder twinges gone.

I knew how to exercise and I thought I knew what I should be eating, but I didn’t. I fell into the low fat diet trap and didn’t even realize the toxins I was putting in my body. In reality, I needed a reason to get up off the couch and move and to fill my fridge and pantry with good things. Little did I know that my fridge and pantry were just the beginning, and the end result was my whole life is now full of good things. The things that I have learned from Melissa and Ryan and my fellow warriors have been life changing, my eyes are now open to the obvious- eating clean, organic food with no preservatives, no toxins and no sugar, exercising and looking at myself in a positive way. I look forward to workouts each day and I am excited to figure out my food plan for the week. That is huge, totally huge!!

The most important thing that I learned from Melissa and Ryan has been the big picture. By that I mean I have changed the way I think and I have become a healthier person because of them. Dr. Kevin added an aspect to the challenge that is unique-his focus on a healthy body, a body that is healing itself all the time and needs to function at its healthiest is something I never considered before this challenge. That aspect will save my life. I am challenged now to bring these healing things into my business and try to make small changes to help our community to eat healthier. No small task, but this challenge has taught me that it is the only task that really matters.

I have had life challenges that are a part of me but do not define me – at age 25 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in the uterus, cervix in the tissue around the ureter and kidneys and up to the bladder . I was given a 30-40% survival prognosis. My treatment started the day after my 26th birthday with 6 rounds of CHOP Chemotherapy for almost 4 months-I lost my hair and discovered I have a perfect bald head-who knew?? Then, I went through the process of bone marrow collection, done at the University of Iowa, so that I could freeze my marrow before having radiation to the hip area (which is the densest bone mass in the body) this was done in case I ever would need a bone marrow transplant. I then went through Radiation 5 days a week for 3.5 months with an additional 4 internal radiation treatments called Brachotherapy (which is a procedure that “plants” radiation seeds internally as close to the tumor as possible). My treatments ended and the testing to determine the next step was done, it showed the tumor had turned to fibrosis and was not malignant. Whoo Whoo!!!! It is a catch 22 because the medicine that kills the bad is also hard on the good. That has been the case for me. Since my treatment ended I have had my left kidney removed which was at 1% function, surgery for a ruptured disc in my spine, carpal tunnel surgery on both hands, irritable bowel syndrome, fibrosis of the bladder and all the side effects of menopause. Due to the radiation, a perfect example of the treatment hurting the good while killing the bad, I went through menopause at age 26 and started on hormone replacement drugs which I later quit because of side effects. I had a Dr. tell me to control my IBS that I needed to stay away from foods that have a skin or a seed and not to eat anything with a nut or a bean. That pretty much includes all healthy foods. If I would have known then what I know now!!!! WOW!!!!

I am so glad I found Ryan and Melissa because I know with them my chances of a recurrence are now LOWER if not GONEand that is gigantic to my family. This challenge has brought down my blood pressure and cholesterol, hot flashes are at a minimum and I have gone off of my osteoporosis meds. Now, that is probably too much information but it is my history and it’s why I am, who I am, today. I want my niece and nephew to see their aunt work hard every day, give everything her all- no short cuts, no excuses and LIVE TO THE MAX!!!

My mission is to live a long and healthy life. My main motivation for doing so is my niece and nephew. I know that God put me on this earth to be an aunt. I want to be around for them until they are old and grey too. Now I know how to complete my mission-I exercise, I don’t eat sugar or grains, I get my vitamins from the food that I eat- GOD’s FOOD, I am set up to see Dr. Kevin and he is helping to heal my body, I am de-stressing my work life and simplifying everything I can.

It is true that food choices and exercise can be better medicine that the pharmacist can dish out.

I was most impressed with Melissa and Ryan and their personal attention to each of us. They really do care about you and they care that you become a healthy, cells producing, avocado eating warrior. I am forever grateful to them for their care and dedication to the challenge and to us. Every time I read a label, make a protein shake, or go for a walk I know I would not be where I am right now without Melissa and Ryan’s guidance and faith in me.”

Barb B   [Member since May '10]