Hey, I'm Sam.  I'm part of Team La Vi-Da Loca.  If you saw our entry in the Body by Vi Champion voting then you saw two photos of me - one in the gym and the other in my Triathlon gear with about 8 pounds difference between the photos, which is hardly noticeable.

You also may have seen the before/after pics on our new team banner, but it's really difficult to get a good look at that before picture on them.  But if you look to the right, you can see a nice clear picture of me.

No, actually that isn't my before picture. That was taken about 5 weeks after I began the Challenge. I'm smiling so big because I'm so happy at how well the Challenge is working for me.  Yep - in that picture I am thinking that I look GOOD!  The sad thing is that when I posted this pic on Facebook, my friends all agreed. They "liked" it and commented; saying how much better I was looking than when I started. As I said at the time, I was ecstatic, but looking back I'm frustrated that I had let things get to that point.

So, where did my journey start? It started at my grandmother's birthday party on July 21st, 2012. We ate, drank and were merry. We played and sang songs. Grandma had a great time and I was happy until that evening.  As happens in our modern world, when a gathering takes place, photos of said gathering soon find their way to Facebook and this was no exception.

Later that evening, this is what I saw on Facebook.

Mirrors with their silvery smooth tongue may lie, but family photos do not. It hit me that this is what I had become. The scale was now just barely south of the 300 pound mark and rested at 290 pounds.

Five short days later, I was sitting in a St. Louis hotel ballroom with a shake sample listening to ViSalus co-founder Nick Sarnicola and his skinny wife Ashley tell Dawn and I how we could lose weight and help change the world with a shake. I don't know if it was because we were really smart or just really desperate, but when they finished talking, we were on-board.

In my life, I've made many good choices, several great choices, but only 3 life-changing choices.
1. Accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
2. Asking Dawn to marry me.
3. Joining the Challenge.

January 2013
That is how strongly I feel about what started that day - and why I was smiling so big that day, five
February 2013
weeks after we began.  I understood that what we started was going somewhere great for us. To me that day, If I didn't know before, I knew then that losing 25 pounds was just the beginning.

And from there, I kept going. Eight weeks in and I was down 40 pounds. In 90 days, I lost a total of 51 pounds. When our one year anniversary rolled around I was down over 80 pounds. At that point, I set a new 90 day goal - I scanned in a photo of my drivers license and highlighted the weight listed on it.  

May 2013
Since I turned 16, I had never changed it so my weight was still listed as 185. At the end of that 90 day Challenge, I jumped on the scale and looked down to see that it read exactly 185 pounds. Thanks to ViSalus and a delicious shake, I had lost 105 pounds and weighed the same as I had as a sophomore in high school.

After hitting that goal, I turned my eyes to taking my new found health and fitness and doing something with it. As the old song says, "Don't hide it under a bush, oh no".
October 2013

The wife and I began working our way into some 5k races.  After a few of those, I was challenged to try a half-marathon; which seemed like this strange foreign thing to me. But then I thought about it and decided the distance between 290 and 185 was bigger that going from 3 miles to 13 miles.

I trained and ran and ran some more. Strangely, the knee issues I had always complained about didn't bother me anymore. Funny what taking 100 pounds of weight off of them will do. Anyway, on April 6th, I ran the GO! St. Louis Half - Marathon.  Despite an early pit-stop (poorly managed pre-race hydrating - in other words, I drank too much water), I still finished in 2 hours, 16 minutes.

Triathlon Sam
From there, I thought, "Now what?".  Then I saw a flyer for a sprint Triathlon at our local community center. So, I bought a used road bike for $100 and started biking and swimming. Race day came and I didn't suck too bad, so I bought a better bike and entered a couple more short triathlons with the thought that I might try one of the longer ones some day.

Some day came much quicker than anticipated when I was challenged to do a half-ironman distance triathlon in October. Since that day at grandma's birthday party, I had said "yes" a lot and my life was better off for it, so I said "yes" one more time.

On October 6th, I set off into the frigid Mississippi River a little after 8:00 am and sometime after 3:00 pm that afternoon I ran across the finish line having completed a 70.3 mile race. Despite swimming 1.2 miles and biking 50 miles, I finished by running the final leg, a half-marathon, in 2 hours, 30 minutes; only 14 minutes off my pace in April. For me, that was the greatest testament of the conditioning and fitness level that ViSalus had enabled me to obtain.

So, what is my message?  For most, they would say that ViSalus and the Challenge has given them their life back. But that's not true - not by half. I have met and made so many friends through ViSalus and the thread that connects us all is not that the Challenge gave us our lives back. Instead, the Challenge gave us a life better than what we had before. Thanks to Vi, we now have a life we never imagined possible. 

That is what the Vi-life is all about - new and better possibilities.

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Click below to go to Sam & Dawn Ritter's Challenge website.