When he started: “I began my journey last April. I lost over 75 pounds by March 1,” Grella said.
Age: 50 years
Personal life: “I live in Atlanta, am divorced and have three daughters: 14 and 12-year-old twins,” Grella said. “I am an attorney, and my company, Grella Partnership Strategies, advises clients on corporate site selection, economic development and infrastructure development. I am also COO of a data center development company, Gotspace Data Partners.”
The lifestyle change: “In 2021, I had a milestone birthday and recognized the importance of improving my emotional and physical health so I can be a good role model for my daughters for many years to come,” Grella said.
Change in eating habits: “First, I reduced my daily calorie intake from around 3,500 calories a day by intermittent fasting, drinking lots of water and having a dinner of about 1,500 calories,” Grella said. “Second, as I started exercising … I reverted to three meals a day. Third, after my weight loss plateaued, I hired a nutritionist.” He eliminated several food types — including gluten, dairy and sugar — while increasing healthy foods. “In September, my body fat percentage was over 29%,” he said, “and with my lifestyle changes, I was able to reduce that number to less than 13% in six months.”
1. Reduced calories and started intermittent fasting: “I found it easiest for an early dinner to be my one meal, especially having a busy workday where time flies by.”
2. Introduced muscle confusion: “I started off with slow walks, then gradually added in short bursts at high speed to build endurance until I was no longer winded when I ran. I then started mixing in weight training. … After your body gets used to the same type of exercise, you need muscle confusion.”
3. Evolving from just counting calories to being deliberate: “Focus on the nutritional value of foods, increase your protein intake to get full quicker with fewer calories, and be mindful about what you drink.”
Exercise routine: “I exercise five to six days a week, a combination of cardio/cycling/HIIT fitness or group training classes at LifeTime fitness center, strength training, and at least one day a week of active recovery with stretching, yoga or Pilates to improve my mobility,” Grella said.
Biggest challenge: “The first challenge was not giving up — I did not see material results the first couple of weeks and really needed to build both strength and endurance,” Grella said. “The second challenge was back in November when I weighed 187 pounds and had plateaued with my progress. I had been going out to eat and drink several times a week, not getting enough sleep. … I had fooled myself into thinking because I exercised and limited my daily calories that I was living a healthy lifestyle. … I sought out professional advice to make adjustments in my life that have helped me lose another 30 pounds.”
Michael’s top tips:
1. Research: “Research how your body responds to different types of food, drinks, fitness routines and supplements. Don’t wing it and just look at diet and exercise as check-the-box exercises. If you start your journey to better health with a well-thought plan, then you will accelerate your progress, and seeing results is the best motivation to keep going.”
2. Mix it up: “Diversifying your exercise routines helps with burning more fat quicker, increases muscle tone, keeps you engaged and excited about your next workout.”
3. Stretching and proper form. “When I first started working with my trainer, he was constantly correcting my form and posture. If you don’t have proper form, you’re not optimizing results and put yourself at risk from injury.”
How his life has changed: “My life has changed in so many ways, particularly over the last few months since tweaking what I was eating, drinking, and started taking fitness classes,” Grella said. “I have never felt stronger, more confident, relaxed and in control of my life, both personally and professionally. My sleep is more restful, I have tremendous energy and clarity, and a relentlessly positive attitude.”
Seeking readers’ stories of lifestyle changes: We’re looking for stories about changing health habits. While The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not endorse any specific programs, we include names and links for the benefit of readers who want further information. If you would like to share your story of a lifestyle change, please contact reporter Michelle C. Brooks and include your email address, phone number, and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG). You can email her directly at: [email protected].