Colorado Springs couple go beyond nutrition in faith-based health program

By Megan Wood megan.wood@gazette.com - Published: October 8, 2013 | 9:15 am 0

This journey isn't simply about losing weight. It involves tapping into one's physical, spiritual and mental health.

Leading the way are Colorado Springs residents and personal trainers Brian and Silesia Wellbrock, founders of Faith in Action, a nonprofit that helps guide clients worldwide. Within the company is Courage to Change (courage2change.org), a program that started 17 years ago as a nutritional plan and eventually became a three-book series.

"Challenges in life sometimes just knock people down to where they're not taking care of themselves, and they're hurting," Silesia said. "We've developed an approach that's more thorough ... not just exercise and nutrition."

The goal of the faith-based program is to keep people motivated. Over the course of 12 weeks, clients are pushed past their perceived limits in an effort to achieve a life of health.

The first book guides a client through the program, with a chapter per week. The second is a journal for positive affirmations, where clients can apply each part of the program to their lives. The third is a personal trainer guide that focuses on basic nutrition and exercise.

The couple created YouTube videos of the exercises so that clients can see how to do them properly. Each client also undergoes a program specifically tailored to their needs. The course provides accountability and support.

That support, Brian said, comes from faith-based cognitive therapy as people must first listen to their critical voice.

"It's human being, not human doing," he said. "That's one of the fundamental things of the program - your behavior always follows your belief system."

Even though the program is faith-based, the couple said they'll tweak the program circumstantially.

"The source is different, but you can still talk on a behavioral level about love, about forgiveness and grace," Brian said. "We have a specific message for those that are willing and wanting of that message."

Clients can opt to do Courage to Change (C2C) individually or with a group (churches, corporations). If clients don't live close to the Wellbrocks' home gym, they still can get a personalized workout via Skype.

Mary Anne Pisaruk, 56, completed C2C in fall 2012. She liked the blend of exercise with an emotional aspect.

"It's about changing your thought life, not just food," said Pisaruk, who lives in Woodland Park. "The emotional was more dealing with core issues that are affecting you from losing weight, emotional weight and past experiences."

C2C is based on progressive training, meaning that every physical and mental exercise builds upon the previous one.

"When a person starts to understand their priorities, and then where honor and respect are due in those priorities, it changes their life," Brian said.

Added Silesia: "It's not about the vanity . it's not about the perfect body and the perfect abs. It's really about health, so we're here longer to love our family and our friends."

The couple also focus on injury rehabilitation after physical therapy. They've had plenty of personal experience overcoming injuries: Silesia suffered a brain injury last year after being thrown from a horse, and both were involved in a pair of car accidents within a six-week span this year.

"That's part of our story," Brian said. "We're not trainers who have never had anything happen to us. We know what it's like to overcome."

The couple arrived at their current level of physical fitness from very different pasts.

Silesia wasn't always physically fit. She said she gained the "freshman 15" twice and then some during her first year of college.

"It was a wake-up call, and that's when I really fell in love with aerobics and kind of birthed a monster, I guess," she said, laughing.

Silesia now is certified in most areas of aerobics and received a second certification through Baylor Sports Medicine Institute.

Brian said he's always been athletic. He played football in college, where he earned a degree in corporate wellness. He's certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and also is certified as a TRX sports medicine trainer.

"It's about changing your thought life, not just food."

Mary Anne Pisaruk, who completed the courage to change program in fall 2012

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