VALLEY SPRINGS — They were in different places in their healthy journey.
The first date between Sean and Tammy Rader resulted in an awkward question by Tammy when it came to order the first meal together.
"Do you want to share a meal," she said to him. Sean didn't share, but the date was the first that drew the couple together. They have been together six years and have been married the last three years.
The couple has had another journey that they are sharing. That journey is one to get to good health. Tammy has been on the trip much longer than Sean, but he has joined in as well.
Tammy started her journey over a decade ago.
"I was inspired by Cindy Edwards to start the journey to healthy eating and to work out," she said. "My sons, who were heavily involved in scouts and Jiu Jitsu, and I completed two mud runs. After they left for the Navy, I have continued the workouts to keep in shape."
Sean also received inspiration from family.
"My dad inspired me to begin working out at a young age," said Sean. "As I got older it became a habit that I enjoyed. I trained with Rhuel Lutrell and earned my black belt in Kenpo and I have trained with Troy Holt in Jiu Jitsu."
The couple have combined for weight loss of more than 320 pounds as a couple. Sean has lost 100 pounds while Tammy has dropped 220 pounds over a long period of time.
There is more than 200 inches dropped between the couple.
That amount of weight lost is not accomplished without a plan.
"We made small goals through the year to keep on track," Tammy said. "Then we maintain that goal for a certain time and then we start another goal."
When working out, the couple have a built in support system.
"We support each other on our workout routines," said Sean. "Even on days we are just not feeling it, but the encouragement is what gets us through those types of days."
To reach the goals that the couple has set, dietary restrictions are in place.
"We do have a strict diet," Tammy said. "But like everything else in life there are ups and downs. We diet for a good three months then we will maintain that goal. We will eat for three months and then diet again. It is always a challenge to see what we can do to maintain our lifestyle."
The couple have a few recipes that they enjoy in their food quest.
They cook 4 oz of tilapia fish and then season it with salt, lemon and pepper. The couple grills it for 10 minutes in olive oil. The couple also steams broccoli and then adds parmesan cheese to it.
The Raders are a stay at home type of family when it comes to food.
"We dine out once a week depending on our schedule," said Tammy. "We usually go before working out."
To kill cravings, Sean likes pork rinds and beef jerky. He also chews gum. Tammy drinks tea and eats berries.
The couple has a strategy for their meals.
"We do meal prepping on Sunday," said Tammy. "Working at Windstream, we have long hours and prep cooking is a must."
The couple has different workout schedules during the week.
Tammy works out during the week at the couple's home in Valley Springs. Sean is a Monday through Friday morning patron at STS gym. Tammy starts her workout at 4 a.m. while Sean sleeps in and starts his workout at 5:45 a.m.
On the weekends, the pair start their workout late in comparison to the week. The couple checks in at 7 a.m. at STS.
"We enjoy working out at the same gym," said Sean, "but, we do have our own routines.
"I enjoy the quiet side of STS gym," said Tammy. "He goes to the strength side."
Sean enjoys boxing, running (HITT) and weights. Tammy works on cardio, stepping, weights, elliptical, jumping rope and boxing.
"We try to change up our workouts throughout the week to avoid muscle memory," said Tammy.
Tammy's favorite workout is cardio with weights for toning.
Sean gravitates toward the weights. "I can see quicker results," he said.
The couple has different workouts during their gym visits. Tammy does reps of 15 minutes of cardio and then 15 minutes of weights. She repeats the pattern.
With working out there are aspects of the exercise that are not the favorites. Sean’s least favorite aspect is getting started with his running. Tammy said her least favorite part of the gym "is having to leave."
The couple is at different stages of their health journey.
Tammy wants to loss some more weight and gain muscle mass. Her long term goal is to remain healthy.
Sean is still attempting to lose more weight to get to a normal body mass index and to gain muscle mass.
With the couple losing more than 300 pounds, there are moments when friends see them for the first time.
"I get so many compliments and most said wow," said Sean. "They say I have changed and I did not recognize you."
Tammy has been told by individuals "you look great," she started. "Then they asked when can we work out together."
The couple has advice to individuals that are starting to workout.
"My advice to anyone wanting to start a healthy workout would be to be serious, but have fun," started Sean, "If you are not sure what kind of gym you want check them out. We looked at several gyms and STS was perfect from beginning family, military and police friendly."
Tammy took another approach.
"Don't give up," she said. "It won't be easy, just take it slow and increase when you are ready. But this is something you would want. Unless you are ready, it won't be fun."
The couple is happy with their decision for a health journey.
"We are both happy with our decisions we have made during our journey," said Tammy.
The couple had some parting words of wisdom.
"We would just like to say don't give up," said Sean. "Keep working at your goals and do not be afraid of the gym. They are there to help you in your journey to a healthy and strong you.”
The Valley Springs couple share four sons. Sean is a graduate of Valley Springs and Tammy graduated from Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Two dogs and two cats abide with the couple.