Readers were invited to share their stories of transformation while overcoming difficulty for the chance to be awarded the Best Self Atlanta Magazine Courage Award created by House of Payne Personal Training at the 2016 Lee Haney Games. Eric Montgomery’s and Miranda Karasch’s continued dedication to becoming their best selves is why they are the winners of this year’s Courage Award.
Eric Montgomery’s journey to health began in 2012. He had just turned 53 and found himself on a myriad of prescriptions.
“I weighed 234 pounds and wasn’t involved in any type of physical activity. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and as much as I wanted,” says Montgomery.
Realizing the severity of his condition, he decided to make a change. “I started slowly with light cardio and weight routines,” says Montgomery. Eventually Eric ended up losing two inches off his waist and dropping down to 212 pounds.
He then went on to enter a FitTrip Challenge—a 12-week fitness and nutrition contest conducted by Corporate Sports Unlimited. “During the contest, my body fat percentage dropped from 17.8 to 13.1 percent. I lost 11 pounds of fat and gained three pounds of muscle,” explains Montgomery. To his surprise, he emerged as the men’s winner for his gym, 191 Resolution Fitness, and winner of the 2016 Achievement Award.
“I am no longer a high-blood pressure or high-cholesterol patient. I am down to one pill for diabetes, taking insulin only as needed, which is not that often. That’s my story of inspiration and success,” says Montgomery with pride.
In December 2014, Miranda Karasch was the heaviest she’d ever been. “I was tired, stressed out and severely unhappy,” says Karasch. She decided to dedicate a year of her life to focusing on improving her fitness and health.
“I wish I could say I fell in love with the process immediately, but I didn’t. It took four months of working with a personal trainer for something to start shifting,” says Karasch. She began to gain momentum. “I wanted to get better, get stronger, lift more—and I got sick of listening to my own excuses. My mental transformation began and, soon after, so did my physical one.”
Even the heart-breaking end of her 13-year marriage couldn’t slow down her progress. “The gym became my safe place. Training was my one constant, my therapy,” says Karasch. In May of 2016, she was offered the opportunity to expand her business to the state of Georgia. Her biggest concern? Finding a new gym.
“Deciding to invest in me to become the best version of myself strengthened not only my body but also my mind and my spirit. The best part is that I’m not done and I never will be,” says Karasch.