LA GRANGE – After seeing their father gain a significant amount of weight over the years, Mark Ostrowski’s three teenage children began to worry about him, so they sought help from a former coach, who encouraged the La Grange resident to take control of his health by adopting a sustainable nutrition program.
Four years later, Ostrowski, 54, was named the 2018 IsaBody Challenge Champion in August after losing more than 100 pounds.
Ostrowski won $25,000 and a trip to Costa Rica as part of the competition sponsored by Isagenix, an Arizona-based health and wellness company. The company selected him out of 46,000 entrants from the U.S. and Canada after seeing his before-and-after photos and reading his heartfelt essay about why he wanted to improve his health.
“We’d always been busy with our kids’ activities and lived a life of convenience, which meant meals at the drive-thru or concession stand,” Ostrowski said. “Over the course of the years, my wife and I put on a lot of weight. We didn’t want our kids to be burdened with our poor health. I felt like I had to do this for my kids, so we both started the Isagenix program.”
Ostrowski and his wife, Jennifer, started the program after meeting with their children’s coach, who also transformed his body using Isagenix, and both lost a significant amount of weight in just a few months. The two began to participate in IsaBody Challenges, which are held several times throughout the year, and Mark Ostrowski was recognized by the company as a finalist in 2017 before winning this year.
“Our kids know that I’ve developed a new lifestyle,” he said. “They’re really proud of both of us and are grateful that we got our health on track and that we’ll be around.”
Jennifer, who also lost nearly 50 pounds, said she was “so proud” of her husband for accomplishing his goal of getting healthy.
“I always say that Mark is my hero,” she said. “He’s always been the leader of our family and dedicated his life to making sure we had everything we needed. He worked hard every day to provide for us, and I felt so guilty that he didn’t have the time to dedicate to himself. And now, taking care of ourselves is a gift.”
Mark Ostrowski said he allowed his weight to creep up every year because he was so focused on taking care of other people that he neglected to make his health a priority. While the journey took work and determination, he and Jennifer are now living their best lives, he said.
“You can’t be your best if you’re not feeling your best,” Ostrowski said. “I felt tired, run down, and I wasn’t sleeping well. I was always a champion for others, and by following this system and participating in these challenges, I regained the ability to be a champion for myself.”
The couple has kept the weight off by following the Isagenix nutrition program, cooking healthy meals together and getting regular exercise. Jennifer said she and her husband now focus on sustainable weight wellness.
“Initially, we just focused on nutrition because we didn’t feel well enough to exercise,” she said. “Eighty percent of well-being is nutrition, and only 20 percent is exercise. We just began walking. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym. We’re honored to be recognized, and we’re on a mission to help others be their best.”
The Ostrowskis consider themselves a team, and both said going on this journey together has not only strengthened their marriage, but also brought them closer to their children, who also have adopted healthier lifestyles.
“When you feel good, you don’t realize how bad off you were. We live a balanced lifestyle. We get some movement every day and mostly eat clean, but we do have a cheat meal occasionally,” Mark Ostrowski said. “We don’t ever want to go back to how we felt before.”