We first met our St. Charles County neighbor Luke Giesmann through Vision Leadership St. Charles County. Little did we know what an inspiration this guy is! You are going to love his story about how he is one step closer to a healthier version of himself. We can’t wait for you to meet yet another one of your neighbors!
Who are you , what do you do, how are you connected to Community Strong?Luke Giesmann, I am a follower of Christ, father, husband, ministry leader, outdoorsman, US Bank Branch Manager, and Vision 2020 participant. I am connected to Community Strong through Vision and the alumni.
How are health and wellness revealed in your life? How you always been active? Health and wellness were a huge part of my growing up, as an athlete, wrestling and baseball, now fitness itself has become the goal and passion itself instead of being the vessel to a bigger goal like state championships in wrestling. In 2017 I was diagnosed with Hashi-Moto, an autoimmune thyroid disorder that required me to have a very micro view of my own nutrition, even when I thought I was eating well, due to the specifics related to hashi-moto’s I was pushing my body into fat storage mode, specifically organ fat, the yellow fat stored around the liver and internal organs, which can lead to immense health issues later in life. I decided this wasn’t a “choice”, it was simply a necessity to have a quality of life I deserve for myself, and my wife and kids deserve to have with me. With wrestling I was active in highschool and college, and then got married and started a pretty time intensive career, and ate like it, horribly and didn’t work out for years, that landed me at 306 pounds… At that point I started working out and eating what I thought was healthier, and dropped a lot of weight, not knowing I was fighting hashi-moto and would need more, need a community around me with gathered knowledge, encouragement, and simply support. In 2019 I got that community with Freedom Fitness and F45. Freedom Fitness is a company that has personal trainers and training programs all over the metro area, the owners also own 2 F45 Functional Fitness studio’s, OFallon and Ellisville. Through Freedom Fitness and F45 I found the expertise, and knowledge, what I didn’t know would happen, the friendships, the community, the support, and belief shared at a deeper level than you can find on your own lifting weights at the gym “normally”.
True confessions: what is one of your vices? I would say my biggest vice is uncertainty, fear of failure, that just simply full disclosure and truth, my vulnerability is that, fear of failure. When I started the crossfit type workouts and journey I was pretty hesitant, even though I was a pretty accomplished athelete, because I wasn’t sure of my success, having the community and others that encouraged and believed was HUGE for me. Smaller token or vice for me is icecream, strawberry cheesecake specifically, and homemade nachos, I literally put everything on nachos, choizzo, chicken, cut up bratwursts, cheese, veggies, leftovers… lol
What is one thing you wished the residents of St. Charles County would do to improve their health?If I could say ONE thing, it would be blood tests, annual check ups and blood testing. I would have NEVER known about my own medical concerns and diagnosis without that step finally being one I decided to take. If you aren’t there yet, exercise and eat healthy, if it was once living, it will help you live, if a food was never living (animals or veggies, etc), then it also wont bring life to your own body.
What is your greatest accomplishment or barrier you have overcome with your health so far? What inspires you to keep moving? I would say losing over 10% body fat in 6 months was probably the biggest accomplishment, but the truth is probably acceptance of the diagnosis and the life changes I had to be willing to make. Ensuring I didn’t fall into a denial based way of living and continuing the path that wasn’t working. Too many people with medical conditions live in denial, with diabetes, auto immune disorders, etc. And they are making a choice to live a life with much lower quality than they can, we owe it to ourselves!
What is a negative health outcome you have recently learned about that is affecting St. Charles County? Well with COVID-19 I would say that is probably at the forefront right now, but being intimately involved in Addiction and Mental Health ministry and recovery for 6 years now, I would say the mental health epidemic in St. Charles County is causing more addiction, homelessness, broken families, and worse all due to the lack of resources or awareness of the available resources. It is sad, and weighs on my heart and mind daily.
How does your purpose or calling in life help direct your health choices?I received my “calling” at a pretty young age, around 20 years old. My wife already had our two boys from a previous unhealthy relationship. The boys were 2 months old and 18 months old on our first date, 6 months later we were engaged and I was created to be the boys Father. The boys are now 19 and 21, Ethan a junior at Missouri Science and Technology, and Connor a United States Marine. Since then Mandy and I have had two more girls, Lyla and Presli. Having these young men to love, raise and mold into the next generation of men as well as setting the example for our girls of what a “real man” is… not the archaic defined “real man”, the men of today who understand that yes protecting our families is our duty, and having physical strength is an asset, but more that vulnerability, love, kindness, generosity and emotional health are the traits we need in the next generation to grow, and it starts each day with me.
What advice would you give someone who trying to live a healthier lifestyle? I would say just start, and don’t stop. You WILL have bad days, that fine, pick back up the next day, don’t let a bad day of nutrition turn into two bad days of nutrition. Don’t let a week of missed workouts mean day 8 has to be missed too, pick it back up and go again. I realize with the busy, chaotic life we live in today’s world that gets hard, so find people around you that want the best version of themselves as well and talk often, walk, run, lift, swim, kayak, crawl, stretch, but do it together and don’t give up.
What is your go to healthy recipe? Probably spaghetti squash or zucchini. You can make any pasta with baked spaghetti squash, and almost any sandwich, pizza or combo in zucchini boats. On the run I eat at Chipotle often.
What would your life be like if you were not active and pursuing health? I would be a shell of myself. Most importantly my emotional and mental health would degrade and continue to degrade, of course my physical health would suffer, but the issues with emotional and mental health would ultimately impact my relationships with everyone, my career, my family, ministry opportunities which would mean some lost people wouldn’t have been reached at the time I was able to reach them, our world is in serious need of each one of us as individuals understanding our pour over impact, how we can move the world forward, or how we will drag it backwards.
Anything else you want to share? The impacts of taking my health seriously has obviously had positive outcomes for my physical appearance, but what these pictures don’t tell is a story of a marriage that was in very bad shape in 2014, separations, kids that were being shared custody, work relationships being impacted negatively, spiritually broken and no clue why or how to address it well. A community of people gathered around me and held me accountable for being the man I was created to be, for me that means created by Christ to be, that doesn’t have to be your beliefs to walk a similar path… but in the 6 years since that July 2014, my marriage is in a place my wife and I didn’t even know was imaginable, our kids are thriving in lives they created, their dreams not dreams pushed on them by us or society, and I am in a career I love with great relationships. We are now able to impact the world around us, St. Charles County, St. Louis County and Lincoln County paying it forward because we, I didn’t deserve the grace and mercy I received when I was at my worst, and so now we give that to others through several ministry and outreach programs. Our kids get to be part of a revolution in the world staring with ONE person at a time doing the best they can for themselves, and then spreading those stories, resources and grace for others every single day.
…vulnerability, love, kindness, generosity and emotional health are the traits we need in the next generation to grow… -Luke Giesmann