The Incredible Gzibovskis: One Year Later

Andy and Laura Gzibovskis standing on a Stairmaster, with other JCC members working out in the background

(Published Dec 1, 2019)

A year ago, the J Magazine cover story and accompanying blog post featuring Andy and Laura Gzibovskis (and their two kids, Olivia and Luke) called them “The Incredible Gzibovskis,” touting the fitness journey the family has been on since the beginning of 2018 and the 160 pounds lost between them at the time. Now? “We’re still incredible, but like any other superhero, we have our kryptonite,” Andy joked. The J caught up with Andy and Laura to get all the details of their triumphs and tribulations from the past year.

Mission: Possible

Andy is the first to say he’s an extremist. At press time, the Gzibovskis have lost close to 200 pounds between them. As of October 22, Andy had lost 146 of those and worked out for 394 days straight – likely more at this point, and he’s looking to go even further. This may seem like a lot, but Andy has already had the gut check necessary to keep him motivated. “I hurt my ankle three years ago, and it may bother me for the rest of my life. I’m only 46. It could have been prevented, or at least minimized. I have some stenosis in my back and numbness in my foot. How much of that is attributed to my poor health for 20-something years? For 20 years I wasn’t easy on my body. Your joints are designed to carry so much. Well, if you’re pushing almost 500 pounds (467), that’s a lot of weight on your joints. It’s hard on everything.”

Andy’s next mission is to get under 300 pounds (at press time he was at 321), with a final goal weight of 250–275 pounds on his 6’4” frame. He’ll meet with JCC personal trainer Javan Odinga to keep himself on track and make sure his exercise regimen stays manageable as the pounds drop off.

“Food is Still a Huge Struggle”

Working out (at the J and otherwise), the Gzibovskis say, is the easy part. It’s the diet portion of “diet and exercise” that’s still giving them some trouble. “Everything in America revolves around food,” Andy explained. “If you go to a meeting, there’s snacks. We’re boaters – everyone in that community is always offering something up, and on top of that there’s drinking involved.” (“You have to be aware of the calories you’re drinking,” Laura chimed in, “because so many times you just don’t know.”) The Gzibovskis have mastered how to eat in their day-to-day life at home – Ziploc bags of portioned-out snacks, packed lunches – but out-of-the-ordinary gatherings with friends and family still give them pause. “We haven’t figured out how to have a good time, go to these events without packing on the calories,” Andy said. “How do you make it healthy but still have it be special?” Laura wondered aloud.

A fall break trip to New York City exemplified the Gzibovskis’ predicament. They took the stairs whenever they could, rented bikes and rode 25 miles, then walked 62 miles on top of that (“We probably couldn’t have done that two years ago,” they said). But while at restaurants Andy and Laura would split meals, it was the hotel’s breakfast buffet that came back to bite them. “You’re eating stuff you wouldn’t normally eat. Because it’s there, you’re like, ‘That sounds good. Maybe I’ll have some of this,’” Laura recalled. “And you fall into a trap where you make a whole waffle even though you only want a quarter of it, but then you feel like you have to eat the whole thing because you feel bad throwing food away and wasting it. It’s like, ‘Aah! What am I doing?’ When we got home, I was like, ‘That was so dumb.’”

Super ↔ Human

The Gzibovskis are super, and also human. “We stumble. I even figured we would come into some challenges, so they’re being addressed, they’ve not been allowed to get out of hand,” Andy said. But even when they’re feeling down, that’s inevitably when someone will say, “You look amazing!” “People I don’t even know will come up and say, ‘You guys are such an inspiration to us,’” Laura said. “And usually when they say that, it’s one of those days when you’re feeling like, ‘Ugh, can I really keep doing this?’ And then somebody will tell you how great you’re doing or that you’ve inspired them, and then you’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m rocking this!’” Helping others is a nice byproduct of helping themselves, but for the Gzibovskis, the work continues.

Laura’s exercise of choice: swimming in the J’s Regenstrief Natatorium.

Andy has recently gotten into bike riding, especially now that he’s lost weight, which makes it more comfortable for him.