Before working with Derek and Sheri, I was honestly in a very bad place mentally and physically, but was desperately willing to make the necessary changes I needed to turn my life around. Growing up I endured a lot of bullying for various reasons, and would never open up to people about the things I struggled with because I didn’t want people to see me as a burden. The bullying I received affected every single aspect of my life. I struggled a lot with body image, I struggled with self acceptance, and I was extremely depressed. My setbacks with body image were really significant to me because it affected many aspects of my early development. It affected how I saw myself in the mirror, mainly because I would look in the mirror and criticize every flaw I saw. I’ve always been really tall, very skinny, and had a lot of acne, which resulted in a lot of bullying even though I really couldn’t change those things. From a young age I also knew that I was gay, but because I grew up Catholic and very conservative I didn’t understand how I was feeling on the inside. Developing a sense of identity and figuring out where you fit into society is really hard, especially when the environment you’re in is toxic and unaccepting. I was also bullied for having feminine attributes and being flamboyant, which is why I would try to run away from who I really was. It’s really hard to understand the struggles young queer children face, unless you’ve actually experienced it yourself. My battle with depression, and mental health mutated out of my lack of self acceptance and the body shaming I endured throughout my young developmental stages. I hated what I looked like on the outside, and I hated how I felt on the inside, and that was extremely unhealthy for someone so young. I put up my walls, and was scared to be vulnerable because everytime I opened up I was ridiculed. I didn’t have any friends because I couldn’t socially connect with any because my walls were too high, so most of the time I was lonely and reserved. My outlook on life was grim, and I really suffered without anyone noticing.
The benefits I reap from my sessions with Derek and Sheri are unmeasurable, I’m not even sure if they really understand what they’ve done for me. The person that walked through their doors is no longer the person I am today. I was living a lie before I met them, and it was so obvious that they could sense I was hiding who I really am. I was so used to putting up a facade when talking to people, that it was hard to make real connections with people. Sheri and Derek are amazing mentors and have given me the role models I’ve never had. Derek has shown me what it means to live unapologetically, and to forge my own path by making my own decisions to push me forward in the right direction. Sheri has shown me what it means to be fearless in challenging situations, while also teaching me to live my life with a sense of freedom that could lead me to peace inside my own body. Together, they show me how to live a life worth living by choosing kindness and love over anything else. The love they show everyone they work with, their kids, and each other is something I deeply admire about them. It’s hard to explain in words how much I’ve grown since starting with them because I see such a profound difference in who I am today because of them.
The coaching journey with Sheri and Derek has completely changed my entire life around in every aspect. The physical aspect of my life has seen so much change. Two important things Sheri and Derek promote is healthy eating and healthy living. I’ve never been more active, and goal oriented as I am now. I would always change for other people, but they’ve taught me to change for myself. I don’t make healthy eating and healthy life choices for others now, I do it because I want to change, and I’m more willing to change now. I don’t fall back on bad habits anymore because pushing myself keeps me moving forward. Although I’ve seen many changes in that aspect of my life, the biggest change I’ve made is the one that happened within my heart and in my brain. I learned to love myself, and to extend my love to everyone. I was reserved and closed off, and now I’m an open book for everyone to read. Learning to be comfortable with my sexuality has really made a huge difference in my life. Sheri and Derek have put my life into focus, and shown me that growth comes from change. I’ve changed to be happier with my body and with my heart, and now the sky's the limit.
I definitely recommend sessions with Derek and Sheri to others, especially if you are really willing to let them help you make a substantial change in your life. Together, Derek and Sheri are a truly unstoppable force if you’re willing to be vulnerable. I never really had any role models to look up to when I was younger because nobody was willing to be vulnerable with me and teach me what it meant to be human. I desperately wanted positive change in my life, and that positive change came from having them there help me grow. I always thought being vulnerable showed weakness, and I had been through so much that I knew I was strong and wanted people to only see my strengths, but that was my problem. My problem was that I never showed my vulnerable side because I felt like that discredited all the setbacks I preserved through. I was wrong and I know that now, being vulnerable to people willing to help you shows that you’re stronger than anything. Being vulnerable allows us to open up about the things that have knocked us down, and show how we were strong enough to get back up. Derek and Sheri have shown me love and compassion, which is why they are amazing mentors. I’m extremely grateful for the time I have with them, and anyone willing to get help from them would benefit greatly from their session.
The biggest strength that I’ve developed from my experiences with Derek and Sheri is my sense of identity. I walked in not knowing who I was, what I wanted, and where I was going. A sense of identity is really important because when we have our own sense of identity, we can freely express who we are and be at peace with ourselves. Sessions with Sheri and Derek are so enjoyable because they encourage me to be in touch with my deeper inner self. Self discovery is a long journey and can be extremely daunting when nobody is on your side. That was the case for me because I felt so alone, but Sheri and Derek were always on my side and could somehow just feel that there was something hiding deep inside of me. A memorable moment in my development with Derek and Sheri was when Derek asked me if I wanted to incorporate my sense of identity into my modeling career, and I clearly remember saying that I didn’t. After that I thought it over for a really long time, and then finally came to the realization that my self identity was my own and something that nobody could ever take away from me. Derek knew that I had a uniqueness about me, and I denied it. I denied my own identity because I was afraid people wouldn’t accept it, and that was the problem. That interaction with Derek will always be memorable for me because it showed that Derek had a better read on my personality, than I even had. After more sessions with them, I realized I couldn’t stop running away from my own identity, I just had to embrace it. The sense of pride and empowerment I felt after starting to embrace my true identity was something I had never felt before. I am so grateful for the time I have with Derek and Sheri because without them I’d still probably be the same lost person without a true sense of identity.
Throughout a year of working with them, I have surprised myself countless times. Before my session with Sheri and Derek, I really didn’t take care of my body and I didn’t have any motivation to make the necessary steps to make positive changes for my health. I wasn’t exercising, I wasn't eating healthy, and I honestly wasn’t happy when I looked at the person in the mirror. One of the many things I admire about them is that they always promote a healthy lifestyle, and always give great insights on how to keep your body in shape. Immediately after working with them, I knew I had to start making those changes. I started exercising, I started cutting out the unhealthy foods in my diet, and I was beginning to see positive changes in my health. That big change in my lifestyle was the first big change that surprised me. Another thing that I admire about Derek and Sheri is that they preach about forging your own path, and being who you are truly meant to be. I grew up in a very conservative town, and went to Catholic school for 9 years, so people were always pushing their beliefs onto me and I honestly didn’t know who I was because I was never allowed to branch out from those roots. Derek and Sheri shared theirs stories of self discovery, and expressing who they wanted to be without being swayed by other people's opinions. After having that session with them, I was truly touched by how I could relate to both of them on such a deep level, and that’s when I knew I needed to express my true self. I had to reevaluate who I was and what I wanted. The change I’ve seen in how I act, dress, express my feelings, has really surprised me because I was scared of the person I knew I was meant to be, and they helped me get in tune with my inner being. Not only do I feel a change in myself, but Sheri and Derek can also see that I am not the person that walked through their doors when I first started. I took what they said to heart in order to make those changes, and without them I really don’t think it could’ve been possible.
Zach Gerstenfeld, 18, New York, Model and College Student