LANARK – It’s 4 a.m., and Chastity Welch’s day has begun. She’s getting ready to juggle her job, a business, and a family to look after. Welch also finds the time, as she does 6 days a week, to hit the weight room.
Talk about drive.
When most people are looking forward to trying to grab a few more hours sleep, Welch is looking forward to starting her day – and part of that day is spent helping put people in the driver’s seat of their own healthier lifestyle through her business, Body by Drive, which offers meal prep, boot camp-style workout sessions, one-on-one personal training and nutrition coaching.
Sure, it takes time and commitment to embrace a healthier lifestyle, but Welch is confident that everyone can find it within themselves to do it — they just have to put their mind to it and their body will follow.
Welch is living proof of that. A few years ago, she felt like she needed to make a change to give her health a helping hand.
“I’m one of those people that says, ‘If I’m going to do something, then I’m going to do it,’” Welch said. “I hit that button to sign up to do it, and that’s all it took.”
Today, she’s sharing her passion, and helping others lead a healthier lifestyle at Body by Drive. When Welch isn’t busy managing operations at the Carroll County Farm Bureau, she’s cutting vegetables and meat and preparing healthy meals in a kitchen that she owns with her partner, Scott Heeren, in the former Eastland Elementary School building. Heeren runs a barbecue and catering business, Custom Catering and BBQ, out of the same kitchen.
Welch knows how valuable people’s time can be, so she helps them get the most out of their day by getting the most out of their meals – without having to prepare them themselves. She comes up with a menu for a work week’s worth of meals – breakfast and lunch, 5 each – and preps the meals for pick-up.
The prepared meals come frozen, unless it is a salad. Each container has a label on it with the food’s name, ingredients and important nutritional information, including macros – proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which are considered the more important components of nutritional value that “bodies need every day,” Welch said.
“A lot of people aren’t sure what macros are, and it doesn’t matter if you’re looking to lose weight or you just want that convenience,” she added. “The meals will satisfy both of those needs, but for those who are looking to lose weight, each meal has the amount of proteins, carbs and fats on there.”
Each week consists of five different breakfast options and five different lunch options. One week in June featured lunch offerings of orange chicken, pulled pork potatoes, chicken Alfredo, “cheesy broc” Hamburger Helper and smothered chicken. Welch likes to mix things up, offering a wide variety of meals that rotate in and out each week, and she’s figured what dishes are the most popular. She’ll sometimes work into the night putting together menu ideas.
The top breakfasts are power cakes, which are pancake sandwiches with a sausage and egg, and a blueberry or strawberry protein waffle; instead of using syrup, it’s made with a fruit puree that doesn’t contain a lot of sugar.
The unrolled chicken verde enchilada and lasagna are two popular lunch items.
“You’re not getting all of those carbs because I use something different than a noodle to do my layers,” Welch said.
Meals generally come in single-portion sizes, but there are larger sizes for those who need a bigger serving, family-size portions, for example. Each bowl is portion controlled, which is key to the program’s success. Without that control, it can be easy to overeat, especially if one doesn’t understand how a macro-friendly diet works.
“Protein is something that most people do not get enough of in their diet every day,” Welch said, “so all of my meals are a higher protein, because if they’re not eating protein any other time of the day, I want to make sure they’re getting what they need to, at least from me, or getting a portion of that with a higher percentage.”
Meals are announced on Body by Drive’s Facebook page and website, bodybydrivemealprep.square.site, every Friday, with orders due by 5 p.m. the following Tuesday. After a few days of putting the meals together, they can be picked up at their building at 200 S. School Drive in Lanark – which Welch and Heeren plan to convert into a storefront for their businesses in the near future – or in Mount Carroll at the Carroll County Farm Bureau office, 811 S. Clay St.
The meals can then be pulled out a day ahead of time and microwaved when you’re ready to eat. Plus, they don’t break the bank: A lunch bowl is usually $6, and $4 for breakfast.
“If someone is preparing individually, they’re going to spend a whole day trying to prep for the week,” Welch said. “Some people don’t like to cook, and they’re just looking for a quick, easy healthier dinner.”
The meal prep has taken off like wildfire since she began Body by Drive last year.
“I’d share pictures of my food on Facebook, and people were like, ‘Oh my God, I wish you would just cook for me,’” Welch said. “Last September, we just started throwing out some different meals, and here in 2021 it’s just gone crazy.”
While the business has been even better than expected, she’s been up to the challenge, and Scott’s been able to help.
“I was just kind of doing it as a fun thing to do,” Welch said. “I have a full-time job, and this was becoming a full-time job. There are especially those moments when [Scott and I] have weddings to cater that there’s a lot to put in to a week, but you figure it out.”
Keeping fit, healthy and active has been an important part of Welch’s life, but the mission to promote a healthier lifestyle with others only came to be in recent years. After a gall bladder removal 4 years ago, Welch “felt awful,” she said, and the effects led her to start researching more about how to improve her health. That led to an increase in understanding the important roles that nutrition and physical training play in a person’s life, and she took classes to become certified in those aspects.
“I started seeing how to eat, seeing how well it made me feel, seeing how much better changing my diet made me feel, and that just kind of spurred it,” Welch said. “A lot of my friends saw the changes in me, and started asking questions. That’s really what kept it going.”
Through Body by Drive, not only has Welch seen positive changes in herself, but also in her customers, some of whom have lost up to 25 pounds in 5 months. They feel better, have better lab tests, and have increased their confidence and energy, she said.
“It will help them as long as they’re not eating uncontrollably the rest of the day,” Welch said. “If they want to change, I’m going to be there next to them to help them every step of the way.”