Lifestyle Prior To Change
I used to lift weights with my brothers and neighbors when I was in high school. All of that changed when I started college.
I wanted to give my best so I was fully committed to college work and forgot to take care of my health.
After my husband (back then boyfriend) and I graduated, we started working with a health insurance company very far from home so we had to commute a total of 4 hours daily, so we were always tired.
One year later, I got a job offer in Maryland, USA, so in August 2002 we got married and moved out of Puerto Rico; it was a huge change.
I still had a sedentary lifestyle - worked 8 hours, 5 days a week and after work I always took a nap and after that, watch a lot of TV or sit in front of a computer for hours. My energy level was very low.
I hated the way I looked. I was dealing with depression, homesick and my self esteem was very low.
What Was Your Turning Point?
When I went on a trip to Reston, VA, with my husband, we took a lot of pictures and I noticed that I looked heavier, and I had to buy bigger clothes. I was like “I really am letting myself go, I need to do something about this!” On September, 2003, I decided to put my health first on my priority list.
I even when to Hershey Park (Hershey, PA) for the first time in my life and I didn’t eat any chocolate. Just went straight to the Subway they have inside the park to eat healthy.
What Was Your Exercise Plan?
Since my husband and I used to lift weights when we were younger, and felt great back then, we decided to have a weight training and cardio routine 5 days a week. We were very committed and there was no way we were going to look back. There was no excuse for missing a workout - not rain, snow, cold and windy days, working overtime and/or returning home very late. When we lived in an apartment, we always went to the gym at the clubhouse but when we moved to our own place we got a weight bench, exercise videos, we ran outside, jumped rope; and listening to heavy metal helps me work harder.
What Was Your Diet Plan?
I read about the South Beach Diet so I decide to give it a try but I didn’t cut carbs entirely for the first 2 weeks because I still need them for energy. But I made sure to learn and pick the healthiest carbs, fat, protein, foods low in sodium, and low in cholesterol. I got fitness magazines, did a lot of research on nutrition to avoid fad diets. With time we learn that the best way is NOT cutting any food groups, just pick the healthiest ones and eat with moderation 5 to 6 times a day.
I also switched to diet sodas but with time I’ve learned that it has no nutritional values and artificial sweeteners are not that healthy; and to be honest, I hate sodas now. I love having coffee once a day with skim milk, 100% juice with no sugar added (like Simply Apple), V8 Fusion, milk, green tea and lots of water.
What Supplements Did You Use?
When I first started I only had multivitamins. With time I read of whey protein benefits so I decided to give it a try and I still use it. Also I read of benefits (not just for men) of creatine so I am taking only 1 tsp daily (not loading). I even talked with my doctor about this to get her approval.
What Is Your Life Like Now?
No more low self esteem. I am no longer feeling depressed and weak. I started reaching for my goals; like going to school again for another degree (fashion design) and I've been modeling since 2005. I feel stronger every day and I even found my true passion: FITNESS. So after this holiday season I am planning to get a personal trainer certificate (Spring 2010). I started helping family and some friends with exercise and nutrition – like my niece who has lost more than 30 pounds after giving birth - I said that I created a monster; she’s even now in a boxing gym. She is my partner in fitness and we both want to start working in the fitness and nutrition field together.
I do a lot of research to learn more and more everyday about exercise, nutrition, supplements, and the importance of giving your body rest and not to over train. I even make articles on my Facebook account (in Spanish and English) so my family and friends can learn to and avoid fad diets, learn to have an active lifestyle, and don’t believe things like “Fat turns into muscle, so avoid weight training and only do cardio to burn fat first”, and “doing weights will make women look bulky like men”.
Right now I exercise 6 days a week. I design my own workouts and they change every 6-8 weeks to confuse and give my body new challenges. My favorite is doing circuit training with weights, plyometrics and calisthenics. Also I try to do yoga twice a week. And my nutrition is great! (No fad diets or starving myself). I always read the label and look for natural and organic foods.
Advice For Others
Find time for YOU, make yourself a priority so you can give your best, reach your goals and give great times to your loved ones; because if you don’t take care of your health, who will?
And before starting an active lifestyle please consult with your doctor, do your research on a lot of ways to exercise and find the help of a fitness specialist so he/she can show you the proper forms. Learn about nutrition too and avoid starving yourself or fad diets that eliminate food groups; every group is important and they have a mission of giving your body the nutrients it needs; just make sure to pick the healthiest foods.
More From Maritza Rodriguez
A combination of a good nutrition, cardio, weight training, and rest is the way to go!