By Marisol Barrios, MSPA
I never had a problem with weight when I was in high school or college. Today, I find myself challenged to lose the weight ever since I gave birth to my sons. In the past few years I have tried to regain control over my thinking and commitment to feeling healthier by making better choices. The only weight that has come off is the one on my shoulders by letting go and giving them up to God. This month I’m attempting to take control again and who better than to ask my sister how she did it.
A working mom of three, ages 20, 11, and 7, Celia de la Loza, 44, went from a size 16 to a size 2 when she learned to create joy in her life after divorce. Having just purchased a home, adding the stressors of a mortgage, and being home alone on the weekends when her children visited their father, Celia found herself asking, “What am I going to do with my life?”
The defining moment came that day. “To lead a healthy life or a fit life there has to be a purpose: create as much authentic happiness in my life,” thought Celia.
Without many friends to lean on for support, she went back to what was meditative in her past–getting on the track and running. Endorphins, the chemical your body releases when you exercise, gave her a natural high, one that she was familiar with when she overcame severe depression two decades ago. While medication jump-started her exercise, running combined with prayer became her daily dosage.
Taking baby steps that have been known throughout history, Celia also decreased the amount of bread, French fries, and desserts while buying low-fat food items. She went from drinking sodas to diet soda and less-flavored coffee beverages.
Besides eliminating certain foods and beverages, someone planted the seed of strength training and she Googled it. She contacted a top female coach and fitness coach, whose testimonials of transformational stories of woman her age became an achievable outcome. “If [that woman] could do it, then I could do it,” Celia told herself.
Point of reference: Change the way you view food
“Food is fuel for your body,” says Celia, who received a customized nutritional plan according to her preferences from a local coach she contracted for six months. Changing the way she viewed food helped her stay focused to stave off cravings.
When her sugar levels were low she ate 12 almonds to boost her energy instead of picking up a sweet. To keep her metabolism in check throughout the day, she ate six small meals a day. Learning which foods to pair, weighing portions, and prepping on Sunday for the entire week helped her limit the size of her meals.
Shortly after, she developed arrhythmia, a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. For three months, she focused on treating her condition and was at first cautious on how she exercised. Combined with reaching out for comfort food at a time she felt helpless caused her to gain a few pounds.
“There was no joy other than sipping a Caramel Macchiato,” says Celia, who started to run again and participate in a Facebook group that served as an external motivator. This time she discovered how to keep the weight off joyfully.
Freedom to choose: Inform yourself
The surmountable research she reviewed boosted a confidence in understanding her own body. She gained a sense of freedom from choosing what to eat only after becoming informed on how and why certain foods pairings could affect her body. Her nutrition was now based on how her body reacted to food.
“I was no longer a puppet of the food and bodybuilding industry marketing ploys. With all the research I’ve done, I now choose the foods I eat because I know what works for my body,” says Celia. “It’s amazing to feel empowered to eat what you want to eat and still lose weight or maintain it.”
Previously, she included meat in three of her six small meals. Now she eats meat once a day and has dropped dairy too. Instead of eliminating certain foods altogether she finds a suitable replacement to satisfy her cravings.
“God only gave me one body and it brings me joy when knowing that I am taking care of it,” Celia says, adding that whatever she takes care of, God will multiply. She is fully aware that how she “transmits this information to my children will impact how they transmit this information to their children. This is how it is multiplied.”Taking action: Be consistent and disciplined
One thing I can testify to is that my sister is doing the simple daily disciplines of exercising and eating her planned meals. Tae Bo® is an exercise she did when she conquered severe depression and returned to it again. Giving it her all every day is something she says keeps her consistent. “If I’m not completely maximizing [the program’s] effectiveness, then I’m only going to cheat myself.”
“Nobody’s around to judge me or evaluate me but myself,” she says. “It’s ultimately between God and me. God’s the only one who is watching what I eat and how I exercise.” Her relationship with God has guided her fitness journey. She asserts that God is her coach. “I do everything for him. He is using me as a messenger. I’ve been asked to live my life in a way that glorifies his kingdom: Live a life the way God has instructed me to and that’s the best way to fuel your body.” Sharing the information is what she does now as part of giving back.
At the end of the day, Celia’s journey is between God and herself. Every day counts. Whether it’s her heartbeat she hears in the morning, the breaths she takes when she runs, or the sounds of her children filling the rooms, she’s more than pleased “being here and even eating a cupcake. This is me baby stepping my journey.”
She came out of the dark hole and saw glimpses of joy. Today Celia looks at the glass half full, giving thanksgiving to God and bringing joy into her life through parenting, food empowerment, and exercising.
Inspired by Celia’s words and actions, I take a moment to pause and reflect. I am truly blessed surrounded by someone who is encouraging, generous with information, and a cheerleader to cheer me along my journey, baby stepping it just like she did.
Mother of two sons, Marisol Barrios, a communications strategist, grace changer, and content creator, is still on a journey of self-discovery and learns many life lessons, primarily how wine and cupcakes can soothe her soul during challenging times.