By Valentina Monteleon:
Growing up I always enjoyed food and I did not think anything of it until I was six years old. I realized at a young age that I was bigger than the rest of the kids my age. As I grew older, my clothes got bigger, and I got bigger! I began struggling with body image issues but loved my pasta too much to care, and at six years old all I knew was that I loved food!
I always felt that I stood out and never quite fit in. The harder I tried to fit in with the girls my age, the more I stood out. I was always known as the fat girl and experienced detrimental bullying in my younger middle school years. At the age of 12, I began struggling with an eating disorder, and by the time I was 13 I was 190 lbs. I was unhappy and could understand why I was so depressed, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not good enough!
All I ever wanted is to look like the girls my age and be able to fit into all the “in style” clothes they wore! When I entered high school, I began to struggle even more so with my eating and my diet was bad enough to scare a diabetic sugar lover! I would not eat all day, wait until I got home and binge on everything you could possibly imagine. I loved my pasta, bread, pizza, ice cream, brownie, cookies, and candy!
By my junior year, I weighed my heaviest – 244 lbs. and was pre-diabetic. I was born with asthma and eczema along with allergies. At my heaviest weight, and leading up to weighing 244 lbs, I had health issues. My life was at risk and I needed to do something. I had tried many times to lose weight, every Monday I would get up and try a different diet, I would count my calories, cut back on carbs, spend hours in the gym killing my body, but nothing seemed to work and I did not understand why.
What was missing from the equation of successfully losing 110 lbs. is that I was not willing to make a lifestyle change, which included making a physical, mental, and emotional change. It was only when I decided that I would heal myself from the inside out, was I able to see change truly taking place. I had the support of my family members and doctors!
The biggest cheerleader I had was myself. I changed the reason why I was going to lose weight to a reason that would only benefit myself and no one else. I was going to do this for me, I was not going to let anyone else down except myself if I were to give up. I became motivated by my own determination to succeed. Along the way, I sought professional help from a nutritionist who had me remove flour and refined sugars from my diet and eat every 2-3 hours to keep my metabolism up and running. I made it a goal to try to drink a gallon of water a day and early on all I did for exercise was walk because that was all I can do.
Today I continue to keep flour and refined sugars out of my diet. I eat a well-balanced diet and eat 6 times a day and every 2-3 hours. My workouts have changed. Now I like working out with the men by lifting heavy weights! My struggle turned into my passion and I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology at Barry University, and more recently I have become a business owner, FiveFoldFitness LLC.
I believe chasing after my goals to live out my dreams is only possible because I chose to change my life. Being a personal trainer and helping others change their lives allows me to merge my work and passion together as one. Making a lifestyle change is not easy and takes time. It has taken me a little over 2 years to lose the weight and transform my body by now building muscle. I am no longer afraid to be passionate about my calling to help others, I am no longer afraid to stand out because I know I can make a difference.
- Always plan ahead of time. Prep your meals and perhaps invest in an insulated lunchbox that allows room for your meals and snacks for the day. Planning ahead of time eliminates the infamous excuse of “I don’t have time.”
- Find your source of motivation and renew it each day. You cannot stay clean from yesterday’s shower – so do not expect to always be motivated. Find new reasons and ways to keep yourself motivated and to keep fighting for what you want!
- Make little changes to start your lifestyle change and as you grow on your fitness journey continue to make little changes. Making big changes can be overwhelming and scary! Perhaps start by eliminating fast food from your diet, or drinking more water instead of soda.
- Accept that you are human and you will make mistakes, and that is okay! So you had a rough weekend, dust yourself off, reach out for support and keep moving. Do not dwell on yesterday’s failures, today is a new day!
- Make your lifestyle change enjoyable. Find an exercise routine you enjoy, I find people who struggle with enjoying working out it’s because they are doing something they do not even like. If you like Zumba, do it! If you like lifting weights, do it! Do what you love, always.
You can find Valentina at: