My Fight to be Fit

Anyone who has ever been overweight knows just how hard of a process it actually is. Every single day is a struggle. Like many others, those struggles began for me as a child. I played sports and was fairly active during the summer but not all year round. As a result, my weight reached 180lbs by the time I entered high school. High school can be rough on any kid…but when you struggle with weight it’s that much worse. By senior year, I developed significant problems with my eating. I didn’t know that I had a “real” problem because I was never underweight and I was never formally diagnosed with any type of eating disorder. I’d go from eating one meal a day to, at my worst, one piece of candy or cracker per day. I made myself sick, which ultimately got me to eat again but not nearly enough. As the years have gone on, I’ve come to realize I suffered from what is known as Atypical Anorexia. That disorder continued to plague throughout college and ultimately ended with my spending upwards of 2 hours a day in the gym, barely eating, and drinking (heavily) every weekend. I got down to 130lbs and while I looked great…I didn’t feel it. Looking back on it, I had worked really hard in the gym but done nothing about my diet…or my mental state.

What many people in the fitness industry don’t truly understand is how much of this process is actually mental. You could do all of the right exercises and have the best diet…but if your head isn’t in the game…you won’t be either and that will almost ALWAYS catch up with you. It did for me.

Over the course of my entire life, I probably did almost every fad diet there was. At the time where I was living at the gym, I was also on the South Beach Diet. Like most other fads, once I stopped living in the gym and doing that diet, I gained a lot of the weight back. Over the course of the next 5 years, between health issues, medication and a lack of exercise, my weight climbed to an all-time high of 210lbs. I was miserable and completely clueless as to how I could change it. I needed help but I didn’t know where to turn. Enter the Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels. The show has gotten a lot of criticism over the last few years for people gaining the weight back. Anyone who drops a crazy amount of weight without changing their mindset and, subsequently, their lifestyle, will fail. That’s just a given. Those who used the show as a method to change their life have stuck with it and their results have lasted. Those who used the show as a game and a chance to win money and fame…have not succeeded. It’s not easy. You have to work at this every single day. But that show, that woman…completely changed my life. If it wasn’t for the one night I turned on that show…I may not be where I am today. I began going to the gym the very next day and I never looked back. To date, I’ve lost and kept off about 80lbs & gone from squeezing into a size 14 to comfortably wearing a size 2/4.

It hasn’t all been roses & sunshine. I didn’t know much when I started. It took me a long time to lose weight and figure out what worked for my body. I began, like many others, by doing a ton of cardio. Slowly, with the help of online videos and Jillian DVDs, I began to incorporate weights into my routine. Without the proper guidance though, I ended up overtraining and doing many exercises incorrectly. This gave way to a serious shoulder injury, which landed me in surgery last October. I became a trainer and nutritionist so I could help others see that they weren’t alone in this fight and give them the guidance that I never had.

Since starting at The Arena, I’ve gone from a personal trainer to a professional. I will still argue that while you may lose some muscle, fasted cardio is the key to my fat loss. After all, every person’s body is different. However, I’m learning more and more everyday just how bad some of the most common exercises are and how they’ve created pain & made my pre-existing injuries that much worse.

Despite negative feedback and research, the Biggest Loser is the reason I got off the couch and did something about my weight. Was it the best, most credible source? Maybe not but it sure was the driving force behind my motivation and what kept me going every single day. I watched season 14 and I connected with the cast and trainers. I used Jillian’s voice as my motivation…and I made a change because of it. I may not have known the proper form or done the safest exercises but I got off my butt and got to the gym. I toned down the partying and eating out. I made small changes and learned how to implement a healthier lifestyle. I did the best that I could with the limited resources available to me. I also did it the smart way – making sure to not restrict myself or start some crazy exercise regimen. I made it work for ME…and it’s stuck 4 ½ years later. Along the way I’ve learned how to exercise safer and what proper form actually is. I’ve learned that I don’t need a TON of cardio to shed fat…but that for my terrible metabolism, I definitely need some. Most importantly, I found balance. Something I strived for my entire life. Now I want to help others do the same.

If you’re in the NYC or Westchester Area & are looking for personal training, nutrition coaching, or a kick-ass class, contact me! I hold weekly bootcamp classes every Tuesday & Thursday and am available for small group & individual training. Email me at gina@thearena.fit for more information.

See more of my videos and articles here: Fight to Be Fit

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

2015 NY Giants Health & Fitness Expo

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Another year…another PHENOMENAL Health & Fitness expo. The annual event took place last weekend (June 27-28) at Metlife Stadium. I attended last year’s expo and while that was great…this one was even better.

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I attended on Sunday and my first mission was to meet NY Giants punter and fitness guru, Steve Weatherford. I knew from Instagram that he would be at the expo beginning at 9am to host a yoga class. Since I had no interest in that, my plan was to get there right after. So, I walked into the stadium around 10 and made a bee-line for the field. Participants of the expo get to walk on the very field that the NY giants play on. I must say, as lifelong Giants fan, that’s a very cool experience! Anyway, I made my way to the field and asked several people where I could find Weatherford. Then he appeared…on his segway. He signed autographs, took pictures, and chatted up the fans. He even went to get his Superbowl ring to let a child pose with. I finally got my chance to meet him next. I wanted to ask him questions for this blog but he didn’t really seem interested, as he was in a rush to catch a flight back to his adorable kids. He did say his motivation comes from “living the dream” and no one can argue that.

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After that, I headed to the locker room. Another very cool feature of this expo is that fans can tour the locker room and see how their favorite players spend the season. You can even walk onto the field in the same spot and touch the same sign that the Giants touch before every game!

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Geeking out in front of my favorite player’s locker!

Next up I decided to make my way around to see what vendors were there and who I could network with. I met a very sweet lady who runs a company called Eat 2 Elite. She started her company after years of creating healthy meals to feed her athlete son. She makes all of the food herself and has some pretty enticing options to choose from.

I continued on, watched several demos and made my way past several other vendors before taking part in my annual BMI/body fat screening.

Now…I know that I do weigh slightly more and that I haven’t done nearly as much cardio as last year. However these machines do not account for muscle mass. They punch in your weight and height and determine (very inaccurately) that you are fat. I was pretty devastated after I got my reading…especially knowing how hard I work. But that’s just it. I know I work hard. The scale is just a number…and while you need that number for these readings…the number doesn’t reflect my muscle mass or my year of progress in the gym. I’m sure I could lose a few pounds but they really made me feel like crap…unnecessarily.

After my reading I decided to cheer myself up and take a little tour of the Legacy Suite. There you will find signed footballs, trophies, and much more.

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I stopped to sit for a bit and I bumped into my Biggest Loser friend, Pam Geil. I have spoken at great length about what The Biggest Loser has done for my journey. Well, Pam was on the season that started it all…and she was one of my biggest inspirations. I always get excited when I see her and she actually remembers me. We talked for a while about life…and all about our injuries and setbacks. She asked me to stay as she was going to be going on stage to speak…so of course I did.

During her talk, she was asked how she maintains and keeps a healthy lifestyle. She explained that being on the show doesn’t keep the weight off; she struggles with it…and works at it…everyday. She added that one of the biggest misconceptions people have is about cheat meals. “Everyone has a bad meal or a cheat meal but that doesn’t mean you have to blow the whole day,” she said, “Every day and every meal is a new beginning. You can’t give up.”

Since I have been struggling with an injury recently, I asked her to shine some light on how she stays motivated through injuries. “It can be really hard to stay motivated, especially when you’re in chronic pain or you don’t feel good,” she said, “I think it’s really good to look back at old pictures. Remember where you are and how far you’ve come.” She added that since her own injury, some weight has come back on. While that can be frustrating she pushes forward, knowing that she never wants to be that person again.

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There weren’t any classes that I was interested in this year but there was a NASCAR race car. Since I love cars and I’m a big Nascar fan, this is yet another incredible feature of this expo for me. I posed for a picture and happily got into the car for the simulated race experience that was offered.

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All in all, this was another fantastic experience. The weather may have been crappy but that sure didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit. Next year, I think I will inquire about volunteering so that I can be an even bigger part of this amazing expo.

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If you know of any health or fitness expos being held in the NY tri-state area, please let me know! For those of you not in this area, definitely look into the expos that are being held where you live. They are an amazing opportunity to learn about the industry, meet some great people, and just have a fitness-themed family fun day 🙂

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Dreams DO Come True!

If you would’ve told me a couple of years ago that my life would be this amazing, I would’ve laughed in your face. I can’t believe how much good can come in such a short time!

The Biggest Loser was my motivation on this journey and continues to inspire me. Today I was featured on their website!! I can’t begin to describe how grateful and honored I am.

Here’s a sneak peek at the feature 😉

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“There was a time in my life when I was truly miserable. After letting health issues, toxic friendships, and an abusive relationship take over my life I decided enough was enough. I took control of my life…and my destiny…a little over two years ago and I haven’t looked back. At my heaviest, I weighed in at 210 lbs and wore a size 14. Today, I am over 70 lbs lighter and wear a size 2/4. Along with dropping weight (in pounds and with negative, toxic people), I have also freed myself of a lifelong obsession with the scale. Instead, I have become more focused with how I look and feel rather than what number the scale says.

The best part of this journey has been finding myself again. I spent so many years miserable that I lost myself. It has been truly amazing getting the real me back! I still struggle with various health issues and some mental roadblocks but at the end of the day I am the strongest, healthiest, and happiest that I have ever been in my whole adult life. The Biggest Loser continues to teach me that you can do all the physical transforming in the world but if you don’t overcome the mental demons you will never truly succeed. I am forever grateful to the Biggest Loser and to my gym, Planet Fitness, for guiding me on this journey.”

To read the rest of my story, check out my amazing feature on the Biggest Loser RunBlog: http://www.biggestloserrunwalk.com/runblog/inspiration-ginas-story/

Dreams really do come true! Work hard and always remember…nothing worth having comes easy.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!
-Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Transforming From the Inside Out

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Happy Friday everyone!  Last night was the season finale of The Biggest Loser and it left me extra inspired.

The contestants always come so far…not just in the weight loss but in life. The changes that occur in such a short amount of time is nothing short of amazing.

I got to thinking about how much the show really has taught me. This whole journey isn’t just about weight loss…it’s about getting your life back and taking control of your own happiness. I’m realizing more and more each day that I’m not the same girl that I used to be.

Earlier this week we were hit with a big snowstorm…which derailed my precious gym time. The old me would have used that as an excuse to stay home and veg out in front of the tv. Not anymore. I definitely used the shoveling to my advantage and I also made sure to use my time indoors for some killer at-home workouts. No more excuses.

I was truly miserable for so long that I didn’t know what it meant to be happy. I went from being a depressed teenager to an unhappy young adult who partied her way through sadness. That insecurity also landed me in an abusive relationship, which lasted most of my twenties. It also lead me to some very toxic friendships. I was so unhappy and insecure that I clung to the wrong people for way too long…and for all the wrong reasons.

A little over two years ago, I found the Biggest Loser and decided enough was enough. I started working out and eating right. As I lost the physical weight, I also started dropping the dead weight…in the form of the negative people in my life. As time went on I grew stronger…not just physically but mentally.

Unfortunately, not everyone is happy to see you succeed. While I do have some incredible people in my life, I’ve also lost some “friends” along the way. They say that misery loves company; now that I’m truly happy in most aspects of my life, some people have disappeared. It’s sad how life can be sometimes, but its taught me who my real friends are. I’ve always said that I’d rather have a handful of genuine people than surround myself with a huge group of phonies. I’m too old for the nonsense – nowadays it’s most definitely quality over quantity. You either have my back no matter what or don’t even bother.

I am forever grateful to the Biggest Loser for teaching me that you need to transform yourself from the inside out. You can’t truly succeed with a physical transformation until you conquer your inner demons. Everyday I learn something new about myself…and in doing so, I’m becoming a better person. I feel lucky to have the support of true friends, a loving family, and the best boyfriend a girl could ever ask for. I’ve lost a lot of weight but most importantly, I’ve gained my life back.

No matter how much you may struggle, it IS possible. Don’t let any type of negativity weigh you down. Love yourself enough to respect yourself. That may seem easier said than done but I’m living proof that against all odds, you can overcome obstacles and achieve any goal you set. It won’t be easy but always remember: nothing worth having comes easy.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Race Day Review

I did it! I ran my very first timed race! It was no marathon but it was the start of something pretty great for me.

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After suffering numerous setbacks over the summer, I worked really hard and trained my body back into running shape. Mother Nature had other ideas. It rained most of the day prior to the race…and the day of wasn’t much better. While it wasn’t raining, it was super windy and cold. This only added to my nerves. I pushed forward anyway and made the drive to Six Flags Great Adventure.

Once I got there, the nerves disappeared. The race was a Biggest Loser RunWalk and they are the best races to do. They have a community vibe and are very unintimidating. Past contestants from the show are usually on-hand for each race. Dan and Jackie Evans from season 5 host each RunWalk but other contestants usually make special appearances to run and/or cheer everyone on.

The race went through the theme park and looped around…into part of the Safari! At one point, I looked to my right and saw a bunch of Chimps all in a line watching us all run. It was a pretty awesome backdrop to run my first real race on: roller coasters, the Halloween-inspired red fountain, and then the safari.

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Course map

I ran the WHOLE time…pausing briefly once for the pit-stop of water that they had at the 2-mile mark. As I ran, the cold no longer bothered me and the wind wasn’t in front of me so that wasn’t much of a factor either. The terrain was a bit muddy at times from the rain the night before but I pushed through. As I said the BLRWs are a community—and everyone supports one another and cheers each other on throughout the race.

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My goal was to finish in under 30 minutes. I knew with the weather I wasn’t going to hit a PR but as long as it was under that time I would be happy. As I approached the finish line, Pam Geil (from season 14—aka the season that inspired this journey) called my name and cheered me on. Apparently she remembered meeting me at the off-road challenge we did last year!

DAMN GIRL! Hanging out with one of my season 14 inspirations, Pam :)

DAMN GIRL! Hanging out with one of my Season 14 inspirations, Pam!

I took notice of the clock as I crossed the finish line – it said 30:24. I got instantly upset with myself but let it go, knowing that I had completed the race. What I didn’t realize was there was a delay –I didn’t start the race with the first group (when the clock actually started.) I started about a minute and half after the clock did, meaning my time was actually 28:47….which put me in first place in my age group! I never came in first at anything…ever…

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Crossing the finish line!

It’s been a few days now but I’m still in shock when I think about it.  This race was an amazing experience and through training and finishing, I learned an important lesson. Seems every time I doubt myself or have to dig deeper for motivation, greatness happens…which is proof that when you lose the excuses, you find results.

It’s hard to describe how amazing it feels to accomplish the goals you set. I’ve pushed through a lot of adversity during this journey but I have managed to succeed in ways I never thought possible. To-date I have lost over 70lbs, went from a size 14 to a size 2, gained confidence that I never had, and gotten my body in the best shape that its ever been. A year ago I could barely run a mile without stopping and now I’ve completed a timed 5K, finishing only four minutes behind the girl who was first overall.

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BLRW 2013 vs. BLRW 2014

This whole experience was truly incredible. There’s something to be said about facing your fears head-on and using it as motivation to achieving your goal.  I don’t know that I will ever run a marathon but I will definitely strive to training my body for longer distances. One day I would love to run the Disney Half—I figure if I’m running that far I may as well do it with a tiara or character ears on my head 🙂

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Posing with my first place ribbon!

I want to thank the people at The Biggest Loser RunWalk . I was generously granted complimentary access to run and to the VIP area, which had plenty of food and drinks (and some much needed heaters!)

The pictures that I’ve included were taken by my amazing, supportive boyfriend who braved the cold just to cheer me on. Professional photographers were on-hand and took pictures throughout the course–those should be posted on the website soon and (since they are free) I will most definitely be sharing them once they are available! 🙂

This was something that I will never forget and I can’t wait to sign up for my next (hopefully longer) race! Remember if you believe it, you WILL achieve it. I suffered several setbacks and continue to face various challenges but crossing that finish line was proof that hard work does pay off. No matter how much you may struggle, always remember: nothing worth having comes easy.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

5K Training: The Home Stretch

Good grief I’m tired! I may be in the home stretch but this training is really kicking my butt…big time…

Yesterday should have been a leg day but since they already feel heavy and like jello, I didn’t think using heavy weights this week would be wise. That being said, I’ve decide to hold off on my leg-days until next week. I did manage to run 2 miles at the gym and did 100 squats at home. After all,  just because my legs can’t get extra work doesn’t mean I slack off on keeping the booty in check 😉
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Today was a whole different story. It’s supposed to be arm-day and was also supposed to be the day I ran my 5K distance. Well, my body had other plans for me. Not only could I barely keep my eyes open all day but my stomach was not a happy camper. My goal was to run a 5k on the track by my house right after work (so as to run while it was still daylight.) However, my stomach had other ideas and so I had to come home first…which of course meant running outside was out of the question. I decided I would watch the Biggest Loser, participate in the commercial challenges, then hit the gym for a run. Well, that also didn’t go as planned. I did manage to do one of the workouts–but I kept dozing off while I sat there watching the show. Not cool.

Once the show ended, I was really exhausted and started getting upset with myself.  Here it is 3 days away from race day and I knew that I needed to run 3.1 miles before Sunday in order to feel confident in myself. I got up and put on my workout clothes. I then looked at myself in the mirror and told myself how angry I would be if I didn’t do this run tonight. Sometimes things need to be put into perspective. The thought of how I would feel tomorrow made me push–and off to the gym I went.

I’ve noticed this week that running on a treadmill is much harder than outside–not only do you have to maintain the same speed the whole time, but there is no air flow. The same air circulates in the gym and it’s usually too hot. That coupled with my breathing troubles have made this training very difficult for me. Still, that hasn’t stopped me.

Tonight was probably the biggest struggle I’ve had in a while. My stomach was a wreck, I was extremely tired, I was having trouble breathing as I ran, and my legs are SUPER sore–but I did it. AND I SET A NEW PR! 12 seconds faster than my best time to be exact-go figure…

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Lesson learned..big time. You want something bad enough, you push yourself to get it.  As I was running, I thought I would throw up and I felt a little light headed—but I did it. I had to jump to the sides several times, pausing the machine to drink water. I just kept telling myself no matter how slow this ends up, you have to finish it. Tomorrow is the last day of training so I knew that it was now or never. I did it–and I know I can on Sunday too. We may be expecting really cold weather Sunday morning but I will just take my time and do my best. Just being able to cross that finish line and knowing that I accomplished the goal that I set for myself this year will be an amazing feeling.

One more day left…Stay tuned!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

 

5K Training – Day 8

  • Cardio: Run – 2 miles, 17:50
  • 100 squats (non-weighted)
5K Training – Day 9:
  • Cardio: Run – 3.1 miles, 28:25
  • Biggest Loser commercial challenge – 15 push-ups

…And so it begins…

My goal this year was to run a 5K. What better way than with the show that started this journey of mine, The Biggest Loser. I will be competing in the Biggest Loser RunWalk on November 2 at Six Flags Great Adventure. After suffering a number of setbacks over the summer, my mental strength was tested and my workouts suffered. Starting this week, I am planning double workouts in order to get my body back into the shape it was in prior to the summer and get it back to comfortably running 5k-distances.

The original plan was to begin yesterday however with a serious IBS flare up (which has been going on for over a week) I was forced to stop home first. I let some time pass and by the time I got to the gym, it was late and there was no parking. So I opted to just go home and get to bed early so as to run this morning. I prefer running early in the morning anyway so this ended up working out in my favor.

I woke up today and decided I would begin training by running one mile. I did just that, finishing one mile in exactly nine minutes. I know this was not a great time but I’m happy that I was able to complete the mile with minimal struggle. My fastest time to-date for a full 5K was 28:37 back in June (I had a faster run-time for 3 miles at 25:25 back in May.) So the ultimate goal is not just to run the 3.1 miles but to set a PR for myself (or at least meet my prior PR from the summer.) I began today with the one mile and as my body builds its endurance back up, I will gradually increase the mileage and then (hopefully) work on my speed.

Running is no easy feat for me, due to breathing troubles. Usually with my inhaler I am able to run with minimal struggle (as was the case today.) However, after the run I noticed that I had a slight cough with phlegm. My back has also been bothering me as I breathe ever since I ran. I’m sure the more I train my lungs with running over these next two weeks, the better I will feel come race-day and beyond.

My second workout of the day was a lunchtime leg-day workout. I will be alternating my arm & leg days in conjunction with running. Normally, I don’t like to run on leg-days, as the weights I use are quite heavy and it negatively impacts my running. However with the race so close, I will push through so as to train my body.

I also will be getting back into the super strict diet that I followed back in May. My stomach hasn’t been right all summer and it  has been particularly bad over the last month. I can’t go on like this – it’s not just uncomfortable but it’s also bad mentally. I still don’t know the exact trigger. So until someone can figure out what causes these flare-ups I have no choice but to treat myself and do what makes me feel better…and that would be following that super strict diet again. While it may not be the most enjoyable diet to follow, feeling sick is even worse so I will just have to adapt.

I will be posting my training each day, to keep me accountable and to help anyone who may also be facing similar struggles. This journey is definitely not easy and just when you think you have it all figured out, life decides to throw you a curve ball. Always remember: nothing worth having comes easy!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

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5K Training – Day One:

Fasted Cardio (treadmill) – 1 mile (alternating speed of 6.5-7.0, no incline), 9 minutes flat, 115 calories burned

Leg-Day workout:

Seated leg press (100 lbs) 25 x 4

Seated leg extension (50 lbs) 25 x 2

Seated leg curl (50 lbs) 25 x 2

Seated calf raise (50 lbs) 25 x 2

Hip adduction (125 lbs) 25 x 4

Hip abduction (150 lbs) 25 x 4

Squats (at-home, non-weighted) 100

MaliBooty workout (at-home; see image below)

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