Posts Tagged ‘desire’

Madison

I was born, raised, and still live in southern US and I love it! But being from the south, food has always been a big presence in my life, and not necessarily healthy food. Not to be stereotypical, but we like to fry everything we can get our hands on and then we might cover it in ranch dressing or gravy or even sugar depending on what it is. I never really remember learning healthy eating habits as a child and I have been overweight pretty much my entire life. I started to gain even more weight when I graduated from high school and went off to college; but then the problem wasn’t just food. I drank with my friends in high school as a lot of teens do, but once I was out of my parents’ house it became a daily thing. I failed every single class I was enrolled in the second semester of college because instead of going to class I woke up and started drinking. I moved home and got it somewhat under control for a brief time but went right back to my old ways, failing out of yet another university. I gave up on trying to get an education at that point, got married, and began working random minimum wage jobs that were miserable and only contributed to my eating/drinking problem.

During these years I did the yo-yo dieting thing, losing 50-60 pounds then gaining back 70-80 each time. I was only trying to lose weight to look good at that point. I didn’t care about my health really; I just wanted to be thin and pretty! I was approaching 25 and I kept hearing things about a woman’s metabolism slowing down considerably after that age. It was almost like it was directed towards me as much as I kept hearing this. So February of 2011, 3 months before my 25th birthday, I stepped on the scale and saw the number 254. I nearly choked as it had been a while since I weighed myself, and I was convinced I hadn’t gotten _that_ big since my last diet! I had always told myself I would never let myself get past 250lbs as I was afraid that was my point of no return. I decided then that it would be the last time I would ever see that number, and I was going to be thin while I was still young if it killed me. Even then I didn’t much care about my actual health, just what I looked like. However, I did great for a while. I ate enough and ate healthy, I lifted weights and did cardio religiously, and I had amazing results losing about 80 pounds in probably 6 months. Then my body got used to what I was doing and I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted to see. I thought, “Ok, well I guess I need to start eating less and doing more cardio because weights aren’t doing anything for me.” I should mention now that I was still drinking pretty heavily at this point. I cut my calories even more and now I was only eating 800-1000 calories a day while doing literally hours of cardio. I got down to 150lbs which was my goal weight at the time and I should have been happy; but since I lost the weight so quickly and not healthily I was left with this deflated, flabby body that I hated. I began to starve myself even more, I weighed myself constantly, and my drinking became absolutely out of control. I would drink to stave off the hunger and the thoughts that I would never have the “perfect body” that I was striving for. My husband and I fought constantly, I called in to work because I would be so sick from drinking/not eating, I was miserable. Here I was 2 years away from my starting point, and I was no happier than when I was overweight, if anything I was more _un_happy. There were many times that I “quit” drinking during that 2 years but I never _really_ found the motivation to make it stick. In February of this year, my body had finally reached its breaking point. After months of starving myself and poisoning my brain by consuming so much alcohol, I literally lost it. My husband was able to reach my parents and the three of them were able to get me calmed down and talk some sense into me. I realized that looking good was not worth what I was doing to myself and I had to get it together. My main focus at this point was to be sober and healthy and I was in search of a way to do that. I had heard people talk about eating “clean” and I had no idea what that meant, so I did some research. I started cutting out as many “unclean” things from my diet as possible and I was seeing some changes again. This time, though, I was noticing things like my hair being stronger and more shiny and the wrinkles that had formed on my face looking less noticeable; I started to realize how old and unhealthy I looked before even though I thought all I wanted to be was “skinny”. I’d say about another month later, I found the “fitfam” community on twitter. They all talked about eating clean and *gasp* LIFTING?! I thought, “But doesn’t that really make you bigger?” That’s false, of course, and luckily I decided to try it anyway because I couldn’t be happier with the results.

I have now been sober for 7 1/2 months, October 18th will be my 8 month mark. I would have to say that my problem with drinking was the hardest obstacle I had to overcome in order to get to this point. I think it was the root of all of my other problems. I have also been eating clean and training my body in a healthy way during that time. I don’t even weigh myself anymore as the changes to my body speak for themselves and are not reflected by a number on a scale. I feel as though I look and feel younger than I have in years; I was aging myself with my unhealthy lifestyle. I don’t get sick, I have a more positive outlook, and I’m actually living my life; I’m just _finally happy_ and that is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. This feeling of peace and joy are my motivation to keep going because it just keeps getting better. Every day that passes I am able to do things I couldn’t imagine being able to do before. Most importantly my husband and I have started to become involved in church again. I have probably neglected my spiritual health even more than my physical health throughout this journey, and getting back to that has been a blessing. Make no mistake, I have worked very hard to get myself on the right track to being fit, but I can’t take all the credit. The Lord has given me the strength to pick myself up when I get knocked down, and I thank Him for that daily. Without His presence in my life, I know I would have been lost. My husband has been a great support through all of this as well. He has stood by my side no matter how crazy things have gotten. My parents tell me how proud of me they are almost daily. It’s a great feeling.

The person I am today is nothing like the person I was 2+ years ago. I seem to be always on the go instead of always on the couch these days! I work in a small (but extremely busy) restaurant owned by my parents that is a pretty popular spot for the local college kids and Downtown employees. Recently I have started attending cosmetology school, which was always a dream of mine, so after work I drive about 40 minutes to school and am there from 5pm-10pm Monday through Thursday. I have about a year of cosmetology school left, after which my ultimate goal is to become a certified personal trainer as well so I can help people like me take control of their lives, feel great about themselves, and finally start really living.

I don’t necessarily have a set “routine” that I follow anymore as far as my workouts are concerned.  Since I am so busy Monday through Thursday I just make sure to commit myself to at least 3 days of cardio a week, where I will do some kind of HIIT program on the elliptical for anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and lifting at least 5 days a week. My lifting schedule varies as I get bored easily, so I focus on the different muscle groups (i.e. core/abs, arms, legs, back, etc.) and just switch it up however I feel! I make sure to train all groups at least once every week. I find different exercises by searching online, from people on twitter, from various fitness apps on my phone, just doing my homework! I do all my workouts at home as my guest room doubles as my weight room, and I have my elliptical set up right in my den. I’d say I follow an “If It Fits Your Macros” style diet, with my macros varying based on what activities I have planned for the day. For example, I may lower my carb intake on a day when I know I’m just going to be sitting in class and not moving around much, or up my protein intake on a day when I’ve done some intense lifting. My fat intake doesn’t really vary, I just make sure I am getting enough to fuel my body. I try to avoid any processed foods like the plague and stick to fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. I do have the occasional protein bar that might not be “all natural”. I keep my whey protein powder stocked as I use it in oats, smoothies, etc. for the extra protein, but I don’t take any other supplements. I used to take a pre-workout but I find that they just make me jittery and coffee works just as well if I need a little boost. I always have coffee in the mornings as well, and I do add a little Truvia. I make sure I’m drinking at _least_ a gallon of water a day and I drink a glass of green tea as soon as I wake up, after every meal, and after my workouts. I try to never have a “cheat meal” but I LOVE sweets so if I’m feeling the need for a treat I’ll have some natural peanut butter. I am obsessed with any of the flavors by Peanut Butter and Co., especially White Chocolate Wonderful.

My goals right now as far as fitness goes are to keep losing fat and building muscle as much as I can while not having as much time to train, and of course to maintain a healthy diet. Once I graduate from cosmetology school and become licensed in that, I want to become a certified personal trainer as I mentioned before, and I have played around with the idea of competing when I have more time to train my body. Really, my ultimate goal is to help others. I want everyone who is currently stuck in the life that I was living before to be able to be happy and healthy and to wake up every day feeling great and loving themselves. To those of you reading this who ARE me before, I want you to know that you CAN do this and when you do you will never regret it. I’m not here to tell you that it’s easy — it’s not easy at all. It’s hard to train yourself out of bad habits but it can be done, and it is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself.

I’d like to thank Shay for asking me to share my story, it’s so flattering and kind of overwhelming at the same time! I’d also like to thank all of you for taking the time to read my story and I hope it can serve as some kind of inspiration or motivation for you. If you’d like to get in touch with me, you can follow me on twitter @Fit_Love_Beauty and I’ll try to get with you as quickly as my schedule allows! Again, thanks for reading. 

Never Lose Sight of Your Goals

Gina Marie Policastro

In March of 2012, I walked through the doors of “The East Coast Mecca, Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym,” in Syosset NY and my journey commenced.

Growing up in Queens NY, I was that kid that was always out on the block and could never sit still. My parents enrolled me into dance classes by the age of 5 and by age 7 I was taking on gymnastics too. I fell in love with the sport; practiced 3 times a week and at home I would practice some more (although my parents weren’t so happy to have me flipping off of the couch and other furniture in the house). Most of all, I love conditioning! Weird, I know but I welcomed the challenge. I would come home from school, have a snack, do homework, but as I watched TV at night I would do sets of sit-ups, V-ups, supersets of push-ups, all during commercial breaks. Then I saw “Ms. Fitness America” on ESPN that I thought, “I’m gonna do that too!”

Throughout my high school and college career I continued doing gymnastics, took on cheerleading, and was a regular in the gym. By living this active lifestyle I never felt the need to diet, in fact I’m a foodie at heart and have a severe sweet tooth! While in college I began to train at a personal training center with hopes of competing someday. I made great gains, but managing my studies, working full time as a middle school science teacher, and getting married by the age of 24, I subconsciously suppressed my goal to compete.

“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation” Maya Angelou

Things don’t always work out the way you plan. In fact, I feel the more you plan, the more likely you are to stray off that path. By 26 I divorced from a very unhealthy relationship, I was mentally torn down, defeated. I was angry that I had “stopped living” and lost sight of my own dreams and goals for somebody else. I realized change must come from within. I thought, “I need to figure out who I am, complete the things I’ve wanted to do, it’s not too late, there is no right time, there is only now.”

I began my research and came across “Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym.” I picked a day of the week (I believe it was a Wednesday) and decided to walk in. I remember feeling anxious, nervous, and intimidated walking to the front doors of a well-known establishment. However, I was greeted by Lou Tangredi (one of my favorite people at Bev’s!) whom referred me to Angelica Nebbia. I will never forget the day that Angelica called me. I was ecstatic to hear that someone was going to help me begin my journey!

Angelica scheduled a night to meet me, where I learned that she was an IFBB Figure Pro and we discussed what training for a competition would actually entail. We talked about hours of training, meals, food prep, costs, different divisions (bikini, figure, physique), posing, and expectations. To me, I didn’t care how much time or how much money was going to be spent, all I knew was I wanted to get started, I wanted to achieve my goal! I wanted to become an IFBB Figure Pro.

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

I began training every day at Bev’s and twice a week with Angelica. She created my contest prep diet, my training schedule, and set a goal. I was 3 months out. We were headed for the “NPC Atlantic States” to compete in Figure, June 2012.

Over the next 3 months, Angelica became more than just a trainer and coach, but also my best friend. I’m so thankful for having met her (and her husband Roy). She has supported me from day 1, motivated me, and helped re-invent myself into becoming a stronger, more confident person. Soon it was time to step out on stage. I was proud of how far I had come and regardless of my placement; I knew she would be too. When I stepped into the stage lights, I tried to keep my cool, but my quads were trembling as I tried to hit the mandatory figure poses. My nerves had kicked in! The judges began calling numbers, the end result; I received first callouts. I placed 3rd! I was elated I had done so well. Finally, I felt alive, I felt I had changed, I knew this was only the beginning of my journey.

I continued to train after the “Atlantic States” with another goal in mind. “NPC Team Universe,” in Teaneck, NJ. I was 4 weeks out from my first national competition. I was determined to bring my best and knew Angelica was by my side to help me get there. Training was intense, lifting for at least an hour a day, cardio had increased to 2-3 hours/day, following the strict meal plans was mentally draining, but I wanted to do well. I placed 12th in a class of 28 competitors and couldn’t wait to compete again.

Comparison – Atlantic States, Team U, USA’s

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Greg Anderson

I refuse to give up on myself! Having been “on-season” since March, maybe I should have taken a break. However, I went on to compete at two other national level competitions, “NPC USA’s” in Las Vegas, NV and “NPC Atlanta Nationals” in Atlanta, GA, where I placed 13th in a class of 38. I will be competing once more in a regional contest, November 18th at the NPC Easterns in NYC.

Pursuing this goal meant a lifestyle change, not only for me, but for my family as well. I was constantly prepping meals, packing gym bags, and if I wasn’t at work, I was training. No more Sunday dinners (coming from an Italian family this was a huge disappointment) and I was bringing my own food to celebrations (including Easter) at relative’s houses. I was so engrossed in my training that I failed to notice that my family was not quite on board with this way of life, but I loved it. It was new, it was demanding, both physically, and mentally, but I didn’t care. Slowly my family has adapted to the new and improved me. This is my goal and I’m sticking to it, you’re either in or you’re out, you can support me or not, but I’m doing it! I made a promise to myself to never let anyone step in the way of achieving my own personal goals in becoming an IFBB Figure Pro.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Paul Coelho

One of the most rewarding aspects of this journey has been the friendships and relationships that I have built along the way. Although my family does not understand my reasoning for wanting to train and compete, I am blessed to have such phenomenal friends and support at Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym. I am proud to belong to the “East Coast Mecca” and look forward to it every day. Being surrounded by others that have goals, determination, and drive creates a positive atmosphere to help me push through tough days. Whether in training or in traveling, we stick together!

The “NPC Easterns,” will be my last competition of the season. However, that doesn’t mean that my training will cease. My plans for the off season are to grow physically as a figure competitor, put on more muscle mass, and make big hanges to bring to the stage in 2013. The offseason is bitter sweet because although I love competing, it can be mentally exhausting. I have definitely grown as an individual as I have become more focused, regimented, organized, and optimistic. I find solace in reading inspirational books and listening to motivational speeches. I have carried these new traits into my career as a middle school science teacher and hope to influence my students and encourage them to reach, and achieve their goals and dreams.

Gina with her supporters, Angelica and Roy

The closer one gets to realizing his Personal Legend, the more that Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being.” Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

I hope this finds you well. As you embark on your own fitness journey, remember why you started in the first place. What motivates you? What drives you? The beginnings are the hardest part; but once progress appears use it as your stepping stone to continue on. Surround yourself with positivity; people, books, daily affirmations. Strength is more than just the physical. It is the internal and mental toughness that makes a champion.

Thank you to SociallyFit for inviting me to share my story, to the NPC, to IFBB Figure Pro Angelica “Tiny Phenom” Nebbia, Steve and Bev at Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym, IFBB Physique Pros Sadik Hadzovic and Vince Fiore, and NPC competitor Dickens Fenelon for their continuous support on my journey to becoming an IFBB Figure Pro.

In strength,

Gina Marie Policastro

I would love to receive feedback, questions, or comments. I may be reached at the following:

gmpolicastro@gmail.com

http://www.facebook.com/gina.m.policastro

Twitter@GMPolicastro

Youtube@GinaMPolicastro

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