Maria is my beautiful older sister. Well I have 2 beautiful older sisters and Maria is the middle of us girls. I have known her my whole life and we are very close! I love that all 3 of us girls are close, I am actually so thankful for their relationships.

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I wanted to write about a healthy lifestyle. I am still on the road to getting better at it as sometimes my laziness wins out when really the will to work my body out should win! I eat healthy but love to “treat” myself as well! Enjoying food, mainly baking, like muffins! Truth be told, we can all improve. Some have the ability to eat healthy and work out with ease and some find it the steepest hill they will ever climb. Many have grown up active so this may be a post you don’t want to read and yet others have a hard time getting started. We all need to be healthy and active, it contributes to a long life, a good mood and outlook on life. I am not a Doctor so I feel the need to tell you, “You should check with a Doctor, a trainer or a nutritionist regarding your personal journey”. My sister is none of the above mentioned, and she is only here to tell you her journey!

I have been a close witness to Maria’s journey to a healthy lifestyle. We grew up in a healthy home because our mother took it upon herself to research healthy ways of eating. We had plenty of colds and were often sick when we were younger and so our mother took us to a Nutritionist who advised us in vitamins and good foods! After being on his plan our health quickly improved. Maria was always slim growing up but things started to change for her in her late teens, like most. I hope Maria’s journey will encourage you in your healthy way of life or even be a kick-start to a healthier lifestyle! Best way to do this was a question and answer time with my sister!

Were you always a fit person?

The first time I started working out in my own free time was when I was 12 or 14 years old. I started using Lisa’s (older sister) Aerobics video. We also went on walks, long walks, as a family. We were forced and I didn’t really like it.

Did you need to work out that young?

No, I saw Lisa doing it so I started doing it. I wanted to do the same things she did, as she was my older sister and I looked up to her!

What was our diet growing up?

Pretty healthy, we didn’t eat out a lot because we didn’t have the money to. Everything was homemade, sugar free and healthy.

What changed for you in your late teens?

I was quite small until my late teens. I started working at a Fast Food Restaurant and they gave you 50% off their food. I started to put on weight because of this discount! That is when I could feel my clothes getting tight and I felt uncomfortable. So I decided that after 6month to a year of working there I was going to bring my own food to work and not eat the fast food. I ended up losing 10 or 15lbs by doing that!

Time passed and I no longer worked there but I started feeling fluffy again. I decided to join a gym with you and another friend. The thing I like is that we joined in November not January when everyone with a New Year’s resolution does. When you join at a random time of year, not January or June (for the Summer body), you have a better start off because you have a goal to follow through and make this a lifestyle. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I started doing cardio and weight machines but I didn’t really know what I was doing! I didn’t know about my body or about lifting heavy weights and that if you challenge yourself then you get results. After a few years of just doing cardio and weight machines I noticed that the gym offered a Body Pump class. I am always hesitant to try something new and out of my comfort zone, but I decided to go and try this class out. I came late to the class and set up what I saw other people had set up and went through the motions. I started going to the class more and more, and I started to see some results, like feeling better in my clothes. My leg muscles were responding and I was seeing definition in them! I liked what I was seeing and that became an incentive to keep doing what I was doing. I knew how much I weighed before I started the class, but I never set out to loose so many pounds by a certain time. I just wanted to try this class out. I took one step at a time. I began doing that class 2-3 times a week. From the time I started to 2 years later I had lost 30lbs! I didn’t weigh myself very often but I could tell the way my clothes fit that I was getting leaner. Looking at photos, I was heavier but I could see now that I had trimmed down. I kept with it.

The gym I was attending got rid of their classes so I had to search for another gym that had a similar class to body pump. The gym that I joined had GST (Group Strength Training) and it was a class where you work out all your major muscle groups in an hour class. Instructors are good because they challenge you, tell you to increase your weights, how to keep correct form and posture so you don’t wear out your joints. It was like having a personal trainer.

A few years later I moved to another town, found another gym, and a new class called “Group Power”. I take that class to this day.

Tell me about your nutrition?

I cleaned up my nutrition. I cleaned up my choices. It has never been about being on a diet, or about restricting calories. It has always been about choosing healthier options and fueling my body. For me having hypoglycemia, I have to eat 6 times a day or my blood sugar will drop and my mood changes for the negative! I can’t think straight if I don’t have fuel in my body. It was never been an option to starve myself or to diet or restrict. I had to find a way to fuel my body in a cleaner way. I would notice if I tweaked things here and there I would get better results along with what I was doing at the gym.

How do you cook for yourself and then for your husband?

It’s pretty much about portion control and how you “finish” your dishes. My husband is 200lbs and has a lot more muscle compared to me at 120lbs. So it’s simple math; I don’t require as many calories as he does. So for example, when I’m planning our meals I will put two cups of rice on his plate but only 1/2 cup of rice on my plate. He also loves to “finish” or “garnish” his dishes with grated cheese. I would love to do that too but I realize that those extra calories would quickly add up to excess that I don’t need. Once in a while I add the grated cheese, as a treat, but most of the time I don’t.

Along with working out and eating healthy did you feel the need to learn and increase your knowledge in this area?

After I graduated from High School, I got to know myself more and who I was as a person (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually). My metabolism changed when I got into my 20’s and I couldn’t eat fast food anymore. I wasn’t the skinny 17 year old bean pole. I have become aware of my body and how it responds to things. Part of that knowledge came from working at a Health Food Store on and off for 12 years. I did an Applied Nutrition Course through them, which taught me a lot about foundational nutrition. I am really thankful for Mom, who was really into the natural way of life and went on a search to keep us healthy. I can still smell the smell of the health food store that we went to when we were little! Having Mom pave the way through home cooking, baking, herbal remedies have been so valuable to me. After I started working at the health food store, all of it made sense because this is what Mom did for us when we were younger. We learned a lot from Mom, she laid the foundation. I am still learning a lot today, I follow a bunch of fitness people on social media and they often post about the science of the body, nutrition, workouts, etc. There is so much to learn all the time!

I like to follow a wide variety of people, as I don’t have a specific way of eating. I like following Oh She Glows where she is completely Vegan. Her recipes inspire me. I am not vegan; I do try to limit my dairy. My skin breaks out if I have too much dairy. I believe that you need to learn to listen to your body and how it responds to what you put in it, as everyone is different. I am not strict when it comes to eating. I really believe in balance and moderation. I believe in eating healthy 75-80% of the time and the other percentage you treat yourself. I don’t like to call it “cheat” times, I like to call it treats. You are supposed to live life and enjoy life and that sometimes means enjoying food too. I like to make healthier versions of certain recipes but I still buy ice cream once in awhile. 

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How do you push through when you don’t feel like working out?

I actually enjoy working out. Sometimes I push myself when it’s just lack of motivation because I know I’ll feel better afterwards. But I listen to my body, so if I’m genuinely exhausted then I make time to rest and if that means taking time off from the gym, then that’s okay. Otherwise I enjoy working out/being active as a normal part of my daily life.

How do you press through when you plateau?

I can tell when my clothes are feeling tight that I have to tweak a little bit of what I am doing. I have to clean up (maybe I am overindulging in the treats) my eating, make healthier options. Usually within 4-5 days I will notice that my clothes are fitting better. At the gym I will sometimes lift heavier weights or change up my cardio, as my body will always adjust to what I am doing and gets used to it so I need to change it up. When it starts to feel easy, I need a change!

What would you say to the person wanting to kick-start a lifestyle change?

It’s all about consistency. Many little steps add up to a big result. When I first started to work out, I did a class that was attended by older ladies. They used just weighted bars, stretch bands, and exercise balls. It was a very low-key class. People would probably make fun of me for working out in there. I would always say to myself, “It doesn’t matter, because every little bit counts.” Every little decision you make for the better will add up to a big result. If you are consistently making good choices you will get good results. That scripture in the Bible says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not loose heart.” (Galatians 6:9) So it is the same principle, if you are making good choices (even if minor), keep making them and you will get the results you are looking for!

What would you suggest the first couple steps to be?

Well there is no magic pill that will get you to where you want to be or to look like someone in a magazine. It is all about what you put into your body and how you move. You have to hydrate your body, with water! Get a good amount of sleep. Making healthy choices the majority of the time. Moving your body. Weight lifting is not to be feared. It is the key to sculpting your body and changing your body composition. I love HIIT (High intensity interval training). **Always check with a trainer or Doctor before you start.

Do you ever switch it up and do something outside of the gym?

Well it always depends on the weather, as where I live it rains a lot. Sometimes I will walk a trail, go snowshoeing or kayaking. Getting out in nature is really important!

At Christmas you had an injury (tendon muscle connector was inflamed), how did that effect you as you couldn’t workout?

Well it made me realize what a privilege it is to work out as some people are unable due to injuries. I am thankful I am in a healthy body and that I can move. Having to rest my body because of the inflammation made me so grumpy and I just wanted to get back to the gym. When I finally got back to the gym, I was so happy, so thankful I could move my body. I should never take for granted that I can move my body freely and without pain.

Last thought?

To me, my body and the way I appear is a reflection of my choices and my will power. Our lives and our bodies are a work in progress. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and it is lifestyle!

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