The Setback:

Let me preface this by saying I loved being pregnant, and I am so blessed and fortunate to have had two uncomplicated pregnancies and two happy and healthy babies! However, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I gained a whopping 75 lbs. Although it was difficult to see the scale beyond my belly, I couldn’t believe that the needle was teetering between 199lbs. and 200 lbs. on the day I was scheduled to have her. With the weight I had yet to shed from that pregnancy, I later became pregnant with my son and gained an additional 45lbs. I was the heaviest I had ever been, my cholesterol was so high that my doctor wanted to put me on medication at 28 years old, and I was still wearing maternity clothes long after my children were born. I found comfort in sweets and foods that I knew were not good for me. I would make excuses as to why I couldn’t eat healthier, why I couldn’t get to the gym, and why I couldn’t make the changes that I knew were necessary to feel and look better. With juggling a family, a career, school, and extracurricular activities, it was easy to just say I don’t have the time. A few years ago, I attempted a few classes at Leverage, and I lasted less than a month with no desire to return.

The Wake-Up Call:

I struggled with my weight for several years. I was getting to a point where I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I would buy clothes specifically to hide the weight I was gaining, I would stand behind others in pictures, I was tired all of the time, and I would struggle with negative self-talk. I was in disbelief when I would look at old pictures, not recognizing who I saw in those pictures. I used to just scroll past pictures of others who were getting fit, lean, and healthy, but I will never forget when I saw the transformation pictures that fellow Leverage friend, Jennifer Ciampi, posted on Facebook. I saw how incredible she looked, and I read about how great she felt. In addition to seeing the pics of Jennifer, a friend and neighbor, Courtney DeLucca, had recently joined Leverage in Pittston and urged me to try some classes. I was hesitant, thinking that going to the gym was just another thing I would have to do. Finally, something clicked, and instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided it was time to put on my big girl pants, step outside my comfort zone, and get my butt to the gym.

The Comeback:

After trying out the two week pass earlier this year, I liked the way I was starting to look and feel, despite not being able to do a push-up or running to my car when the rest of the class was running around the block. Instead of making excuses as to why I couldn’t get to the gym, I would make it a point to set a schedule for the week to ensure that I would get to class. I set a goal to get to the gym at least 3 times per week. I can now do push-ups properly, and I don’t drop to the ground after just 1 or 2. I no longer head to my car when others are getting ready to go for a run. I now join them! And best of all, after a check-up with my PCP, my cholesterol is now at a level that does not require medication and can be maintained with exercise and a proper diet!

The Workouts:

Honestly, I love all the classes. My favorite classes are Primal Scream, Drenched, Arm’d & Dangerous, and the Power Lunch Workouts. I love that there are classes at different times throughout the day so it is possible to get in a great workout. For someone like me, the schedule eliminates all excuses. Whether the class be 30 minutes or 45 minutes, I always leave there feeling that I have been pushed to do my best and supported when I feel my best isn’t enough.

The Nutrition:

I am still working on the Nutrition part of this journey. It is so easy and convenient to grab some fast food while running between practices, games, and other activities or to eat the leftover ice cream that the kids don’t want, but I was told (many times) by my wise friend, Jennifer Lombardo, that part of getting healthy is not only working out, but it’s also about what we put in our mouth. It is a matter of planning. I am working to substitute the easy choices (fried fast foods) with healthier meal options, and the protein shakes at Leverage have become so much a part of my diet, I will make a shake on the days that I am not at the gym. I will eat smaller portions and pack healthy snacks for the day. I used to loathe vegetables, but now I try to add them to my meals. The pizza on Friday nights is still a struggle, but it is also my treat when I achieve my goal of at least 3 days a week!

The Shout-Outs:

I am so thankful for my husband, Brad Altavilla, and for my children Mia and Marco. They constantly encourage me to continue on my journey and to never give up. My son participated in Leverage FitKids BootCamp this past summer, and he can’t wait to be able to join me at the gym. I am grateful for my sister, Nicole Mantione, who is my sidekick gym buddy, for Jennifer Ciampi for sharing her successes and sending that two week pass to me, and for the initial encouragement from Courtney DeLucca. A HUGE thank you to Jennifer Lombardo, Dori Williams, Jessica Piazza, and to the other trainers at the gym. You have all supported me from the day I started, and you make each and every workout fun and challenging. I love the trainers, the atmosphere, and the people I have met at Leverage. I encourage anyone who has felt like me to give it a chance because it could change your life forever! In the words of a Leverage Facebook post: “You take care of your kids, spouse, significant other, parents, family, friends, co-workers, and everyone else but yourself. So don’t forget that at the end of the day, you still have to feel good about you.”