Weight loss story

The wait (weight?) is over

By Fitnessista, on January 28th, 2009

Heyyyyyy! TGIAF! I’m soooo ready for this weekend :D

I’ve been promising a “before” pic of myself for quite some time, but since the madre’s been holding them hostage (and never believed I was overweight to begin with) so that’s where the hold-up has been.

I came across this picture while cleaning the closet out last weekend:


That’s me, senior year of high school after our last performance of Footloose: The Musical.

I grew up eating Mexican food to my heart’s delight and had danced since I was three. I danced for 3-4 hours each day, but my body was used to it and I paired it with unhealthy eating. Fresh fruits and veggies were rare, while tacos and enchiladas were plentiful..and delicious. I remember the summer before this picture was taken, I sat in the bed of my friend’s truck with a couple of other girls and we shared an entire Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. And I thought nothing of it.

It was the summer after that picture was taken that I decided to make some changes.

The thing is no one made me feel like I was overweight, unhealthy or unattractive. I had a great group of friends in high school –was even homecoming princess despite the stereotypical requirements associated with that title—and my family never said anything to make me feel badly about how I looked. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and wanted to feel better about myself. I was tired of feeling lethargic at dance class, hating my arms (I rarely wore tank tops), and having less than stellar skin. I decided to change the way I ate to see if it made me feel better.

Major dilemma: I had no idea how to eat. I didn’’t know what a smart carb was, lean protein, healthy fat, nada. So I made the mistake of trying as many diets as possible in succession.

Diet #1: Slim Fast. Nuff said. I was irritable, starving and grossed out by the shakes so that ended pretty soon after it started.

Diet #2: Aktins. No carbs on an intense dance schedule did not work out as I was even more tired and felt disgusting living off of meats and cheese. Even though I didn’t know much about nutrition, I had a feeling that living without carbs couldn’t be healthy

Diet #3: Weight Watchers. Counting was a PAIN and I could still eat whatever I wanted—that’s what I was trying to get away from.. I wanted to make healthier choices instead of eating anything I felt like. Also, I gained back so many points from dance class anyway, so this plan was pretty ineffective.

The magic plan: South Beach. I started South Beach freshman year of college and it worked like a charm. I didn’t have to count calories (just watch my portions) and it taught me how to eat. I learned about the importance of choosing smart carbs (whole grains), lean protein (fish, chicken, eggs, deli meat) and healthy fats (low-fat or fat free dairy, nuts, olive oil, avocados, fish). I followed this plan for a year and lost the majority of my weight through South Beach.

After starting South Beach, I wondered what would happen if I changed my exercise habits, so I started walking every day before dance. It started out small (15 minutes) and I gradually increased it to 30-45 minutes. Walking turned into running and I also started to tinker around with the weights. I did a lot of circuit training and was so excited to feel my body toning up as I lost the weight.

While the physical benefits of exercise and eating well are obvious, it’s amazing what they can do for you mentally. In school, I was much more focused and awake during class and was able to maintain my honors status and scholarships, and I became a better dancer and dance instructor.

I still follow a quasi South Beach style of eating to this day—I load up on fruits and veggies, healthy carbs (I do not eat white rice or bread), lean protein, and healthy fats as recommended per South Beach standards. However, I’ve made the gradual change from allowing chemicals in my food to eating more whole foods. Now I strive to eat food in its most pure form as much as possible.

This is me now:


(and my cousin Steph)

Am I happier? Not necessarily. I’ve always been a pretty happy kid.

Am I more confident? I guess.. I can wear tank tops now if that counts ;)

Am I healthier? Most definitely.

Not to be cliché, but what we look like on the outside doesn’t matter. You can be a hottie tottie, with a nasty-looking set of organs from mistreating your body, or you can be at a happy, healthy place and glowing from the inside out (thanks for the phrase Miss Julz).

And if you’ve got a rockin bod from all of your hard work… then that’s just icing on the cake bbs :D

See ya soon,



  1. Sherice on November 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I noticed you said you don’t eat white rice. I love mexican food/Puertorican food. I have to use rice, how can i subsittute?

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2009 at 10:45 pm

      brown rice!

      • Lauren on July 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm

        Or BULGUR!!! nom nom nom

        • Cat on August 15, 2012 at 10:20 am

          Or quinoa!! Mmmm!

  2. Gina on November 29, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    love this!! It is very, very true and soo important, especially for women, to remember that body image does not necessarily equate to happiness and dreams come true. I love the promotion of becoming healthy simply to become healthy!! thanks!

  3. Kelly B. on December 13, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I LOVE your story! I love the message that it isn’t about how we look but about how healthy we are! I have just recently found your blog and I look forward to following it!

  4. Andrea W on February 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I just found your blog, and I love it! I’m trying to change my own eating habits so I eat healthier foods. Most of this stems from a desire to be as healthy as possible inside, but a small part of me wants to lose weight and feel better about my body. Thanks for the inspirational blog, keep it up!

  5. Melissa on February 20, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I am trying to make sure I am eating a balanced ratio of calories, fats, proteins and carbs each day to maintain my weight, but bulk up on muscle a bit. Any ratio you suggest?

  6. Heather on March 1, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Gina, I have been following your blog for several months now and really enjoy it. You often have such inspiring ideas and are so generous with information. Thank you so much!

    I am in the process of dieting to lose a little weight (10-15 lbs.). I am really inspired by the way you eat. I’d like to follow your example and I wonder how differently your daily menus would look if you were still striving to lose weight, assuming that your daily activity level was constant?

  7. Gigi on March 2, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Wow! Such an inspirational story. I am glad I read this, because its nice to know that you had to work to be lean and fit like the rest of us, and that we should love our body’s and try to be healither, not neccisarly for apperance, but for overall health in general. So thanks, I appericate you sharing your story with the rest of us 🙂

  8. Ivory Hodell on March 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Your website has a lot of useful information. Glad you’ve taken the time to share it with us.

  9. Sharon on March 23, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I’ve been a long time reader. Today I bought the NASM personal trainer study materials. Any tips? By the way, thanks for putting nutritional yeast on your open sky. I live in a small town as well. When I asked our local store if they carried it or even order it they had no idea what is was or how to order. Thank you!

  10. lucie on March 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    what a great story! so inspiring! And you’re right what we look on the outside doesn’t matter as long as we’re healthy and happy on the inside! 🙂

  11. Katherine on March 26, 2010 at 8:52 am

    You’re happiest now and that’s what is important! way to see yourself in a better way and be looking out for your interests not the interests of what others are telling you (does that make sense?). Congrats on the weight loss but even more so on the beautiful smile! I hope to seek some advice about my own balance; goodness knows I need it!

  12. Arleen Urzua on May 13, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I have been attempting to shed weight for years. It’s always an up and down battle. I take 2 steps forward and 4 backwards. I never seem to make a lot progress. I will start a weight loss plan, do nicely for awhile, then return to my previous habits. I do it time and time again. Well, I’m completely happy to say that due to sites like yours I been in a position to lose forty seven pounds so far! You articles preserve me motivated. On a regular basis I attempt to read on one thing new to maintain my excitement and keep on going onward. Thanks!

  13. Annie on June 22, 2010 at 1:38 am

    I just started doing South Beach and I also tried the slim fast thing and weight watchers (which I actually gained weight on…). It’s great to read about someone who lost weight on it because I’m finding it sooooo hard not to eat carbs. I’m also trying really hard to workout everyday and one day I would like to become a personal trainer. I’m glad I found your blog to help keep me motivated!

  14. Barb on June 29, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Just read your story. I have been following this for several weeks now and think it is great and very inspiring. Thanks for all you do and your knowledge you share. I have been on this journey for a long time now and think I am not going to fall off the wagon again(but if I do, I am getting right back on. Yesterday I became a certified Zumba instructor also. For your group fitness certification is it through ACE or AFAA? Is there a better program in your opinion? Thanks!!!!! 🙂

  15. Allison on June 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Hi! I love your blog! The story of your transformation is inspirational! We, the editors, at Fit&Fab Living have recently launched our new health & beauty blog, Running with Mascara. Just wanted to let you know that you’ve been added to our blogroll! Thanks again for the great content you provide!

  16. Melarunner on August 2, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I just found your blog through SkinnyRunner. My mom, my sister and a good friend have all lost 30+ pounds each on South Beach and have kept it off for a couple of years now. People just don’t know how easy and healthy it really is. Keep spreading the good news and keep up the blogging!

  17. Jessica@tastyandtrim on August 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    You’re such an inspiration! I love your blog 🙂

  18. Tori @ FIToriBLOG.com on September 14, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Glad to “meet” you! We seem very similar. My hubby is in the AF. What branch is yours?

  19. Lynn Kindler on September 20, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Good morning Fitnessista!

    Lynn Kindler here with The Hartsock Agency.

    Love your blog. Do you have an email address or twitter id so that I
    can send you an email?

    Thank you!

    Best, Lynn

    • Fitnessista on September 20, 2010 at 12:21 pm

      hi lynn!
      fitnessista at gmail dot com 🙂

  20. Julie Martin on October 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I am very, very out of shape and HATE to work out. My daughter would very much like me to loose the weight (because I never feel well) what can I do to start slow so I will keep going without getting discouraged?

  21. D on October 15, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I don’t want to be nosy, but how old are you? I’m curious.

    • Fitnessista on October 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm

      old 🙂

  22. Shannon @ Philadelphia Phitness Pharmacy on November 8, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Your weight loss story is so inspirational! I’m on my own journey to shape up, lose weight, and live a happy and well balanced life by running, eating right, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures! Thanks for being such as great tool and resource for so many people out there!

    • Fitnessista on November 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm

      thank you so much for reading!

  23. Tanya on December 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    I want to thank you so much for your inspiration. I came across your blog just as I began my healthy lifestyle/weight loss journey. (I am down 20 lbs so far!) I just wanted to thank you, because reading this (like all of your posts) give me hope. Now I am just like how you used to be…overweight, completely happy with great friends and a family who loved me regardless, I was popular in high school and on homecoming court. But after gaining the Freshman 15 (on my already overweight frame) I had a wake up call.
    I check your blog every day and never leave without taking something with me. So thank you for your inspiration yet again…
    and check out my results if you want to! http://tlclosesthelbs.blogspot.com

    • Fitnessista on December 12, 2010 at 2:23 am

      thanks so much for reading <3

  24. Donna Maria Coles Johnson on December 27, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Love your story. Thanks for sharing it.

  25. Jess on January 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for posting! It’s awesome to see how other’s lives pan out. I bake and bake and bake, and I’m realizing that I’ve started to eat and eat and eat. I lost twenty pounds by exercising and lowering portions, not secret diet. The trouble for me is maintaining it…

  26. Cynthia Jennings on March 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Being a military spouse and traveling to new an exciting places, I know how tempting eating everything new and yummy can be. Need to loose about 60 lbs to get to where I once was and it is so very difficult! You are an inspiration and am hoping to follow your example! Staying home and filling Soap orders 8 hours a day gives me every excuse in the world not to get out there and move!So I went out and purchased a stationary Schwin bike and have started walking around the block in the evening.
    Wish me luck!

  27. Kimmie on April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Hi, I just found your blog. I love your story. I am similar to you when it comes to weight and never felt like I was overweight or anything like that. I am slowly adopting better eating habits but still give in far too often to JUNK! Ugh! Sadly, it can get spendy to eat healthy. Any tips on that? I realize that if we didn’t buy the junk and focused on the healthy foods, we’d probably come out ahead. It’s hard convincing my kids and husband. Anywhoooo, you are an inspiration and you look amazing. I want to exude health from the inside out too! Thank you for inspiring me today.

    • Fitnessista on April 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

      hi kimmie!
      thanks so much for saying hi and welcome to the little blog 🙂
      tips on saving money:
      -buy frozen organic (if you have a trader joe’s near you, they help us save a TON of money!)
      -shop the perimeter of the store
      -splurge on organic meat once or twice a week, rather than having the conventional stuff every day
      -coupons!!! make your list in advance and google for coupons- you’ll be amaze with how much you’ll be able to save

  28. Michelle on May 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm


    I love your blog. It is my absolute fave.
    Can you please tell me why you avoid gluten in all things? Do you have celiac or just do not think gluten is good for you?

    • Fitnessista on May 31, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      i’m gluten sensitive, so i can have it occasionally as long as it isn’t more than one day in a row. if i have it more than one day in a row, my stomach feels awful. so for the most part, i stay away but enjoy it when it’s worth it (cake, pizza, etc)

  29. Andrea on June 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    When you first started doing South Beach, how long it it take you to lose the first 15 or so pounds? I’m trying to lose weight and I find I get discouraged really easily, so I’m hoping to find someone else who can tell me how long it took them to really start seeing results. Of course I know everyone is different, but I’m just curious.

    • Fitnessista on June 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      it took about 3 months i want to say.

      • Andrea on June 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

        Thank you! 🙂 I’m making progress, but it’s so nice to know it didn’t happen overnight for someone else too. I’ll remember to be patient and to keep going with my workouts. Your Summer Shape-up kicked my booty today, and now I’m one day closer to what I want my healthy life to be!

  30. Kristal L. Rosebrook Ryan on September 1, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Great Story!!!

  31. dena on October 7, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Hi! Love your little blog! Was wondering if you had any tips..i have been on south beach for a couple months now, havent lost an ounce. Because of that i have strayed mostly by having a few glasses of wine a week. I am young and single so i still need my social life. I have always eaten mindfully and always have worked out. I will say portion control is hard for me, because i love to indulge. I need some motivation, nothing seems to get ride of these lingering 10lbs. Thanks so much for making this and listening.

  32. jaime on October 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    My husband is also a meat-a-tarian and hates all things healthy. One compromise we have is those “smart” pastas (tastes like white pasta but is supposed to be whole grain).

    What are your thoughts on that?

    • Fitnessista on October 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      i think if it works for your family, do it!

  33. Amber Adgerson on March 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    How long did it take to lose the weight initially? I’ve been exercising and eating healthy for three months now with an almost 10 pounds lost. My coworker is all for the South Beach/high protein diet. Considering it, but I have several food allergies to high protein foods (nuts, fish, beans).

  34. Lori on March 26, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Hi Gina, I want to learn more about nurtrition, but I don’t necessarily need to lose weight (at least yet!) but after my second baby was born, my body is NOT the same and I definitely want to tone and blast some of this belly fat. I also am tired of feeling tired all the time – although I blame the last few days on my baby boy 🙂 Would you still recommend the SBD as a guide to learn more about nurtrition? I know what is good for me but really want to learn what and why if that makes sense and have something to guide me.

    P.S. I LOVE how you still allow yourself to indulge every now and then…thats awesome!


  35. Lori on March 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I forgot to add, there are quite of few SB books, any rec on which one to buy please?

  36. Lori on March 28, 2012 at 10:06 am

    omg it would help if I spelled nutrition correctly!

  37. AK on June 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I was wondering if you also did the phase 1 of south beach diet?

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