The wait (weight?) is over

Heyyyyyy! TGIAF! I’m soooo ready for this weekend 😀

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 😀

See ya soon,


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  1. Marissa on January 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. chasedaylight on January 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Wow Gina! I sat here staring at the picture and comparing it to the one on the left column of your blog. It’s hard to see the same person in your “before” picture! You look very healthy and glowing now! But what’s better is the eating habits you’ve adopted…incredible! What a great story!

  3. Elizabeth on January 29, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Thia is a great post, especially for someone currently trying to lose a large amount of weight. You look fabulous and I can tell you feel fabulous! Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me there is more to it then wearing a smaller size.

  4. Leading Lady Lis on January 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    great story- inspiring, yet realistic. I like that you showed the your “journey” towards better health because I think that finding better health is all about making little steps over the years and gradual, but steady, change for the better.

    I know I need to keep focusing on little steps rather than try out HUGE things (like I’ve done lately). Slow and steady wins the race!


  5. Becca on January 29, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story and I love your insight!

  6. Marianne on January 29, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Maybe it’s just the picture, but I don’t think you look that bad in the first one. But if you are happy where you are now, then kudos to you for finding a way that works to get you there 🙂

  7. healthy ashley on January 29, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing your before pic and story. I definitely agree with being happy at whatever weight you’re at. That’s so important!

  8. Holly on January 29, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    You are gorgeous in both pictures! But I completely agree. I have friends who are “thin,” but eat like crapola and aren’t in the least bit healthy. I think the rockin’ bod is totally a bonus…I just feel SO much better mentally when I’m healthy!

    You are such an inspiration….thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

  9. Andrea (Off Her Cork) on January 29, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Awesome post Gina! And very inspiring! 😀

  10. Dori on January 29, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Wow! What a difference, although you were beautiful back then too! It is so impressive what making smart choices can do.

  11. lauren on January 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    thanks so much for sharing! it is a great example to do it the healthy way…

  12. *Erica* on January 29, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    GREAT post! Never would have guess that was you in that pic! And I <3 Footloose! The kids and I were dancing around to the soundtrack just this afternoon! Fun!

  13. sarah on January 29, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    thanks for sharing your story! you are so right about it being about health rather than just a number!

  14. Missy on January 29, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Wow we almost have identical stories!! I was always heavy throughout high school and always wanted to lose the weight but did not know how. The summer after senior year of high school, I read the South Beach Diet book. This really educated me on how to eat healthy and helped me lose the weight I needed to lose. I was able to keep it off through exercise and by incorporating whole grains back into my diet. It really is a wonderful lifestyle change!

  15. AnnieT on January 29, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    thanks for the inspiration!

  16. carolinebee on January 29, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    g mizzle!! I bought my v-tops at this grocery store called Pavillions, i don’t think they’re around the country.proooobably not in V-town 😀 I know u can order them from the website, and order mix- i mean they’re good, but it’s money and effort and i’m sure your macaroonies and vegan ice cream is WAY better

  17. eatingbirdfood on January 30, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Great post Gina! Thanks so much for sharing your journey – I loved reading how you changed your eating habits into healthy ones that in turn helped you lose weight.

    I have a very similar story, as I was my heaviest in high school and was never told by my family or friends that was overweight. I decided on my own the summer after graduation that I wanted to change my eating habits be healthier.

    I tried South Beach at one point, but phase 1 was too strict for me, did you do phase 1 for the entire 2 weeks?

  18. RhodeyGirl/Sabrina on January 30, 2009 at 9:32 am

    thanks for sharing your story Gina! You look gorgeous in both pictures, seriously.

    I felt the same way as you… No one ever made me feel like I was chubby or unattractive or anything like that, but I just disliked my body and the way I felt in it, which is why I made the changes. And I agree completely.. Now I have more energy, am healthier and feel like I am living life MORE to the fullest, if that is even possible.

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. Rachel on January 30, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Very cool. I totally agree. And now attempt to make my own breads for the family instead of store bought HFCS invested breads.

  20. ttfn300 on January 31, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    bottom line is so true, it’s how we feel that counts. you definately glow, and you should be proud of how far you’ve come!! 🙂

  21. theskinnyplate on April 14, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I am truly inspired by you. I agree with Colleen. You seem to have a beautiful healthy glow in every picture. Thanks for keeping up with your blog. I strive to eat healthy and clean as well and your healthy meals gives me tons of ideas and motivation.

  22. meegie lee on April 15, 2009 at 9:01 am

    i just read this post and will bookmark it for inspiration…such a down to earth/no bs. 🙂

  23. Katie on August 7, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now but just now read "your story." Thanks so much for sharing it. It is really encouraging.

  24. Jenny on August 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    thank you so much for sharing this Gena! your story is identical to my own and it really puts in to perspective the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle rather than opting for these crazy diet trends. you are an inspiration and a positive voice for healthy living 🙂

  25. blueberryhil on August 19, 2009 at 12:28 am

    I'm new to the blog, but I really enjoyed reading this post. I also found a lot of success with South Beach before eventually migrating to a quasi-South Beach whole foods based diet. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  26. rachel on December 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Hi! I love your blog! Do you have any meal plan suggestions for phase 1 of south beach? I always struggle with it. Thanks!

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