Before: 228 pounds
After: 193 pounds
Donia Ontiveros’s weight yo-yoed for most of her adult life as she turned to comfort food after a divorce, a miscarriage, and several pregnancies. “I ate pasta and sweets—whatever I though was going to relieve the stress—but I never felt better,” says Donia. It didn’t help that the mother of four kept a hectic schedule and frequently hit the drive-thru. (If you must eat fast food, use the new Eat This, Not That! guide to make the smartest takeout choices.) “I needed balance, but I didn’t have time for my kids, eating right, and staying fit,” says Donia, who tipped the scales at 228 pounds.
The Turning Point
The extra pounds placed a lot of pressure on Donia’s joints and feet. (Search: How to soothe aching feet) However, it wasn’t until she saw recent photos of herself next to some high school friends that she decided to take control of her weight. “My friends looked so good. I didn’t realize why I looked so big,” says Donia.
In January 2011, Donia joined her office’s Biggest Loser challenge. She began eating breakfast for the first time, starting her days off with scrambled eggs and wheat toast or a yogurt and granola. Yet, despite cutting out soda completely and avoided starchy carbs, her weight loss never took off by changing her diet alone.
Determined to slim down, Donia realized that she needed to exercise. “I hated being at the gym on the treadmill staring at the TV,” she says. “I hated running. I thought I hated cardio.” But then, Donia picked up bike riding with her husband, Anthony, and kids and was immediately hooked. (Video: Burn 100 calories right now) Four months later, she was down 25 pounds. At the start, she cycled 12 miles three times a week. Now, she’s on the road five days week for 36-mile jaunts, and strength trains at the gym four days a week.
Donia’s own success has turned fitness into a family affair. “My daughters were inspired by the changes that were being made with my body, we all started riding together,” says Donia. And the mother-daughter time isn’t limited to the road. When Donia meets up with her trainer, her two oldest daughters take a kickboxing class. “It’s been a bonding time for us,” says Donia. “We’re all in it together.” (Find out the times when you shouldn't work out together.)
Thirty-five pounds lighter, Donia looks and feels dramatically better. “I don’t take as much Advil for my joints. My body doesn’t ache. My feet don’t hurt. I can sleep better at night and I’m ready to hit the gym again,” she says. “Plus, I have a whole new world of shopping.”
Take one day at a time. “Don’t dwell on a bad day yesterday. Strive to have a better day today and tomorrow.”
Find something you love. “I used to hate cardio. Now I’m finding myself bundled up and riding at 5 AM in 40-degree temperatures. That’s how addicted I got to riding.”
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