Name: Charlene Maldonado
Why I Got Started
I had been involved in school sports my entire life; athletics is not something new to me. But, I certainly admit that the temptations of a less than healthy lifestyle (my personal relationship with pizza, especially) stress and not having my goals clear in my head had led me to a body that wasn't bad, per se, but was not anything to shake a stick at. What is funny is I always knew I had something special inside of me, some type of unique drive that I do not know if I can describe effectively, but it is what I dig down to every day to push me on.
My life was never an easy one. I lost my father at age 5, my family's home flooded at age 7 and I was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) at age 9. Cancer is the destroyer of bodies. The effect of 3 years of chemotherapy on my body is still being studied for late effects.
But I fought it, overcame it and lived through it to tell the story. I grew my hair back, I learned how to walk for the second time in my life and am part of an amazing Camp, Camp TaKumTa, a week long camp in So. Hero, Vermont for children who have or have had cancer.
Getting fit couldn't be as hard as surviving.
How I Did It
The first few lessons that my trainer taught me were as follows: you want the body, you have to lift weights and if you want to burn fat, you have to eat. Both of which I was not doing. In fact, I was not doing it properly until I sat myself down in April and had a little chat…with myself.
I had this great opportunity to improve myself. I had found a gym with people that care, a family, and a trainer and coach that had the tools to guide me to whatever goal I wanted to reach. A no brainer and what I wanted all along! If I did not take advantage of what was given to me, then it would be my failure and this was my life, my goal.
I had to refocus and remind myself that it was a hard road but it was what I wanted. I started my new workout booklet that day, April 1, 2011. My food was perfect, my workout was perfect and I was determined to flip the switch. I got a picture taken that day in my swimsuit, and said goodbye to the old me.
Fast forwarding to today, I am over 30 pounds leaner, stronger in heart, mind and body and healthier and more fit than I have ever been in my entire life. In 7 months I went from an asthmatic who would get sick fairly often to girl that competes in fitness games, does Boot Camps at Hoover Dam (Columbus, OH), flips 220lb tires, swings ropes, sweats profusely and can now breathe.
I can squat and deadlift 175lbs, I can run mile after mile and can be proud to put on a glittery bikini and practice competition posing in front of others. My progression is what blows my trainer away. What blows me away is the support and love that I get and the inspiration that I give others. I never thought others would follow my training, much less care or be inspired by it.
What surprises me the most is that daily I get messages, calls, texts, emails from people from my past, family, friends, you name it, telling me I inspired them to lose weight and they are 10lbs down, or they want to know what I am doing, how I am doing it, what I eat! It's remarkable!
I do not make it a secret either. I feel that if I was blessed to be put on this path, maybe my purpose is to share it with others and spread the word that anyone can be fit, reach their goals and just feel good.
Suggestions for Others
Over the course of 7 months, I have learned a great deal about fitness and health. What I tell others is that while it's not everyone's desire to compete on stage in bodybuilding, everyone can make changes to be healthier, more fit and feel better.
I am frequently asked a variety of questions but most people want to know the secret to getting fit and staying that way. Well, here it is: there are no secrets and no one specific path to achieving your fitness goals. There is no special pill that you take or fad diet that can realistically change you forever.
The change starts with you. My secret is consistent, clean eating and exercise. (I know, who would have thought!) If you want to look good in a bikini, then lift weights. If you want to boost your metabolism, then eat.
If you want to improve your overall fitness and health, educate yourself and seek out those that are fit and talk to them and learn by doing what they do. Gain as much knowledge as you can and apply that to your life.