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Client Spotlight: Melissa Silva

My client Melissa Silva is a weight loss success story, losing 52 pounds! She is the client that defeated all odds, reaching her weight loss goal at one of the busiest and most difficult times in her life. If she can do it, YOU can do it. She’s a mom with a full time job, was in college full time the entire time, was dealing with the tragic loss of her brother, and somehow found time to exercise and eat healthy. WOW! Melissa offers sound advice for anyone who feels like it’s never the right time to start.




Q. How much weight did you lose and how long did it take you?

I have lost a total of 52 lbs. in approximately 8 months and I can happily say I reached my weight loss goal.

Q. How did you lose the weight?

I lost the weight by making myself a priority, working my butt off with my fabulous trainer Dara Mazzie three times a week for an hour at a time, doing cardio two days a week for 30 to 60 minutes on my own, joining the Weight Watchers online program, gaining support from my family, and never, ever giving up. There were many times when I thought I couldn’t do it.  When I first started training with Dara I was completely out of shape and had poor eating habits. I often thought about exercising and eating healthier in the past, but I was never able to stick to a plan for long. Scheduling sessions with Dara gave me the accountability and guidance that I needed. Once I started working out, I wanted to eat healthier too. The Weight Watchers online program allowed me to track what I was eating in an easy and convenient manner using my mobile phone.  The Weight Watchers Points System taught me that if I made healthier food choices, I could eat more throughout the day and never feel hungry.

Q. What obstacles did you face on your weight loss journey?

I began my weight loss journey perhaps at one of the busiest times in my life. I am a wife and mother of three children who are all active in sports. At the start of my journey, I was working fulltime (40 plus hours a week) which often included weekends, attending college with eight months left to complete my degree program, dealing with a tragic loss, and to top it off, it was soccer and wrestling season for my boys. I know, what was I thinking?  Needless to say, I had no idea how I was going to find the time to workout and prepare healthy meals on top of all of my other commitments. I also began my weight loss journey around the holiday season, which meant there was a lot of temptation to return to unhealthy eating habits and excuses to not exercise. Additionally, I struggled with hip and leg pain/injury as well as a fear of failing. Did I mention how out of shape I was?

Q. What helped you get past these obstacles?

Willpower, determination, support from family and friends, and hiring the best trainer were the biggest tools for me. To overcome the obstacle of my extremely busy life I had to use really good time management and often give up attending social events and forgo sleep. I had to prioritize what was really important to me. I made exercise and healthy eating a priority. I scheduled in exercise daily to ensure I fit it in. If I knew that I was going to be up late studying or doing homework, I would make sure that I worked out before I started. In addition, I learned to combine family time with exercise. I made the days that my sons had practice my cardio days by running around the field with my husband while our sons were practicing. As a family we go on bike rides, run at the beach, and play soccer.

Because of my extremely demanding schedule, I didn’t always have time to prepare healthy meals. I learned that eating out didn’t have to mean I had to make unhealthy choices. To stay within my daily Weight Watchers points, I looked up nearby restaurants’ nutrition information ahead of time and recorded the point values of items I liked to eat in my Weight Watchers app.  This way I had the information available at a moment’s notice. This also taught me a lot about portion control. I really had no idea about the amount of calories the food I was eating contained.  My husband and I often share meals now when we go out, this stops us both from over eating.  On Sunday’s, I pre-plan meals and prepare food so I always have a healthy option available during the week. The reason I chose the Weight Watcher program is because it is easy and I never feel deprived. It is not a diet program to me. It is my lifestyle now.

Q. Do you have any advice or tips for people who are struggling to lose weight and get fit?

Start now. It does not get easier if you wait and there will never be a right time. If possible, hire Dara Mazzie as your trainer.  Hiring Dara was the best decision that I made. She is so much more than a personal trainer. Dara is there to listen when I need to vent about my struggles as well as to motivate me. She has been my teacher, mentor, and cheerleader. She was there to hold me accountable, which was very important in the beginning and at times when I was struggling.

When I first started working out, I barely made it through the session. I thought to myself, how am I ever going to do this? I could barely do a push-up and had never even heard of a burpee! I would often look at Dara and say, “You want me to do what?!”  Hiring Dara took the guess-work out of exercising for me. I showed up and Dara told me what to do and how to do it.  I will admit there were times that I prayed almost the entire session asking God to help me make it through, but then there were times when I was so proud of myself when I performed an exercise that I couldn’t even imagine doing in the beginning.

I would also recommend joining the Weight Watchers online program. The program is easy, affordable, and convenient.  The program teaches you how to lose weight the right way.  There is an application for your mobile device that allows you to keep track of your points.  The application also has a scanner so you can scan the barcode of a product and it will give you the point value.  How simple is that! The Weight Watcher’s program has taught me how to keep the weight off.

Remember, every day is a fresh start. If you have days that you fall of your program, it is all right. Don’t beat yourself up. I have definitely made bad choices along my journey (still do).  I dust it off and start fresh with the next meal.

Q. How has your life changed since losing the weight?

I feel incredible and really enjoy being active with my family. A year ago my son and I were doing an exercise video together and I could not even make it through the video. A couple of months ago I took my son with me to one of Dara’s classes and he said, “Wow mom you did really good. I remember when you couldn’t even finish the video.”  That felt so good coming from him. I also graduated college this past June. We had family that we had not seen for a while in town for graduation.  They were amazed at my transformation. My aunt even felt inspired and went home and started exercising and eating healthy. It felt wonderful to be an inspiration to her.  I have to say, shopping for clothes is so much more fun too! I don’t have to worry about finding clothes that will hide my fat. I can buy clothes because I truly like them and feel great in them.

Q. What was surprising or unexpected about the weight loss process?

The most surprising aspect of my weight loss journey was that I actually met my weight loss goal and I am keeping the weight off. Deep down I truly didn’t think I was going to get there.  I didn’t know that I had it in me. I was surprised at how challenging it is to get started and stay motivated. Boy, did I work my butt off! Now I know why exercising is called working out!

I also found it surprising that once my muscles started developing, cardio became easier.  In the beginning I could barely stay on the elliptical for 15 minutes, now I am on it for an hour at a time.

I found it surprising on how much our lives are centered on food. Food is everywhere! I had to restrain how much I thought about food. I really learned a lot about myself in the process.

Q. What was your motivation to lose the weight? How did you stay focused?

My friend Michellen, began training with Dara and eating healthy.  She noticeably began losing weight over a period of time.  She shared tips with me, but I still didn’t exercise or eat healthy on a regular basis. Looking back now, I think I didn’t start taking it seriously because I was afraid of failing (part of my perfectionist syndrome). Later that year I experienced a tragic loss, which taught me that tomorrow is not guaranteed. I have three beautiful children and an amazing husband to live for. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure I was around for them. I also didn’t want my parents to lose another child. There are some things that are beyond our control, but living a healthy lifestyle was something I could control. I also wanted to be a good role model for my children. As I continued to watch my friend lose more and more weight, I was inspired. I thought, “Wow, if she is doing this maybe I can get in shape and lose the weight too.” My friend encouraged me and introduced me to Dara. I was truly blessed that I had a friend that was so inspiring and cared enough to help me begin my journey.

One aspect of my life that helped me stay focused on my weight loss goal was the fact that I had graduation coming up. I knew that there would be lots of pictures. I was tired of looking at myself in pictures and thinking what happened? Where did you go? It took me seventeen years to go back to school and earn my degree from when I graduated high school. I wanted to be happy and celebrate this moment and not feel depressed about my weight. It was so wonderful to take pictures with my family and friends and to not have to worry about how fat I was going to look in them. Now all I see is what a special day that was and how much I have accomplished.

Q. If you had to do it all again, would you have done anything differently?

Yes, I would have started sooner!  What was I waiting for?

Q. What is your fitness and nutrition like now that you are in maintenance mode?

I have learned that maintenance mode is tricky.  It is all about balance.  If I want to eat more of what I call “cheat meals,” I exercise more to maintain my weight.  If I want to exercise less, I eat better. My goal is to stay within five pounds of my goal weight. I have found that it is easier to eat better and exercise during the week because my week is so structured. The weekends are where I find myself sometimes struggling. Therefore, I plan my workouts during the week so if I miss one, I can make it up on the weekend.

Q. Can you share any other tips that helped you reach your weight-loss goals?

Yes! First, El Pollo Loco is a wonderful fast food restaurant that offers healthy and affordable choices. They have an entire “Under 500 Calories” menu and the food is delicious. When I am running short on time and have to eat out I often stop there. I can feed my family in a hurry and feel great about it. Also, I love Starbucks. I learned that I didn’t have to give up my favorite drink permanently. Instead of having a Grande Carmel Macchiatto seven days a week, I have a tall one on the weekends. This way I never feel deprived. Sara Lee has wonderful bread that has only 45 calories per slice and is delightful. Another staple in my refrigerator is Sargento’s 40 calories a slice cheese. I often make an egg and cheese or turkey and cheese sandwich when I need a fast meal. I carry around a piece of fruit or a Special K 100 calories or less protein bar in my purse. That way if I ever get hungry I always have a nutritious snack handy.