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Welcome back to the friends series! DL is such an inspirational person! She is a wife, the mother of three boys, a teacher, and a fitness enthusiast! Recently, she became a certified personal trainer, a certified Zumba instructor, and she has ventured into the realm of entrepreneurship. In fact, she recently launched her fitness business, DFit! She offers personal training to adults and children by focusing on overall health and wellness. I recently had the opportunity to chat with her about what motivates her and what’s next on her list of goals. What’s really impressive is the fact that she didn’t let a significant injury get in the way of her fitness goals. Below is our conversation!
Moetips: I met you on the racing track at Northern HS while I was running over ten years ago. You encouraged me to sign up for my first major 5K race, the Baltimore Women’s Classic. You have truly made fitness a lifestyle! You are over 50 and in better shape than most 20-year-olds! What keeps you motivated to stay so active?
DL: What motivates me to stay active at 51 is knowing that I have a family history of breast cancer, high blood pressure, and thyroid disease. During my child birthing years, I was over 200 pounds. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and other health issues. I was prescribed medication and I was told by my physician that losing weight and changing my diet could help. I remember when a co-worker told me that I would never lose the weight. I immediately changed my diet, and I lost 70 pounds. After having children, I began to run and exercise to maintain my weight. As I age, I realize that exercising is the key to staying young and fit. I make exercise a priority and part of my daily routine.
Moetips: Not only are you active, you are a wife and the mother of three young men, the youngest being 11. Most mothers say that they don’t have time to exercise or time to prepare healthy meals. How do you navigate family life and staying fit? Is finding time difficult?
DL: My family knows that exercising is a lifetime commitment for me. I have to be a role model for my children and keep them active. My exercise routines are usually done early in the morning. That’s also my time with God for prayer. I often plan my day while I’m working out, and I love how exercising makes me look and feel. The evenings are reserved for family time, homework, preparing dinner, sports, music classes, and completing my own school work. During the weekend, I meal prep my food for the week.
Moetips: You participated in two full marathons and several half marathons and 5K races. You recently sustained an injury that derailed your running career. How did this affect you personally? How did your injury affect your fitness goals? What activities are you currently participating in to stay fit?
DL: Recently, I was injured during half marathon training for the Niagara Falls Half Marathon. I had experienced pain in my legs, hip, and back. My MRI results showed that I had sustained lower back and spine issues which prevented me from running. Years of running in races and on concrete caused more harm on my body and eventually ended my running career. I tried physical therapy, medication, and stretching to no avail. I was depressed, I began to gain weight, and I thought I would not be able to exercise again. After I stopped running, my personal trainer Charlie Pistorio told me that I should focus on eating clean to get lean. She taught me how to use the app, My Fitness Pal, to record my food and to monitor what I ate. I changed my portion sizes using “My Plate” to show me how to eat without overeating. I added more fruits, nuts, vegetables, protein, and healthy carbs to my diet. I take my lunch to work and I try to only eat what I have prepared. By changing my diet, I don’t have to exercise as much. I lost 15 pounds! Not only did I look leaner, but I felt stronger and more toned. I do low impact exercises that won’t put so much pressure on my body. Currently, I strength train 2 or 3 days a week to improve my strength, posture, and to increase bone strength. If I cannot make it to the gym, I do pushups, tricep dips, or pull-ups at home to keep my arms and core tight or a quick 30-minute H.I.I.T workout. Rest is also important to me. In order for me to get up early and do my best, I have to get enough rest. I listen to my body and I take rest days when I need them for recovery. I maintain my yearly checkups, mammograms, and a weekly massage is a must. For exercise, I participate in spin classes, yoga, outdoor cycling, walking, swimming, and dancing.
Moetips: You served as a run coach for the Baltimore Women’s Classic training group and as a mentor for several other ladies who were interested in living a healthier lifestyle. You encourage people from all walks of life to take fitness seriously. How does this affect your personal goals? Is encouraging others a form of self-motivation?
DL: I still continue to support my running friends by attending their races to cheer them on! I also volunteer for the Baltimore Woman’s Classic 5k training team as a run coach by riding my bike to make sure no woman is left behind. It feels great to help change someone’s life with fitness!
Moetips: We all know that we can’t out train a bad diet! How do you manage to maintain a healthy weight?
DL: Exercise and eating healthy are both important for improving your health and maintaining your weight. I also communicate with a fitness and nutrition group daily. We discuss our workouts, nutrition, goals, and we hold each other accountable.
Moetips: You recently became a certified personal trainer. Do you have any future fitness goals that you would like to accomplish?
DL: My injury changed my fitness goals and helped me to make the decision to become a certified personal trainer to help others. I recently became a certified Zumba instructor! I also started my own business which is a fitness program where I teach clients how to exercise, practice yoga, and I give clients nutrition advice. I’m still working on more certifications to add to my bucket list to enable me to continue to build my business.
Moetips: What final tips can you offer our readers who are over 50 and who would like to live a healthier lifestyle?
DL: Your life experiences could have a positive impact on someone! I hope that I can continue to be a role model not only for my own children but to anyone over 50 who wants to continue to follow his or her dreams. It’s not easy to be a teacher, a personal trainer, a mother, a wife and work full time. On some days, I don’t feel like getting up to exercise but I have to be a role model to inspire others and I have to keep doing what I do for myself. I encourage others “ to live for today, laugh when you can pray daily, and love what you do!” Let exercise be your medicine to keep the doctor away! It can help you look and feel younger. I live in this moment and I enjoy being over 50!
I thanked DL for her words of encouragement and for providing our readers with such valuable information. If you want more information about DL’s fitness journey, follow her on Instagram @darleneruns4life. Readers, are you over 50 and struggling with your fitness goals? How can we help?