Making lasting diet and fitness changes is tough, but for Maria, the benefits are worth the effort. Taking a more considered approach to choosing food, exercising at least three times a week and keeping mentally active through work are now all regular parts of her life, and with them comes a feeling of strength, control and wellbeing.
Maria’s journey to better health came about 10 years ago after her family doctor did a routine cholesterol and blood sugar test. While the results weren’t too serious, he suggested it was a good time to reassess and make diet and exercise changes before they increased to riskier levels.
In her mid-40s at the time and with a history of severe back injury, Maria recognised the importance of training in a safe environment and enlisted a trainer to help her out a few sessions a week, which she now supplements with regular walking and gardening.
“I just wanted to vary my workout, I wanted to be challenged, I wanted to train safe and I didn’t want the technique to be compromised in any way,” Maria says. “I now train three times a week for 40 minutes each time. We do a lot of lunges with a medicine ball, kettle bells, a lot of step ups and on Wednesday we do boxing.”
With full-time work commitments and the youngest of her three children still in secondary school, being able to make health and fitness a priority is all about being organised.
“Your health is everything; there’s just no doubt about it. If you want to lose weight, if you want take it seriously, you’ve got to prepare. I don’t leave the house for work unless I’ve got fresh food, a little bag of nuts, fruit for mid-morning and afternoon breaks and maybe a salad. Salads are great – raw is good!”
Maria’s Italian and Maltese upbringing has always placed an emphasis on simple foods prepared from fresh ingredients. Cutting out takeaway meals and reducing fried foods were never habits she had to break, but easing up on processed meats and cheeses, moderating alcohol consumption and introducing more modest portion sizes were key areas in her diet she overhauled.
It’s the small activities everyday that are most impacted by Maria’s efforts and where she feels the most benefit – ease in jumping in and out of a car, jogging up a flight of stairs or dashing back to the office to pick something up. “I really enjoy just being strong on an everyday level,” she says.