From a Newlywed Gone Soft to a Hard-Bodied Marathoner

By , SparkPeople Blogger
One of SparkPeople's most dedicated and popular members is featured in this month's Redbook, on newsstands now! Magda, aka SMURFETTE0725, shares her inspirational story. Magda, the the Director of Apparel Merchandising for PUMA, lost the "married 15" weight she gained after her wedding and kept going. She lost more than 30 pounds, learned to run, bike and swim under water. Magda, who lives in Watertown, Massachusetts, is now a veteran marathoner and triathlete whose next goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon!

Magda, 32, recently took time to answer some questions for the dailySpark via email. Read her motivating and inspirational answers, and learn how SparkPeople helps her reach her goals!

dailySpark: How has SparkPeople helped you reach your goal?

Magda: SparkPeople has helped me in so many ways!!
The food and fitness trackers have kept me focused on proper nutrition and exercise. During my weight loss phase, I made sure to stay under my 1,400 calorie goal by logging everything I ate. I would also use it to plan ahead. I'd enter my planned meals to ensure my calories would not exceed my goal for the day. I would also log all of my workouts in the fitness tracker so that I could keep track of my calories burned. My other strategy was to plan my workouts in advance by posting a Weekly Fitness Plan on my blog which consisted of my daily workout goals. I'd then go in update each day so I could track my progress.

I've also established great relationships through SparkPeople Teams and Pages. My Sparkie Friends inspire me and help me stay the course! I don't want to disappoint them! They've been so supportive of my journey!

And I love that by being active on the site, logging, tracking, posting, etc. I accumulate SparkPoints towards ribbons and trophies. I'm proud to say that I've accumulated 41k points since becoming an Active Member of the site and am 18k points away from the ultimate trophy! It's such a personal accomplishment to think that I've remained committed for this long, and will continue to stay committed.

dS: Now that you're in maintenance mode, for what do use SparkPeople?

Magda: I continue to track my nutrition and fitness via the trackers. It keeps me honest and accountable for the decisions I make.
I also continue to blog and post my weekly fitness plans (this week is #121!!); this helps me to stay focused on the strategies that got me to where I am today (proper planning, prioritizing workouts and healthy eating, etc) and continue to share my journey with those around me.

I'm also active on two teams. The first team I ever joined and continue to participate in is the "DW Nestie Fitness Hotties." We're a group of women that met on back in 2004 when we were all planning our destination weddings, and then moved over to the after our weddings. Then in 2006 we decided to move to SparkPeople, since wedding plans were far behind us, nestie talks did not really interest us, and we all shared a desire to live a healthier and happier life, especially after having gained some post-wedding weight! The other team that I actively participate in is the "Time To Shine in Oh-9!" Team. Our leader, Shawna (Shawnatony), creates creative challenges such as this month’s EasterEggHunt, where each team needs to fill their basket with eggs they *find* by posting their daily strength sessions! Because I’ve got a little bit of a competitive streak in me, I often find myself working out a little harder and longer just to help my team accumulate points so we can win!

I love both of these two teams because I know I can always discuss fitness and nutrition related topics with my Sparkie Friends, since we share similar goals and are all overcoming similar challenges. They have been a huge source of inspiration to me and an incredible support system!

dS:What is a typical day like in terms of exercise?

Magda: A typical day? Are you ready .... ?!?! ;)
Well, I wake up @ 4:30 or 5:00am, head to the gym for 60-90 minutes of cardio (generally a Treadmill Run and/or Spin Class), plus 30 minutes of Upper Body Weight Training 3 days per week, and 10 minutes of post-workout stretching. Later in the evening, I head to the Yoga studio after work for 90 min of Bikram Yoga. I walked into my first Bikram Yoga class 2.5 months ago and immediately fell in love. It's such a great balance to all the running I do, and helps me unwind and de-stress after a busy day at the office.

When I first started though, a typical day would be 30 - 60 minutes of cardio using the Elliptical or Stair Master, 4 - 5 mornings per week, plus three 30 min sessions of weight training, usually 2 sessions of Upper Body, 1 day of Lower Body.

dS: What do you eat on a regular basis?

Magda: During the week I basically stick to the same meal plan each day!
150 calorie snack before my workout. Can either be a banana, small breakfast bar, or slice of bread with cheese.

Breakfast is Quaker Oatmeal (Lower Sugar) with 10 raw almonds and mixed berries and 16 oz of green tea.
Morning Snack is a container of the Breakstone's Doubles .... 2% cottage cheese with fruit!
Lunch is a Veggie Burger wrapped in a Joseph's Lavash wrap with fat free cheese and spinach, a side of steamed veggies, and some fresh fruit, typically grapes!
My afternoon Snack is usually non-fat greek yogurt and a piece of fruit, usually an orange or apple.
Before Bikram I have a 100 calorie bag of pretzels
And dinner is typical grilled chicken or fish with brown rice or sweet potato and a large helping of steamed veggies.
For dessert I have a tall glass of Skim Milk with No Sugar Added Nestle chocolate powder, sometimes I add sugar free cool whip, too!
I also drink approximately 80 oz of water per day. This is roughly 1,600 calories.

Magda on New Year's Eve

dS: What is your biggest challenge when it comes to living healthfully?

Magda: Sticking to my nutrition plan, for sure! I have such a sweet tooth!! I could snack on chocolate and ice cream ALL DAY LONG!!! But I know if I do, I'll see it and feel it immediately, it's just not worth it. But even so, I have to make the decision hundreds of times per day to not give in to the temptations and to stick with the foods that I know will make me feel and look my best. I don't ALWAYS make the right decisions though, I'm only human! ;) The key is to not let that moment of weakness throw me off for days and weeks. I need to get right back on track ASAP!!

To help with this and other challenges when it comes to living healthfully, I’ve developed my "Flag System," a system that helps me identify when I first start to veer off course. The "Flag System" corrects me when I start to slide just a little so that I don't end up worse than when I started.

The first part of this system are the GREEN FLAGS, all the healthy activities I'm doing to keep this weight off. By doing them, I know that I am clearly on track ... GREEN FLAG, GO!

The second part of the system are my YELLOW FLAGS. These are my warnings, alerting me to the reality that I may be veering too far off course. By recognizing these warning signs, I am able to reassess the situation, and take stock of my schedule, my motivation, and my overall excitement. I will then need to be honest with myself and make a change in my routine. The sooner I recognize these YELLOW FLAGS, the quicker I am able to correct myself. My YELLOW FLAGS say WARNING! When these YELLOW FLAGS begin to pop up, I will slow down, reassess, and put a plan into action!!

Lastly, the third part of the system are my RED FLAGS. Prior to November 2006, many of these red flags were everyday occurrences for me. The truth is, if I see these RED FLAGS pop up on a regular basis I must admit to myself that I am on the fast track to my old (unhealthy, miserable) lifestyle. My RED FLAGS say STOP ... NOW!

For more detail on the “Flag System” check out my blog.

dS: What goals have you set for yourself?

Magda: During this journey I realized that I needed to set athletic goals in order to stay focused. I also realized why I always failed to stick to weight loss plans in the past .... the scale had been my only indicator of success, and unfortunately, the scale never kept me motivated for very long. For that reason, my goals have to be about athletic accomplishments. Currently, I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon (finishing a marathon distance in under 3 hours, 40 minutes), so I always have "my next race" scheduled. I'm always training for something! Currently I'm training for my 3rd marathon .... in 10 days!! I also want to one day compete in an Ironman Triathlon, which means I must continue to strengthen my swimming and cycling skills (I just learned to do both last year so I have a long road ahead of me!)

Recently I completed a 60 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge (60 Classes in 60 Days) and discovered the amazing physical and mental benefits of Bikram. For that reason, I have also set a goal of continuing to practice Bikram at least 5 days per week for the next year. I'm secretly considering signing up for the 9-week Bikram Teacher certification course once I've completed my first year of Bikram practice (OK, so maybe that's not much of a secret anymore!)

And most importantly, as I continue to work towards completing these goals, my most important goal in life is to never take for granted the love and support I receive from my husband Rob (GEEPAS) and to make sure he always feels loved and supported. I am blessed to have such an understanding and supportive partner in life. He wants to see me meet my goals, which makes me work even harder to achieve them.

dS: What is the most rewarding part of having lost the weight?

Magda: After a lifetime of looking in the mirror and wishing I was someone else, I can now look at my reflection and smile. I am proud of the person I have become. I am a marathoner, a triathlete, a yogini. I am a wife and a friend. I am also a professional who travels internationally on a regular basis. Since losing the weight I discovered my inner athlete, and also discovered an inner strength and determination that I never knew I had. Because of this discovery I am able to balance my different roles in life and be the best me that I can be. I hope that my journey inspires those around me to do the same because everyone deserves to be this happy!

dS:What advice would you have for people who are new to the site and trying to find motivation?

Magda: My first recommendation would be to set up your SparkPage and share your story and goals. Secondly, become active on a team or two and take advantage of the incredible support system on SparkPeople. This is a special place!!

Most importantly, though, you have to utilize the nutrition tracker to track your calorie intake and stay within the recommended calorie ranges. You should also utilize the fitness tracker to log your daily workouts and track calories burned. Weight loss is actually not that difficult. You need to burn more than calories than you consume! One pound is roughly 3,500 calories. Burn 3,500 calories, lose one pound. Burn 17,500 calories, lose five pounds! So put a plan in place to burn more calories than you consume (stay within your daily calorie limit and make sure to get 45 – 60 minutes of exercise 4 – 5 times per week), and STICK WITH IT!! Remind yourself that the weightloss will not happen overnight and that it will take time. But it will happen, as long as you remain disciplined in your goals and objectives. You will find yourself getting stronger with each day. And before you know it, 6 months will have gone by .... and you'll be able to look back on all of your many accomplishments .... accomplishments achieved through faith and discipline and you’ll smile.

If you ever find yourself doubting this, just check out SparkPeople’s library of motivational SparkPages, there are TONS of them! People who turned their lives around and have stuck with it! People like you and me.

Does Magda's story inspire you? Be sure to pick up a copy of Redbook today!

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I like your article. Thanks! :) Report
Magda there couldn't be a better person they could have chosen for the article. You are so amazing and inspiring!!! Rock on Girl! Report
Go Magda go! You are a hero! We all are so proud of you! Keep up the hard great work! You are amazing! Report
You rock, Magda! Report
Magda, I love your flag system! Report
Hats off to you Report
Thank you so much for sharing your Spark journey and inspiring me to continue to be a Sparkie once I've reached my weight loss goals. Report
You are such an inspiration to us all, Magda! Keep up the good work!
YOU ROCK!!! ♥ Report
Congrats and thanks for sharing your story. Way to go! Report
Magda, you are an inspiration! Report
WOO HOO Magda! You're spreading the spark everywhere. Yay you!!!! Report
Magda, I'm so so so proud to be related to such a dedicated, beautiful, talented woman! I grew up always wanting to be like you and nothing has changed. Love you much! xoxoxo

PTWHITE2000 - When you have lots to do and don't want to leave anything behind, you HAVE to plan ahead. Magda could not reach this level without sleeping! Her body could not be this strong without proper rest. Report
Wonderful blog - thanks for sharing, Magda! You are a true inspiration... Report
You take self-discipline to the highest level. I hope you balance in time for your family and friends. Keep up the good work. Report
ROCK ON, MAGDA! this is a fabulous interview/article. i find the information and its portrayal down-to-earth, grounding, and just what i needed. looking back on magda's journey, she's come so far in such a short time, that her accomplishments are truly phenomenal and awe-inspiring. talk about one sparkmotivator! it shows me, once again, that IT CAN BE DONE! in my own way, in my own time, i'm dong my own thing, looking back, and smiling at where i was, am, and am heading towards, thanks to people like magda, my fellow sparkers, and SP. WOOOOHOOOOOO! nancy Report
I think Magda has done a great job but am I the only person who thinks her life is way overscheduled? I believe that balance is important. I look at her story and wonder if the woman ever sleeps? Report
Great work, Magda! I'm going to get Redbook, for sure. You are right on with your advice! Report
I totally agree you are definately an inspiration MAGDA. I also will pick up a copy of Redbook and read the aticle. Once again congratulation. YOU GO GIRL. You make me feel like I'm on the right track and to keep on trying to reach my goals. Report
Magda. your story is amazing! Goals are what get us to the next level. Now that I have also met my weight loss goal, I need to stay motivated, and improving my 5k time is my current goal. Who knows, maybe a marathon will be in my future some day!!

and I thought your husband's name was Bubsie all this time!! Report
Very inspiring! I'm more motivated to exercise and keep my weight loss goal Report
Magda was the reason I decided to enter my first 5k. After reading her page she inspired me to discover the inner athlete in me and get out the shallow end of weight loss just to become a certain size. I now want to explore nature, climb mountains, walk trails, bike long distance and challenge my inner being. Thanks Magda Report
CONGRATULATIONS Magda on your incredible and awesome achievements! What an inspiration you are! Thanks for sharing your story with us!!! And keep up the good work! Report
Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story! What an incredibly inspiring story you have. I believe in the tracking and the support from spark friends and teams and I'm so happy I have found this place and people like you to inspire me. Report
VINCALIS -- also keep in mind that a smaller body has a lower daily BMR, so less calories needed daily to maintain -- and I think Magda still has some lbs at the bottom of her ticker that she is looking to shed as well.

YAY MAGDA!!!!! You have long been a hero of mine here on Sparks and you deserve the feature and attention! :) Report
Is 1600 calories really enough when your doing all that exercise? I recently changed my settings to the calories i burn - rather than my original goal and i was shocked how many more calories i should be eating - and that's while trying to loose the max 2 pounds a week.
I guess it must work for her. its just you hear about all these athletes and how much they need to eat to eat - 1600 doesn't sound much compared with a few hours exercise a day. Report
way to go and congratulations!!! Report
Congrats on being featured hun. Excellent!! Let me know when you start your Ironman training. :) Report
love ya magda! Report
SO inspiring. Congrats on your incredible success! Report
Now how Cool is this!? !
You are so inspiring to people, & this just proves it all the more.
I have to cruise your page & pictures every now & then, to remind myself it can be done.
Keep up the Great Job & Congrats!
Lynn J., Tacoma, WA Report
You are such a rockstar! I am SO SO SO proud of you and you will always be an inspiration! Report
You are our champion! :) You rock! So excited to see this! Report
very inspiring ! Congratulations :) Report
Very inspirational!! Keeps me motivated for my 1st triathlon coming up. I know I can do it! Mahalo for the push! Report
Go Magda! You've been inspiring me for so long through your sparkpage. I'm so glad that you were given the chance to "spread the spark" offline too.

Keep it up! Report
Way to go what an inspiration to all of us i am going to put you on my motivator board Report
Wow...i just saw Magda's sparkpage. You are completely inspirational. Congratulations on your have made me start thinking of what i want to do next to nurture my inner athlete! Report
Wow...what an amazing story. You certainly are an inspiration to me as well as others. Just when I was trying to figure out where I was going wrong, your article put it all in perspective for me. Good luck on all of your endeavors. Report
That is amazing! I am so excited for her! What an inspiration and I am glad to be on the same team as she is. :) Report
You Rock!! Thanks for sharing you will moviated people. Report
YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU!!!!! You have been the biggest inspiration to me, ever since I joined spark!!! I've told you many times how much you motivate me. Girl, YOU ARE A SUPA-STAR!!!! WOO HOO!! I am so freakin' proud of you!! You are simply amazing!!! So glad to have met you & followed your success! MUAH! Report
Yayyy for Magda!

You know you've been a total inspiration for your fellow DW teamates, we're so proud of you for how far you've come. Several of us started this journey together, and I remember you going through both the good and bad times throughout, but you've always prevailed, that's what makes you so special!

Congrats, you totally deserve it! Report
Goooo Magda! I am so happy to see people noticing how AWESOME you are! You are a true sparkie, a role model for us all! Keep on Rockin On! Report
Om'gosh Magda! I have already told you how proud, impressed and honored I am to have you on this team and now, the magazine article is awesome and look at this article from Spark!! U rock!

Sweetie, you are a STAR!!!!!!!!!!! It is so wonderful to see you getting the attention you deserve for what you've accomplished! AND you continue to inspire all those around you! Rock on!!!! (And I'm so proud to know you and actually have met you all those years ago!)

Nesties Rock, LOL!!!!!! Report
What a great inspiration!!! Report
AWESOME, Magda! You are an inspiration. I will pick up a copy of the Redbook while I am out today. I can't wait to see the article.

Keep up the good work! Report