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Patty Bendarsky Before and After Marianela…

After I had lost about 40 lbs, Marianela asked me what I was going to do with all of the clothes that no longer fit me. – Patricia Bendersky

Putting All the Pieces Together

About ten years ago, I was on a treadmill next to trainer, Marianela Virella-Mielke. (photo below)

Marianela Virella-Mielke

She was someone I had admired from afar: her individuality, her style and of course, her determination to be the fittest version of herself. We exchanged numbers that day on the treadmill. Little did I know that Marianela would wind up becoming not only a mentor but a friend to me as well. She has never given up on me, or my fitness goals, even when I sometimes wanted to give up on myself.

When I first started training with Marianela, my sessions were an hour, twice a week. I have no idea how I endured that. During my busier work periods, I also tried training twice a week for private half-hours, which was still pretty challenging. Beginning in September 2016, I decided to really focus on my fitness goals. I had been partner training twice a week for half hour sessions with Theresa S., and we decided to extend our training to 45 minutes twice a week to help accelerate our progress. I still have trouble keeping up!

Over the years, my weight has fluctuated. I would lose weight and then think, “Ok, now I can eat what I want again because I lost the weight.” Thus, my weight would go back up. There was no long-term consistency to what I was doing. I would exercise, then eat what I wanted, thinking somehow I would still lose the weight. Every few weeks, Marianela would bring me “upstairs” to weigh and measure me. On those days, I made sure I took off my socks, all of my jewelry, and anything else that might have added to the number on the scale- lol. Most of the time, I was not happy with what I saw. Afterward, Marianela and I would discuss my food choices, as well as what strength training and cardio I had been doing on my own. I would tell her “I had a bagel for breakfast, a salad for lunch, some graham crackers, and pretzels as a snack, and for dinner, I had some meat, a vegetable, and a potato.” I didn’t think that what I was eating was so bad. Was it ideal? No. But I did not think that what I was eating was a lot of food. She would reiterate to me that the bagel, the pretzels, crackers, and the potatoes were not what I should be eating to lose weight. Oh, and of course, there also may have been some Pinot Grigio in there as well (wink). I could not accept the fact that to lose the weight I had to think as much about the QUALITY of the food, as I did about the QUANTITY.

Marianela and I would review how eating too many carbs and not enough protein was never going to help me get to my goal. This wasn’t brain surgery. It was something I had heard many, many times before. Fewer carbs, more protein, along with strength training and cardio, would all be keys to my success. It was like a puzzle, ALL of the pieces needed to come together. The food, the exercise, the motivation, the proper mindset, and of course, the support. After all of the “yo-yo” dieting, the meal plans, juice cleanses, Isagenix, etc., all I needed to do was make a few simple changes, and I would ultimately feel better. I had previously been very resistant to eliminating the foods that I loved: pasta, bread, mashed potatoes, WINE, etc., but Marianela assured me that once I made those changes, I would feel better, less bloated, more energized, and ultimately, lose the weight.

In September 2016, my youngest daughter went off to college. My husband and I had decided that after having raised three children, it was time for us to focus on ourselves as well as our overall health. We started eating more fruits and vegetables and buying fewer snacks. We were determined to support each other on this journey. I would not be where I am today without his constant love and encouragement and that of my three beautiful girls. I also have had the support of my training partner, Theresa. Twice a week we train tirelessly with Marianela in the hopes of attaining our ultimate fitness goals.

As time went on, I stopped aimlessly snacking when I came home from work and tried to think before I made any choices about the food that I was eating. I dramatically cut back on the Pinot Grigio and all of the other foods that I had previously told myself that I could never give up. Over time, I realized that I really did feel better, AND, I had lost weight. Marianela was right all along. Why had I not done this sooner?

After I had lost about 40 lbs, Marianela asked me what I was going to do with all of the clothes that no longer fit me. Although she told me to donate or get rid of them, I was afraid. What if I gained back some of the weight and still needed them? Again, I was setting myself up for more of the “yo-yo” dieting that I had done in the past. When I finally made the decision to give some of my closet items away and dispose of the rest, I told myself that there was no turning back. I had reached the point of no return. Everything that I had done to lose the weight this time was not a “diet,” it was a lifestyle change. Everything that I gave up to get to this point, the foods, the wine, was all worth it when I put on a size eight, (which I haven’t fit into for a very long time) on a recent shopping trip. I now have “fit” clothes and new workout apparel in my wardrobe that look good and feel great. I’m finally representing the hard earned “new and improved” version of me.

Since becoming more fit, I have set new goals for myself that I previously never thought possible. I would like to run a half-marathon someday as well as try a Tough Mudder competition. Whatever I decide to do in the future, I will always remember the hard work and determination that it took me to get where I am today as well as all of the people who helped get me here.

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