Sandra LaMorgese, at the age of 61, decided to change her life.
After 55, she published 2 books, became a featured international HuffPost blogger, a writer for Arianna Huffington’s Health and Wellness platform Thrive Global and became one of the TOP 10 sought after writers on Medium, but she knew something was missing and that’s when she decided to make a change.
Last year she made the decision to lose 50 pounds after 60 and become a healthy lifestyle model and actor in New York City. She wanted this change, to prove to herself and influence the world that women are viable, beautiful, healthy, and active at every age.
She recently did an anti-aging photoshoot for Skinceuticals, is working on a feature film and is a part of the cast for The Vagina Monologues. She is a living proof that all dreams are possible at any age.
In our series covering #RealWomen in March, lets check out Sandra LaMorgese’s incredible story in an exclusive interview with Women Fitness below.
After publishing 2 books, being a featured international HuffPost blogger, a writer for Thrive Global and becoming one of the TOP 10 sought after writers on Medium, you decided to make a change and undertook the task of losing 50 pounds! How did you realize that this is what you wanted to do?
A year ago, I didn’t think about my weight at all. I felt good, I didn’t have any health problems, and I liked how my body looked. I’ve always felt comfortable in my own skin (a blessing, I know) and that contentment had only grown stronger as I aged. During my 30s and 40s, I put a lot of time and effort into physical training because I loved running and competing in triathlons, but my competitive athletic drive dwindled throughout my 50s and 60s. I settled into a very fun routine of eating whatever I wanted and enjoying myself, and unsurprisingly, I gained 50 pounds and some womanly curves that I’d never had during my hard training years.
My “a-ha” moment came when I realized that my 70s weren’t actually that far away. I don’t think about my age much, but at a certain point, it’s naïve to ignore the potential health problems that come with getting older. I knew I was in fairly good shape for a 62-year-old woman, but “fairly good” wasn’t going to cut it in my 70s if I wanted to enjoy the same energy and freedom I have now. Right away, I knew I had to start taking my health much more seriously.
How has your weight loss journey been? What were the milestones that you had to overcome?
I decided from the very beginning that I wanted to approach my weight loss and fitness goals with a journey mindset. There’s no instant gratification solution for weight loss, and having a long-term focus was important to me.
The first obstacle I had to overcome was to stop listening to all the media chatter about fitness and weight loss and instead decide what was right for me. I knew that I needed a fitness strategy that was effective, but also a little gentler than the triathlon training from my younger years. The main obstacle was myself, really. I had to change my ways of thinking about what counted as fitness and learn to be open to all kinds of different possibilities beyond my limited perspective of intensity and drive.
My diet was another challenge I had to overcome. We can’t conquer what we don’t confront, so the first thing I needed to do was to step out of denial. I started weighing and measuring every bit of food I consumed, and that simple change was completely eye-opening! I had no idea the amount of food I was consuming on a daily basis, healthy or not. As soon as I realized how much strain I was putting on my body by eating so much more than I needed to, everything started to fall into place. In the end, I really believe that my success came from a willingness to look honestly at the reality of my body and my food choices and to start making decisions that supported my goal to live a healthy and fit life.
What is your fitness regime like?
One of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made along this journey is that I can get amazing results through a smart combination of lower-intensity workouts—there’s no need to wear myself down with heavy weight lifting or intense running. I do a lot of isometric exercises, and I also love workouts that build muscle using my own body weight, such as yoga, barre method classes, and Pilates. For cardio, I took up jogging, and taking this part of my workout outside was a game-changer. I live near a wooded area, and I regularly see deer and other wildlife while I’m out. Even if it’s raining or snowing, my outdoor jogs are often the best part of my workout and my day.
In a typical day, what do you take for breakfast-lunch-dinner? And what are your go-to healthy snacks?
At the beginning of my journey, I tried every diet I knew of, one right after another—low carb, high fat, no sugar, no dairy, and on and on. After every diet failed or led to a plateau in my weight loss, I finally gave up on the high-this, low-that diet mindset. It became clear to me that diets like those don’t work because our human nature isn’t designed for so many restrictions. We just end up resenting the self-imposed rules until, inevitably, we give in, lose the progress we made, and feel like failures.
Instead, I decided I could eat whatever I wanted to as long as I ended the day with a calorie deficit. I promised myself that I would find a way to make every meal pleasurable, so that my new eating habits could become an enjoyable lifestyle instead of a regime of suffering. Today, the only “rule” I follow is to not snack between meals, but even that is more of a mindset choice than a dietary choice—there’s an Eastern proverb that says something along the lines of “the stomach should have three things and it in equal parts: food, water, and air.” I take this to mean that my focus should never be completely on food, whether I’m eating it or abstaining from it, and that it’s important to leave physical and mental room for other essential elements that nourish and heal the body.
How has your life changed post the incredible transformation?
My life has completely changed now that I’m 50 pounds lighter. A year ago, I felt fine, but today I feel better than I’ve ever felt—incredibly vibrant, full of vitality, and physically and mentally strong.
My transformation has spilled over into my professional life as well. I’m performing in a production of The Vagina Monologues, I landed a supporting role in a film, and I just signed on as a writer for Consumer Health Digest. Under my stage name, Lillian Rey, I also recently signed onto three modeling agencies in Manhattan as a healthy lifestyle model and became the first mature model signed to the CRAWFORD MODELS agency in New York City. None of this would have been possible without the energy, drive, and courage that my weight loss transformation gave me, and I am thrilled that nothing in my life will be slowing down any time soon.
What is your 2018 New Year Resolution to maintain a healthy & fit lifestyle?
In 2018, I am making a conscious effort to catch my old habits when they try to creep back into my life. Whenever I feel unmotivated or reach for something to eat that’s not supporting my health and fitness, I just have to lovingly remind myself that making poor health choices will only slow down all the positive energy and momentum running through my life right now. Reminding myself of my goals and the happiness that good health brings is always enough to get me back on track, but it’s important to remain mindful to avoid accidentally losing progress.
What would you like to say to the other women of 40s, 50s and above who seem to lose faith in themselves sometimes. How can they stay motivated?
Believe in yourself, and don’t listen to anyone (even yourself) who tells you that your goals are impossible to achieve. Everyone—my friends, family, and even a few health practitioners—told me it was impossible for me to lose 50 pounds when I was over 60 years old. I’m sure all women over 40 hear the same kind of pessimistic voices. In order to succeed, you have to ignore them all and learn to trust in your own intuition and the messages your body sends you.
There were many times last year that I got frustrated with the process, and when that happened, I would be my own coach. I told myself that I was changing tough old habits and behaviors, and I reassured myself that feeling uncomfortable didn’t mean I was failing. Change is hard, but if you persist, you can break old habits, and your new healthy habits will become a part of your life and your identity.
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