Claudia Pena, working mom and weight trainer in New Mexico, wasn't always in the fabulously fit shape she's in today. Her fitness transformation came on slowly but surely, and her journey is especially moving for those seeking to overcome mental blocks. Read on and get inspired by Claudia's journey! Last January, Claudia began a new, but stressful job working with chronically ill patients (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.) At that time, a close friend of hers died from colon cancer. Stress and anxiety collided to overwhelm her, and she began to experience panic attacks. She was so scared of becoming sick that she actually made herself sick by not eating. First she was afraid of dairy, sugar, and anything processed. Then she stopped eating altogether. For 2 weeks, she lived on two supplement shakes a day. She lost 15 pounds in two weeks and another 10 by the end of the month. She was getting sick and quickly losing muscle mass, becoming weaker and weaker day by day. In an effort to help her battle her anxiety, her mother started taking her for walks. Claudia, however, could barely walk the two-mile path she had once been able to run with ease. She knew she desperately needed a change. She eventually spoke with her husband and told him that she wanted to join a local gym. She began eating a more regular and balanced diet and soon had the energy she needed to get to the gym. She began by simply walking on the treadmill. Although she was familiar with the equipment, she still felt intimidated by it. She would also go into the gym studio and dance, but ultimately none of this was enough. The true fitness transformation kicker came when she noticed Jordan, the man who would become her personal trainer. She was particularly impressed by the way he worked with an older female client. He was motivating, but not too aggressive or pushy. Her sensitive mental state needed just that type of gentle guidance. She quickly hired Jordan, but little did she know how fitness was about to change her entire life and way of thinking. Over time, her anxiety slowly eased, and her fears became a distant memory in the past.
Now, her typical training schedule involves 3-4 sessions a week with Jordan, supplemented by 2-3 on her own. Although she doesn't follow any specific diets or macros, her main focus is on eating clean, unprocessed foods 4-5 days a week. In order to maintain her metabolism, she also makes sure to eat every 2-3 hours. She does not currently have her own 6 Pack Bag (she is hoping for a black/pink Innovator Mini to exist someday), but she has gifted numerous 6 Pack Bags to the people who have helped her succeed in her fitness transformation, including her trainer and his wife. When the Innovator Mini was released, Claudia bought her husband one for Father's Day. Now he uses it for work every day and fields many questions about it from curious and interested people. When considering the most intriguing aspect of her fitness journey, Claudia easily cites the manner in which she stumbled into working out and eating healthy foods.
She became hungry, both physically and mentally: she wanted MORE!
Weight training and healthy eating truly helped her to see that there is so much to live for, and now she has accomplished goals she once would never have dreamed imaginable, such as parasailing in Hawaii, cliff diving, and even snorkeling with sharks! Her fitness transformation has also become one of faith, which she is learning to fall in love with as much as fitness. A dear friend shared with her the mantra, "Faith over fear." Now Claudia regularly asks herself, "Today, will my faith be bigger than my fear?" Claudia still battles with anxiety, but she is learning how to manage it without medication. She fights it with her faith in God, relationships with friends and family, and her stalwart focus on fitness.
"I was so afraid of death that I forgot how to live!"
Claudia also firmly believes in helping other people empower themselves through learning how to develop healthy eating habits. She would like to start working on obtaining her own personal training and nutrition certifications, but in the meantime, she continues to be hard at work honing her own fitness transformation and loving every bit of life, one day at a time. From using the proper meal management system for your life – from gym totes to sports duffle bags to gym backpacks, you're sure to find the 6 Pack Bag for every lifestyle – to overcoming mental and emotional hurdles, you can begin your own fitness transformation, just like Claudia. Follow her on Instagram for a glimpse into her ongoing fitness transformation and everyday life! For more true-life inspiration, check out all the stories we have featured in our Fitness Transformations Series.
She firmly believes that anyone who is trying to change their life should heed one major piece of advice: don't ever give up!