Even as a high school athlete on both the swimming and softball teams, Cindy Tarantino hated the scale. By 17, at 160 pounds, “I knew I wasn’t healthy,” she says. By age 20, she’d hit 200. “I was devastated that I had become so heavy, but I still wasn’t motivated enough to do something about it,” she says.
How hopping on a bike seat at the gym helped Cindy Tarantino get her best body ever.
Name: Cindy Tarantino
Height: 5’3 1/2″
Job: YMCA aquatics director
Weight before: 230
Weight after: 140
When she quit smoking in 1999, she substituted food for cigarettes and gained 30 pounds in 6 months. She bounced on and off different diets for women, but nothing helped. “I was looking for a quick fix that didn’t exist,” she says.
The Breaking Point: In 2001 some coworkers invited Tarantino to a spinning class after work. “They were raving about how great it was, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about,” she says. Her first class was tough, but she was hooked: “I couldn’t wait for the next session,” she says.
The Changes: Over the next 6 months, Tarantino glued her butt to a bike seat five to six times a week. Without counting a single calorie, she lost 30 pounds. “Then I realized that if I changed the way I ate, I could lose even more,” she says. Unwilling to give up the occasional pizza or birthday-cake splurge, Tarantino focused on daily changes. “I cut out fast food and ate lots of skinless chicken, fruit, and salads filled with tons of vegetables,” she says. Over time, the healthy choices won out. “When I had a craving for sweets, it was a no-brainer — I ate an apple instead of a candy bar.”
Around April 2002, Tarantino won a 6-month YMCA membership in a raffle. She began a muscle-conditioning class twice a week on top of spinning: “I started seeing muscle tone in my arms, legs, and even my abs,” she says. When her free membership was almost up, she landed a job at the Y so she could continue to work out for free. She ditched 50 more pounds over the next 2 years.
The Reward: Last year, Tarantino trained for a figure competition, stepping up the intensity of her workouts to drop 10 more pounds in 6 months. “I walked onstage in a bikini and 5-inch heels,” she says. “Even though I didn’t place, I felt so victorious. Every moment of the past 6 years was worth it.”
Try, try again. “You have to enjoy your workouts to stick with them, so keep trying activities until you find something you like.”
Ditch the scale. “Your self-worth is determined by how you feel inside, not those three empty digits.”
Think before you eat. “If you have a craving, wait a few minutes to see whether you’re truly hungry or just need a pick-me-up because you’re bored.”