Finding the balance between creating a better body and a healthy lifestyle
While growing up in Canada Theresa Jenn Lopetrone always wanted to be fit, but she wasn’t sure how to achieve her goal. “I didn’t grow up as an athletic child, teenager, or even young adult, but I knew I wanted to be an athlete. I remember reading my first health and fitness magazine and I instantly felt reassured that maybe I too could make a transformation to a healthier lifestyle,” she recalls.
Soon after following the magazine’s meal plans, tips, and workouts, Theresa started to see a difference in her physique. However, the benefits of eating clean and working out came to an end when she let the stress of university consume her. “I found emotional comfort in overindulging in food and before I knew it I gained 14kg in less than six months.” That meant Theresa reached her heaviest weight ever at 77kg.
Theresa explains that she found out just how easy it is to gain weight when you’re eating cheese and chips at two o’clock in the morning. “In addition, I was raised in an Italian home where all meals are to die for and always available. I still remember the day I tried to put on a pair of my ‘fat jeans’ and they wouldn’t go past my thighs. This was the defining moment for me. Portion control and moderation were my main issues but at the time I just thought that I liked to eat more than others.”
Shortly after reaching her lowest point, Theresa started reading up on and researching how to eat clean. “I learned the essentials of clean eating and the importance of turning this into a lifestyle. At that time, my boyfriend John (who is now my husband) helped me incorporate the principles of clean eating into everyday life, in addition to going for daily 2km jogs and learning how to lift weights. There were many days when I was frustrated with the number on the scale but the one piece of advice that got me through was John telling me not to focus on the number on the scale. He would always say that I need to do this because I want to be healthy. With that everything else will come, he would reassure me. And that is exactly what I did. Over the year I was able to lose the weight and in exchange I gained some confidence and improved health. Finally I was starting to feel closer to my old self again.”
In an effort to find another physical challenge, Theresa discovered CrossFit and after a year of training in this manner she noticed that her body fat had decreased, her strength had increased, and she finally had some muscle definition. “I never knew that was possible until then. That’s when the thought of competing in a fitness competition, which had been brewing in my mind for over eight years, started to seem like a realistic goal. I began researching the industry and I studied the federations, competitions, categories, and the athletes. I even went to see my first fitness competition to learn more.”
Theresa recalls how inspired she was by this competition, which is when her search for a coach in the fitness industry began. “This is when I found the missing piece to my puzzle, my coach. Together we made good progress and in September 2011 I competed for the first time and won first place. After getting my feet wet I prepared for my dream – competing with the WBFF, which I did on 23 June 2012 for the first time and I won my pro card as a Fitness Model. Life as a pro athlete, being published, landing several covers, and becoming a sponsored athlete with Optimum Nutrition and ABB Performance soon became my reality, which proved to me that dreams really do come true when you are passionate and work hard. I am truly grateful for everything that has come my way and for the unconditional support from my coach, the amazing women from my team, and everyone who has supported my journey since the beginning.”
Aside from losing weight and successfully completing competition preps, Theresa has also recognised that what happens after these milestones is much harder and greater than any competition ever will be. “In the fitness industry there’s this misperception that once you lose weight or get ‘fit’ that you’ll remain this way and there are no longer any obstacles to overcome, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. One vital lesson I have learned is that a fit body in appearance does not always equal a healthy body.”
She explains that, over time it has become acceptable for women to go to extremes in the gym, obsessing over and restricting food, and dieting until their body’s vital energy stores have been depleted, which is when they put their health at risk, all for achieving visible abs or being ‘shredded’.
“Each of us faces daily challenges and we all have the options to either quit or push further.
“Over the last four years of being immersed in the fitness industry I have realised that we each have the key to unlock our own happiness and that we will continuously learn through making mistakes – what I refer to as failing forward. My goal is to continue to become the best version of myself, learn through my mistakes and help inspire and empower women to do the same. I am committed to making an impact on as many lives as possible, one day at a time. I always aim to inspire and be inspired.”
Born: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Sponsors: Optimum Nutritionand ABB Performance
Occupation: School teacher, fitness model and coach
Before Weight: 78kg
Before body fat: 32%
After weight: 60 kg
After Body fat: 14%
Birthday: 23 January 1980
Hobbies: Cooking, photography, ultimate Frisbee, and hiking.
Find out more: www.theresajennlopetrone.org
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.