Determination and some patience
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By Zenaida Serrano
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Zenaida Serrano
When Agnes Tolentino joined the gym a year ago, she could barely do two minutes straight on an elliptical machine without losing her breath or her patience.
It took the Waimanalo resident, 40, a month to last 30 minutes straight on the machine. But she didn't let it discourage her.
"I just told myself that I had to do it if I really wanted to lose the weight," Tolentino said.
At her heaviest, the 5-foot hotel reservation sales agent weighed 238 pounds and wore a women's dress size 24W. Now, two years later, she's down to 144 pounds and a teeny size 4.
Her impressive weight-loss resulted not from drastic surgery or fad diets. She did it the old-fashioned way, by eating right and exercising.
"There is hope out there," Tolentino said. "All one needs is the heart, determination, motivation and patience."
A WAKE-UP CALL
Like many people suffering from obesity, weight had been a constant issue for Tolentino since her youth.
"I think the turning point in my life came when I took my blood pressure using a home monitor, and it was over 160," Tolentino said. "I think it scared me. Here I was, 39 years old, 5 feet tall, weighing 238 pounds with a family history of high blood pressure."
Tolentino knew it was time to make changes.
On May 1, 2005, Tolentino not only began eating better, "this time I committed myself to actively exercise," she said. "I would walk five days a week, each week increasing my distance."
After reaching a weight goal of 200 pounds about a month later, Tolentino joined 24 Hour Fitness.
"Stepping into the gym was not easy for me," Tolentino said. "I was so nervous and scared."
She was intimidated and self-conscious about exercising in front of "fit" people and working out with a personal trainer.
"I thought they were like drill sergeants in a military boot camp," she said.
Her trainer, Rod Redondo, quickly eased her fears and put her on a fitness regimen.
"He started me out at a slow pace, getting my body accustomed to working out by working each muscle group," Tolentino said.
As the pair got into more sessions, Redondo stepped up Tolentino's training to fit her progression.
"He pushes me to my limits," she said.
Now, more than a year later, Tolentino is confident enough to work out on her own. She works out five days a week for about two hours each session. She spends 45 minutes to an hour doing some form of cardiovascular activity, such as using a StairMaster or elliptical machine, or doing turbo kick-boxing.
She also spends one hour at least four days a week doing strength and resistance training, alternating between legs (squats, lunges, leg extensions and hamstring curls) and arms (pushups, bicep curls and bench presses), training with Redondo on two of these days.
"He has instilled in me an attitude that I can accomplish almost anything I set my mind to," Tolentino said. "All I need to do is believe in myself and, as he says, 'Just do it.' "
Rather than focus solely on losing weight, Tolentino set a goal to become lean and fit by burning more calories than she consumes.
Before her road to fitness, she was a self-proclaimed "fast-food junkie." But her new lifestyle has led to a new way of eating.
"I learned to portion control and watch my caloric intake," she said. "Of course, there are times when I do indulge, but I don't overindulge."
Tolentino loads up on healthy fare, mainly vegetables, fruits, chicken, fish and brown rice. She will, however, occasionally treat herself to chips and cookies.
Tolentino has come a long way, but she continues to set goals: "To lose a couple of more inches throughout my body, maintain a healthy body-fat percentage and build leaner muscle mass."
Next challenge: running the entire 8.15-mile Great Aloha Run
While Tolentino has experienced a significant physical transformation, it's what has changed inside that makes her feel the best.
"I was a shy person with low self-esteem," Tolentino said. ... "I have gained a lot more self- confidence."
Reach Zenaida Serrano at firstname.lastname@example.org.