Mando, 33, shares the lifestyle changes that helped him stay motivated in his fitness journey.

I struggled with my weight throughout my twenties. I tried pretty much every fitness program out there, but each time, I struggled to stay motivated. At my heaviest, I weighed about 180 pounds. I would always tell myself that I needed to do something about it, but continued to find excuses to keep waiting, whether there was a holiday on the horizon, upcoming trip, or the infamous “diet starts on Monday” mentality.

Since diabetes runs in my family, deciding to start taking care of my physical health was a priority for me. While I am not diabetic, I have seen the effects it takes on one’s body, so I’ve been doing everything I can to prevent it – including starting to take care of myself physically, quit smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.

In February 2020, I gave F45 Fitness a try, at a location near me in West Hollywood, and really began to enjoy the class format. Then bam, COVID hit a week or so later. I was so bummed, because I had just found my motivation to get healthy. A real wake-up moment for me came in the middle of quarantine, where I looked back and realized three months had already passed and I had done nothing to stay physically or mentally healthy. I remember thinking if I had committed myself three months prior to that moment, I would have already been in a different place than I was in. That is when I decided to begin my journey.

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I was thrilled to get back into my workouts when gyms reopened in June 2020, but just two weeks later, it was back to square one with gyms closing down again. This time, however, I decided that I was going to keep up my momentum,with no excuses. I restarted my F45 journey by participating in the virtual classes and soon enough, my location had created an outdoor facility so it was back to in-person classes. I was going about five times a week, and found a community there like I never experienced anywhere else I had ever tried. The trainers at my location are incredible, and motivate and coach me in a unique and personal way that makes me feel so valued.

On August 14th, I participated in my first F45 Challenge. I worked out six times a week for 45 days, cut out alcohol, and changed my diet, which led to me losing 18.5 pounds.

Giving up alcohol to partake in the 45-day challenge at first felt like it would definitely be difficult as I love to unwind with a glass of wine or spend time with friends over drinks. But I began to realize after a few weeks of being alcohol-free that I was sleeping much deeper, focusing on my work without feeling sluggish, and overall enjoying activities that I wouldn’t normally have the energy to engage in. Since I was getting better sleep, I was waking up early with a ton of energy which helped me to keep focused to my commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

My biggest vice was eating fast food, so I completely cut out any and all fast food. I avoided unhealthy carbs and bread, and tried to stick as close to the Keto diet as I could. I never had the most success with a strict diet, so I really made an effort to make conscious decisions in everything I was eating with a focus on vegetables and proteins as priority. During the 45-day challenge, I had one cheat meal – but after the challenge, I gave myself more freedom and wasn’t as strict. Understanding my relationship with food and eating was the most important thing to come out of this experience.

As of today, in total I have lost 21.1 pounds and 5.5 percent body fat. I feel so much more confident in all aspects of my life; physically, mentally, and emotionally! Most importantly, I proved to myself that I could reach my goals by making a promise to myself and staying true to it, and to me, that is what makes me feel the most confident. It also feels great that my pants and sweaters finally fit me.

While I don’t necessarily want to lose more weight, my next fitness goals are to continue working out six times a week, increase the weight I am lifting, and work on perfecting my technique. I also have never been able to touch my toes, so maybe that will be my next goal for 2021.

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