Marina Tsapelas aka PoloPrincessNYC’s Story
September 25th 1996. I had just finished the best summer of my life. I was 15 going on 16, just days before my “sweet 16” birthday. I had just started going to High School (start in grade 10 in ny those years). I was popular, had great friends and was dating one of the most popular guys in school. & then BOOM… no literally, BOOM! I was hit by a car while crossing the street. I was hospitalized for what seemed like forever but was only about a week or two, but the recovery that came after was the hardest few months of my life. I was homebound for the next year, during which I gained over 90lbs, 90lbs which turned into 140lbs over the next 5years as I grew isolated and depressed as the world’s reflection of my appearance started to imprint on my soul. So I focused all my energy on school. The 5 years after that I learned to love myself “with fat” and still saw “pretty” no matter what other people’s face showed in response to me. But I knew I wasn’t healthy and I knew I needed to make a change.
I can vividly remember being over 300 pounds, sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting to discuss the option of gastric bypass. At this point I thought this was my only option, I would have never imagined I could possibly do it any other way. Until he asked me one thing… “what else have you tried?” So I started to rack my brain… what else had I tried? not much really, a few lame attempts at diets and/or eating right without any preparation or real enthusiasm… but the truth was… I had not tried “it all” I had not tried anything even close to what I knew was necessary before allowing someone to cut my body open and rearrange my organs only to follow with months of excruciating pain and recuperation… I knew I had to give this weight loss thing another shot… a real shot… I had to give it all I got… and that’s what I did… not immediately, not right away, not perfectly, not without bumps in the road, hurdles and hardships but I did it.
My journey was very slow and I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I did a lot of reading and my own decision making regarding my nutrition, and that took a long time to learn and perfect. I just decided when I started this journey that no matter how long it took, I would never look back. Just keep moving forward and have faith that a good solid diet and committed exercise routines will get you there. I promised myself 2 things, I would never starve and I would never stop. I also never put a time on my weight loss goals, which may not work for everyone but definitely worked for me.
When I started out I remember praying that I wouldn’t pass out on the treadmills. I can remember the self talk in my head “You cant die, you cant die you cant die, think of the headlines, “FAT GIRL DIES AT GYM” that was just trying to walk at 3mph on a slight incline. Every visit to the gym I tried to go a little bit faster, longer or higher on that treadmill, just a little bit. It was then that my trainer found me and started me on my road to muscle building. I got everyone to pitch in for my birthday and Christmas and signed up for twice a week for the next 3 months January of 2011. The help with motivation and encouragement found in working with a personal trainer was indescribable for me. It made me want to work harder so that next time I went I could do better. It also made me accountable. I had an appointment I had to be at… It helped put me in the mindset I needed to be successful.
Marina Tsapelas’ Weight Loss Guide
One hour of daily cardio, you can mix up days you go on a long stroll with high/low intensity days but daily movement is essential.
Weight training at least 3 times a week, 5 times for optimal results. I do one muscle group per day
Monday: Back/Triceps and Cardio
Wednesday: Legs and Cardio
Thursday: Chest, Biceps and Cardio
Friday: Shoulders and Cardio
Sunday: Bootcamp and Core/Abs
Weight Loss Diet Plan:
I eliminated all juices, sodas and drinks as my first step. I then eliminated all fast food. I then eliminated bread except for my planned cheat meals and have pretty much eaten high protein low carb for the rest of my journey or carb cycled, limiting carbs to fruits and vegetables, nothing processed this year.
I also completely reduced alcohol consumption to once a year
I actually help people with meal plans and really do believe this is tailored to the individual but what I do specifically is, some fasted weight training or cardio then:
Post Workout: All natural, hormone free Whey protein shake made with just protein and almond milk.
Breakfast: 3 organic eggs, 2 egg whites, 1 cup of chopped veggies (peppers, onions, asparagus) cooked in coconut oil over medium heat. (Sometimes if I’m still hungry I’ll add organic oatmeal with a few berries or a sweet potato)
Snack: Peanut Butter or nuts, carrots, veggies,
Lunch: 4-5oz grilled chicken breast or wild salmon, 1 baked sweet potato, ½ an avocado, 1-2 cups of steamed or sautéed veggies or a salad with olive oil and vinegar
Dinner: 4-5oz grilled chicken breast or ¼ chicken with skin, 150g baked broccoli1-2 cups of steamed or sautéed veggies or a salad with olive oil and vinegar
1 clean cheat meal and 1 cheat dessert a week, religiously (looking forward to this kept me from falling off the wagon during the week plenty of times)
If I had to recommend something it would be a heavy breakfast (eggs and sweet potatoes) and decent lunch salad with protein and a healthy carb and dinner is pretty much a salad with grilled chicken. I add a protein shake post workout (most people need a lot more protein a day then they are getting, especially when starting a workout routine, your body craves the protein for strengthening and muscle repair).
PoloPrincessNYC’s Best Weight Loss Tips
Weight Loss Tip #1:
Mentally commit – You have to put your weight loss on your list of top 3 priorities up there with work and kids… I have missed plenty of people’s birthdays and passed on plenty of invitaitons to dinners and events because my fitness had to come first… If you can’t put yourself first it will be very hard to be successful. I had to mentally decide that if I wouldn’t miss work for it, I can’t miss the gym for it and that is when I was successful.
Weight Loss Tip #2:
Don’t drink your calories… biggest waste
Weight Loss Tip #3:
Log your calories… nothing makes you more conscious of everything you put in your mouth as logging does.
Weight Loss Tip #4:
Do cardio everyday, no excuses
Weight Loss Tip #5:
weight train – if you can afford a trainer, do it… It will be worth the money 10 times, if not get some apps or guided videos to help you target muscle groups.
Weight Loss Tip #6:
Make sure you are getting enough food, not eating or not eating enough is the worst thing you can do to your body… make sure you are eating 3-4 times a day and that you are getting enough protein.
Weight Loss Tip #7:
Limit carb intake to healthy carbs… none at dinner except for whatever carbs are in veggies.
Weight Loss Tip #8:
Avoid foods with hormones, artificial sweeteners, msg, high fructose corn syrup etc…. this is not a fad or craze… this is real information… if we are feeding animals things to make them bigger what do you think it’s doing to us??
Weight Loss Tip #9:
Get enough sleep
Weight Loss Tip #10:
One of the MOST important. Plan and prepare your meals in ADVANCE, if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail… DO NOT leave your food choices up in the air or you are leaving your success up in the air.
Marina Tsapelas’ Stats
Date Of Birth – 10/14/1981
Height – 5’7
Before Stats: 28 ½ Years Old | 309lbs | Size 28 at lane Bryant (not sure my measurement) | Approx 47% body fat
During Stats: 30 Years Old | 42.5 Inch Waist – 211lbs
After Stats: 32 Years Old | 160-165lbs | 26% Body Fat | 30.5 Inch Waist | Size 6-8 depending on store lol
Marina Tsapelas’ Interview:
How Did You Put On The Weight?
The accident I mentioned earlier, depression denial and embarrassment kept it on
What Sparked Your Dramatic Change?
I have to say it was the mental shift I described in tip #1. I actually overheard my trainer (who wasn’t my trainer yet) tell that to someone about the level of commitment needed and it stuck…. It was like a light bulb went off. But what actually got me to the gym in the first place was being tired of the way the world looked at me… I have said many times… I never looked in the mirror and saw ugly but I could tell by the way the world treated me that they did and that was starting to wear on my soul… so I knew I needed to make a change… I was depressed and isolated and had just decided I had enough… after my consultation with the gastric bypass surgeon I really thought to myself “there has to be another way” and decided to try fitness
Where People Supportive Of Your New Lifestyle? If Not, How Did You Overcome The Negativity?
Initially yes… but as I progressed the negativity poured in. People got annoyed that I wouldn’t make exceptions for their events or had to miss things that I would normally attend. I’ve been asked when I was going to be done at the gym. I’ve been called “crazy” “obsessed”. I’ve been asked if I was sick. I’ve had people insist I must have done surgery or being doing some kind of crazy diet I’m holding out on.
Although there was tons of negativity the positivity from my instagram followers and emails of gratitude and support from strangers watching my journey were amazing and outweighed the negativity 10 fold. also I had tremendous support from key individuals in my life, including but not limited to my mother and my trainer who came to be one of my closest friends.
What Did You Change In Your Diet? Did You Use Any Supplements?
It was a step by step process for me, which is why it happened so slow but 1st thing was juices and sodas, 2nd thing was fast food, 3rd thing was all processed foods, 4th was eating as “clean” as possible.
Multivitamin, vitamin B complex, 2 fish oil capsules and biotin (to help with skin repair)
I do not take synthetic vitamins, they are all from food sources… brand is called garden of eden RAW… I highly support and recommend ALL of their products.
I have one whey protein shake a day, I use Protein with no hormones or artificial sweetners and I make it with almond milk with no sugar added.
I also use a supplement called glutamine which is all natural and helps with muscle repair.
What Would We Have Found In Your Fridge Before? What Would We Find Now?
What Exercise Did You Begin To Do?
I started with cardio and very minimal strength training for my first 50lbs or so, the weight training progressed as I started to see the results from the muscle building and reading how many more calories are burned with muscle than with fat.
Any Tough Points On Your Journey?
TONS! I got hurt a few times, and a lot of discouragement came because my progress was slow… as I was figuring out and reading everything I can get my hands on I made a lot of nutritional mistakes that hindered my progress.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Questions You Get Asked & How Do You Respond?
People always want to know what I did and how my skin looks. I show them pics and let them know my story.
How Did You Stay Motivated?
I find new challenges. I am blessed to be at a point where what my body can do amuses me so I am constantly setting new fitness goals. Even in the past it would be things besides weight loss, like lets see how long I can go on the treadmill at 4 mph on an incline and such… always trying to just do a little bit better than yesterday.
What Advice Would You Give Someone Who Was Looking To Lose Weight?
Get a meal plan (preferably one from a fitness website or professional) and meal prep, join a gym and stay committed. There are tons of IG and fb accounts with workout ideas if you can’t afford a trainer or to do group exercises but if you can, get a trainer… the motivation factor is x1000. Also, understand it is a lifestyle change and FINALLY no matter what you do… DO NOT GIVE UP… even if you’re walking 2mph on a treadmill you’re doing better than if you did nothing. The only BAD workout is the one that DIDN’T happen.
Did You Make Any Mistakes When You First Started?
Several! – using my calories for junk food early on, not eating enough protein, not drinking enough water, not making it a priority (early early on)
What Are Your Goals For The Future?
I would like to get down to 20% body fat.
Complete skin repair, not sure if I will be successful but I sure am going to try.
And finally, my ultimate goal is to help as many people lose weight in a healthy natural way as possible. I understand more than anyone the overwhelming frustration, confusion and doubtfulness that comes with venturing into new territory, especially with weight loss and the gym environment. With so much advice in 100 million different directions on what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat it, how to exercise and what’s good for what, it can be one of the hardest things someone ever does… but it will also be the most worth the effort.
Having all this information I joined forces with my trainer to create a weight loss group that incorporates meal plans, small group training, group counselling and weight loss coaching. I believe it is what I was born to do, my calling. Its like every struggle in my life has prepared me for this. So I am going to use my struggles to help others!