By: Armando Perez
Growing up, I was very skinny and I was always self- conscious about being so frail. It wasn’t until after college that I really started to work out consistently. I have spent most of my adult life going to the gym 4-5 times per week but it hasn’t come with struggles. Over the past few years, I have suffered a broken thumb, a torn rotator cuff, and ripped ligaments in my ankle. One of my favorite movies growing up was Vision Quest, released in 1985. Wrestler, Lauden Swain says, “I guess that’s why we got to love those people who go after it like there’s no tomorrow. ‘Cause when you get right down to it – there isn’t.” I admire anyone who goes after their goals and that is why I decided to feature Lisa Zizzari in this article. Lisa is 46 years old, and her posts on Facebook motivate me. If you are going to the gym on a regular basis or a casual fitness fan, Lisa’s story will inspire everyone. Below is my online interview with her.
1) The Sports Whisperer: At what age did you start working out consistently?
Lisa: In my early 20’s I began working out as consistently as possible which was a coping mechanism for dealing with severe Crohn’s Disease, bowel resection surgeries, short bowel syndrome, and an array of other issues also stemming from this autoimmune disease. However, from my late 30’s to my early 40’s, I quit exercising, gained weight (50+ pounds), and suffered from additional health issues, such as anxiety, high blood pressure, and thyroid trouble. At 43, I had decided to no longer tolerate being sick and overweight, so I got really serious about working towards getting my health on track. This began my journey into working out again and fitting some good healthy activities into my life.
2) The Sports Whisperer: What is the hardest thing about the daily grind of the gym?
Lisa: The hardest thing is to go to the gym even when I’m not feeling well, finding a way to work out in spite of illness. I have had to customize my own routines, discovering things I could do that would work specifically for me and my needs.
3) The Sports Whisperer: What would you recommend to a person who is not crazy about fitness, but wants to work out?
Lisa: Here’s a little piece of information about me that may help someone who is not crazy about fitness, I was the least athletic person in my youth!
In fact, I only did as much “exercise” as I was forced to do by the school system. I hated exercise so much that when my boyfriend (now husband) and I would play Frisbee, unless he threw it directly at me, making it very easy to catch, I would not even play. So if someone is interested in working out, that is a great start already! Exercise releases “feel good” hormones called endorphins, which in time, will have you loving the way you feel. Combine that with looking better, and you’ll be in love with exercise in no time!
4) The Sports Whisperer: One of the hardest things to do as we get older is eat healthy. what do you eat.. what don’t you eat .. do you have cheat days?
Lisa: Food! When you work out and have more muscle, you have literally earned the right to eat more. The more muscle you possess, the better and more efficient your metabolism works for you. No, I don’t eat salads all the time. Yes, I eat a healthy balance of all types of foods, including some of the so-called “junk foods.” I love potato chips and donuts! I learned how to calculate my caloric nutrients (macros & micros) which involves the energy consumed, deducted by my exercise expenditure, to find what works best for my body’s requirements. For example, I eat higher protein levels, lower carbs, and medium healthy fats during the cutting phase for a competition, but increase the carbs and slightly lower the protein during maintenance. As for cheat days, absolutely not! I do not cheat … I treat! I have treat days once a week. For one meal, usually dinner, I allow myself to eat a huge amount with lots of desserts. Sometimes, I go with my husband to the biggest buffet and enjoy the abundance. To stay sane and live a good life, we have to include some of the good indulgences once in a while too. The worst foods to eat during training are things that are loaded with salt, like fast food French fries. Save those for treat days. The worst thing to drink during training is regular soda. Never drink useless calories! The wise and fit only drink smart calories filled with muscle-building nutrients and vitamins, like protein shakes.
5) The Sports Whisperer: Talk about your fitness competitions, how and why did you get involved in that?
Lisa: One of my first goals, when I began working out again, was to try and get as healthy as I possibly could, lose fifty pounds, and look decent in a bikini. At 45 I accomplished this goal, which then led me to blurt out to my husband and children, “I want to enter a fitness bikini competition,” something definitely out of my comfort zone. To keep myself going, I began doing some weird things to stay accountable. Upon reading a request for submissions, I sent my photo along with my 2016 New Year’s fitness resolutions into Oxygen Magazine Australia. To my surprise, they printed it in their January issue. Now, I had to keep to this resolution and began training like a competitor. Nine days before my 46th birthday, I walked on stage at the Knight of Champions and won my category, grandmasters bikini. This win gave me the privilege of having my photos in Muscle Insider Magazine, along with a feature article and photo in Status Magazine. Subsequently, I was given the opportunity to be a Sponsored Athlete Ambassador with Popeye’s Supplements, Coquitlam/Burnaby. Shortly thereafter, I sent my photo from winning the competition, along with a thank you letter for their positive influence, to Oxygen Magazine Australia. To my utter amazement, they published my photo and the entire letter on a full page in their January/February 2017 issue. Then I decided I would fill in the questionnaire for Oxygen Magazine North America, and submit my photos. Afterward, I received an email stating that I had been chosen for their “Future of Fitness” section in the March/April 2017 issue. Through all of this fun and excitement, I also found out that I qualified to enter the Pro Am & Expo Provincial Show this July. Additionally, I have a feature article and photo in the anniversary edition of L.O.S.E. Health & Wellness Magazine in the May 2017 issue. All of this came by the grace of God, catapulting me in the direction of fitness, health, and wellness, even though I had been sick for more than 25 years. I am so grateful for the love, support, and assistance of my husband and children, as well as all of those involved in helping me find and live a healthier and happier life filled with beautiful possibilities. One decision to lose weight and get as fit as possible, combined with determination, proper nutrition, and training, has allowed the beautiful things I once thought impossible for me, to become possible. It is amazing how so many beautiful dreams are coming true. Thank you for taking an interest in my story. I hope this will inspire anyone dreaming of a better life to go for it!
After interviewing Lisa, I will repeat my opening statement… “I guess that’s why we got to love those people who go for it like there’s no tomorrow. ‘Cause when you get right down to it – there isn’t.”
For More information on Lisa see below:
Sponsored Athlete with Popeye’s Supplements Coquitlam/Burnaby
Social Media: Instagram: @lisazizzari
Photo Credits: Ali Sohrab – Bam Fitness http://www.bamfitnessphotography.com
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