From Fat to Fit
One Woman’s Quest to Be The Best Version of Herself
Alena Shifrin may have always seemed like the quintessential physician’s wife on paper, she has an amazing husband and two beautiful daughters. She loves being a wife and mother and she’s had the privilege of living in communities both big and small while her husband worked in the medical setting. She’s made deep and powerful connections wherever she goes and even misses the small, rural community in PA where she used to live. But just 10 years ago, Alena was deeply ashamed and embarrassed by her staggering weight. At just 37, she weighed 350 lbs and her husband was very concerned about her health and the possibility that she may not be around for her children as they grow.
He would speak of the dangerous health conditions that could affect her if she didn’t make a change. Alena recalls the humiliation of asking for a seat belt extender on airplanes, how she couldn’t fit in a restaurant booth and how she couldn’t go on rides at amusement parks all because of her weight. One day the reality of her husband’s words came crashing down and she knew she couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on her daughters lives. She was tired of being excluded from so many activities with her family so she made a vow to get fit by 40. Having 3 years to meet this goal, Alena tried many different things, some worked, and some did not, but her key to success was that she never quit, even when faced with a setback.
As you can imagine, losing 150 lbs. requires some education, a lot of patience, self-care and grace. We often put these unrealistic expectations on ourselves because our false beliefs about weight loss and transformation are largely shaped and influenced by the media, Hollywood and even parts of the fitness and wellness industry: all you have to do eat this diet and the weight will MELT off, or do THIS workout and shed those unwanted pounds or try THIS Hollywood secret cleanse to lose weight like a movie star!! And if these don’t work then it must be because you did not give it enough time, you didn’t give it your all, or you cheated too often on your meal plan.
Thankfully Alena didn’t buy into any of that, her 3-year journey was one day at a time where she studied nutrition, learned different eating styles, diets and tried several different meal plans. She also started to exercise. The key to exercise is finding something you love, something you will stick with because you enjoy it. For Alena that started with Zumba. Her energy and enthusiasm soared when she started Zumba. She found herself happy again and excited to go to class. Her energy was felt by so many others in the group that she was even approached to become an instructor.
When asked what she thought made the biggest difference in her weight loss journey she responded: “One thing I stopped doing was eating out of boredom or stress. I don’t eat to celebrate anymore; I eat to nourish my body; I eat to fuel my body.” She continues, “I took what I learned from people like Dr. Mark Hyman, and programs like Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, and Jenny Craig and I made them work for me.” Alena used these tools and resources and began tracking all of her food and learned how her emotions and thoughts about food had contributed to her weight problems and her mindset.
Just a few months after her 40th birthday Alena hit her goal weight and she’s kept it off for 7 years. Today she couldn’t be happier with herself and her new life that knows no limitations. She has since become a Zumba instructor and was featured on the Dr. Oz show. She also teaches spin, body sculpting, and senior fitness. She holds a nutrition certification from NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). Alena has a coaching business that provides accountability, education and advice to help others and you can reach her at Alenashifrin@gmail.com. Alena lives in Mt Kisco, NY with her husband, Dr. Seth Shifrin who works at Caremount Medical Group where he’s board certified in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, and Sports Medicine. He can be reached at www.CaremountMedical.com.