How Zumba Helped 1 Woman Dance Off 230 Pounds
Weight-loss success happens when you truly love to live a healthy lifestyle, as Cynthia Ortega found out. Here, she tells Zumba's lifestyle blog, Zlife, about her struggles with weight and how she finally found what works — and lost 230 pounds!
Born and raised in Houston, Cynthia Ortega used to look in the mirror and hate what she saw. "I felt horrible and sad," she says. "I used to dread going to restaurants with my husband because I knew I wouldn't fit in the seat." Often smiling on the outside, deep down inside, she wasn't happy. She was trapped in her own body, desperately wanting to be someone else. Even her husband, who was very supportive, felt helpless.
Heavy mostly her whole life, she had never exercised and had many failed attempts with crash diets. One day, while standing in line to order pizza with her husband, a little girl pointed at Cynthia and said to her mom, "Look mom, that's a big lady!" Everyone heard it and Cynthia was mortified. In 2009, she was hospitalized with the swine flu and couldn't even fit through the MRI machine. She went into an induced coma and had to learn to walk and eat again. Due to her weight, she also discovered she had sleep apnea and diabetes.
At a crossroads in her life, it finally clicked for Cynthia that she had to get healthy for herself and her young son who looked up to his mom and needed a positive influence. In 2013, she stumbled across a gym near her home and peeked in to see people taking a Zumba class. "It just looked like a lot of fun and something I could do." She and her friend signed up and, within one month of taking two classes per week, she lost 30 pounds! And that was just the beginning of her transformation.
Now 230 pounds lighter, she takes Zumba classes 12 times per week and puts more thought into her diet. She even started a YouTube page to chronicle her weight loss, called "BestFriendFitness" in the hopes of inspiring others out there to get healthy.
At 29 years old and married for eight years, Cynthia is inspiring her husband and family members to be healthy and eat foods in moderation. "Now, when my husband takes me out to a restaurant, I don't have to care about the chairs and if I'll fit in them. I love taking selfies and when I look in the mirror I feel great." She recently went back to the doctor for some tests and stayed four extra days to find out that all her health issues had disappeared and her heart rate was that of a fit person's!
So what is Cynthia's advice to others who are suffering from weight issues? "Find what works for you and something you're passionate about. You have to be persistent. You can't expect results from one day to the next. Zumba Fitness is challenging for me. My friends think I make it look easy, but I get out of breath . . . sore . . . tired. It's something that I truly love."