2016 Lifestyle Change Award Winner Shares Her Story

“I had to make a change” by Maria Travelyn

Before Maria started her lifestyle change journey over three years ago, she weighed 240 lbs. Her cholesterol and blood sugar numbers were high — both are risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. After just three months and by losing 30 lbs, Maria’s blood sugar returned to normal. Now, she has lost over 100 lbs and has kept it off. 

Maria Travelyn before and after

“I used to eat my biggest meal at night after my husband got home from work. I would cook a big meal, we would eat, and then sit on the couch and eventually the TV would watch us until we went to bed.

I started my journey one day. I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Your father died at the age of 60 from a heart attack. Your brother has diabetes and is overweight. Do you want to follow in their footsteps? Your blood sugar is high. Do you want to be on prescription drugs for the rest of your life? You’re only 50 years old.” I knew I couldn’t let that happen.

I had to make a lifestyle change. I changed my unhealthy eating habits, learned to eat better, learned what and when to eat, learned to count my carbohydrates, proteins and fats. I had to learn how to not eat red meat anymore, which was really difficult. I had a lot of support from my family.

For some reason, I think mentally when I was “big” I didn’t see myself that way, but the world did. I never had a guy open a store door for me. They’d just look at me and turn away. Now, I have strange guys opening doors for me everywhere I go. It is just the greatest feeling ever. I feel like I am somebody in the world, and that people are looking at me like a normal person.

The biggest obstacle that I faced was after I lost the weight. My body was not the same. I did not perceive my self-image the same as I previously had.

I am very happy with what I had to do to change my life. I feel like a new person and I am very happy to say that I LOVE LIFE.

I would like to give special thanks to Anabel Montalbano at Westerly Fitness for helping me stay motivated and keep the weight off after 3 years.”


How did she do it?

Maria started going to the gym 5-6 days a week for 3-4 hours each day. Now, she goes 5-6 days for 1-2 hours each visit. She likes bike riding, swimming, weight lifting, and loves Zumba class. She watches her carbohydrates and fat intake. She decreased her portion size and made healthier choices. Now, she eats 4-6 little meals a day with lunch being the largest. She no longer eats red meats. 


Photo: Maria accepts the 2016 Lifestyle Change Award at the Southern New England Heart Walk and shares her inspiration with Dan Jaehnig from NBC10TV and Dr. Brian Silver, AHA Board President from the stage.

Congratulations to Maria from the American Heart Association!

Maria Travelyn was nominated by her cousin and best friend Margaret Gabriele for the 2016 Lifestyle Change Award from the American Heart Association (AHA). The award was presented on June 5th at the Southern New England Heart Walk in Providence. The Lifestyle Change Award is given annually to an individual who has made positive change to improve the quality of their life and health. 

To learn more about how you can get healthy improve your heart health, visit www.heart.org/healthyliving.

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