Vicky Alvarez Covi is a married mother of twin teenage boys in her 40s living in Denver, Colorado. After the birth of her children, she found herself gaining a great deal of weight. She felt unhappy and unhealthy. Through the power of a morning ritual, she reenergizes her body, mind, and spirit and supports her own daily rebirth.
My husband’s company hosts a black tie event every year. I love it—it’s like a grown-up prom! I’ve always enjoyed shopping and dressing up for the event. Three years after my twins were born, I had a terrible time finding a dress that fit and flattered my body. When I saw a photo of us after the event, it hit me: I did not recognize myself. I had reached a pants size 18 and refused to buy a bigger size, but I hadn’t truly realized how heavy I had become until I saw that photo. I thought, “This is not me. This is not who I am!” It hit me all at once that day. I was finally honest with myself that I did not feel like the real me anymore. I didn’t feel attractive, and more importantly, I wasn’t happy. The sadness as I thought about letting myself get to this point was overwhelming.
I put that photograph up in my kitchen after the party and kept it as a reminder of how unhealthy I had allowed my body to become. I wanted to be healthy to see my children grow up and to be a good role model for them of a healthy lifestyle, eating good food and not crap, and giving a damn about myself.
To give myself the initial motivation I needed, I signed up with a company that helped me understand how to change my life and weight. I faced a hard fact: food is emotional for me. Some people drink or smoke in response to stress; I eat. I had to learn to see food as sustenance, as fuel for my body, not as a means to console myself. The program helped me learn new thought patterns and habits, but I will always have to remind myself how to see food—not as my comfort, not as my enemy, but as life—and work to overcome my greatest vice, portion control.
Staying in a healthy relationship with food requires a daily, conscious effort. I see my health transformation as a journey, not a destination, and I have to always remind myself that nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. I make my ongoing transformation journey possible by adhering to my personal morning ritual.
My ritual starts as soon as I get out of bed and put on my workout clothes. I get straight into them because it’s the only way I can be sure I’ll dedicate the time to working out. If I try to put it off, I’ll lose my steam just like everyone else because evenings are so full of distraction and exhaustion from the day. I brew my coffee as I wake up my boys, enjoy one cup with breakfast and one after dropping them off at school, and take my multivitamin and vegan protein. I work out from 8:30 to 9:30, and during that time, I think only about keeping my body as its best. I can feel the adrenaline kick in and my sweat coming down during my last rep as I tell myself, “I can do it! I can do it!” It’s my own form of meditation. My workouts lift the stress of 12-hour hockey tournaments on the weekends and of everything else related to parenting twin teenage boys in my 40s. And my workouts inspire me to become my best self.
My commitment to this journey of transformation also includes healthy eating. For me, that means not only getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, but adopting a vegetarian diet. While it was frustrating initially because I liked the taste of meat, I love it now—my body doesn’t like to digest meat anymore and I’ve enjoyed discovering new cuisines. I love Indian and Thai cooking; both are so vegetarian-friendly and rich with amazing flavors and spices. I’ve been eating healthily for eight years now and I haven’t looked back.
I see women like Raquel Welch and Sophia Loren and know that I want to look as incredible as they do as they age. They really take care of themselves, and when I’m in my 70s, I want to look and feel like I’ve taken care of my body all these years.
My daily transformation through my daily ritual, workouts, and healthy eating help me become a better person. I wish I had started before my late 30s! But I am so proud of my personal renaissance. My hope is that my sons will experience this drive to be in the best, healthiest shape possible because they look at their mom and see how healthy I am.