Where do I start with Valeria Nova. The first we met was over 5 years ago when I shot for the first time with Oxygen Magazine. We chatted while she worked on my face and instantly we bonded over Paris, food and family. I had a 6th sense that we would become friends somehow, someway; even though we lived cities apart and had no mutual friends or really any reason to stay in touch. But I knew. What I didn’t know is that I would eventually become her trainer, her friend, her bridesmaid, or that she would accompany me to Spain on a soul searching trip, or that our lives would forever become so intertwined and connected. She is my soul sister, my confidant and is someone who has stolen a chunk of my heart. But enough about our love story..what I really am excited to share is her story. Our stories are very similar- strong euro upbringing with an emphasis on food- Oxygen magazine pushing us to be fit, finding our way to stage, and finally finding balance, consistency and sustainability. I think that EVERYONE in some way or another will relate to Valeria’s story. It is inspiring on so many levels. Love you forever…..
“I was always curvy. As a girl who went through puberty earlier than most, I was body conscious for as long as I can remember. When I was 11 years old, my mom gave birth to my little sister. Then she started going to the gym and got her body back within months of being pregnant. I think that’s when I started associating working out with being thin. I was somewhat active when I was young; I danced, played soccer, rode my bike. I started doing my moms workout VHS tapes when I was 13, but the problem was ultimately my diet; my family’s diet. You see, despite the fact that both my parents were (and still are) active, our eating habits were those of people who worked; people who needed convenience and people from an Eastern European background. That means we loved dough, wheat, sugar, butter, sour cream, and potatoes. Our house was always full of bread, pre- packaged food, sugary treats and a lack of emphasis on raw, fresh produce.
So by the time I hit high school, I was in the vicious cycle of hating my body for not changing with my lack luster workouts while I ate garbage food. Then I got a gym membership. My workouts got more intense. I started lifting weights. Then I discovered Oxygen magazine and the concept of clean eating. I was so intrigued by the fit, lean women portrayed in Oxygen. With clean eating and a more consistent work out plan, I got in the best shape of my life!
Then came university. I maintained for as long as I could, but ultimately the hectic schedule of essays, part time work and socializing won. In my last year at art school, I was probably the heaviest I have ever been. I looked at myself in the mirror and decided right then and there that I was going to graduate art school the same way I went in- FIT. I bought a subscription to Oxygen magazine, joined a gym and picked up Tosca Reno’s original book, The Eat Clean Diet. I was back and I felt awesome!
Post university, I pursued my freelance career as a makeup artist and painter. I was, and still am, a freelancer which is great because you create your own schedule, but can also get so busy at times that you barely have time to sleep. Early in my career I had the opportunity to work with Paul Buceta who was under contract with Robert Kennedy Publishing and the main photographer for (thank you universe) Oxygen magazine. Almost overnight, I was working behind-the-scenes for the magazine that has changed my life. Twice. Everything about this fitness world was so interesting to me. I was like a sponge. I would spend an hour with the best fitness models in the industry and pick their brain as I did their makeup and hair. I got so much information. Lift heavy. Don’t lift heavy. Eat this. Not that. Take fat burners. Don’t trust supplements. I tried EVERYTHING. But it was always the same roller coaster ride with my weight. I would diet and workout for 6 weeks. Then eat. Then diet. Then eat. Fast forward this type of sick cycle a few years and anyone’s digestive system would say ‘F*$! Off’.
I stepped out of the fitness world chaos and into a naturopath’s office. She put me on a cleanse/detox that I ultimately stayed on for 9 months. The cleanse left me eating nothing but veggies, eggs and chicken and drinking water. I didn’t work out. I let my body heal and I felt like a new person. I started being nice to myself. I did a 30 day yoga challenge. I was ready for the next step. That is when Rita Catolino came into my life and I am so grateful. You see, at that point I knew the best coaches, trainers, and fitness competitors, so when I asked for someone to message me about a new workout program on Facebook, I was surprised that nobody did…until I got Rita’s message. I told her my history. My Yo-Yo diets. My wanting, but not knowing which workouts were best for my body. I told her that I had spent a year healing my body and wanted to stay on a path of health and positivity. Rita got me. The questions she asked in order to customize a 4 week-to-beach-body program for me had me trusting Rita right away. I gave myself to her program and she changed my body within weeks. I was hooked. I told her I had “Participating in a fitness competition” on my bucket list, and asked if she would guide me to ‘the stage’. So together, we took three and half months to get me ready for my first (and possibly only) fitness competition. It was a tremendous journey and I don’t think I could have ever done it without Rita’s coaching. She was with me through thick and thin, pushing me, guiding me, training me. Her presence changed me. Changed my mindset. Changed my body.
Post fitness show, like many competitors, I struggled with what to do next. My weight fluctuated slightly, but with Rita’s help I was able to stay on track. Today I take a more holistic approach to my body. I workout 4-6 times a week. I eat 90% clean with lots of fresh veggies and organic lean proteins. I allow for treats. I drink lots of water and watch my alcohol intake. The most important thing Rita has taught me is that BALANCE and CONSISTENCY are the key to a healthy body and mind. I am finally at peace with myself and look at my fitness journey as a gift. It brought me to Rita and I am so thankful to have Coach Catolino in my life; as a friend, a soul mate, a sister.”