Krysta Rivera’s affecting transformation is more than meets the eye

By Eric Nicole Salta | Photos courtesy of Krysta Rivera and Fitness First Philippines

Heartbreak has been a core feature of 36-year-old Krysta Rivera’s life. But unlike some who buckle under its pressure, Rivera instead used it as inspiration to undergo a massive transformation and win back the most important aspects of herself.

“I was a battered wife. I lost all my confidence and self-worth from that relationship,” she says. “From this heartbreak, I gained a lot of weight. I was a stress eater and never worked out a single day.” While that period pushed her weight to balloon to 150 pounds, this Cisco sales manager and single mom to an 11-year-old daughter fortunately didn’t let previous failed attempts to lose weight to put her off trying again.

After a little nudge from her trainer to join a fitness competition, Rivera is now following her own muse without regard to the past experiences. “I wanted to transform my life through fitness so I can gain my confidence back and be a fitter and healthier version of me not only for myself but also for my daughter,” she says.

“I wanted inspire all those ladies out there, especially working moms who want to improve themselves and be the best versions of themselves.” Looking at Rivera, she’s already an inspiration even before losing 35 pounds. Her willingness to use her story as a mechanism to bare her own oftentimes painful experiences to become better makes her quite an inspiration indeed.

Tell us about your weight issues and struggles. When did your weight become a problem?

I have always been the skinny girl. When I was younger, I didn’t worry about what I ate or whether to exercise at all. I did occasional yoga or crash diets but I was never consistent. With the constant stress in my job and relationships, I went into depression and turned to food, alcohol, and cigarettes for a temporary fix. I gained more weight after giving birth. I even tried other slimming drugs and teas but to no avail.

What was it like the first time you attempted to lose weight?

It was really a struggle. I tried easy ways to lose weight—crash diets, those juice or water cleanses, slimming corsets, slimming pills, and even injectable meso-lipos. However, I realized now that nothing beats good old exercise and diet. When we moved offices in SM Aura, I enrolled at Fitness First in January 2016. I didn’t know what to expect since I have never worked out in a gym. I got a personal trainer Rommel Torres and he encouraged me to join the Fitness First Renewal competition. I was picked out of hundreds of members and now I just finished my fitness journey with them.

What is the biggest struggle: food, exercise or temptation?

It would be controlling my intake of junk food and alcohol. My job constantly requires me to ‘wine and dine’ clients; part of my job is to go out, eat, and drink not so healthy food. But I realized that there are healthier options out there. Fitness First also sponsored a food delivery service and sometimes I bring my food and ask the restaurant to plate and serve it with the rest of our orders so I don’t feel left out or deprived even when I’m with my customers.

What is your workout regimen like?

My favorite regimen would be one hour of cross-training and weights with my personal trainer and then an RPM or Pro45 spin class for 45 minutes after. Sometimes I also mix up cardio on the stepper or the elliptical machine. I also attend hiphop or Sh’bam dance classes and also love doing yoga on weekends.

Now that you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, how do you plan to keep it off? What are your next goals?

Now that I am leaner, I am focusing on building more muscles, getting stronger, and working on my endurance. I plan to still workout four to five times a week. I would also focus on eating clean to maintain my weight.

Were there times when you felt down? What kept you motivated when you were feeling down?

There were times when I felt unmotivated especially when I hit a plateau in my weight loss despite following the diet and exercise. But I realized that I’ve gone really far in my journey and [told myself to] go easy on myself. My trainer Rommel would push me hard and constantly remind me to stay focused and committed. As long as I stay consistent, then I would eventually achieve my goals.

How has your weight loss affected your relationships?

Before my fitness journey, I was very unhappy, grumpy, and hard to deal with. Exercise has helped me cope with the stress of work as well as generate happy hormones. I also feel more confident and [have embraced] this newfound self-acceptance. I have improved relationships with colleagues and my daughter; I’ve also met, and is dating a great guy. 

The biggest misconception I think would be that it is all about looks. I realized that it isn’t how you look but how you feel. I feel so much better about myself and looking good is just a bonus. The improvements are not just physical but also more importantly emotional and mental as well

Aside from the exercise routine, what specific changes to your lifestyle have you made that works for you?

I finally quit smoking. I started smoking when I was 15. With the stress at work and personal life, this got me really hooked on. I also avoided excessive drinking. Instead of going out on a Friday night, I would rather work out at the gym.

What’s the biggest misconception about people wanting to lose weight?

The biggest misconception I think would be that it is all about looks. I realized that it isn’t how you look but how you feel. I feel so much better about myself and looking good is just a bonus. The improvements are not just physical but also more importantly emotional and mental as well. I found that I am able to control my emotions better and have a sharper focus on what I commit to.