Cynthia Ortega is a mom and wife who tried countless crash diets, but nothing gave her the results she desperately wanted. Her breaking point came as she and her husband were in line at a local pizza restaurant when a little girl pointed to her and said to her mother, “Look, Mom. That’s a big lady!”
This comment stuck with Cynthia, who knew she needed to change her lifestyle for her body, both inside and out. “I used to dread going to restaurants with my husband because I knew I wouldn’t fit in the seat,” she told ZLife. She also dealt with serious health complications after contracting swine flu and was diagnosed with sleep apnea and diabetes.
The then 26-year-old decided it was time to take control, so she and friend Liana started ‘BFF: Best Friends Fitness’ and documented their journey on YouTube. On Cynthia’s first weigh-in, she hopped on the scale and it read 494.3 lbs.
The friends worked together to eat healthier, find fun ways to work out and hold motivating challenges. Cynthia found a gym near her home in 2013 and peeked in to find people taking a Zumba class. “It just looked like a lot of fun and something I could do,” she said, so she started taking two classes per week. Within a month, Cynthia lost 30 pounds!
In two years, Cynthia lost 230 pounds, cured herself of all her health issues, found a love for Zumba and discovered her own self-confidence. “I used to dread going to restaurants because I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in the seat,” she said. “Now, when my husband takes me out, I don’t have to worry about that. I look in the mirror and feel great.”
Cynthia now attends 12 Zumba classes per week and after leading the class in some routines, she danced through an 8-hour training become a licensed instructor. She credits the workout for transforming her body and encourages others to try it, too. “If I can do this, anybody and I mean anybody can do it!” said Cynthia. “I love that I can share my experience with my students now and hopefully inspire them to feel confident in their own skin.”