Leilani Fights Her Way Back to Fitness

Have you ever imagined what your life would be like as a movie? For Leilani Manglona, it seemed a happy ending was out of her reach. She had been working to improve her fitness and nutrition, but when her efforts stalled and her resolve faltered, disappointment plagued her trips to the gym.

All that changed when a friend introduced her to 24 Hour Fitness team member Cy Hirota. When he wanted to know her goals, her response was brutally honest: “I want to do everyday things without feeling like I’m going to die.”

Together, Manglona and her coach wrote a different script for her life. She likens her experience to that of the character Rocky Balboa—an underdog who continued to fight until he came out on top. Most importantly, she understands the power of having someone in your corner.

“Cy is the Mickey to my Rocky,” she says. His belief in her helped Manglona realize that no one else saw the constraints she placed on herself. In fact, it appeared self-doubt was the only thing truly holding her back from what she was able to achieve.

And what she’s achieved is significant. “I’m down more than 60 pounds and still going. I’m stronger, leaner, I have more confidence, and I destroy those stairs at the gym,” says Manglona. “My mindset has changed. I believe in myself more, and health and fitness are now my lifestyle.”

That lifestyle includes eating mindfully and adding weight training and boxing to her fitness routine. With the help of her coach, Manglona has come to view her workouts as challenging, but fun. So much so that she visits the gym five to six days per week.

“I never thought I’d be able to say I love coming to the gym, and now I can. Cy has helped me realize that I am capable of more than what I have limited myself to – that I am actually limitless.”

24Life: Was there a specific moment that inspired you to shift your priorities, to create time and energy for fitness?

LM: I was a breath away from 300 pounds. My health was on a downward slope. I was huffing and puffing with just walking, and my body ached even when I did nothing. I started by promising to do 30 minutes every day on the elliptical machine and make small nutritional changes. As I continued, I increased my resistance and time working out, and sure enough I started to see both physical and mental changes.

24Life: It can be easy to focus on what’s in the way, instead of trusting in your ability to move beyond it. What have you learned about yourself, that ultimately helped you succeed?

LM: I realized I was standing in the way of my own progress. I would tell myself, “You can’t expect to change if you don’t make changes.” So, I showed up for myself and treated working out as a priority, not an option.

24Life: Asking for help isn’t always easy. At what point (if any) did you reach out to a coach, class or community to support you?

LM: In the beginning I had gym anxiety, and my family members would take turns coming with me. When I hit a plateau in my weight loss, Aunty Millie introduced me to Cy. Aunty Millie and my family still work out with me at the gym here and there, and sometimes we take Cy’s bootcamp classes together, which is fun.

24Life: If you have a bad day or week, what – or who – keeps you going?

LM: I do a few things:

24Life: If you could tell your former self anything – now that you’re further into your journey – what would it be?

LM: Lift the damn weights! Growth happens when you step outside of your comfort zone. I wish I’d done it sooner, but I’m glad I’m doing it now.

Results not typical and may vary per individual. With a regular diet and exercise routine, typical weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. Please consult a physician before starting or changing a fitness routine. Personal training and virtual personal training available to 24 Hour Fitness members for an additional fee.

Photo credit: Leilani Manglona