When Angela Bautista and Nikki Apostolidis were both accepted for Get Fit United, they gave the united concept new meaning – they’re sisters.
“We had fingers crossed and we jut got lucky,” said Bautista of them both being accepted on their first try and why it has meant so much to them.
They were chosen from 125 applications to the United Way program. The sisters, living only a block away from each other in St. Rose, were accepted in February and started the program in March.
“It’s a lot more motivational,” Apostolidis said of getting fit with her sister. “How we both got selected is kind of crazy to me, but it’s crazy good. I’m young and I’m having a lot of health issues. I have two kids, ages 2 and 4, so I want to be able to keep pace with them.”
Bautista agreed the two helping each other made a difference in their success.
“It was especially important with us having lost our grandmother in June,” she said. “We needed that little extra push.”
Together, they met their weight loss goals.
Bautista dropped 30 pounds and Apostolidis has lost 17 pounds, exceeding her goal by three pounds and counting.
Both of them say it was the traumatic loss of their grandmother that made them realize they needed healthier lives.
For Bautista, the experience has meant more than pounds lost.
“I needed to learn how to lose weight and live better so I can live longer for my children,” she said. “It’s not only helping me in 12 weeks, but in life because I didn’t know calories or carbs.”
Apostolidis started the program weighing 300 pounds so the weight she’s lost is an encouraging start to her plan to improve her life choices.
“I feel great,” she said. “I’ve had the hardest year of my life. We were very close to our grandmother and she passed away a year ago. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, which also took a toll on me. I didn’t even want to get out of bed on some days, but with two small kids, I can’t do that.”
She began seeing a therapist that helped, but she attributes her significant improvement to Get Fit and what she has achieved in it by she and her sister helping each other.
Bautista has learned how to make better choices at restaurants and with helping her children, who are getting to see her going to the gym.
“I’m in gym clothes six days out of the week,” she said enthusiastically. “I’m also comfortable. My kids have noticed the difference.”
She was elated when her 9-year-old son announced, “Wow, Mom. You’re a lot smaller.” At the beach, he again told her, “You’re a lot skinnier.”
Bautista glowed over the achievement.
Get Fit has brought many more changes, as well as left her with lasting appreciation for the support she received with the program.
“It’s not only me that’s changing, but it’s my household,” she said. “It means a lot to me.”
Her mother, who has diabetes and lives with Bautista, her husband and three kids, has learned from her daughter’s new lifestyle, too. They eat better and exercise more.
Get Fit offered the kind of direction in life that made the change possible. She recalled signing up for other gyms, but didn’t get the support or direction she got with the UW program.
“It’s amazing,” Bautista said. “If you’re feeling down, you just send a message and there’s always someone there with encouragement like ‘Let’s go work out and get your mind off it.’”
Fighting back tears, Bautista recounted what this kind of help has meant to her.
“I grew up in a life where I didn’t have that kind of support,” she said. “It’s making me more confident. Everyone should feel comfortable in their body.”
Bautista’s husband is complimenting her, too. But she emphasized that she rates her success not only on pounds lost, but how she’s feeling, too, and it has come with many victories.
Recently, a neighbor gave her cake, but she passed it on to her husband, who brought it to work. She explained what she did to her neighbor, who approved, and Bautista felt more confident about controlling her diet.
“I literally knew I’d be the only one eating it in the house,” she said. “It’s there so it’s on my mind, but I was strong minded and decided to get rid of it while I can.”
On Mother’s Day, however, she allowed herself a little treat – a piece of Chantilly Cake from Whole Foods. She didn’t eat all the icing, but loved the cake and fruit. The treat was based on a trade – she gave up crawfish for the treat.
“My doctor told me that whatever I’m doing to keep on doing it,” she said. “It’s hard, but I got used to it. It’s just mind over matter.”
Apostolidis added their significant connection as sisters made the difference, too.
“It definitely helps because there are days one of us feels in a funk and doesn’t want to do anything,” she said. “The one is like ‘C’mon, let’s just go for an hour then you will feel totally different.’ We are definitely each other’s biggest supporters.”