More than 3,500 of you entered our Face of FITNESS cover contest and blew us away with your enthusiasm and dedication to an active lifestyle. Some told us about losing 100 (+!) pounds, while others shared how they maintained their fitness levels after retiring their childhood gymnastics uniform. Readers voted for their favorites, and five women were flown to New York City this summer for a photo shoot. While only one could be our November/December cover model, we were so impressed by all of the women that we wanted to tell you more about each of them. So each Tuesday during the month of November, The Fit Stop will be featuring one of the Face of FITNESS finalists. Get ready to be inspired!
Maria Pontillo, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
For Maria, 27, staying active isn't about looking good: "I eat right and exercise not just for myself, but to have energy to care for others," says the physical therapist who moonlights as an aerobics instructor and personal trainer.
Sanity saver "During the week, I'm moving from the moment I step out of bed to when I hit the sheets at night. On Sunday, I give myself permission to take the day off to get a massage or relax at the beach."
My mantra "I have several phrases that I repeat to keep me focused during races (I've completed 10 5Ks and five duathlons). My favorite is a take on something Lance Armstrong said: 'Pain is temporary, quitting is permanent."
Power foods "I eat every 90 minutes to keep my energy up, and I always have healthy snacks on hand. Here are five of my favorites."
- Chobani Greek yogurt with almonds
- One egg cooked over hard on toast
- Slices of deli turkey
- Chocolate milk