Ballet ignited my love for strength, movement and flexibility. Under the tutelage of Mrs Valdez, it became a part of my life when I was 3 years old. I can vividly recall going to her studio on the south side of Belize City and taking the long walk through the alley to get to her house. It was an old colonial style, wooden home with two floors. The dance studio was downstairs. Mrs Valdez always wore full black, kept her hair up in a bun and embraced everyone who became a student of hers.
I did ballet until I was 12 years old. When I started high school, it was time for me to leave the craft behind but the construct of fitness, flexibility and body movement stayed with me. It helped me to be more mindful of how good it feels to be in a body that moves well. My legs received the most benefit from ballet I believe. As an adolescent, I was called thunder thighs but it had a negative connotation for me. Today, I love my “thunder thighs!”
My legs are strong and shapely and I love how they carry me through my life. Throughout high school, I was always in dance groups and active with friends on the weekend. It created a balance for me since I was no longer taking ballet classes. I took up running when I moved to Florida in my late teens. Weight seemed to melt off my body with running. Later, I got into yoga, cycling and eventually nurtured a relationship with weights. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.
As social media blossomed, I became and more and more comfortable with sharing my life in bits and pieces. One of my weekly shares became fitness activities, including weight lifting. My cousin started sending me nuggets of advice on some of my routines. Eventually she started to mention that I may be lifting too heavy. What? Nah. “Lighten up for what?”
I was following fit women on Instagram and felt sure of what I was doing. I shared with her what I’d learned from these women who lift heavy and how they shaped their bodies with heavy lifting. She kept insisting it wasn’t healthy for me. My uncle, her dad, has been in fitness for 58 years and she felt confident in what she had learned from him over the years.
I decided to take her advice. There were days it felt like I did lift too heavy and I’d be exhausted after. I started listening to my body more – paying attention to what felt good – what felt like “enough”. Just enough weights and just enough repetitions.
I asked if she could get some basic nuggets of information from him that could prove helpful to women, especially.
His name is Jorge Pelayo, widely known as Mr Pelayo, but I call him Tio. He is a lover of fitness – 58 years in the business and counting.
Tio started body building when he was 18 years old and still does weight lifting at the tender age of 76! In his late teens, he took a liking to football and wanted stronger legs for his role as a left winger. Little did he know that his love for football would lead him into a life long love affair with weight lifting. Bodybuilding gave him a natural high that lifted his spirit, enhanced his self esteem and made him look and feel younger.
Tio firmly believes that doing weights all these years and taking such good care of his body is what helped him to recover so quickly from hip surgery three years ago. He amazed his doctor with his “snap back” game. He was walking on his own within 6 weeks and back in the gym after three months. “Thanks to the Almighty, I am back to normal.” he says.
He attests that his self care rituals all these years aided in his rapid recovery.
Often leaning to ease and flow, I wanted some simple truths about fitness he could offer. Tell me simply Tio… a few nuggets of advice in the world of fitness.
Oftentimes, we complicate things but most of life is simple. If we pay attention to nature, we’d see the simplicity of so many things. Here’s what he had to say – solid pieces of advice from a fitness guru with almost 60 years experience in body building and fitness.
Nuggets of Advice for Everyone
- Eat lots of fruits, veggies and seafood.
- Drink lots of water and coconut water.
- Cut out sodas, especially coke.
- Eat home cooked meals as much as possible.
- Get 8 hours of sleep every night and take an hour nap some time during the day.
Nuggets of Advice for Women
- Heavy lifting is for women who compete professionally.
- 3 times a week minimum and 4 times maximum weight lifting for the average woman taking care of her body.
- Lighter weights will do wonders. Do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.
- Training with heavy weights for the non-competitor can damage the joints as you get older.
- It can also affect menstruation and make it irregular.
The “No pain. No gain.” movement is a myth to him. It can lead to serious injury.
He believes in “Train but don’t strain” and you’ll be fit for years.
Keep it moving. Even if you don’t get to the gym, do something. Ride, walk, run, dance – just move!
DO NOT DIET.
Simply make wise decisions about food. Eat healthy. Diets don’t work and can lead to the “yo-yo syndrome”.
Just find what works for your body and follow it. Make good choices and your body will love you for it.
Tio still trains in his gym today helping people achieve their fitness goals and still enjoys everything about fitness. His gym, Adonis Gym is located on the 2nd floor of the ITVet Building on St. Thomas Street in Belize City, BELIZE.
Among his many achievements in his years of bodybuilding and weight training, his most prized moments are those that inspire and help people along their fitness journey. This includes the everyday person who just wants to invest in their wellbeing and the competitor who wants to win!
Inspiring and guiding others to a better and healthier lifestyle turned bodybuilding into a life of service that has been most fulfilling for him.
Among some of the many amazing people he has trained, here are some that have competed and won under his wisdom and knowledge.
Faith Ferguson – Miss Figure Belize
Crystal Mendez – Miss Figure Belize
Josie Pollard – Ms Bikini Belize
Noel Nunez – Mr Belize, Mr Central America in Panama and Costa Rica
Ben McKoy – Mr Belize
Thomas Wright – Mr Belize and Mr Central America in Honduras
Fred Henry – Junior Mr Belize
Three years ago, his true appreciation for investing wisely in his temple to to full fruition.Witnessing how quickly he recovered from surgery was a testament to how vital it is that we take care of our bodies.
I’ve been so into working out sometimes that I could easily put in 2 hours even on a day when my body is telling me its tired. I’d leave the gym, feeling so tired after, with little energy to focus on other things. I’ve since lowered my weight lifting to pounds that feel better.
The whole conversation just reminded me of what I always find myself drawn to – balance.Just enough of everything, not leaning too much into anything except love. And, as you can see in a pic of him above, he has a beer once in a while.
A couple years ago, I changed my diet (as in what I eat). I suppose I could be considered a pescatarian.
The last time I dropped weight easily, I was working out 3 days a week for 40 mins each day, kept carbs, sugar and processed food to a minimum. It was such a simpler process and I had way more energy. It felt like the weight just melted off my body.
Just Listen to Your Body
Working out has never been an issue for me. If someone would just curb my love of chocolate and carbs, I’d be flaunting leaner curves and a tighter bootie in all my headstands. But NO, someone had to make chocolate.
Since I lowered the numbers on my weight lifting, I leave the gym less exhausted. As I write this I recall that time weight just melted off my body by just mostly watching what I ate. Exercise always plays a role of course but if you’re putting in long hours in the gym and longer hours in the kitchen then it’s all futile. Just listen to your body. It knows.
Have you ever just looked at food and just know you don’t want it? Your body knows! One of the best gift we can give ourselves is learning how to tune into our inner guidance system. The more in tuned we become with our vessel, the better guidance we will receive. It knows when it needs rest, what foods it wants to eat, how much is too much, what feels good and what doesn’t.
While there are unique situations that may require the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist, it really is a simple concept.
Eat Less. Move More.
I hope this helped you or inspired you to make your fitness journey simpler.
I hope you practice listening to your body. It knows.