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Season Shines Brighter for Ohio Caregiver

Paula Visingardi was in a rough spot in early 2015 when she received a postcard that helped change her life.

Visingardi had recently said goodbye to her father, who passed away in January 2015, about a year after her mother’s death. She had spent nearly five years caring for her ill parents, even quitting her job running the copy center for a school district in Poland, Ohio.  As she focused on her parents and family, Visingardi, who is married with four grown children and two grandchildren, had put her own needs on the backburner. She was feeling depressed and had gained 30 pounds.

“I think I’ve always been in pretty good shape and I never thought of myself as fat, but the weight just kept climbing,” said Visingardi. “I felt like I had to do something for me.”

That help came in the form of a postcard from Fitness Together (FT). The company was offering private, one-on-one personal training sessions. Embarrassed by her weight gain, Visingardi felt private coaching was exactly what she needed.

“I didn’t want anyone but my husband, Jim, to know what I was doing. I had tried just about everything and nothing had worked,” she said. “And I think the hardest part for me was just walking in the door. I was so insecure.”


She took the leap and decided to focus on herself for a change, a move that ultimately helped improve many aspects of her life and the lives of those around her.

Visingardi received nutrition, cardio and exercise guides as part of her training and spent the next nine months attending personal classes for 45-minutes, three days a week, plus 300 minutes of cardio (mostly walking) on her own. She ditched fast food and began eating smaller, more frequent protein-enriched meals, which kept her from feeling hungry. Fitness Together’s nutrition program, called Nutrition Together, gave her boundaries that fit her personal lifestyle.  

“I started training in April 2015 and ran my first 5k in October, with three of my children by my side,” she said. “I have been 100 percent committed to FT, and it has really paid off.”

“Paula makes my job worthwhile,” added Erin Mellinger, who owns the Fitness Together studio in Poland and has worked with Visingardi as a personal trainer. “It’s so fulfilling to see people reach their goals. When you look and feel your best, you can give the world your best.”

In addition to losing 30 pounds, Visingardi lost several dress sizes. Her heart rate, which used to be high, is now the same as it is after three minutes of working hard on a treadmill. But she’s even more grateful for her improved mood, as Visingardi says getting fit and losing weight has made her happier.

“Exercise is now an outlet for me. I work out five or six times a week and feel I have been blessed with a new beginning. I’m happier, more interactive with my kids and grandchildren and just think I am a better person,” she said.

Taking control of her life was the best gift Visingardi could give herself. As the busy holiday season approaches, her story serves as a reminder of the importance of self-care, something that for many of us, too often falls by the wayside.

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