Malinda Hernandez, R.N. Page ContentJuly 2015She has made diet and exercise her life, and has even inspired her husband and two children to become runners.Have you always been active?I wasn’t particularly athletic growing up. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I started eating healthy and got serious about exercise. I just decided to make diet and exercise my life.When did you start running in marathons?I started in 1991 and have been competing ever since. Both of my kids and my husband are runners now, too.How did you go about making diet and exercise your life?I did it very slowly. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s not a quick fix. Over time, it becomes habit.What motivated you in the first place to make a change?As a teen, I went from 150 pounds to 117. In my 20s, a car accident had me sidelined for a time and my weight went back up to 175 pounds.What kind of progress have you seen?I’m now in my 40s and down to 114 pounds. It took me a few years to get to this weight but I’ve kept it off for 20 years. What do you typically eat?I change it up so I don’t get bored. I try new recipes. I eat something every couple of hours, drink four 16-ounce bottles of water or more a day, and eat five pieces of fruit. I try to eat dinner by 6.For breakfast I might have an egg white omelet with lean ham and a low-fat cheese stick. Lunch might be a grilled chicken wrap with low-fat cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and yellow mustard, a few pita chips or mini rice cakes and a piece of fruit. For dinner I’ll have salmon, or grilled chicken, with something green, some tomatoes and more fruit. During the day I’ll snack on fruit, a protein shake or smoothie.Is running your only exercise? How often do you work out?I’m a member at an LA Fitness gym. I work out three times a week there on the elliptical, with free weights, exercise ball and other equipment. I also work out at home. Altogether, I work out five to six times a week from 45 minutes to two hours.Is changing your diet and running in marathons as easy as you make it seem?It’s a lot of hard work. You have to work up to it. You basically get out of it what you put into it.What advice can you give others?Try not to have unrealistic expectations. Make short-term goals. Remember that you’re making lifelong changes. Think about the food pyramid. You know, it takes time to learn new behaviors and some trial and error.Read labels when you’re shopping or eating out. Sharing your goals with others will give you motivation. Lastly, don’t deny yourself or you’ll end up binging.