Raquel Benton, RN, Internal Medicine, Pearland Page ContentBeing a fitter, slimmer version of herself is good for Raquel Benton’s health – as well as her self-esteem. Following a divorce a couple of years ago, Raquel Benton was ready to get in shape. The first 10 pounds dropped quickly, but to go farther she had to hit the gym. She’s there most nights for at least an hour, working on cardio and strength. Raquel’s lost almost 40 pounds and is in great shape. While she’s glad to be healthier, she admits looking good is a bonus. Which of your health achievements make you most proud?Besides losing so much weight, I’ve significantly developed muscles in places I never had definition. I’m proud because I’m walking the walk and a living example to others. What was your diet like before you starting getting healthier?It’s hard to cook for one person, so I ate out a lot. Then I would just eat leftovers for lunch. I just didn’t feel good, so I decided to change. How did you start?The first thing I did was cut out alcohol. I immediately noticed a drop in weight. Then I made more small changes. I drank more water and ate less fast food. I love Mexican food, but I cut way back on that. Did you see results?The first 10 pounds dropped really quickly and easily, but then the weight plateaued. I knew it was time to try something different. That’s when I started working out. Exercise helped get me over the plateau and keep off the weight. Describe your workout routine.I work out five days a week: one hour cardio and one hour weights. Two or three days a week I go to the gym, one day I do a routine at home and one day I work with a trainer. Sometimes I do boot camp on Saturday. I like to run, too, especially outside. What’s your least favorite activity?It’s definitely stretching. I’m not very flexible. I’ve tried yoga, but it’s really hard for me. How do you work exercise into your schedule?I’m at late-night person from working nights for 14 years, so I like to go to the gym late, like 9 p.m. It makes me tired and helps me sleep better. What benefits do you think you get from exercise?Besides helping me drop weight, working out puts me in a better mood and makes me more positive. I think it’s the effect of all those good endorphins. When I don’t work out my energy level is low. Also, when I weigh less I don’t have as many aches and pains. Is it hard to stick to your diet?I’ve never gone crazy; I’ve done it in moderation. I don’t go overboard. A lot of people go back to their bad eating habits if a diet is too strict or complicated. I wanted to make a life change, not just go on a diet. I switch it up so that I don’t get bored. What are your goals?I want to drop another five or 10 pounds, and I want to tone up more. When people look at me, I want them to think, “She looks good,” not just, “She’s lost weight.” If you could give people two pieces of advice for getting fit, what would they be?No excuses. People have all kinds of excuses. If you don’t think you have enough time, do 10 minutes of something. Start … and don’t stop. Even if you have to back down, keep going in some way.