Meet Rosie Battista

Location: Long Hill, NJ
Age: 50
Marital Status: Single
Education: B.A. in marketing and management from the College of Staten Island

The odds were against her. The competition was just four months away and the naysayers spoke loudly. “No one believed I could do it except my children,” says Rosie. They’d say, ‘you don’t have enough time,’ or ‘You’re 50—be realistic.’ I didn’t think about that. I just did the things I needed to do each day to get me to the next level.”

On August 28th, 2010, just four months after she started training, Rosie stood on stage, “35 pounds lighter, tanned, tighter, and brighter.” While she didn’t win a trophy, she won back something much more important—the confidence that had been eluding her. “Standing on the stage was one of the most magical moments of my life,” says Rosie. “I possessed strength beyond muscles.”

And where are you from originally?

Staten Island.

Your before and after pictures are shocking. Who is in the picture with you?

My daughter is standing next to me. We trained together and competed together. I just turned 50 and she just turned 20. I was the oldest in the competition and she was the youngest. It was awesome. A really special thing.

Do you have other children?

I have three; two sons and a daughter. I have a son that’s 29, a son that’s 25 and my daughter, who is now 21.

Are they all athletic?

Yes. My sons are both trainers. One owns a gym called The Body Shop Studio in Stirling, New Jersey. He just finished training a contestant on last season’s Biggest Loser. My daughter is an exercise science major applying to grad school to be a registered dietitian. She’s also starting point guard for her college basketball team. We are all really passionate about getting people to feel better about their bodies. We bicker and fight, but we all have the same mission.

Were your parents athletic?

My dad was a Jack LaLanne follower. He had a makeshift gym in the basement of our house with a pull-down machine that he made from wood. He’d hang out down their with his buddies lifting weights and blasting 50s music. I was always down there watching him. There’s something about working out that connects me to my past. The clanging of the weights or the feeling of being there with the music is really powerful for my soul.

What about your mom?

She wasn’t into working out, but she would feed us well. I’m not sure if it was to save money or to be healthy, but she would take orange juice and water it down and mix the sweetened cereal with the non-sweetened kind. We weren’t allowed to have soda unless we were at a party.

How did you get into fitness?

I was always a weight watcher… an addictive dieter, really. I was never 200 pounds overweight; at most I was 20-30 pounds overweight, but it affected my self esteem and everything I did. I had a trainer for a long time. Then, ten years ago, when I got divorced, I needed to generate some income on my own and I knew with personal training I could start up a business and generate money right away.

Are you still a personal trainer?

Yes. I train people out of my son’s gym, but I like to get into people’s lives so I can help them from all angles. I see one of my clients twice a week, we talk about what she’s eating and I even went into her house and helped her clean out her kitchen, took her grocery shopping, and showed her alternatives that she could eat and how to prepare them.

Besides the training, what are you working on now?

I’m just trying to change one person, one day at a time, one meal at a time. I also am finishing my books. I wrote Sleeping Naked After 40 about my own struggle with weight. One day I said, “God, just to feel comfortable in my skin and my body would be awesome.” I developed a program that can be done in 12 weeks or 12 months. I wrote the book to have 12 chapters for that reason. It’s about discovering yourself, taking care of your body and losing weight so you have more confidence to fully participate in your life and do the things you love.

Tell me about your cookbook.

I wrote Cooking Naked After 40 because a lot of my clients needed help implementing the nutrition advice I was giving them. I have a couple cookbooks down the line, that are 95% done, one is called Sweetly Naked with all chocolate recipes and one is called Simply Naked, it shows you how to simply transition from the standard American diet to whole foods eating.

Is there a secret power food you recommend for weight loss?

Well, I tell my clients, “Imagine a pill that could make you less depressed, make your skin clear, your digestion better and that could prevent cancer and heart disease with no side effects. Would you take it?” Well, that ‘pill’ is green, leafy vegetables. They’re so powerful, the minute you start incorporating them into your diet you will feel better and then you’ll eventually lose weight.

What is your biggest indulgence?

I love dark chocolate. I will buy eight or ten dollar bars of the best chocolate. If I’m not training for a show, I’ll have a piece of dark chocolate every day. I make a homemade peanut-butter-cup treat. It has pecan butter inside, raw cacoa and coconut oil. I love baking and adapting recipes to get rid of white flour and white sugar.

Are you married?

No. I’ve been divorced two times. Now I’m single and happy.

What is your own workout routine?

I workout in the morning before I do anything else. If I’m not training for a show and just trying to keep in shape I will do two to three full body workouts per week which take about 45 minutes. I also do 30 minutes of cardio, a 2-minute walk and 1-minute sprint, then repeat. If I was training for a show, my routine is a bit different. I’d workout my legs on Monday, my back on Tuesday, then take Wednesday off or do Yoga. On Thursday I’d work my glutes and hamstrings and on Friday, my shoulders and arms.

What motivates you?

I love clothes, and I like to look good in them. That’s my superficial motivation. But, it’s also that I’m an inspiration to a lot of people. That keeps me going. Working out has become a part of me now.

Do you ever take a break?

Well, there’s never a time I’m not working out because then I just don’t feel good. It’s not something I force myself to do. I really have fallen in love with it. It’s my anti-depressant.

Do you have any favorite clothing designers?

I like vintage. I have a collection of 1950s dresses including one designed by Oscar de la Renta. I love Diane von Furstenberg. Her clothing fits really well. It clings to my body so I can show it off.

Do you have a favorite thrift or vintage store?

Incogneeto on Division Street in Somerville has an awesome vintage collection. If I’m looking for something really costumey from a certain era, I go there to find it. I also like Unique in Somerville, it’s a thrift shop with all kinds of stuff. You have to pick through, but you can get great items for three or four dollars.

What advice do you have for someone starting on a weight loss journey or struggling with one?

Set a goal, but that goal can’t just be weight loss. It can be a 5k or another kind of competition or event. Then, just concentrate on what you are doing each minute to get you toward the larger goal. For instance, faced with the choice: mashed potato or baked potato? I’m going to pick the baked potato. All those little things add up and count.

Is there a secret exercise routine you recommend for weight loss?

I believe it matters less what you do, as long as you do something. If you are consistently working out and changing it up enough, you’ll see results.

What advice do you have about being over 50?

Be proud and excited about your age. A friend of mine was turning 50 and depressed about it. I said to her, “I’m so excited. I finally feel really comfortable being me. All of the experiences in my past have made me who I am and I’m not embarrassed of them, I’m grateful.

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