When it comes to exercise, fitness goals, and weight loss, Angel Williams knows the whole story. This Montclair exercise coordinator used to weigh some 400 pounds, but over the past two years she's lost more than half her body weight. At the same time, she's helping others reach their fitness goals at the New York Sports Club, teaching hip hop, power step, and total body conditioning classes.
"You can't be unrealistic about the exercise/weight loss process," said Williams after one of her popular classes. "You're not going to lose 30 pounds in two weeks!"
Williams said the best way to start an exercise program is the simplest: go for a walk. "Our bodies were made to walk. Keep up your energy with songs, use the time to think, work toward your goals two to three times a week," she advised. "Then challenge yourself, add three-pound hand weights to your routine, go up a hill."
Williams, who has gone from a size 28 to a size 14, said many overweight people are afraid to join a gym because they don't fit the image. "We hear an imaginary peanut gallery laughing at us. The first big step is telling yourself you can do it!" she explained. "Face your fears and decide what you want out of life."
Prospective members should check out the classes at a gym, try the free orientation sessions if available, and ask a certified instructor to demonstrate the various machines. From her experience teaching at NYSC and the Montclair YMCA, where she was a fitness instructor for five years, she advises newcomers to "enjoy each workout and have fun as you become flexible and fit."
Whether you exercise early in the morning or after work in the evening (three hours after your last meal) the pattern should include a 10-minute warm-up on the bike or treadmill, weights for 20 minutes, and cardio for 20 minutes, she noted. And, of course, a cool-down period at the conclusion.
Williams said building up to a weekly pattern of walking plus going to the gym is the best combination. "One day off is a good idea too!" she noted.
She's not a fan of dieting. "Dieting is the devil's work and it doesn't work," she said.
"I eat in moderation and look for quality not quantity. I avoid coffee, processed sugar, and alcoholic drinks," she said. "I've learned how to eat for my blood type through a program that emphasizes this system." Williams said she has learned that exercise can offset indulging in the wrong food. "Don't punish yourself," she said. "Tell yourself that every day you can start fresh."
This native of Fort Pierce, Florida said weight has been an issue in her life since she was about 10 years old. "Most women overeat to fill some longing or find something that is missing," she said. "There's nothing wrong with a piece of cake. The problem is the whole cake!"
Don't become discouraged about achieving your fitness and health goals, Williams cautioned. "Take a reality check. Work on yourself. It's a journey; success comes after you fail so much you can't fail anymore."
Williams believes everyone should have a dream. She's fulfilling hers by developing her music career as a singer, songwriter, and choreographer who performs in many venues throughout New Jersey and New York. "What kind of music do I like? Pop, rock, soul, folk, jazz, gospel, country: I cover the gamut!" she said with enthusiasm.
She added that local friends and colleagues always supported her goals. "Montclair is a beautiful diamond. People here have done a lot for me!" Williams said as she packed up her gear.