As the former editor in chief of Shape (the active lifestyle magazine) for 5 years, I personally spoke with a lot of women (thousands over the years, from around the nation) and what I found is this: it’s not easy to stay healthy, to get (and stay) fit, and to stem the weight gain tide (and even the tide of disease) that inevitably happens to us as we get older. I also heard from so many women who were in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and even 80s saying “Hey, what about us?!” We need fitness, diet/nutrition, and confidence-boosting advice too. Well, I’m hoping to provide daily tips and inspiration for everyone—no matter what your age—through this site.

I’ve also been an advocate of healthy living for years….I got interested in it in my late teens, which is when—ironically enough—I started subscribing to and reading Shape magazine. I’m passionate about finding the best advice on caring for our bodies—from what we find on the web to what’s written in books, magazines, and more. New diet? I’m all over it. That woman on the train who had an amazing recovery story? I’m talking to her to get her advice and tips on staying healthy and strong. Cool new product at the supermarket? I’m tweeting about it while I’m cruising down the aisles.

I’m searching for the best ways to keep my body healthy, as well as the bodies of my family (my guy; my eldest son who’s 15; my daughter, who’s 11 (going on 21); and my youngest son who’s 7 years old) and my friends. And I’m always struggling to stay balanced, with less stress and anxiety. And now I’m hoping to help you too.

What I’ve found over the years is that consistency is key: staying slim, sculpted & sane isn’t easy, but if you take little baby steps each day, you will succeed in becoming the best you. Yes, you’ll have slip ups (I have, many times), but you just get right back on track the next day and move forward. You don’t dwell, you don’t worry that you’ve gained 15 pounds after downing that whole plate of French fries, you don’t beat yourself up and tell yourself you’re no good and have no willpower and are destined to be fat. You just get right back up and move forward. You are not destined to be anything but your best, even if your parents were a certain way…something that’s important to remember.

My own story is this: I used to have a closet with sizes from 14 to 4. Each time I got pregnant, I gained 50 to 70 POUNDS! for each kid. Crazy?! I know; I’ve heard all the doctors say (and read plenty of studies) that say gaining that much weight is no good—for mom or baby. But sometimes, it’s too darn hard to stop it. For me, the call of Starbucks egg and bacon (or sausage) sandwiches every morning, macaroni and cheese, huge blueberry muffins from the deli, and just anything that hinted at some sort of comfort food was too strong to resist—and I packed on the pounds. But each time, I took off the weight through daily tweaks and consistent diet and exercise (no, not every day, but a pretty regular routine).

Valerie Latona

A pic of me running my butt off in a 5K race…

And since then, I’ve hit my lowest body fat percentage (21%) and signed up for and finished my first triathlon (I finished 386th out of more than 1,000 women—an achievement I’m hugely proud of as I was terrified to do the triathlon in the first place). Now I’m running races (that’s me, at left, running a race in the freezing cold) and hitting the gym 4 to 5 times a week, running, swimming, and strength training. And I hope to share the routines that I’m doing right here so you can follow along too.

My motto is this: Every single person has the power, the courage, and the strength within them to make changes and to be their best. Sometimes it’s buried deep under layers of insecurity, family and personal issues, and a bit of extra weight. We all inherently know what we need to do, what’s right for us and our family, but we get distracted by what we read in the media, what we hear from our friends, what we think we can/can’t do. Follow your gut; we bury our get-healthy instincts so much of the time, but I’m here to help. I want to help you to bring out your best—and I hope with my advice here, I can do that.