Want to get into sports but don’t think you’re athletic, fit, or coordinated enough?
That was Marjorie Duran. Obese in her younger years, she tried her hand at popular sports like volleyball or badminton—“tried” being the operative word. “I never really learned to play, heck I couldn’t even properly serve or catch the ball,” she tells My Pope Philippines.
Motivated to achieve society’s perception of a “normal body” to end all the teasing, she got into sports and lost the weight all right. But she gained something valuable in the process: self-confidence and the drive to engage in non-mainstream sports for herself and not to be liked or accepted.
Today, this 28-year-old Senate PR writer and part-time HIIT coach is more than fit—she’s a fitspiration to followers of Mommy Marj, her YouTube channel containing videos on “a first-time mom who tries to strike a balance between staying fit, doing good at my writing job, seeing places, and being the best mom that I could be to my one-year-old baby Cayden Alon.” Notable content includes her 14-minute video on how she lost weight after giving birth—with less exercise and no dieting at that! (Read: 3 Workout Videos on YouTube for Beginners)
My Pope Philippines chats with Marj about her favorite sports, rocking a bikini, and her advise to people who prioritize others before themselves.
Which sport is your favorite, and which sport remains a challenge?
I feel like I was made for dragon boat. I attended every boat training session that I could, worked my ass off at the gym, and pretty much did everything that would help improve my strength and help me stand out and prove to our coach that I was worthy to compete. It took a while before our coach noticed me, but in less than a year I managed to compete. (Note: Marj started with Riptide Dragon Boat Team and is now part of United Paddlers Club Philippines. She has won competitions as a member of both teams.)
Muay Thai remains a challenge. While I really love it, I still cannot perfectly execute every move. But this is maybe because I am not as focused and invested in training for Muay Thai than I am in dragon boat.
Hats off to you for rocking a bikini and sports bra! Have you always been comfortable with your body?
Since I grew up obese and with people making fun of me, calling me names like baboy, taba, and napabayaan sa kusina, I was never really comfortable with my body.
Yes, I can rock a bikini and train in a sports bra, but I must admit that I still have insecurities, which may have been rooted in the bullying I was subjected to as a kid. I’m just happy that little by little, I get to wear these clothes that I want because they make me feel good.
How do you manage to stay disciplined with your diet and fitness routine?
With fitness, I always live by the line “It is not about having time but making time.” Despite my busy schedule taking care of my son and attending to my work, I make sure that I allot at least 3-4 days a week (at least one hour per session or even less if I am really busy) for my workout. It probably helps that fitness has already become a lifestyle that is why I look at working out as part of my life, my routine, and my plans. (Read: Triathlete Vanj Endaya Shares Her Fitness Routine Amid Lockdown)
With my diet, I manage to stay disciplined by choosing a healthy yet sustainable diet. I don’t rely on fad diets that I know I won’t be able to sustain in the years to come. And while I eat a lot of vegetables and cook a lot of healthy meals, I also make sure that I do not deprive myself of the food that I like, so I give in to my cravings from time to time, but everything in moderation.
Who is your fitness inspiration?
When I started working out pre-pregnancy years, I would always bump into or meet fit moms at the gym, especially in my previous gym at Fitness First, where I witnessed how they glow and how they were happy and strong. And best is, they don’t look their age! I remember meeting a mom who was surprisingly 60 years old but she was so strong and could even do the same workout routine that I was doing, perhaps even better. I told myself that I want to be like them when I get old—strong and happy—or when I get to be a mom myself.
What is your ultimate sports or fitness goal?
I have always wanted to be a triathlete but I hadn’t had the time and resources to fulfill it. I only learned to ride a bike this year and I only have basic swimming knowledge. So when the pandemic’s over, I want to have formal swimming lessons while continuing my bike and run training.
Also, I really want to improve my strength when the gyms operate again, since my weight training temporarily stopped when I gave birth via cesarean section. Now that I can do it again, I’m hoping to resume with powerlifting or weightlifting again. (Read: Coleen Garcia Delivers Baby via Water Birth: Benefits and Risks)
What advice would you give moms who “let themselves go” because they focus all their attention and energy on the needs of their kids and family?
First off, I believe that all moms deserve kudos for doing a great job because taking care of a child is already a big challenge in itself. If there is one advice that I want to tell them, it is this: “Never ever become too hard on yourself and never compare your situation with anyone. You are doing good.” (Read: 5 Things You Really Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom)
In my case, I am blessed to have a mom who helps me take care of my son so I can have a few hours to myself. Unfortunately, not everyone has this privilege so some are really forced to focus all their attention and energy on the needs of their family—and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you have extra time, I suggest moms do something for themselves every one in a while, something that makes them happy and relaxed, and clears their minds of all the stressful things—be it working out, shopping, reading, or listening to music. Don’t forget to take care of and love yourself while you are taking care of your family.