40-pound weight loss inspires Sonoma personal trainer to share what she knows
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. It’s 5:30 a.m. and the sounds of an aggressive alarm go off welcoming Danielly Rocha to a new day. All her mornings start out the same, seven days a week, with that 5:30 alarm. The busy mother and owner of Danielly’s Fitness in Sonoma takes advantage of her early start as a way to set up her day to maximize her time.
She wakes up and works out until 7 a.m., then she wakes her daughter. The two eat breakfast and head out the door for daycare. After Rocha, 35, drops off her 3-year-old daughter, she heads out to begin a full day of work as a personal trainer.
It’s 8:30 a.m., and her workday has officially started. A typical day consists of meeting clients, answering emails and phone calls, business meetings and occasionally covering personal training sessions for her employees.
“I am a personal trainer, but I am also running a business at the same time,” said Rocha on how she wears multiple hats throughout the day. “On top of that, I am a mom and a wife as well.”
By 5 p.m. Rocha is done with work. She picks up her daughter from daycare and heads home. By 5:30 p.m., she’s making dinner, a family favorite is Feijoada, a traditional Brazilian pork or beef stew with beans.
The beans are always made from scratch because as a Brazilian, “eating beans from a can is a sin," Rocha said.
At 6:30 p.m., the family of three eats and after dinner, Rocha and her husband start their bedtime routine for their daughter. And by 8 p.m. the little one is in bed.
Following a full 15-hour day on her feet, running her business, meeting clients, making dinner and connecting with family, one would think it’s time to unwind or go to sleep, but Rocha’s mind isn’t ready to rest. She either reads a book or watches a movie with her husband while simultaneously checking emails because, as a business owner, the work never stops.
Finally, around 9:30 p.m., Rocha is in bed and recharging for the night as another tasked-filled day awaits her in eight hours.
Leaving Brazil for Sonoma
Originally from southeast Brazil, Rocha grew up in the capital city of Espirito Santo, Vitória. In Vitória, she lived on the beachfront, and at that time, her whole life was dedicated to sports and the ocean. Rocha played volleyball, soccer, surfed and was even a lifeguard.
In 2009, she moved to the United States at 21 years old to work as an au pair for a family in Sonoma. During that time, she didn’t speak any English — only Portuguese. The plan was to become an au pair in Spain, but found Sonoma County more affordable than Europe.
Seeing the need to learn English quickly, Rocha’s mother paid for English lessons when she settled in Sonoma. On top of learning a new language, Rocha was by herself in a new country.
“I didn't know anyone. At first, it felt like an adventure leaving your country, your family and your friends and coming to a country where you barely spoke the language,” she said of that time. “And later I was crying almost every day. I was out of my comfort zone, but a few months later, I met my two best friends, my husband and a Brazilian friend.”
When she first got to Sonoma, she worked 40 hours a week as an au pair and lived with her host family. She also worked as a dishwasher at a local restaurant to earn more money to travel and explore Northern California.
Catalyst for change
Then, she was eating lots of fast food that she gained 45 pounds.
“When I came in 2009, I met my first best friend, McDonald’s,” she said.
Recognizing how much her body changed, Rocha wanted to do something about it. Looking back at that time in her life, Rocha said she was depressed because she missed her family, which led to filling that emotional void with food.
“I tried everything that everybody does to lose weight. I tried diet pills, diet books and I even went to Food Addicts Anonymous,” she said.
Then, one day she was watching the female wrestlers on WWE, and thought “why can’t I look like that?”
It was after that segment that she started studying wellness. She learned about nutrition, weight lifting and how to recalibrate her mind. This is where she realized she needed to be in good mental shape before starting a physical journey to lose weight.
“That day I finally decided that I was going to lose weight. I started applying myself and really started to understand the concept of weight loss,” she said.
Rocha began hitting the gym and credits adopting healthier eating habits, and learning how to cook, as a major factor in her losing weight. All that paired with a positive mindset and over time, she finally started to see progress in her weight loss journey.