Bladensburg woman achieves bodybuilding victory
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Eight years ago, doctors warned Rotunda "Ro" Mobley that at 329 pounds her weight put her at risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, and was slowly killing her.
But on April 9 weighing in at a trim 150 pounds a healthier Mobley claimed first place at a Baltimore bodybuilding competition.
Mobley, 46, who lives near Bladensburg, said the 2011 Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders Eastern Regional was a demanding experience. The event, her third such competition, required intense physical training even during the event, she said.
"When in back waiting, you're working out, pumping iron," Mobley said. "[When] they call you out on stage, you do the best poses flexing, flexing, flexing."
After the judges examined Mobley and her lone competitor, evaluating their muscles based on size, symmetry and presentation, Mobley was declared the winner in the women's 35-and-older division and the open division. Her two first-place wins won her the overall prize among the 54 competitors, both male and female.
"It really made my day. I felt like I was on cloud 11," Mobley said, adding that she previously took part in two competitions in Washington, D.C., winning first prize in the novice category at the Presidential Cup in August.
Mobley, who works as an EMT at Washington Hospital Center, said she began losing weight after she was tired of seeing "obese" in her file at the doctor's office.
At first she began walking. Then running. Then jumping rope.
About a year into her weight-loss quest, she joined a gym, which opened the door to bodybuilding in 2009.
Her physician, Lipishree Nayak, said many obese patients promise to change their lifestyles but never do. But once Mobley's weight started to come down, she grew more and more determined, Nayak said.
"Once [Mobley] started on the path she knew she was doing the right thing," Nayak said. "Now she's a different person, she's very energetic."
Her transformation was amazing to see, said Jay Brennan, a neighbor and co-worker who has known Mobley for 18 years.
"She was ... a rather large girl," Brennan said. "I've seen a lot of people struggling with their weight," he said, adding he's often seen medical workers who take care of patients but not themselves.
Now that she's slimmer, she has much more energy, said Mobley who is also a part-time personal trainer.
"I've kept some of my [old] apparel so I never forget where I come from," Mobley said. "It's very baggy."
Teri Roberts met Mobley while working out at the same gym in Landover, and said Mobley always explain the exercises she was doing to anyone who asked.
"She was always at the gym. It was like, Do you ever go home?'" Roberts said. "Her enthusiasm is so infectious."
Mobley's story of losing weight and getting fit is important to the people who know and work with her, Roberts said.
"It gives people hope ... if she did it, then it's possible for me to have that kind of result," she said.