06/03/2013 11:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Moms Change the World: Wendy Ida


Wendy Ida's dream is to help women over forty find the strength and power within themselves to change their lives--and she is living her dream every day. Ida believes that you can change everything about your life at any time, if you are willing to do the work. For Ida the work is mental. That's right--her mantra is that fitness is a state of mind--yes, it's about what you do and eat, but more importantly, fitness is about what you think and believe about yourself. Ida knows firsthand what it means to turn your life around when you're an adult. She was forty-three when she fell in love with health and fitness and began the process of living anew.

As a young woman, Ida was so enmeshed in self-loathing that she allowed herself to stay in an abusive marriage on the East Coast for thirteen years. She was afraid that her ex-husband would beat her if she spoke up for herself, and she acknowledges that watching her own mother's abuse created in her the idea that abusive treatment meant love. The tide finally shifted when she realized that her children were suffering as much as she. When she witnessed her ex-husband giving their five-year-old son a swig of beer, she saw her son's life flash before eyes, and in order to save her children she brought them with her to California where her sister lived. Ida's transformation into a new person didn't happen overnight. "I was just starting to live at forty-three," she says. It was a process, and it continues to be so.

It's taken many years for Ida to speak of the abuse. "I still have some shame and embarrassment about it but I know other women can benefit from hearing where I've been and seeing who I am today. Nothing is impossible," she says. But Ida recognizes that getting truly healthy and whole emotionally, mentally, and physically, is a task that requires desire and commitment. And it requires emotional, mental, and physical action. Ida is clear that a change of one's thinking is mandatory. For her, she had to decide that she wanted to be who she was born to be more than she wanted anything else.

Today at sixty-one-years-old this mom and grandma looks great in her short denim tennis skirt and a fitted, capped-sleeve tee shirt. Ida says, "As we get older we tend to get lazy and settle for less, and I'm just not willing to do that." Ida competes in (and wins!) fitness competitions against women twenty years younger than she. She's written a best-selling book titled Take Back Your Life, and she travels around the country speaking to groups of women who are looking for a life makeover. She's been featured in Essence magazine as the sixty-year-old age-defying beauty, and she inspires women worldwide to take control of their health and their lives. Although her children are now thriving adults, she says she wouldn't be who she is today if it were not for them. "I loved them more than I loved myself," she says, and "that love helped me take me life back."

For Ida, the most meaningful thing in her life is the gift she brings to others. "I help people jump-start the process of taking control of their lives. I love fitness and health. It helps me feel a sense of power, strength, youth, and energy like nothing else does." She describes her passion for fitness as a little fire within her that grew and grew. And that fire continues to burn as she ignites that same passion in others.

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