On February 15, I celebrated a milestone. I can said with certainty that now, after 8 long years, I have finally mastered the balancing act of eating almost everything I like and keeping fit, and it has been a bit challenging to say the least.
On November of 2011, weighing over 200 lbs, I was admitted to the emergency room with shortness of breath, heart palpitations and other health complications due to my weight. I had just verily ended a really bad relationship. I was a single mother, working at a very sedentary and stressful job, eating mainly highly processed foods, high in fat, sugar and salt.
The emergency doctor advised I should start a diet and lose the extra weight, however, due to lack of money, I could not afford to buy food and I depended on food donations from the food bank and from the local pantry store.
Finally, on January 20, 2012, when I was able to find a free clinic to do a follow up with a doctor, they conducted some tests, called me a few days later and told me my arteries were 1/2 covered with plaque and I need it to lose the extra weight.
Just the thought of having to leave my almost 7 year old daughter without a mom, brought me to the harsh reality I was living and the most certain possibility that if I didn’t lose the extra weight, I could die at any given moment, from complications from something I could actually control.
I did cried a lot at that moment, thinking about how much out of control my life had become up until that point and looking at myself, a very overweight woman, a single mom and under so much stress and going through so many financial struggles…I also knew that I didn’t want to die from a heart attack and I knew I would lose the weight because there was no way, I would leave my beautiful daughter, an orphan, so I immediately started a very strict diet.
I was mad at myself, for being overweight, and for letting get to that point, when I had always been in shape, fit, active, and making always good choices in life including eating healthy food and specially choosing healthy relationships. I blamed myself for getting into a marriage with the wrong person and staying in a relationship just because of a child.
After 8 long years in a relationship that didn’t work from the very start, I knew it was time to let go and I knew it would be hard, however, I made the decision to leave and make it on my own, to be able to find my true self again, to be truly happy , even if by myself, so I took off.
On February 15, 2012, after losing a few lbs, I started a daily exercise routine. I was very committed, very disciplined and very eager to check my weight on the scale and to have my arteries check.
I was doing what I could, using my own body as resistance, since I didn’t have money to attend a gym, and many of the exercises I did, I had to complete them seating on a chair, because my body weight too much and my legs hurt a lot.
After 3 months, I started noticing the big changes, specially on my upper body, which begun to get very muscular, and I remembered laughing at myself because I thought I looked like a chicken with somewhat skinny leggs, and I even mentioned that to a few people and I told them, I needed to work more on my lower body.
When I went back to the doctor, only after 3 months, all of my numbers started to be normal again and there was no trace of plaque on my arteries. That fact and the fact that I was losing a lot of weight, was so encouraging to me, that it motivated me even more.
I started to drop dress and underwear sizes and I had to mend all of my large clothing, to be able to wear it. I also made my daughter some clothing with some of the clothes and dresses I didn’t want anymore.
It took me about 6 months and I reached 124 lbs and at that point, after learning so much about nutrition, fitness and wellness, I was able to keep the weight off for about 2 and half years, until I started developing pain in my right side of the body, specifically the shoulder, neck and arm. Most of the pain, I could tell was caused and aggravated by the work I was doing with my hands.
During that time, and every time I would go with a doctor, the first thing they wanted me to do was to take steroids and muscle relaxers and since I refused that treatment and I wanted to just do physical therapy, I went from doctor to doctor and all of them wanted to prescribe strong painkillers and I refused because some of the steroids they prescribed gave me rashes and made me gain weight.
I was told I could be developing arthritis. I was told the issue could be a torn rotator cuff. I was told I might be developing some sort of debilitating, muscle deceased. I spent a lot of money trying to find out what the problem might be and I spent a lot of money on just doctor visits with specialists, trying to diagnose the culprit of my pains.
With the pain I was feeling, many of the weight lifting routines I was starting to incorporate into my daily exercise routines became very painful and very difficult to do, and I was limited to what I could do. I was frustrated I was not able to pursue body building and I could not train with anyone and due to stress and lots of it, I gained weight and it would fluctuate often.
I had a lot of issues with my back and neck by the end of 2014 and by the beginning of 2015 the pain in those areas became almost unbearable, and I lost my job due to missing so many hours. I saw my weight go up and down and looking back now and checking my dairies, I was eating healthy foods, except that besides all of the stress I was experiencing, I was also eating too many fruits and too many good oils.
For weeks and even months, my weight was under control and I felt better under my clothes, however, some other weeks and months were hard and the clothes would fit me too tight and it was uncomfortable. And at times, it also seems as if every time I was reaching a goal of mine, and a milestone to celebrate and another one to start, something out of my control, would come to jeopardize it.
Right before New Year’s 2016, I received a message from Panama, telling me, my older brother, the one that saved my life as a baby, when our house burned to the ground, was suddenly diagnosed with brain cancer and died only 3 months later.
I was not able to visit him before his passing and I was only able to travel to Panama 1 month after my brother was buried. At that point and with all the worried and stress, the whole situation caused in our family and myself, I had lost a lot of weight again, and I was back to 125 lbs, by the time my daughter and I arrived in Panama.
And by the time I came back from Panama, I had gain a lot of weight there, and I put on a lot more weight once I arrived back in Utah. It took me a whole year to accept my brother’s passing and to accept that nobody could bring him back and that nobody could have done anything differently for him and that was okay, and yet, during that whole year, once again, with all of the emotions and the stress, I was doing more eating that moving.
On July or August of 2016, I had my yearly mammography and the doctor was concerned because a benign cyst that had been present on my breast for several years, was growing, was very big and it was hurting, and he wanted to do additional testing to determine it was not cancerous.
Needless to say, my level of stress and somewhat anxiety skyrocketed, and I found myself being very hungry all the time, lacking energy/motivation and being very tired, not to mentioned that by then, my back, neck and arm and hip pain were part of my “normal” everyday occurrence, and now I had to add the pain on my breast, that coincidently, was also on the right hand -side of my body, where everything was hurting.
There were so many tests done, because the mass was “suspicious” and the more the tests, the more my worrying. I didn’t tell anything to my family in Panama, and only some of my bosses knew about my ordeal, because they had to, but not because I wanted to tell them.
Finally, after it was determined that the “tumor” findings were somewhat “inconclusive” but not cancerous, several doctors agreed that because the mass had grew, and it was painful for me, it was better to remove it immediately and to continue monitoring the area often, after it had been removed.
The surgery lasted for about an hour and since I went to sleep right before they took me to the operating room, when I opened my eyes again and woke up, it seemed as if it had been only minutes. I asked the doctor a few days later on the follow up visit, when I could go back to do weight lifting and exercise, and she said probably in 3 months I could just walk but not running and to wait at least 6 months to do any other exercise and for lifting weight, to wait about a year.
Right after the surgery I didn’t feel any pain. I had the surgery completed on a Friday and I went back to work the following Monday. Again, no pain, just over the counter ibuprofen and honestly, I only took maybe 3 pills a day and only if I was hurting, and that was all. And I though, if I didn’t feel any pain, I was sure, soon enough, I could go back to my daily exercise routine and weight lifting.
Was I wrong!! After a week or so I started to feel pulsating pain, sharp pain, dull pain, stabbing pain, tearing pain, etc, etc…There were so many types of pain I experienced for the following 3 years, it is easy to described and recognized them now, one from another.
It was not until November of last year that I finally felt comfortable enough doing any type of exercises, including lifting weights and/ or hanging my body using my hands and arms. 3 years to be exact. And that is when I looked for a personal trainer and found one.
Right before I looked for the personal trainer, on August of 2019, we visited Panama for 2 weeks and when we came back, I was weighing in at about 153 lbs, which, if you follow this blog and my Instagram account, is hard not to notice the non-existent wrinkles because of my very rounded face and equally curvaceous figure of mine.
By the time I went with the personal trainer, I had started a diet and exercise routine of my own, I had skipt our traditional “All you can eat” Thanksgiving dinner, and I was sacrificing my portion of “Free food day” at work.
My goal for the new start of a new millennium was to visit Panama in June, to wear my tiny, itsy, little bikini at some beaches of Panama and to go for some good cumbia dance at some Panamanian clubs. I would celebrate my birthday in the land where I was born, with friends and family. I was had planned so many things, and yet, everything changed suddenly…Well, almost everything…
2020 would mark and end of an era, where I would reach my fitness goal. I would lose, maintain and keep the weight off for good. Any mistakes would be left in the past. This would be my year and I was determined to accomplish my goal. And that did not change and it has not changed.
In the 3 months I worked with the personal trainer, I learned new things and things I needed to learn. Not only the trainer pushed me beyond what I thought I could give, but I pushed myself everyday and my body responded well, and as the gym closed, due to Covid 19, I pushed myself at home and with the best machinery I have, my body.
Despite the issues with my back, my arm and my hip, slowly but surely, I was able to control my body and my mind and I was able to get results while working with the trainer. Then, the Covid 19 changed a lot of things, however, as determined as I was, I was not going to let one more “stone” as I called adversities, ruin my plans, my goals, and my dreams, specially when I was so close to reaching my target.
If anything, I had to adapt, to be flexible, to be creative and to remember that I cannot throw away 8 years of hard work, a lot of tears, a lot of sweat, a lot of sacrifices, and I must continue moving forward. This year is different and because it is, it is my year and I will celebrate it today, tomorrow and always.
And going back, reading all my personal diaries. Reading about my struggles, my small victories, the major obstacles, my feelings and my emotions and comparing photos and see all of my accomplishments in these past 8 years, is very humbling for me. All the sacrifices and all the effort has paid off and it continues to payoff.
The best decision I ever made was to work with a personal trainer for 3 months. And following all the advice he gave me and working out for another 3 months on my own to complete and see the 90 day results, that made such a big difference. Not only was I able to learn additional and proper diet and exercise to lose weight and build muscles, but to learn from an expert and to hire him, was one of the vest investments I made last year.
If you guys have the opportunity, hire a personal trainer for at least 3 months and follow the trainer’s advised and also learn to read your own body, what it likes, how it works and what it can do for you and what types of food are best for you.
You will get the results you want, if you really, really want them. I know I really wanted to wear that itsy, tiny, little bikini. It was not in Panama and it was not in the beach, but when I put it on, I felt empowered and it felt so good, even if it was just me, inside my little apartment. It didn’t matter, it matter that I actually did it!!