The Art of Freeing Your Body and Finding Your Peace
I am a Latina woman who is still trying to become her best self. My fitness journey does not have a beautiful beginning- it was very harsh and extremely terrifying. It all started when my father, who was my best friend, left, and I developed depression.
During this time in my life, I couldn’t eat; my anxiety took over my body from the moment I would wake up to the moment I fell asleep. I had no motivation or consideration for myself or my well-being. The mental, emotional, and physical shock of my father leaving lasted for about 8 months. My mother was so terrified that she ultimately forced me to see a therapist and a psychiatrist, because I simply refused to express how I felt to anyone except my journal. Looking back, this is something I thank her for everyday. Overtime, as the depression took hold, my once athletic body started to look malnourished to the point where my ribs were showing and my mother was constantly asking if I was ill or on drugs. No one had ever seen me this thin and it scared her. I was always around 130 pounds, but once depression took over, my weight dropped drastically to a staggering 102 pounds. When my loved ones expressed their concerns to me, I finally looked in the mirror with my therapist by my side and realized how thin I was. I had completely lost myself.
That was the most hurtful and difficult time in my life. When I finally found the strength to recover, I realized that I had let one man’s cowardly act ruin my life for a few months- at a time when I should have been focusing on being there for my mother. I was full of anger and resentment, but ultimately these feelings gave me the strength to become better; to look inward and find it in myself to build my confidence and begin my journey to self-love.
Since the age of 5, I had always been a leader. Volleyball, softball, soccer, and flag football were my most diligent hobbies and I was always the team captain; an example and a motivator for my fellow teammates. How could someone like me lose herself? As women, and especially as Latina women, we are always supposed to be the strong ones; we can never be vulnerable- we always have to "suck it up." In my culture, the men are put on a pedestal and the women have to cater to them, never allowed to fall without picking ourselves up right away. I refused to fall into that same cycle perpetuated by my family and to instead allow myself to fall and get back up on my own time. I aspired to be like my mother, a hardworking, strong, independent, BOSS.
My newfound motivation gave me the courage to finally sign up for a gym; I always liked working out, but when I looked in the mirror, it was clear that I had a lot of work to do to get where I wanted. Luckily, however, I am a very patient person. When I began, I was working out with a trainer to familiarize myself with workout regiments and proper form, because if you don’t know what you’re doing, your injuries will be your first mistake. Later, I worked out alone as I learned how to spend more time with myself, make mistakes on my own, and figure everything out. This allowed me to get to the point where I can now say with pride that I became better by myself and for myself. Eventually, I began working with a nutritionist, because when it came to diet I was completely clueless. I don’t eat dairy, because I hate how it tastes- which actually worked well with my diet. I eliminated all junk food and stuck with veggies, carbs and proteins. The goal of the diet was to help me gain weight and muscle in all the right areas. Although the trainer and nutritionist were a bit over my budget, I made a decision to sacrifice what I had to and I chose to do whatever it took to get back to my old, confident self again. I can proudly say that I do not regret a single thing.
Ultimately, I set a goal for myself to reach 135 pounds and to work as an athlete for major brands like Adidas, Puma, or Nike (which is still something I hope to do). I started going to the gym twice a week to give myself necessary breaks, because my soreness would last for days! It was terrible, but I eventually learned to stretch more, take my vitamins, and drink a protein supplement after my workouts to help with my muscle recovery. Once I became comfortable with working out, I was going to the gym 4 times a week, making increases depending on my work schedule. Sometimes when we set goals for ourselves, we get stuck on our jobs, families, kids, pets, etc. We all have so much going on and often times, we try to excuse ourselves or put our goals on hold because we are “too busy.” I realized it is necessary to slap yourself out of that mentality. There is always time if you make the time. Sometimes, I forced myself to go to the gym at 5:00am or 11:00pm, because I knew I was going to have a busy week. When you are focused on a goal, you have to stop making excuses for yourself and just do it.
Three months passed and thanks to my own dedication, I was able to reach my goal weight of 135 pounds. I was thick, healthy, and most of all, happy. I remember stepping on the scale to weigh myself and bursting into tears from pure joy and the realization that I went from hurting myself to lifting myself all the way up. I couldn’t remember the last time I was able to be selfish and it all just hit me all at once. I posted a before and after photo on Instagram and just looking at it, I cried. I had so many comments and messages from friends, family, and strangers; they ranged from compliments to asking for advice. I was overcome with the motivation and inspiration to start helping other women going through rough times. As more time passed, I began working out with friends and helping them to start their own journeys. I have helped them see such wonderful results and it motivates me everyday to become better.
As women, we are faced with so much unnecessary competition and hate, especially because of social media and the patriarchy. So many of us believe that we need to look a certain way so we pressure ourselves to spend money on getting work done, instead of putting in the time and dedication to look how we want, naturally. STOP CARING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU! How do YOU feel about yourself? Instead of looking at other women and feeling insecure, or listening to men who couldn’t care less about how they look, set your own goals. Hang up a bikini or a pair of jeans in your room and everyday when you look at them, remind yourself of your goal and get to it! Workout with your friends, wake up early on the weekend and go for a bike ride along the lake, maybe even go for a jog. Working out will become a part of your lifestyle and it can be so fun. You will feel better, you’ll be more energized, more driven, and I guarantee you- you will not regret it. So...did you sign up for your gym membership yet? Lived and written by Adriana Garibay
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