Oftentimes, I ask my clients to describe to me who they’d be if they didn’t give themselves any limits. I do this because, for me, that was the root question that led me on a journey to change my daily habits and remove all blockages between myself and the person I envisioned in the future.
Contrary to popular belief, I haven’t always lived a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. In fact, those who knew me in a past life would confirm that I struggled with unhealthy eating habits that not only led to obesity, but also forced me to battle chronic pain, sleep issues, and ultimately an “incurable” chronic disease known as fibromyalgia.
I had been dealt bad cards
Those who know me now may be shocked to hear this, but I used to be apathetic about the cards that had been dealt me. I’d grown up finding solutions to problems as they arose, but over time, I found myself accepting things as they were and simply going with the flow. Making ‘the best’ of it, if you will. That apathy, however, only turned into a spiral of negative thoughts I couldn’t free myself from.
You’ve been given an overweight body.
You’ve been given a family that doesn’t understand you.
You’ve been given an incurable disease and a body riddled with faulty mechanisms and mystery symptoms.
I couldn’t help myself. No matter what I did, my willingness to accept the bad cards dealt to me only hindered my progress at making the changes I knew I needed to. Outwardly, I claimed to make attempts at controlling my weight, but in actuality, I’d only resigned to my fate as being overweight and sick.
Worse, I blamed my family for everything bad that happened to me. After all, in my head, they didn’t understand me or what I was going through, and somehow, that made me think it was all their fault. I thought I’d have to find happiness elsewhere and pushed away those closest to me.
Juggling with symptoms, pills, and side-effects
On top of the mental war I did my best to control, I took upward of six pills every day to help with my fibromyalgia symptoms. These included widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep, TMJ (lockjaw) disorders, tension headaches, and memory and mood issues. When the side-effects of that medication wore in, I’d take even more medication to help ease those painful manifestations. Don’t think I skipped out on buying expensive supplements and machines and online plans to help me “manage” this illness, either.
Ultimately, all of this “solution finding” I did only led to more suffering on both an emotional and physical level (not to mention the suffering in my bank account.) Even through the searches for a “cure,” I spent an average of 15 hours a week in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and everything in between.
Needless to say, I was discouraged. Over time I truly believed my fate was sealed. I was sick, I had fibromyalgia, and I was going to be in and out of the medical system all my life. My existence in this life on Earth would be comprised of pain and symptom management. Period, end of story.
Oddly enough, believe it or not, I was actually okay with that on some levels. I knew I was good at problem solving, so I became dedicated to finding the best pain management solution, the best medication to help me sleep, and the best way to optimize my schedule and hospital/clinic visits so I could carry on studying and working like a “normal” person.
A Traumatic Withdrawal
Sound like a lot to juggle? It was. Even though it worked for a while, one particular experience showed me I was going to have to do a lot more than accept things as they were if I was going to live my life to its fullest extent.
I’d gone to visit my family out of town for the weekend, and right about the time I needed my medication, I realized I’d left my pill box at my house.
I hadn’t even gone 12 hours without the medication yet, and I already experienced the worst withdrawal symptoms of my life. A migraine camped out on my skull, I had an uncontrollable shake in my arms and legs, tingles jostled throughout my body, and I could hardly stand without collapsing. Before I knew it, my body had begun to completely shut down.
24 full hours after my last pill and I needed a friend to drive me back to my apartment and help me take my pills. After that, to my relief, everything went back to “normal.”
When the haze cleared, however, I realized it wasn’t a “normal” I felt okay with anymore. I didn’t want to depend on drugs to maintain me as a functioning and stable human being. I was 21 for goodness sake! I was supposed to be in my prime, out partying and studying and enjoying my college career, not fighting for my life over things I felt were out of my control.
That fateful weekend forced me to realize I couldn’t risk living in constant fear of not having enough medication on hand, and after my traumatic withdrawal, I decided to try one final thing before I gave up.
I wanted to heal myself from the inside
I knew I couldn’t do everything cold turkey, and I knew I couldn’t change everything in one day. For once, I realized I faced a marathon, not a race. I couldn’t burst out the gate with all my might, I needed to warm up my muscles a bit before I went in full force.
First up was one of the hardest, but most important changes: my diet. Everything else, I kept the same. I maintained the regular routine of finishing my undergraduate degree, working part time, and even started going to the gym on a regular basis. I read a book on gut health and how common food intolerances could actually be the cause of multiple chronic diseases, pains, and serious illnesses.I wasn’t an expert on gut bacteria by any means. Nor did I understand digestion and the effects of certain foods on the rest of the body. The argument put forth by the doctor who authored the book, however, made sense to me, so I tried to eliminate a few things.
- Limited processed foods.
- No dairy
- Limited (unhealthy) fats and sugars.
- Limited meat.
Believe me, it was a challenge at first, but according to the research I’d done, when someone is intolerant to a certain food, even if they don’t get terrible cramps or symptoms straight away, the inflammatory response in the gut creates a chain reaction in other areas of the body. While I’m not a doctor and shouldn’t be quoted on that, this is what I know based on my personal experience.
Of course, I had no idea if it would work or not, but out of anything, I knew some things I could go cold turkey on. No dairy wasn’t easy, and once you start to limit the processed foods in your diet, sugars and fats aren’t as prominent.
After spending some time educating myself, I started seeking out alternatives for the things I was cutting out. I’d been working out with a trainer with no results, but once I started taking matters into my own hands and following the diet to a T for 3 months, things started becoming automatic.
The Transformation Begins…
Once I’d sorted out my diet, my personal trainer noticed that I didn’t complain as much about the pains in my body, particularly my feet, knees, and hips. I was even able to walk a little faster on the treadmill.
So, finishing up the warm-up part of the marathon, I decided to crank things up a notch and see how my body reacted. My trainer had me do 15 second running intervals. Then 30 seconds. Then 1 minute. Then she made me do jumps and plyometrics for the first time.
And you know what?
My body was okay with that.
Before I knew it, I was able to do so much more!
That’s when the cruelest beast of them all started to show some results: the scale. I was actually losing weight while I was getting stronger!
Things started to click, and all it took was realizing that something was wrong in my diet, and if I simply cut it out, I’d start feeling better.
Looking back now, it seemed like a mere blink before I’d signed up for my first 5K. Oh, man, was I terrified! But I’d reached my goal of running the whole thing without any breaks, and as soon as I finished, I realized I could do anything I set my mind to. I didn’t have to accept things as they were if I didn’t like them. I was in control of my own decisions, I had power over my own destiny, and I wouldn’t allow myself to be my own roadblock anymore.
A year later, I was down to 135 pounds from 203, all of my measurements had decreased, I needed an entirely new wardrobe, and I was on my way to completing a 10K.
Everybody’s weight loss journey is different, and during mine, I slowly started believing I was capable of being a happy young lady registering in races with a high self-esteem.
I just didn’t start believing until I start making decisions that brought me the results I sought.
And those results came from practicing habits daily.
I was as disciplined about getting my exercise in as I was about clocking in at work.
I optimized my food choices to feel full and nourished. Using MyFitnessPal, I tracked my food intake and learned about portion sizes (nowadays, since I’ve adopted a plant-based diet and improved the quality of my food, I don’t use this as much.)
I looked at staircases as opportunities for extra bonuses instead of enemies hidden plain sight.
But, most importantly, the entire time, I remained focused on my goal. I visualized myself reaching my desirable, healthy weight, and I woke up every day with the determination to do whatever I needed to make it happen.
You may look at the before and after photo and think it happened in a snap, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The girl on the left looked into her future and wanted to see the girl in the right in the mirror. All she did was ask herself what the girl in the right would do on a day-to-day basis, and adopted those practices.
Everything I went through on my own fitness journey has led me to maintain that same visual determination for Monterey Bay Moves.
Living a Life of Purpose and Creating Monterey Bay Moves
I love living in Marina, California, and my life has been a rollercoaster since I met my husband, Jorge Melgoza, on a vacation in Costa Rica. I lived in Canada at the time, but finally, after three agonizing years of long-distance love, I married the man of my dreams on a beachfront in Marina before we settled into our new home.
After a while, though, there was one thing I wished we had here that I had back in Canada: outdoor group activities. Those really motivated me to get out and keep moving, but the more I searched for them here, the less I found. I developed a mantra, “Exercise and thrive,” and I wanted to use it to help the Monterey Bay residents live an active, healthy life.
At the core, that’s what everybody at Monterey Bay Moves wants: To be part of a tribe. Everyone here utilizes the opportunity to thrive in a community of people who truly understand their struggles. The goal is for everyone to feel like there’s a place for them somewhere here. No one is here to compete, but to support, motivate, uplift, and encourage everyone around them. We are a team, even if we also occasionally exercise on an individual basis.
I look back on the girl I used to be, the one who thought of a blank and dark future, and sometimes I pinch myself when I look at the girl on the right and realize they’re the same person. They’re me, seven years and a million decisions apart.
But that was all it took: The decision to take control of my future and become the version of myself I imagined.
Everyone has ups and downs in their journey to maintain their health. Everyone also has the ability to take matters into their own hands and manifest the destiny they foresee for themselves. If you’re ready to take your life into your own hands, come on over to Monterey Bay Moves!
You can hear our stories as well as the members of our classes, and we’ll show you right where your puzzle piece fits. We can’t wait to hear your story!