I fell in love with fitness in my 20’s. I loved Step Aerobics and Cardio Kickboxing. Deep down I wanted to be that instructor leading the class but I never thought I was good enough.
My love for fitness took a back seat for a few years due to years of infertility. Once I had my daughter Lauren I tried getting back into working out but life with a small child, working full time and going to school at night didn’t leave me much me time. During that time I would squeeze 30 minutes at Curves before heading off to my night classes.
During the next few years of my life I moved to a new state, struggled to get a teaching position and longed for another baby. My weight was at all time high and I again struggled to have another baby. This time it took 3.5 years to have my son JJ. Although I finally had the baby l longed for, I was extremely depressed, over weight and didn’t leave the house much.
By the time my son was 1.5 years old I finally had enough and I purchased a dvd program Turbo jam by Chalene Johnson. I followed that program religiously and the weight started coming off.! My body was SO out of shape and I struggled but I just kept PUSHING through! About 2 months later I was ready to take it up a notch and I bought Turbo Fire. Well…. that program was SO hard for me. My mind said I could do it but my body said no. I used to be able to do exercises like this!!! Ugh! Did I give up? NO! I PUSHED through! While I was doing these at home workout my desire to instruct came back. I finally decided,… “I’m going to be a fitness instructor!” One month later I was certified to teach Turbo Kick. By the end of summer I opened my fitness studio Push Fitness Studio. During my time at PUSH I became certified in numerous programs and met wonderful people.
2 years into owning my studio I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I was diagnosed at the age of 40. I went in for my first routine mammogram after my 40th birthday. They needed to do an ultrasound after the mammogram because they said I had dense breast tissue. The ultrasound looked fine and they said they would see me in a year! I was relieved! A few days later my OBGYN looked at the ultrasound pictures and thought he saw something and wanted me to have a follow up ultrasound in 6 months. I repeated the ultrasound 6 months later and there was indeed a lump in my right breast. A biopsy was scheduled and I found out that I had Stage 1 Breast Cancer – Her2 Negative – Estrogen Positive.
After I heard the diagnosis I went into a deep, deep depression. At that time I was very active. I had 2 small children, I owned my own fitness studio and I taught several classes at my studio. My life was going to change and I wasn’t happy about it. I pretty much steered clear from anyone that wasn’t family, close friends or a doctor. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to read about it. I just wanted to get rid of it and move on!
After talking with the Breast Surgeon, we both agreed on a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I did not need Chemotherapy since I was stage 1 and since I was having a double mastectomy, I would not need radiation. After my surgeries I was unable to teach and work out. This made my depression worse! Due to my depression I fell into old eating habits and used food for comfort. I started to gain weight and lose my fitness. The longer this went on the more depressed I would get. The result from my double mastectomy didn’t help my situation either. Even though I had wonderful doctors that performed an amazing reconstruction, I still wasn’t myself. I no longer “looked” like myself; I have permanent loss of feeling and no muscle strength in my chest. I didn’t recognize myself anymore and I knew I had to get back to working out to find myself.
Exercise played a huge part in my recovery. As soon as I was cleared to exercise, I realized I wasn’t able to work out the same way anymore. I was used to hard core workouts out like cardio kick boxing, HIIT workouts, etc. I noticed that there was nothing low-impact on my schedule at my fitness studio. I ended up creating a new work out called Cardio Jam. It’s a 45-minute Low Intensity class that is fun, has uplifting music, easy dance steps, assist in flexibility & resistance training. This class is perfect for those starting a new fitness journey or recovering from an injury. I also used TRX to strengthen my chest muscles & core. With the use of TRX during my recovery I developed a love for it and became certified instructor.
After my Breast Cancer surgeries and treatments my weight went back up again. This time it wasn’t coming off so easily. I was working out but my eating could’ve been better.
Another goal I always had was to compete in a Body Building competition. After a lot of research and a few coaches I found my and I finally stepped on the stage.
I know my battle with breast cancer gave me the drive and determination to do it. Not once but twice.
During my last competition I injured myself and needed back surgery. No one likes setbacks but that’s life. With this setback I had to delay my next competition and say goodbye to my goal of ever becoming a Power lifter competitor.
I feel my setbacks have made me a better Personal Trainer.
I know what overweight feels like.
I know what anxiety and depression feels like
I know what it feels like to use food for comfort.
I know what being out of shape and physical pain feels like.
After my battle with Breast Cancer I have learned not to sweat the small stuff or at least I’m much better than I used to be. I have taken more risks since then because I realized we are not promised tomorrow. If you want something…..Just do it!
I could’ve given up when I was suffering…. when my body said, “Are you crazy?”
Don’t give up! Fight for it! Put in the work! It is worth it!!!! I promise.