Before I can inspire and motivate others, be a source of support, and ask you to put your faith and trust in me, I need to tell you why my heart and life passion have led me here. Without telling the story of where I have been, I can’t help guide others to reach their fitness/life dreams and goals, and lead them to the life they want to live and deserve to live. Everyone closest to me knows that I am not a person who opens up about the trials, struggles, tragedies, and loss in my life to those I do not even know. But, I have learned that by sharing my story, its power has allowed me to positively impact the lives of others in a way I never could have if I hadn’t gone through what I have been through. Sometimes, I think this is the reason why I had to endure the pain and suffering in my life over the past couple years. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Maybe God knew I could persevere and had a plan for me all along……
Growing up, I was always active; my parents had me in EVERY sport or activity they possibly could. I danced, did gymnastics, played softball, had my black belt in karate, and was a cheerleader through college, etc. you get the point~ When I graduated from high school, my health and fitness was left solely up to me. In 2007, I discovered Turbo Jam through my best friend. Having been a cheerleader, dancer, and black belt, I was instantly drawn in and quickly addicted. I’ve been doing Turbo Jam for nearly 7 years and love it even more than the day I started. I couldn’t wait to start Chalene’s new program: Turbo Fire. I got it for my birthday and started working out even when people were still at my house! Chalene’s energy and enthusiasm for life was so bright & strong I could literally feel it. She is my idol and mentor, even though we’ve never met. I want to be her when I grow up! Energy really is a decision, just like she says. When doing Turbo Fire, I feel a spark in me ignite, and I feel invincible. Turbo and Chalene changed my life and have molded me into the person I am today.
Fitness and exercise became ingrained in me, became part of who I was and am, and at the time, I had no idea that what would happen in my future would lead fitness to become my passion. Nothing brought me more joy than working out with my best friend in graduate school. I knew that working out, especially with her, could turn any bad day around, make me forget my worries and problems, and make me feel amazing during and after. I remember wishing I could help people experience and feel that kind of happiness and wished I could share what I loved with others. Little did I know that the blueprint of my life would lead me towards fulfilling that wish. Through tragedy and triumph, a love of fitness and wellness is now a gift and passion. I realize that my path in life has led me to this place, where I can and will use what saved my live to transform the lives of others.
In November 2011, my father, my hero and best friend, was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was inoperable. I was devastated. One of the most frustrating/horrible aspects of the cancer was that my dad couldn’t exercise anymore. He was overweight and ate very unhealthy for many years. But, in the past 7-8 years, he dropped over 45 lbs., worked out every day, and at the time of his diagnosis, was in the best shape of his life. Exercise made him happy and fulfilled, the same way it has always done for me. Sometimes, he would even do the Turbo Jam videos with me. Although he couldn’t groove like Chalene, he still had fun & made me laugh. I treasure those memories.
In February, my husband, the man I loved more than life, suddenly told me one day he wasn’t happy and left. I received divorce papers in the mail two weeks later. The pain in my heart felt unbearable as I cried myself to sleep every night. I had lost my support & my best friend right after my dad’s diagnosis. My mother preached resilience when I was a kid, so I pushed myself to stay positive and persevere. I work in education, striving to help every child be successful. About two weeks after the ordeal with my husband, four students were shot in the cafeteria at our high school, and three of them died that day. It was the most tragic event I’d ever experienced. My heart will always go out to the families of the victims of this unfathomable act of violence.
My husband and I got a beautiful Vizsla puppy named Mila who was the light of our lives. When my husband left, I felt very alone and struggled to cope with my father’s cancer, divorce, and the tragedy at school. Mila was my support system. Although she couldn’t talk, she always made me feel loved, made me laugh, and brought joy to a world that was turning dark. At the end of March, I received a phone call at school. Mila was at day care and had suddenly collapsed. She was rushed to the hospital, but the vet was not able to revive her. He said it was either a heart defect or an aneurysm, neither of which could have been detected. It was two days after her first birthday. I remember crying over her body, begging her not to leave me, although I knew in my heart she was already gone.
Now I was truly alone, or at least I felt that way. I was just going through the motions of day-to-day life. My father’s cancer progressively worsened over the next couple months. I remember him sitting in his recliner chair in the basement of my house, “his” room, in the dark, with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled up over his head. He was so sad, reflecting on the amazing life he had built for himself and his family, and how it was all deteriorating. He had no control over it. He was a pharmacist, and before he lost cognitive skills, knew what would be happening to him. It broke my heart, seeing him so sad. It was so unfair. No one should ever have to endure the suffering he did.
Brain cancer is the scariest thing you can possibly imagine. My Dad’s personality changed, his ability to function cognitively declined, he lost many motor skills, even his voice changed completely. It was like another person was in my Dad’s body. I did everything in my power to stay strong for my Mom even though I was falling apart inside. Eventually, he went to hospice and could not walk or talk. My father died at the end of August. August 25th marked the first anniversary of his death. Just when I thought I couldn’t lose anything else, my Dad was gone. A month later, my husband proceeded with the divorce. My Nana died that November. This was my breaking point.
Around the same time, I discovered a man who has brought life-sustaining inspiration, happiness, laughter, taught me to love dance again, and made me push myself to my limits: Shaun T. Working out with him makes me so happy and makes me want to be better, not just in fitness but in life. I read his facebook page, blogs, anything, because I know he will inspire me or put a smile on my face. His optimism is contagious, and it has truly impacted my life in such a powerful way. He is the reason why I started sharing my life and passion with others through this blog, my website, facebook, instagram, because I wanted to motivate and inspire people in the same way his words kept me going when all I wanted to do was stop. When I workout with him, I can be myself and let my body do what feels good. I feel freedom, joy, and renewed confidence.
As I was going through all of this, one thing in my life kept me going. One thing brought me happiness. One thing gave me a feeling of accomplishment, and that was fitness. Chalene, Shaun T, Turbo Fire, Turbo Jam, Hip Hop Abs, and any kind of exercise became my life line, the reason I could get myself out of bed each day. They gave me the will to live. When you lose so much, you feel empty. However, I knew that if I put in that DVD, pushed myself to sweat, and released the sadness and stress, I could make it through the day. Even when it seemed impossible to begin a workout, once I did, my strength was renewed. I can’t deny that there were days I spent crying in bed with the drapes closed, crippled by grief and depression. However, working out was the only thing that motivated me to open the curtains and take that first step. The first step is always the hardest to take.
On my lowest day, there was a point that I no longer wanted to live. I hit rock bottom. So much of my life had been taken from me. I contemplated ridding myself of the pain and grief that became overwhelming to carry. That day, my Mom called me as I was crying, and told me to just workout, to make myself do it. She said, “That is what your Dad would tell you to do.” I thought about what Chalene and Shaun T would do. They would tell me that I could do it, even if my eyes were swollen from crying and my muscles weak from the pain. I needed to fight and not give up on myself or life. As I was exercising, I felt myself crawl out of the deep dark hole I was laying in. My life was saved because of their workouts. They literally saved me.
Fitness, nutrition, wellness, and creating a healthy mind, body, and soul have become my life. Without Chalene, Shaun T, and their programs, I would not be where I am today. I could possibly not be here at all. I thank God for my two guardian angels. They not only gave me the will to live, but to live the best life possible. It was Chalene and Shaun T that inspired me to begin reaching for my dreams. I look to them each and everyday for something to help push me. You are capable of doing so much more than you think you can. Take control of your mind and your life. These are words I hear from them, and I repeat in my head. I have made it my life’s goal to give that same gift to others.
Fitness gave me a light to see through the darkness, and I know that it can enrich your life beyond what you think is possible. Even though I could never repay Chalene and Shaun T for what they have given me, I can spread it to other people. That’s why I became a Beachbody Coach. That’s why this past summer I made the decision to take a huge step in my life by becoming an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainer. It’s the reason I made a last minute decision in August to drive up to Rochester, NY and back to be trained to teach Turbo Kick (the same as Turbo Fire, just live and in person 😉 ) and am not a certified Turbo Kick instructor. I am so excited beyond belief to begin teaching. Now, I am currently working on earning my health/wellness coach, group fitness instructor, and youth fitness certifications.
Wanting to change the lives of others, to make people feel good and stop tearing themselves apart inside, help them live a healthier, stronger, and better life, to spread the love and joy of fitness, and give people the motivation and inspiration they need to persevere is why I have done all of this and will continue to do everything I can to fulfill my dreams and the dreams of others. If fitness can save my life, it has the power to change yours. For me, the sky is the limit from here, and I know my dad is with me, guiding me and leading me, just as he did when he was alive. I won’t let you down. Thank you for teaching me to be caring, strong, and resilient. I love you Daddy, now and forever.