As far back as I can remember I have always felt different. Whether it was the way my mind worked, the size of my waist or the medical problems I seemed to always be facing, I never seemed to live a ‘normal’ life. I specifically remember the way I felt in elementary school. Looking in the mirror, all I could see was a fat, unattractive, tomboy who provided no real value to the world. I saw myself as insignificant. I remember hiding under big baggy clothes, literally trying to tear off my excess fat and always being cautious of my reflection to ensure my belly wasn’t protruding outwards too much.
I was miserable in my own skin and I couldn’t stand the sight of myself – I wouldn’t wish these feelings on anyone.And then there was middle school. That’s when the self-hatred really started to accelerate. Not only did I seem to be getting fatter – even though I purposely wasn’t eating – but I didn’t seem to be developing like the other girls. When they were discussing their periods and their pubescent experiences, I was just listening, wondering why the single period I had experienced in my life had decided to never return. Again, I felt disgust for my body. It was always working against me. No matter how hard I tried to be ‘normal’ like the other girls, or the women on TV or in magazines, I could never achieve it.Luckily, my disappointment for feeling abnormal lasted only until high school. It was then that I was accepted into a Dramatic Arts program. Though I continued to hate the way I looked, it was here that I learned that being different was OK and that I should embrace it! But as much as I knew I should accept myself, I could only ever manage to accept my different personality and thoughts, not my body.Years went by and life became monotonous. I was still overweight and I still hadn’t EVER had a second period. I felt betrayed by my body.At eighteen years old, it hit me. Quite literally – it hit me. I was crossing the street and BAM! I was struck by a car.
The car sent me soaring ten feet in the air, slamming my face into the ground. When I woke up I remember screaming, noticing the gap inside my mouth from where my front teeth had been shattered and realizing that I couldn’t feel my legs from the waist down. As I lay on the pavement staring at the blood fall from my face, I watched the driver of the vehicle flee the scene. And I knew at that very moment, that my life was never to be the same again.
The accident became a definite wake up call for me. I realized that life was a precious gift and although I was severely injured from head to toe, I was alive and walking again (it was a temporary loss of feeling). I had spent so much time hating the body I was presented with in the past; I had never learned to ‘live’! It was time to change that. So, quickly, my focuses in life changed. I eventually left College, quit my job and shifted my thoughts towards getting married and having kids. I thought to myself, if I could die any day, why wait?!
One day I remembered. I still hadn’t had my second period naturally. I had gotten so caught up with being ‘normal’ that I decided to go on birth control and induce a fake cycle. So I never really knew if my body could do it on its own. At age twenty I made the decision to go off birth control and see if my body could make things happen.It never did.Instead of taking over, my body failed me once again. I began getting hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats etc. and I was eventually diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure. It was even in the name: ‘failure.’ I cried and cried and cried. My new-found focus and drive to start a family had just shattered. It wasn’t going to happen. I had a 0 to 5% chance of natural conception. What use was I? And to put the cherry on top, I was also simultaneously diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Small Supernumerary Marker Chromosomes. So rare; it only exists in .5% of the world population.So here I found myself again. I was worthless, served no purpose and had a body that couldn’t even function properly. I was fat, I was injured and every day I was waking up in pain from my accident. I seemed to have control over nothing in my life.These were my darkest days.At that point, I saw three options in front of me: end my life, keep living in sadness or find a way to triumph. I honestly wasn’t sure which one it would be for a while. Then one day I stumbled across my knight in shining armor: a web site called Bodybuilding.com. Little did I know that on that day I had found something that was going to grant me back a sense of control and transform me into a healthier, happier and more knowledgeable me. I began researching, watching videos and engrossing myself in the art of molding my physique. I read articles of average people who had transformed, both physically and mentally and I saw a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I was going to go with option number three – find my way to triumph. From that point on, bodybuilding, training, and fitness became my passion. I learned how to control my health and well-being, and how to use training as a way to de-stress and re-focus. Fitness became my answer.
Today I have lost over fifty-five pounds and am focusing on building my career as a Figure Competitor, Writer, Professional Speaker and Fitness Model. Although I still deal with a lot of physical pain from my accident, I have done everything I can from a health perspective to heal. So I have accepted the injuries that I can’t control and have instead, decided to focus on controlling the things I can.
Bodybuilding has given me my life back and shown me my purpose – to help others conquer their adversities with the help of health and fitness.
The truth is, I’m not normal and I never will be. But that is what will make me great at my career, help me stand out from the crowd and one day make me an incredible mother to a child.