Growing up I had a love for Shirley Temple, reading, writing, swimming and being active. My parents described me as an outgoing child, always with a big smile on my face, not much has changed here. I was fortunate to have had an incredible childhood which I believe has helped shape my life today. Since I can remember I was running around the neighborhood, swimming in our pool and in the winter skating. I took piano, acting and singing lessons but soon my commitment to swimming took over. I was training 2-4 hours a day starting at the age of 10.
I was a competitive swimmer for over 13 years. I swam three years at the varsity level after which I decided to end my career. I told people my passion wasn’t there anymore, but the real reason was I couldn’t handle it mentally anymore. I was a good swimmer, but I never truly reached my full potential. I’ve always had bad anxiety and unfortunately a lot of this anxiety occurred during my races. It would happen out of nowhere and suddenly in the middle of my race I would have a full-blown panic attack. Sometimes I could continue the race but other times I would have to slow down drastically or stop all together. Not only was this devastating for me as I put my heart and soul into the sport and had one of the best work ethics on the team but I also felt humiliated. No one else had these struggles, or so it appeared. I was embarrassed, felt alone and felt I was letting the team and myself down.
Walking away from swimming I never really dealt with it. Instead I masked it with partying. I started drinking a lot. I was getting black out drunk 3-4 times a week, doing poorly in school, and doing things uncharacteristic of myself. I was a mess. I started working out in the gym with weights and this is what helped to pull me out of this phase. I loved how I could channel my problems and use exercise as therapy. I loved the feeling of working as hard as I possibly could at achieving something. It gave me passion that I had missed since quitting swimming. Most importantly it took me out of the party scene, and for this I am thankful.
Few months in, I was hooked and signed up for my first fitness competition. As much as the experience was incredible, and I did win. This was my first mistake: I rushed into something, I was naïve, I didn’t know much about it all, and I trusted a coach I knew nothing about. Due to my inexperience and lack of education I didn’t understand how to properly reverse diet, nor was I given help to. I had a bad rebound which left me gaining 50lbs over my stage weight. This experience did, however push me into the direction of a Kinesiology degree where I was able to properly educate myself.