It is amazing how often we look in the mirror. We wake up, wash our face, and get ready for our day. We look in the mirror when we check our reflection to make sure we look presentable before we walk out the door. We see ourselves constantly but do we really see ourselves as others see us?
I was a dancer. I went to school for theater and dance; I studied ballet, jazz, modern and even did ballroom/latin. Dance is my first passion. I took pride in my dancers’ form and I walked with an air of confidence that dancers earn from years of training. I also had some issues with eating disorders and kept my weight within the range of 100 lbs and 135 lbs. When I hit 35, my weight started to go up and down, but it never got truly out of control until after 40. Even at that point I never considered the possibility that I could be obese.
I actually had a sign I had a weight problem the summer of 2011, but I was in denial. I went to a doctor in Beverly Hills who insisted I needed Bariatric surgery. He humiliated me, and accused me of lying about my diet. On my walk home I was in tears, and I was suddenly startled when I was approached by the famous director Quentin Tarantino. He asked me for a business card and stated he was interested in me for a movie he was filming. I did not give him any information and totally botched what could have been a pivotal moment in my life, all because of what happened earlier in the day with the fat-shaming Beverly Hills doctor. Even after that moment I did not believe I could be that person, a person who was on the far side of fit. I just felt I was just a little chubby.
I am a poet, and I was attending an open mic in Hollywood with some friends in 2013. My photographer friend Xiomara offered to take some photos of me standing at the mic reading my poetry. I felt on top of the world that night; it was my first reading since moving from NYC to Los Angeles and my poetry really resonated with the audience that evening. It was time to shine, or so I thought.
Later that week Xiomara emailed me the photos, and I could not believe my eyes. I was looking at my own image, and the person in the photo was a stranger to me. Who was she? I did not recognize my own face and body, and I was mortified that I let myself get to the point of obesity. That was the last reading I attended.
I took a self-esteem dive right into the oblivion of insecurity and body hatred:
It was months until I was ready to take action: months of feeling terrible about myself, months of overeating and under-exercising. It was months before I faced the dreaded scale. I let myself sink further before I was ready to make a change. The change came in an idea — an idea that came from my writer and humanitarian side of my personality.
I wanted to start a blog.
I actually had two blogs working but the missing link was something to strive for: a journey, a path. I also realized how much I loved giving back in the past. Yes, I gave back in little ways daily to random people I encountered. A sandwich for a homeless man, a donation to an animal rescue but I wanted, or I needed to do more. I remembered how I planned Downward Dog For Cats back in 2012, a yoga event in Los Angeles to raise money for a local animal rescue. It was like a light bulb flashed inside my myopic mind. I gave more to others than I gave to myself. I was putting myself last and trashing my temple. I thought what if I were to combine my philanthropic ways with a weight loss regimen and blog about my experience.
I decided to sponsor a charity with every ten pounds I lost, contacting the charity before I lost each ten pounds. I was now accountable — and going public with my journey — so I thought there was no way I could fail. I decided to be completely transparent: sharing my weight which was 210 lbs and before photos, basically sharing my whole life.
My idea was met with such enthusiasm, I was offered training from a co-worker turned friend named Mike. I was cast in a Richard Simmons video, the beginning in July 2013 started off on such a hopeful note. I would lose weight, help others, and have a blast doing it. I would have no fear, and be impeccable with my word. When I said I would do something, I did it.
My journey became a thrilling adventure and I lost 50 lbs and did things I would have never assumed I could do at this time in my life. I ran a 5k, missed the turn and completed a 10k. I did yoga on a heli-pad on a rooftop in LA. I have loved every minute of the ride, met some beautiful souls along the twists and turns of my road less traveled, and I am humbled that I have had the chance to do my little part to make a difference.
Now I find myself at a crossroads,after moving from West Hollywood to Houston Texas. I am continuing on my never ending quest to for fitness, philanthropy and feeling fearless and high on being alive. I am far from an after, but so much better than I once was before. All with a little help from my friends.