Transformation of the Day: Laura lost 39 pounds. She transformed her body, but she also used exercise and a healthy lifestyle to overcome serious depression. Wanting to be happy and healthy, she’s been through many ups and downs but she never gave up. Check out her truly inspiring story.
Hello! Bon jour! Buenos Dias! Thank you in advance for reading my story. I hope I can inspire you to live.
My weight loss journey started when I hit a mental rock bottom. I was constantly unhappy and I mastered pretending to be happy. The mask broke and on my worst day. It was Thanksgiving 2014. I was alone and I went into a dark place. My daughter was at her father’s home for the holiday… and I was alone. See, this was the first Thanksgiving that my daughter would not be with me. So, my mind went into a dark place. I was alone in my bathroom, wanting to end it all. I realized that I had depression, but I knew I did not want to be medicated. I wanted to find natural ways to manage my depression… and get out of that bathroom. So, I prayed and I put on the mask one last time that day. I pretended to be happy when I went to Thanksgiving dinner. I weighed 184 pounds at the time and was miserable. So, after that dinner, I went online and I researched. I did not want that feeling of darkness to come back.
I remembered a past employer telling me that if you want to go from good to great you need to look at those around you. I went on a mission to find happiness. I looked for people who were consistently happy and positive. Boy, was it hard to find. After Thanksgiving break, I asked my daughter’s daycare director how come she is always so happy? Why was she full of energy? That was when my journey with coach Barby Rodriguez began. She introduced me to Herbalife. I started by drinking shakes once a day and together we created a nutritional plan for me. I told her that I could do the eating plan, but I don’t do sweat and I will not exercise. Diet changes alone, I lost 15 pounds but due to holidays, I put it back on.
In March of 2015, my journey took a turn for the better. I turned 30 years old and I did not like the way I looked. I became very sad because I was not happy about not reaching any of my personal goals. On one of my sad days coach Barby invited me to my first zumba class taught by Catherine Castro. That night I found a new passion. Cathy danced passion and HOPE back in my life. Zumba clicked for me. It was weird because I have two left feet, I messed up a lot and at the end of her class, Cathy came up to me and told me not to give up. She said, “Don’t quit. Beto (the creator of Zumba) says that if you have a dancing heart you can do zumba.” So, I went back every Tuesday. My first month, I went from 184 lbs to 179 lbs in April. My depression would still come and go, but I realized with zumba and healthy diet I was feeling okay. So, I added more Zumba in April, and it helped me so much. It gave me great confidence and I fell in love with Zumba. Cathy invited me to master classes and I met new teachers. In every class I went to I was greeted with a smile and I felt the love through fitness.
I gave up all the unhealthy food, some Caribbean food (oxtail, jerk chicken, curry chicken, griot) and deep dish pizza. I also gave up my food runs. See, before my change, every other weekend my daughter would go to her dad’s house. To fill the void I would do a food run. I would get Jamaican food from a place around the corner, or pass by McDonalds for 2 Apple pies, Strawberry and cheese pastry and a large sweet tea. Then, I’d pass by Taco bell and pick up Doritos tacos locos, and for the finisher, a Wendy’s frosty. See, I would eat myself tired so that when I went to bed I would be too full to feel sad and I would fall asleep real quick. Food helped fill the void of my daughter not being home.
Once I started zumba and eating right, I did not do that anymore. I definitely learned portion control. In the morning I have a Herbalife shake with Kale and banana. I had a meal plan with the right carbs, proteins, and fats. I took out the bad carbs found substitutes. I also put my food on a smaller plate. See, when I used to put on big plate I would over eat. Putting it on a smaller plate enabled me to have portion control. I have 3 snacks a day. after breakfast. I have either a protein bar with Greek yogurt or a hard boiled egg and chopped fruits. Nuts are great and eggs are great and keep you full longer. I can’t eat nuts due to allergies so, I did eggs, yogurt, granola, sliced apples, grapes. The snacks are before noon. I also had a post workout high protein snack to boost me like a protein bar. I have that 45 minutes before my workout. After every workout, I have recovery shake with just kale or spinach (which I don’t taste). I do not eat beef or pork. Strictly chicken, turkey, or fish instead. I drink 1 gallon or more of water a day. Water keeps you hydrated and full.
In May of 2015, my journey took a turn into strength training. I was leaving Zumba class and a trainer challenged me to go to bootcamp. He was sarcastic about it and I said sure, I will try it. If you challenge me, I accept. I went and it was God awful hard. I didn’t go back for a month, but I kept doing Zumba and my shakes. In June, I was at 176 pounds, so, I decided to try bootcamp again and I kept going. My schedule was bootcamp at 7pm 3 days a week and zumba 4 days a week. Some days, I would do both. By July, I weighed 167 pounds and I doubled my workout because I enjoyed how bootcamp challenged me. The trainer took the “I can’t” and trained my mind, and my mind conditioned and trained my body. I kept this up and I was loosing 2-3 pounds a week. It was amazing, my depression was finally in my control… or so I thought.
Through my research, I realized that my depression was the dangerous kind because I would keep everything bottled in and then have a breakdown. In November, again around Thanksgiving, it happened. This time it was cause of bullying. I had the habit when I worked out of not being able to fit in. In Zumba, I always fit in, but bootcamp was different. I focused on me and the coach and some women felt I was stuck up or boogie. They started chatter and it broke me. How can you hate someone you don’t know? So, I changed my workout schedule and I began working 1 on 1 with the coach to avoid the drama. I also doubled my Zumba classes. Also, along the way, because of my change, I lost people that I once called friends and family. They did not approve of and support my new lifestyle and that was hard. On Dec 4th, I had a huge fall out with a friend and lost her. The guy that I was seeing at the time told me, “I liked you better when you were fat. I miss the low self-esteem Laura, she was easier to control.” We broke up that very moment.
That all left me going into Christmas alone and hurt. My daughter was going with her dad for the holiday, Zumba classes were going to be on holiday schedule and I was alone. BUT, I pushed. I worked out even harder. I would work out Tuesday and Thursday at 6am doing bootcamp and at 6pm 3 times a week one on one with my coach. I took Zumba 2 to 3 times a week. Despite all of this, the depression was coming on strong. I couldn’t fight it. I faced another betrayal in the end of January 2016 and that was my last straw.
I quit bootcamp, focused on Zumba 4 to 5 days a week and I trained myself. In Zumba, I fit in. It balanced my serotonin levels and the classes were drama free. My personal training experience gave me enough tools to train myself. I just needed to believe and have faith. In February of 2016, I lost my job and had no money to pay for fitness, but I had faith. Even though I did have a breakdown and end up in the hospital, God kept me. He made a way. I found a new job and I am in a happier place.
To up my weight loss at the end of February, I joined 9Rounds Kickboxing and I began to gain muscle and lose weight/inches quickly. I work out 7 days a week. I do 4 days of 9 rounds 30 minute boxing and 4 days of Zumba. Some days, I do both on the same day. Everything is looking good.
I started January 2016 at 159 pounds and I currently weigh 145 pounds (height: 5’3″). I started at a size 14 and a 36 DD. I am now a size 6 with a 36 C. I love me! For the first time in my life, I love the woman I see looking back at me. My arms are amazing. I have Ali arms from 9Round training, Zumba legs, and God confidence!
When I get down, I do a Zumba song. When I get discouraged, I look to God and I realize he put me here for a reason and my life is not mine to take. Zumba encourages me. Whenever I was discouraged, I doubled my Zumba classes.
My advice to anyone on this journey is that you are not alone. Be strong, hold on to your goals and do this for you. Prayer helps. By strengthening your body, you strengthen your mind. My fitness journey has taken me to a new level. This year, I am trying one new fitness trend. I am also going to try step class in July. I am also doing one 5k a month, every month this year. I’m excited.
When you find what works for you, stick with it. Don’t let anyone steal your joy. For you parents out there, your children are watching you, so show them happiness. If they see you happy, they are happy. Include your children in your journey. My daughter and I go to the park and she trains me. She’s got her a whistle, her gear and she trains me hard. She even does Zumba. She started zumba before me at her school and loves it. Your workout should have you on cloud 9 after it’s done. Workout in a positive place and learn to have self motivation. Your gonna need it.
Meal prep really helps. Once you have a routine, meal prep is easy. I also love doing clean eating challenges. Eating clean changed my entire body and my face cleared. The energy boost is ridiculous and the inches melt off. I am currently trying to make my diet completely vegetarian, it hard because I still cook food for my daughter that has meat. I eat about 5 to 6 small meals a day. I had to do this because as I increased the my exercise routine, my body needed something to burn so, that is why I plan my food. I am still learning the appropriate techniques and the results are great!
Lastly, you are not only gonna lose weight, but you may lose people. Keep in mind that whatever is taken God will give you back with a surplus. My 31st birthday this year was filled with so much love… Love that my heart literally could not handle. I am so grateful for that experience. From a birthday surprise, I learned to celebrate life. My Zumba family gave me a birthday party that took my breathe away and my friends that stuck with me on this journey spoiled me. For the first time in my life, I did not feel invisible and I did not feel like an orphan. I was not alone. I am not alone. I am blessed, I am loved and it was all worth it!
Thank you coach Barby Rodriguez, Catherine Castro, Herbalife, and Zumba Fitness. Thank you to all the zumba teachers that I have danced with Maribel Miras de Serpone, Reidel Cabrera Martinez, Jean Rodriguez and all of you. To the Zumberas, I love all of you and I thank you for taking an outsider in and making her a part of the Zumba family. Thank you to my 9Round Family, Lynne and Ira, I am so grateful for you. To my daughter I love you and I thank you and your dad for being there for me and helping me. I appreciate you both. You hold me down and I am glad we are the Three Musketeers. The greatest thank you to God, thank for taking your prodigal daughter back and giving her that God confidence.