MY STORY…. my journey

“I always walk into the room and see all the beautiful faces in front of me and think how blessed I am to love what I do and love making an impact on someone’s life for an hour. I don’t know how their day has gone but for that one hour, we get to celebrate! They are one step closer to the intention they walked in with, or the goal they have set for themselves.  My participants inspire me daily…”

I graduated college for the third time… I was at the top of my game… feeling that finally, life was going to give me a couple more lemons before I was challenged to make the lemon aid… but one night that came to a halt.

It was December 20, 2001, I was asked by a friend to go to Karaoke.  We got into my Mercedes Benz 420 SEL and I started driving over to an establishment that had a fun Karaoke night in Toronto.  On our way we were hit by a drunk driver which was a life changing experiance. Pictures below will show you the physical damage to the car.  We were hit  close to a rate close to 100 km per hour though It was a zoned 40 kph..

I was bruised and battered and wondered how was I supposed to call my parents.  To tell them that 4 days before Christmas was smashed but I was ok… oh and meet you at the hospital… I was put on a stretcher and into the ambulance bus… it was the worst ride of my life.

 After all the testing and x rays I was diagnosed with muscle and nerve damage. To this day I still experience periods when I would not be able to feel the left side of my face, arm, or leg for the due to the trauma.   I sat there in the hospital bed wondering what was going to happen to the 30 children I took care of at the Before and After School Program. What was going to happen to my flourishing dance career…. what did I just do!!!

For many months I was in physiotherapy and I got depressed. I started eating for emotional support… something that was new to me. Then the moment I was to be released from physiotherapy I ended right back where I started.  In my dad’s car, I was hit again from behind on HWY 400 .  A family was late to a party and was not paying attention that the traffic in front of them had stopped.

After a year of therapy, I was out… out to face a world I did not know anymore.  6 months after the drunk driver hit me I tried to go back to partner classes of Ballet, Tap, Jazz, I tried dancing with my ballroom partner. but I just was not ready. I was still experiencing muscle fatigue after half hour of exercise/ dance.  So I went back to the gym.  I tried so hard to rehabilitate myself, but it was hard. I tried setting dates with Personal Trainers but no one understood the pain I was still having.  I was in denial that I had to reset to lifting 5 pounds weights… my spine burned.  I got angry at the world wondering was this going to be it for the rest of my life? I got angry at myself, I got angry at the drunk driver. I was having  night mares that were starting to subside.  My relationships changed with the people around me.

Mentally I was a mess. Physically I did not know my own body… I had known my body for 23 years… I could tell you why and how my body was working.  I went to the Canadian Fitness Professional conference to attain my yearly Continuing Education credits.  I had heard of a new Program called Zumba by Beto Perez that is described as Latin Dance fused with Fitness.  I wanted to see what this is all about!  I signed up for the licence and thought if worst comes to worst I will watch and perform when I can.   Well, I reluctantly fell in love with the program… why…well. it was not ballet, tap or jazz or real partner dancing but it was Latin dancing, I missed salsa, I missed hip hop I missed my passion… my love of life… but I was living and breathing again.

As my spirits lifted so did some of my ailments sure after a hour my face fell asleep or my arm would not move, or my leg would buckle but I was dancing again.  As years passed I was able to start a family.. With all my deliveries they asked if I wanted drugs… ANY Drugs… and as one intern said, “it’s now or for ever hold your breath”. My answer was NO… You see with my injuries I did not know if I would have control or would I numb out on my own. My first child was JL he was 9 pounds 2 ounces… my biggest baby… no drugs, just the will to deliver a healthy baby.  A year after JL I was pregnant again.  I found out I was pregnant 3 months in… I was ecstatic… until 3 weeks later… at a couple days shy of 4 months that baby inside of me passed I had a miscarriage.  It tore me apart inside.  I wondered what went wrong. Was I too old to have another child? What am I doing?  Then following the month I was pregnant again.  When I was pregnant I never ate for 2 I ate for 1.5.  This way I could use some of the pervious body weight I could not get rid of to use.  Or at least that was my thoughts…

I was in denial for the first 2 months due to the miscarriage but when I found out it was true I did not want to tell a soul until I was 8 months.   My little M was born and of course no drugs.

With both children, I breastfed for 2 years… I was a mom of 2 little people and maintaining the house and half the finances I started to get really tired… I had realized one day I did not know how I got home from the gym…. then my girlfriend asked me to be her guinea pig.  She had this amazing product that could shed 10 pound in one week… I looked at her and said, “Fitness pro to Fitness pro you know that is not going to happen”. She assured me that is what this company claimed so followed the program to a tee and gained 7 pounds.  It was at that time I went to the doctor.  I informed her of my symptoms of craziness, the diet (I logged all of it) and then what I ate before the diet, how I have been exercising and not losing weight.

When she came back with the test results she told me to sit down. I had a hard time doing that, so when she said sit. I replied with “IS IT CANCER?”  She said, “No, you have Hypothyroid”.

AHHAHHHAHAHHH!!!!! Why me. Now it all came into light, everything made sense… the 12 months of being pregnant, the new family dynamics, the issues…  She asked me to call a pizza for the kids and a babysitter for the next 3 days and just sleep.  How was that going to happen….?  Whom is going to do the laundry and clean the house?

Now I fight everyday not to have gluten, soy and, dairy… (do you wonder what is left in my fridge?) I try and get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep to keep my thyroid functioning.  I am on medication in hopes to regulate the hormones in my body.   My weight will always be a work in progress as with the little that my thyroid functions weight loss can take years.

If you were wondering if I ever got back to dance… YES.  I do take open classes every once in a while but I learned to put my pride aside and start from the ground up. I recently have gone back to competing in Ballroom competitions and have won many awards all over the United States.