My Health & Wellness Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday - Many of you know that I began my fitness journey back in 2010. It started very simply with short hikes to distract myself from personal life problems. I was going through a divorce that was simply put, tough. I wasn’t in the best place emotionally, and I had all types of Mommy guilt. I really felt like I had let my children and to an extent, my family and extended friends down. Those quiet walks soon blossomed into walk/runs. Then I met a group of women through Black Girls Run and started my running chapter. In 2012, I ran my first half marathon, the San Jose Rock n Roll half marathon. I loved it so much, I signed up to do my first marathon. April 7, 2013, I completed my first marathon in Paris, France. I figured I love to travel, so why don’t I make it a destination race. It was an amazing experience and I got to see Paris in an entirely different way than had I just went as a tourist. In 2013, I traveled near and far and ran a total of 13 half marathons and one additional marathon. I was never really fast, but I did set the goals and then put in the work to finish. In 2013, a friend completed AIDS\LifeCycle which is a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles and it truly inspired me. In 2003, my Mom lost her fight with the disease and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor her memory and to also help bring awareness to the fight to end AIDS. So, you guessed it, I signed up for AIDS\LifeCycle 2014. I didn’t even have a bike! What I had though was determination and commitment to doing what it took to successfully complete the ride. I’m pretty smart (yeah, I said it 😉), and know what I don’t know and know when to consult the experts. I got great advice on a new bike (I named her Cool P which was my Mom’s nickname around the block 💞) and then I started working with an amazing coach; Liza Rachetto and we trained for six months to prepare for the ride. Those 7 days, 545 miles changed me for the better. I was physically and mentally stronger than I could ever recall being up to that point in time.
After such an accomplishment, I really began to wonder what else I could do. My coach is an amazing triathlete. She kicks ass on the Ironman course and punches her ticket every year to compete at the Ironman Championship in Kona. I knew I was in great hands so I decided to take on triathlon. My swim was and still is my weakest of the three disciplines (swim, bike, run) but I managed to complete my first Sprint triathlon just five months after finishing AIDS\LifeCycle. In 2015, I wanted to dive into a full Ironman. I kept asking my coach if she thought it was a good idea and she kept telling me to focus on building strength and endurance as Ironman was a big jump. I realized I was experiencing FOMO. Many of my new triathlon friends were all jumping into Ironman distance and I wanted to dive in too. I had to mentally check myself and put things back into perspective. So, I listened to my coach and focused on the half-IM distance; 70.3. Again, I know what I don’t know and will consult others who are more experienced than me for advice and guidance. She was absolutely right. I had a really successful triathlon season and when 2016 rolled around, I was ready for Ironman distance. I dropped everything and focused completely on my training. I even deleted my Facebook because it was a distraction. My laser focus paid off because I completed my Ironman on August 7, 2016, and now KNOW that Anything Is Possible.
After my Ironman, my professional career began to get even busier. My projects were getting more complex and I started to feel the burnout setting in. I was feeling like the projects were piling up and I was not getting any breaks, even when I asked for them. There were days I was waving the flag of distress to no avail. My fitness took a back seat and I began to feel less and less inspired. To put things in perspective here are my cycling stats over the years. Note this is approximate because sometimes I ride without tracking data.
2013 - 74.8 miles (This is when I first purchased my bike in the Fall of 2013)
2014 - 3,375.6 miles
2015 - 2,381.1 miles
2016 - 3,026.2 miles
2017 - 692.8 miles
2018 - 59 miles
Just looking at my 2017 data, I can see where my anxiety and depression likely started to set in. Let me tell y’all how deep my depression was. It was so deep, I buried my TT bike Storm in the closet for over a year. Looking at her hurt. I really missed riding and my triathlon workouts. I even tried to sell her multiple times but the Universe wasn’t having any of that. No one took the deal and I believe it’s because our story isn’t done yet. Cycling brought me so much joy. The wind against my face, hanging out with friends. Even when I was training for my Ironman and workouts got tough, at the end I felt very accomplished. Over the last 18 months, anytime any one of my friends would ask me to ride, I’d tell them that I wasn’t interested, or that I didn’t love it like that. The truth is that I was so stressed and depressed I didn’t enjoy doing the things that I loved anymore.

Then, in June of 2017, a tragedy struck my work family. A colleague of ours committed suicide. This had a profound effect on my life. While this colleague wasn’t a close and personal friend in that we didn’t socialize outside of work, they were someone where at work we shared lots of things and I considered him a friend. We had a common bond in cycling and triathlon. When he wanted to do his first triathlon, I referred him to a coach that I thought would be a good fit. We stopped by each other’s offices to chat about race expectations and performances. We offered each other support and words of encouragement when we were feeling like we weren’t making progress or neglecting our triathlon training schedules. His passing really made me take a hard look at myself and address the pink elephant that I was ignoring. I was depressed and I needed help. I sought out a psychiatrist and also began to meditate daily. I’ve spent the last year in therapy and feel so much better and to be completely honest, just sharing it here feels so vulnerable and therapeutic at the same time.

Almost two months ago, I retired from my corporate job and will now be pursuing my passion in health and wellness coaching. I hate that it has taken such a tragic event for me to find my purpose in life, to feel like living again instead of just existing. To remember, it’s okay to be vulnerable and allow love in my life. To feel the benefits that a healthy lifestyle brings. To set goals and crush them. So, friends, you will get a front row seat to me refilling my cups. To taking life in once again, and then pouring some of the blessings out to share with others. I know I was put on this earth to contribute in a greater way. To help teach others how to be their best selves and to crush their goals. To help transform people lives. I hope me sharing this with you sparks a fire within and if there’s anything I can help you with, please drop a line and let me know.