Nina turned her “unhappy, hot-mess life” into one that brings her joy and peace!
A year ago when I started this transformation with Burn Boot camp, I had high hopes & expectations for myself. After all, I have always been a high achiever and a perfectionist. What could go wrong? I had the opportunity of a lifetime in my hands with the promise to help me! I thought I had found my answer to finally losing my weight and I had the illusion that everything would fall into place in my life! Because, after all, it was the weight holding me back from living my life… right?
I can say that I was nowhere prepared for the many challenges I had to face in 2016. My world as I knew it would forever be changed for many reasons. I was blessed with the opportunity to take two teenagers into our home and I had the privilege to see how amazing these kids are and to talk with several teenagers. I quickly realized what teenage girls felt today about their own body image and the pressures to be beautiful, over achievers. They reminded me of myself and how I never felt pretty as a teenager, and since suffered with a life of self doubt and never feeling like I was enough. Today these girls are influenced by so many airbrushed pictures of models, and some think pro-anorexia and bulimia are the answer to having the perfect body. 50% of teenage girls and 30% of boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors. It is estimated that 1 in every 200 teenage girls cut on a regular basis, so many use self harm as a coping mechanism. These numbers are on the rise! This information was a game changer for me because it is preventable and people recover from eating disorders, depression and anxiety everyday! I have seen it happen!
I found that exercise daily & positive self talk are the best way to regain mental clarity to fight the challenges we all face everyday! I am a mother of an 8 year old daughter and 9 year old son and I also had this beautiful 15 year old girl looking up to me everyday! What I want for my kids is that they are happy with who they truly are, that they know their worth and give them the confidence to believe in themselves… little did I realize that was a lesson that I really had to learn myself! Because its important for a mother to be the example of self- love and acceptance so our children do not suffer from low self- esteem.
I was so caught up taking care of everything & everyone else that I did not know how to take care of myself anymore. I had no idea where to even start because it was all so overwhelming. Even though I went to boot camp and worked so hard, I was still struggling with my emotional over eating and the high stress of my personal life. I lost weight and then gained it back. Because I was not focusing on what I truly needed to do in my life. And I felt like a huge failure. So I kept spinning my wheels & pushing myself until I had nothing left to give anymore. God has a way of making you slow down if you desperately need it & that is exactly what happened to me! I tripped on a stick my kids left outside the door & fell flat on my booty! My ankle hurt so bad I could not get up. That night was spent on a very expensive date with my husband to the emergency room, to x-ray my swollen foot. Luckily it was severely sprained and not broken. As my husband pushed me in the wheelchair I felt so helpless because I’m so fiercely independent and not used to being taken care of. It had always been my job to take care of everyone else. Then he kissed me on the top of my head and at that moment I realized how far we had come. I needed him to help me recover because he was my partner in life. He was patient with me because my struggle was not over. I could not exercise, go to work or keep going like the energizer bunny. That was a very uncomfortable place for me to be in, because I had too much that I needed to accomplish and get done! Then my anxiety took over and I had a severe panic attack, which scared me. This was followed by a month laying in bed with depression, but I was determined that my breakdown was going to turn into a breakthrough! Its not the load you carry that breaks you, but how you carry your load.
As I was taking my much needed sabbatical from life I knew that my goal was to live a life of joy and peace. The first step was self acceptance and responsibility. I read books, listened to lots of TED TALKS & searched Pinterest for ways to live the happy and healthy life that I was so craving. I searched for answers but the answers were in me all along. I just had to be still and listen to my heart! My plate was so full of so many responsibilities, it made it difficult for me to accomplish my goals and live a comfortable life. I had to remove things out of my life and off my to do list. I had to evaluate the things I was doing and I asked myself is this working for me and my family? If the answer is “NO” its okay to say “NO!” It will not always be popular to someone else, but its your life to live. I believe its important to do what you love and live the life you want! A few months ago, my husband and I went on a trip to the mountains to celebrate our anniversary. I realized that for the first time I was not ashamed of my body. I was starting to be happy! This was crazy because I was bigger than ever before. I had to learn to accept my body and myself for what it was and love myself first! When life gets hard I try to remember to count my blessings and remind myself of what is right. That makes it easier to recover and move forward.
So today I chose to do what is important to me! Body positivity is important, no matter what shape or size you are! We are all beautiful in our own special way. The number on the scale should never determine our self-worth. Sure I have some extra junk in my trunk, but that does not mean I can’t change it! My goal is to be healthy and enjoy the journey. My body will take many shapes and sizes in my lifetime. It is my character and what I do in my life to make the world a better place that matters most to me! I’ve learned to focus on what I have done right and not beat myself up for the things I did not accomplish yet. Due to my consistent exercise I am so much stronger physically and mentally! I now have the strength to not let adversity hold me back anymore, and so can you!
Nina Espinal – Burn Boot Camp, Huntersville, NC