Everyone has a different reason for why they want to be fit, whether it’s medical, personal, aesthetics, etc. Mine is a bit of all. Growing up I was always very athletic. I played softball, soccer, cheerleading and was always on the go from practices to games to competitions. My body naturally developed into a more athletic built, I always had muscle tone even if I didn’t particularly work that muscle out. When I moved from New Jersey to Florida, I entered the world of dance. I began to see my body change in shape and then started learning about working out your body and the different types of exercises.
At first, of course, like every young woman, I just wanted to be super skinny. I started going to the gym but realized that really wasn’t for me. I couldn’t go without being stared at consistently or told my form needs help, or some guy attempting to hit on me. At this point a coworker of mine said I should try a CrossFit gym with her. That was the BEST investment I ever made!!! CrossFit Liger has completely changed my life! I was at a point in my life where I was completely happy with my body and comfortable in my own skin.
Then on one of my vacation trips last year, I got very sick from the food. I was in Puerto Rico and eating at a highly recommended restaurant in San Juan, when I contacted a bacterial strain from a seafood/chicken plate. I didn’t know it at the time, but my life was about to change. I returned home and about a week later, I was having muscle spasms and stroke-like symptoms on my right side of my body only. My parents immediately drove me to the hospital and a MRI scan later, they found something was in my head and I was given forms to sign. The forms were for in case, I didn’t pull through, who could make medical decisions for me. The scariest thing about it all was seeing my parents’ reactions. I was always a young, healthy, fit person. I was very fortunate to be diagnosed with a bacterial strain in my brain out of other possibilities. I went on antibiotics but when that didn’t work, I was forced into emergency brain surgery to save my life.
Now I will say, God was on my side the whole time, the diagnosis was the best out of all the possibilities out there, the surgery was a super easy surgery as far as brain surgeries go, and the recovery process wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. I had no pain at all afterward. I truly have to thank all three of my doctors for working so hard to save my life. This incident cause me to stay in the hospital for about a week, but the staff was amazing. My parents and close friends who knew about what happened, were there every day. I was so blessed to have them all there and thankful as well.
But then the hard part started. After my surgery, the doctors could never pinpoint the exact bacteria that entered my body, so I was put on an 8-week antibiotic program as a precaution. I had to get a pick line attached to my heart to receive daily antibiotics and have weekly blood drawn to check my progress. With this I couldn’t work, drive, workout or even really leave my house. I remember due to the surgery; I couldn’t even walk without a walker in the beginning. I needed help walking, going up stairs, standing, my whole right side had to relearn some basic daily functions. This is where I started to gain weight. I couldn’t work out and wasn’t necessarily on a good diet. I gain about 10-15 pounds during this time.
It took me about 4 months to get medically cleared to start doing basic workouts. I was only allowed to walk, run, warm up on the elliptical. Nothing to what my body was used to prior. It was even a struggle to get back on the dance floor. I would notice that my body was being pushed too hard and I would get dizzy very easily. Eventually I stopped dancing. I went on a couple of trips since being cleared and two of them were Colorado and Paris. Both were major personal tests for me to see if I could push my body to do some extensive walking. I came back from both trips so drained but I accomplished them with no setbacks. Small win in my book!
After my trip to Paris earlier this year, I went in for a final checkup with my neurosurgeon, who told me the best news I could have ever gotten. I completely healed perfectly. They were all impressed with my recovery process due to the magnitude of the surgery. I wasn’t going to let this hold me back in any way. I started to go back to my CrossFit classes. At first, I was scared. I didn’t know where I would stand according to the demanding workouts or if I could even finish the workout. Worse, I thought I might not ever be able to work out as rigorous and demanding of a workout that CrossFit is. All my coaches told me to go slow and were always there monitoring me and making sure I was okay and not light-headed. After a couple of months, I eventually got my groove back. It was hard don’t get me wrong. Some workouts I would feel so dizzy I needed a moment to regain myself and some were such a breeze. I had to be patient with myself, which if you know me patience is what I lack or have. Ha-ha!
Fitness to me means proving myself wrong. I didn’t think I could get back to where I was before but I’m slowly getting there. Fitness to me means pushing your body further than you thought possible for yourself in a healthy way. Of course, I look at the Camille Leblanc and Rich Froning’s of the world and know I’m not on their level yet, but one day who knows? I strive to get better every day, whether it means getting through the workout and not feeling nauseous afterward or moving to a harder weight. Going from 5 pound weights to 10 was such an accomplishment for me because I just proved myself wrong. I thought I couldn’t do it, but my body did it. It was always a mental battle for me. Deadlifting 130 lbs. was another accomplishment! Month by month I started to regain my muscle and strength. I did BeachBody’s Insanity prior to my surgery and honestly I wasn’t dying after the workouts, now after my surgery, it wasn’t as easy, but I finished it. Another small win for me!
The next part of my journey is learning to meal prep, cook, and what to eat. I always struggled with food, I wouldn’t eat much at all, maybe a full meal a day then a snack. But I wasn’t eating properly for my body, I wasn’t giving it the nutrition it needed to be successful. I almost had everything taken from me, being given another chance, I want to give my body the best it can have. Since my injury, I’ve also become a vegetarian. I’ve now partnered with Beachbody to become a coach and the meals they provide to you are amazing and all vegetarian for me. The protein I lack without eating meat/chicken, I get back with their Shakelogy shakes and the natural energy I get is amazing too. Plus, since I’m always not able to get to the gym, I get access to their whole amazing library of workouts on the go. I even get it right on my phone, which is amazing because I’m leaving for New York on Thursday and can still workout without having to leave my hotel room or think about a workout to do.
I’m so happy to finally share my story with others and help you through any adversity you feel is holding you back from not only being happy in your skin, but living a healthy lifestyle. One thing I’ve truly learned is to be happy in your skin and if you’re not, why not change it? I’m on that journey right now. BeachBody is so amazing because it makes everything easy, right in the palm of your hands. You don’t have time to go to the gym, that’s fine because you can get access to an amazing workout right on your device and its only at least 30 minutes! You don’t know what to eat, I’ll help you set a meal plan up and make sure you stick to it. You’ll also get myself and my amazing team to hold you accountable, to ask any questions, to motivate you.
Plus with Beach Body you can honestly workout anywhere. Today I did my workout in the park in front of my neighborhood. The weather was perfect so I couldn’t resist.
I’m excited for this next chapter of my life and want to be a part of your next chapter. Feel free to email me at KarenGiuliana.email@example.com with any questions you may have. The most important thing with BeachBody is you! Your health! I want to help change your life for the better version you want to be, just like BeachBody is changing mine right now.
PS: I rarely take photos during my workouts because I’m always a hot, sweaty mess. 🙂