My name is Mary Chavez, a married 38 year old woman and mother of two. Born in Guam, raised in the Midwest; moved to the Southwest and married in the Southeast, where I still reside.
Growing up, my life was ballet; I ate, drank and slept ballet. Unfortunately, the lack of moderation is likely the reason I walked away from that life at the age of 18. While I regret walking away from it, I don’t regret the path that doing so has led me on.
My fitness journey started out as a hate filled relationship but I have come to now embrace fitness and it’s become part of my everyday life. I most enjoy the idea of always having a goal when it comes to fitness. The idea of setting a goal, working towards that goal, and achieving that goal is so satisfying. In a world in which we have so little control of, having the power to dictate the outcome of my goals provides me just enough control over my life and gives me the power necessary to make it through the hurdles I encounter every day.
My fitness journey has basically been lifelong. As a young dancer, your body is your tool and your ability to perform has a direct correlation to the shape the dancer is in. Under constant scrutiny to maintain a certain body type, one does what is necessary to conform.
Following my time in ballet, my relationship with fitness continued after the birth of my first child. The majority of my initial fitness relationship was limited to cardio as my only goal at the time was to shed my pregnancy weight. The time I spent on the treadmill was fueled by the 76 lbs I gained during my pregnancy and the wedding dress I intended to fit into in the future. The goal I set out to achieve this time around was to “feel beautiful again”.
A goal, that looking back, likely was one that set out to attack the very idea of what beauty is. No matter the amount of time, the number on the scale, I still was unable to look at myself and accept who I was, regardless of size nor could I acknowledge the weight-loss accomplishments I had achieved. Eventually, that mindset beat me down to the point of severe depression. In turn, this initial relationship left a sour taste in my mouth because in my mind fitness, in that moment did nothing but break me down. In hind sight, it was the goal that led to my depression as I was striving for a number rather, and in turn was destroying myself instead of building myself up.
Today I have a great relationship with fitness and I love that it has taught me how to help myself and others. Not just in the gym, but in life. The most incredible feeling is when you see someone your helping achieve a goal that was set, that is such an incredible moment to experience! Beyond helping others, fitness has played an intricate part in how I perceive my life. It’s no longer about skinny, what weight I’m at or what size I wear instead it’s about becoming stronger, mentally and physically. Seeing myself crush my last PR on back day is more euphoric than seeing the number on the scale drop. Pressing more than the 20 year old boy next to me is more satisfying than that size 2 at Express. So for me, my fitness journey changed my life and liberated me from the stereotype of size, weight and other molds that people put females in.
So I say this to those starting out on their journey, stay positive! Changes don’t happen overnight, it takes hard work and dedication. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others even though they may look intimidating more often than not, they’ll help you! Most importantly there will be those in your life that don’t understand why you’ve set out on this path, and that’s okay remember you’re doing for yourself, not them! Don’t let anything or anyone stop you, keep going, keep getting stronger, and most importantly always stay positive!!!