My name is Silvia Arias, a 29-year-old mental health counselor and Spartan Race addict living in New York. I was originally born in Venezuela, but shortly after birth my family decided to relocate to Switzerland. I have now been residing in the United States since 1994.
I speak three languages (Spanish, English, and German), finished high school at the German School New York, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and German in 2011 from UMass, Amherst, and obtained my Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling in 2016. I am currently working as a bilingual psychotherapist in a clinic in the Bronx.
In the summer of 2009 I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. My treatment was rigorous, and I had not realized the damage it had caused until later that summer. I had bruises all over my body due to the strong antibiotics, I dropped almost 30 pounds, was weighing close to 100 lbs., and my appetite decreased exponentially. Despite fighting the disease and being healthy, I was still looking extremely unhealthy. Gaining back the weight was becoming an impossible mission with food alone, so I decided to turn to weightlifting to “gain weight” in a different way.
After years of trial an error with my nutrition, I finally began my fitness journey in 2014. I had no idea what I was doing. I was self-conscious and uncomfortable at the gym, and had difficulty gaining vision into my actual fitness goals. I decided to work closely with a personal trainer who taught me most of what I know today, who also pushed me and challenged me, and did not allow me to quit. Through this training and my motivation, my goal became to be better each day. At that point in time, I was my own challenge.
It wasn’t until 2015 that I signed up for my first Spartan Sprint without knowing what I was getting myself into. Although I was fit, I lacked the endurance and skills to complete the race successfully. However, despite feeling completely defeated by the mountainous terrain and the impossible obstacles, crossing the finish line was life changing almost immediately. I decided to take on this completely new challenge. My future races felt like a complete failure, until I decided to change my direction in my training in 2017.
In 2017 I decided to make it my goal to attain my first trifecta. I had never done a Spartan Beast before, and I signed up for the toughest mountain because there was no way I was going to do this the easy way. I completed a total of seven races that year, which included the completion of my very first trifecta. My entire experience through training and racing was very existential, because I got to know my body and my psyche at a completely different level. The mental capacity in which I was able to tolerate every torturous steep hill and obstacle demonstrated the powerful individual I had become. Due to my success, I decided to sign up for the season pass for 2018. I will be racing all year and am striving to eventually compete as an elite athlete. I still have a lot of work to do, but when I look back to where I began, I can see that I have come a long way, which is really all that matters to me — PROGRESS.
I am addicted to progress. When I train, I make sure I put by body through the impossible. I make sure I feel the mental and physical pain. The more I can endure, the more I know I am overcoming my challenges. Every workout is painful, but that is what I enjoy most. My hard work has also inspired and motivated others. In my journey as an athlete, I have been able to reach people and help them pursue their fitness goals because of my own passion and dedication. It is that what keeps me going every single day.
I would say that although I have not been into fitness all that long, perhaps a total of 5-6 years, it has become a habit. It is a responsibility that has led to an obligation in my day-to-day life.
One thing I always tell people beginning their fitness journey… don’t give up. Just because it feels impossible and overwhelming, and that you may not be making any progress in the beginning, don’t give up. Just because it is so painful and challenging, DON’T GIVE UP. There will be many days during which your workouts will feel awful, but those are the days you must push yourself the most. You will always feel better after, guaranteed. We have all been there at one point in our lives. And the truth is that you are doing better than most people, and every single day you get up and take another step towards your fitness goals, you are better than you were yesterday. Keep your head up high, be your own inspiration and your own challenge and motivation, and don’t let anyone get in the way of your dreams.