It’s not easy to describe how I ended up on this quest for health, joy and wellness, but as with many of life’s journeys, it started in an unhappy place, one that filled me with the desire for something else.
I was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela into a culturally mixed family. My mother is Venezuelan, and my father was Argentinean. Although I looked and behaved like everyone around me did, for some reason I still don’t get today, I always felt different, like if I didn’t fit in. That I was weird, an outsider, too odd.
Yes, there were clear cultural and social things we did differently in my home, but still the feeling went above and beyond. Plus, all my life I struggled with being overweighed and that tainted the ways I saw myself and the world.
My mother, who is still to this day my best friend and an amazing source of inspiration in my life (I totally give you permission to cyber-stalk her on her site, she’s pretty awesome!), argues that I wasn’t overweight all my life and that in reality, it wasn’t until I was 6 that my weight started to be an issue, but the thing is that I can’t remember a day in my childhood when I didn’t feel fat, awkward and inadequate.
Then, for much of my pre-teen and teenage years I was obese and, more importantly, unhappy. In fact, I can say that ever since I can remember, I felt unhappy about something about me, mostly my body, and that goes back to when I was 3 or 4 years old.
(Side note: Already interested in working with Me?)
During my parents’ divorce, when I was 6 years, I turned to food to control a part of my life, since I felt everything else was out of my hands, and that’s how it all started. I started emotional bingeing and soon enough, I was really overweight.
As the years passed and, coming from a country famous for beauty queens and pageants, I always struggled to fit in. I tried all the diets, pills, quick fixes and doctors I found, always guessing I would lose the weight this time but never really accomplishing much (apart from destroying my gut, getting a bunch of medical labels and spending a little fortune in procedures, supplements, medication and magic pills).
Later in college, while trying hard to lose weight so I could be worthy of being an on-camera journalist, I discovered that diet soda, cigarettes and self-hatred were a magic combo in supressing hunger, and so little by little I stopped eating.
Those days I would spend a day or two with nothing but diet sodas, water and chewing gum in my stomach (well, the gum didn’t make it to my stomach per se… But you get my point). I was smoking up to 20 cigarettes per day to keep my mind and fingers busy and avoid eating. During this time I did lose weight, although I would binge many times and so my weight yo-yoed, my health withered and my mental wellness was oh-so-gone.
Yet I never really lost all the weight I wanted to and so the physical and emotional self-torture changed but never stopped.
In my early 20s, I constantly suffered from chronic migraines (they were so bad that I would to faint frequently), gastritis, esophagitis, colitis, severe constipation, eczema, allergies, asthma and mood swings. I was not only unhealthy, I was also deeply unhappy. Whenever I looked at myself in the mirror I felt ashamed and disgusted, I felt isolated and alone. But most of all, I kept wondering how did I get where I was.
Then one day, after a period of emotional turmoil, I decided that it was done, I couldn’t keep on living a life that felt so sad and empty, I couldn’t carry on hating myself for looking this way and poisoning myself with food and pills. I decided to start working on a healthier me, regardless of the number the scale showed or my pant size.
At first, I did what many people do, I joined the gym, started eating “better”, stopped partying and drinking, but little by little there was a change within me and my focus shifted from accepting what doctors, trainers and diet gurus said, to a need to educate myself in how to nurture my body to achieve the results I was looking for.
Little by little, I started to open my eyes to a universe of information about food, nutrition, exercise and wellness that supported me through not only losing weight, but also starting a transformation in my relationship with food and exercise. After years feeling helpless and a prisoner of my body, suddenly I felt like I could shift things for the best.
Within 17 months I had lost 25kgs, 11% body fat while gaining lean muscle, and was a calorie counting machine, proudly advocating a “clean diet and lifestyle” and preaching to anyone who would listen (or who would stop by my social media) that eating real food was the cure for everything. I was “made it”.
With all these changes a new me was born and suddenly I realised that my life purpose was no longer being a journalist, but helping other people in their fitness and wellness journey.
I believed I had THE answer to everyone’s wellness issues and, after graduating as a Holistic Health Coach (and as a mother, talk about multitasking), I started working with clients struggling with their own health issues.
But then something happened. After a “healthy” pregnancy where I gained just the needed weight, I suddenly gained much of the weight I had lost, struggled with milk supply issues (which cause for my son Matthew to be diagnosed as undernourished at 6 weeks) and before I could even realised it, I was battling with Post-Natal Depression (PND) and eventually stopped my practice altogether.
What had happened to me? How come the one mighty and powerful weight-loss genius Anahi had suddenly “let herself go”? How was it that all my knowledge about nutrition, motherhood and fitness weren’t enough?
Well, let me tell you something, if my college years were dark, these months after the birth of Matthew were dementor style black (if you don’t get this, please Google: Dementor Harry Potter and shame on you, BTW!).
Anyway, back to the story. I was shattered. As a mother I felt I was a failure. As a Health Coach I felt I was a failure… Even as a wife I felt I had failed my husband who, after marrying a super hot 62kg woman was now stuck with a… Ahem, “heavier” version. I was pretty much broken.
Except I wasn’t. I was far from it.
This is how I spent my first year as a mom, full of shame, regret, guilt and constantly panicking because I thought that I was going to be exposed as a fat impostor at any moment and the world would mock me (yes, I sometimes believed the WHOLE world cared about me. Crazy, uh?). Again, they were dark times.
To be honest, I’m not so sure how did things started to change again. But somewhere between my husband’s confronting me about PND (you can read more about this in the book I co-authored One Crazy Broccoli) and my Hashimoto’s diagnosis, I began a deep inner transformation that would build me again, but with a whole different perspective about weight, nutrition, wellness and motherhood.
After being dogmatic and arrogant, believing I knew everything there was to be known about these subjects, I suddenly realised that as a mother and coach, my only role was to listen carefully, ask lovingly and show up mindfully each time, to support others in finding their own truth. This was a game changer!
Along the line I also learned more about our microbiome and gut, the importance of stress management in our optimal gene expression, attachment parenting, self-care and more, and incorporate these tools and knowledge into my coaching approach and slowly started seeing clients again.
I also became an advocate for lifting weights and moving often, fell in-love with CrossFit and Muay Thai, had another baby (a beautiful and happy boy named Michael), lost weight, gained weight, lost weight again and ultimately realised that carbs, calories, fat and corduroy weren’t the enemy (I’m still unsure about corduroy though) but dogma was, and so I began again with a much more balanced, joyful and empowered focus approach.
Phew! That was longer than I expected but what can I say? I have a hard time editing myself.
Anyway, this is it, and still today I don’t always get it right, nor do I expect you to. And, as my husband (aka #MrB) says I’m a work in progress. But one who has vowed to treat self-hatred with self-love, weight issues with kindness and focus always on what’s happening inside before attempting to change the outside. Might or not work, but it sure will be a happier ride!
If you think I sound like a good fit, click the button below where we can see how could I support you to discover the Holistic Nourishment you deserve to thrive through life (you can also check out my programs here).
If you feel like reading some more, head over to My Approach to see all the Anahi-ness that I bring to your days and all the fun we can have whilst working together in healing you from within.