Growing up in Southern Africa there wasn’t a shortage of physical activities. We worked in the fields and tended to the flower and vegetable gardens. As kids we played ball games like kick and run, hop-Scotch etc. My favorite activity was climbing trees; and it still is!
In school, sports were mandatory, such as track, netball, basketball, field hockey, tennis, swimming, javelin, short put, discus, soccer etc. At that time I had little to no passion for certain sports or physical activities. Little did I know how valuable they were for strength, general wellness and health.
When I moved to Canada, I was 18 years old and my lifestyle changed drastically. I was no longer in high school where sports were required. I was eating out 3-4 times a week. I had all these options, and to me this was like Christmas in spring! I slowly began to gain weight. At 20 years old I was 195 pounds, constantly tired even though I wasn’t sick.
My family has a history of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. In my mind those were “old people conditions”. Little did I know that these are called silent killers for a reason.
I went to see my doctor for my annual physical and that’s when things changed. Dr Fischer took my blood pressure, looked at the nurse with concern and took it again. He asked me if I was okay, was I stressed or had I run to the clinic. I told him I was perfectly fine, and I believed I was.
They instructed me to rest for 15 minutes and they would check my blood pressure a third time. The third time is supposed to be a charm, right? Well in this case, it wasn’t. My blood pressure was high! My systolic pressure was 198, when the normal range should below 140. My diastolic pressure was 120, when it should be less than 90. The doctor asked me a question that changed my life. He said, “Young lady. Do you want to die?”. I was taken aback by that question! What kind of doctor asks their patient if they want to die?! My shock turned into anger and my response was just a blank stare.
The doctor advised me that I needed to be hospitalized, monitored and take medication for the rest of my life. I asked what my other options were and he advised me I had to change my lifestyle to control blood pressure.
It all starts in the kitchen and that’s how my wellness and health journey began. Andrae is my first trainer, he taught me the importance of meal planning and clean eating, he motivated me when I thought I couldn’t do it. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep-up, intimidated by buff, muscular individuals at the gym, with a little voice telling me to leave and give the equipment to its rightful owners.I ignored the little voices, I did not quit, I fought to be fit and that’s one of the best decisions I ever made.
The journey continued, I discovered boot camp, boxing, strength & conditioning training sessions at Fit Factory Fitness led by a former USA Marine drill instructor Sgt Tony A, Geoff Wyntonyk, Imran Ali, Kurt Gordon and and at RokPerfomance with Roshanda Robinson. Rome wasn’t built in one day, I am here today because I took the first step. Wellness is not a project, there is no end date. We all our fears however growth comes from getting out of our comfort zone. It can be uncomfortable but we need to be uncomfortable to BE very comfortable!