Guest post by Toneka Pires
My life journey has not been an easy one. It has taken years for me to become comfortable in my own skin and love myself as a human being. I have surpassed many obstacles and have made it through very difficult times.
Until my mid-twenties, I listened to negative voices that told me I was fat and ugly; I believed I was not worthy. While some of those negative voices came from well-meaning family and friends, many came from my own heart. I didn’t think I could achieve much of anything; I didn’t believe that I deserved to try to achieve more; I didn’t believe that I was a beautiful human being at all. I simply did what others thought I ought to and managed to stay on a course of misery and mediocrity. This was my normal: avoiding thinking too much about who I was, not setting goals for myself, not loving myself nor desiring for more in my life and my well-being. I internalized these negative voices and allowed my self-esteem to plummet.
In 2001, some small piece of me had enough. I took a couple of simple steps; I began to lose a few pounds and channeled the disparaging voices into positive fuel for me to change my life. I set the goal of entering my first fitness show at the end of 2002, not knowing that I would be derailed even before I got on that stage. Two weeks before my first show, a drunk driver hit me. I found myself in the hospital, bedridden and immobile for months, facing more months of physical therapy, wanting to crumble into depression and self-loathing because this body was broken and ugly once again. An entire year of hard work and progress had been taken away from me. I wanted to give up. I did not have the strength to begin this process all over again. A year of progress had been wasted by someone else’s poor and wasted judgment. However I had learned a year of life lessons. Two other peoples’ lives had been lost in that accident, but I realized that I had my life and I held it in my own hands; I could do anything I wanted to with it. I had a second chance to get my life right.
After therapy concluded, I began to truly transform my physique, losing almost twenty-five pounds and gaining in every other aspect of my life. At every crossroad, when I achieved a goal or lost another pound, I found that my determination grew, my focus intensified, and my energy blossomed. I began to look inside myself and saw increasing amounts of self-esteem, love and healing.
Not every day was fueled by a positive cycle. The negative voices that I was able to shut out were not truly silent: you are too curvy; you are not tough enough; you are not pretty enough, you will never have what it takes to make it. In fact, I realized that the higher you climb and the more public accolades you achieve, the more direct people will be in expressing their desire to tear you down. I learned to use others’ negativity to fuel my fire. Over the next six years I faced these challenges, embracing the wellness that my bodily transformation was creating. There were times when I worked so hard I forgot to look to see what I was accomplishing. Sometimes I stopped being mindful of my self-worth and the goals I had already achieved. I didn’t always take ownership of my successes but was quick to own my failures. To this day I have to acknowledge and be aware of what I have accomplished: winning thirteen fitness championships, establishing a successful company, co-authoring my first book, mentoring and tutoring children who are less fortunate (than I), and giving back to the world by actively supporting charities.
Following a path without mindfulness is not a path to success. I believe that we all deserve more. More challenges, more passion, more movement. Enthusiasm, progress, and the embrace of total wellness did not only change my life. They are my life.
My hope for you is that you can embrace obstacles with ease and learn from them; build strength through experience; and know that your defeats provide the seeds of great accomplishments.
Toneka Pires, Los Angeles, CA
Motivated readers: Hie thee hence to Toneka’s websites. Get fitness, competition, and nutritional info at http://www.bwellfit.com/ Check out more about Toneka, who is genuinely one of the most positive, loving people we’ve met: http://www.tonekapires.com/ She has even invited you to email her at email@example.com.