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A conversation with nature is never one-sided. Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil. 
Jul 22, 2014 / 3 notes

A conversation with nature is never one-sided. Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil. 

Leave your footprint so that others may be inspired to do the same. Ilha dos Namorados, Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil. 
Jul 22, 2014 / 1 note

Leave your footprint so that others may be inspired to do the same. Ilha dos Namorados, Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil. 

It’s only fitting given where we are at. Ilha dos Namorados (Island of the Couples). Aracaju, Sergipe - Brazil. 
Jul 22, 2014 / 1 note

It’s only fitting given where we are at. Ilha dos Namorados (Island of the Couples). Aracaju, Sergipe - Brazil. 

Jul 21, 2014 / 2 notes

This thing called my “weight loss and fitness journey”. I can’t believe I am exposing myself like this. This must be a good sign :)

Cuz I am on that beach and fruit diet since coming to Brazil. At least that’s what my Best Friend says.

So I’ve had a lot of time to think about this - this being my “weight loss and fitness” thing that I have been trying to do my whole life. I am not even sure when the journey started. I just feel like it’s something that I have been trying to do with minimal results. I am the epitome of a yo-yo dieter. And sometimes I yo-yo more up than down, unfortunately.

There was a time during my high school years that I fell into minor bulimia and my friends found out. They wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom alone. It was a horrible thing to have gone through. Physically and mentally. But this is reality. During college, it was my best kept secret. None of my friends and family knew, until now that is. Thankfully, I have been able to overcome that stage of my life.

I have never been small at any point in my life, but many can say that I haven’t always been a “big girl” either. Maybe a bit chubby at times and I could stand to put those extra chicken wings and enchiladas down. By no means am I trying to make my self out to be this massive, over weight, and non-active/athletic girl. Because I was just the opposite. I was just never thin. I have always been on the thicker side, more than I would like. I always would tell myself that my bones are just naturally bigger. It’s genetics. I am meant to be on this side of the scale, I suppose.

But a part of me never accepted my body or my size. I blame my mother, love for Mexican food and my Latino culture. We like a lot of fried food, cheese, and tortillas. It would have been the death of me, literally.  But, I was always an active person. I guess that helped prevent me from being excessively obese. I am a dancer and all through high school was on the dance team, did musicals and plays, was apart of an outside dance company, etc. Exercising has never been a problem for me. My stamina is higher than a lot of my “thinner” friends. I fluctuated between a size 10 and size 13 pants size.

2007-2012: When I got to college, it only got worse. First year in college I think I gained more than the freshman 15. I seriously fell into a state of depression my first year and that summer I went on an extreme diet and exercise regime – I was vegan for 3 months and probably worked out about 3 hours each night. But I was only doing cardio for the most part. I lost the weight, but I still wasn’t comfortable with who I was. At the time I didn’t understand the whole weights vs. cardio game. All through college I was always on some kind of “diet” and going up and down with my weight. It was this never-ending battle and I could never seem to come out victorious in the end. I would go for months working out everyday and “eating right” – most likely I probably wasn’t eating enough. And than something negative in my life would occur. I would stop working out and a few months later I would gain all the weight back. I was back at square one.

It wasn’t until after I graduated college that I was able to fully commit to this journey. College was definitely a health detriment for me. Yes, I came out with two degrees. But at what cost - the cost of slight depression, no sleep, unhealthy eating, and weight gain. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my experience in college and wouldn’t change it for the world. But there were definitely some periods of emotional and mental challenges. The only thing that made me feel better was a tub of vanilla ice cream, carne asada tacos, chicken wings, pizza, a burger from IN-N-OUT, or alcohol. And sometimes, I just wanted all of it at once.

At my lowest (high school), I was 165 lbs. and a size 9/10. At my highest (college), I was about 200 lbs. and a size 13/14.

February 2013: After college, I got some random job at the Verizon corporate office in Irvine, CA. Ugh, I really hated this job BUT I loved that they had gym and personal trainers for their employees. And it only cost $15/month. The check was great and all, but the personal trainers were my real incentive for coming into work everyday. I weighed 196 lbs. and was a size 13.

I’ve always been told that I never looked how much I weighed. That can be attributed to dancing. Thank god I always kept an active lifestyle, because it allowed me to hide my weight well. I am thankful to have a proportionate body type and the ability to dress in clothing that was flattering for my body type.

I worked at Verizon for only 6 months because I decided to just drop my life in California and move to New York! But within those 6 months of working with my personal trainers and working out 5x/week, I lost 10 lbs. and was a size 10/11. More inches were lost than actual pounds throughout my entire body. Why? Oh yea…there’s that thing called muscle. So I was happy with the results. I was only hoping that I could keep this thing up while living in New York.

August 2013: I drove cross-country from California to New York and I wasn’t exactly saying no to unhealthy foods during this trip either.  Once I got to NY, I more or less ate healthy 80% of the time. I probably worked out about 3-4x/week. I lived in New York for only 6 months and only was able to drop 8 lbs. I was still about the same size I think. Maybe a size smaller. I don’t really quite remember. It was so cold in NY – winter just makes you put on more clothing and nothing form fitting.  Lots of sweaters, scarves, blouses, jackets, and the color black. Yea, that pretty much sums up my NY winter clothing.

February 2014 – I was awarded the Fulbright International Fellowship and moved to Brazil for my placement. I weighed at 178 lbs. I was a size 10/11. I told myself that coming here would mean that I would have time to focus on myself; time to focus on the things that I wasn’t able to give my complete attention to because of family issues, financial barriers, or just life throwing some kind of curve ball at me every few weeks. Here in Brazil I could leave all that behind and have a “fresh start”. I was tired of always being that one person in my family that everyone would run towards to fix a problem. No one could call me up to come save the day, because I would be thousands of miles away and with no direct phone line. It was the greatest feeling knowing that I was not accessible to my “world”. Whatever problems or worries were going on, I had taken myself out of the equation.

Immediately after moving into my new Brazilian apartment, I found a gym and paid for 6 months of membership upfront. I also decided to invest in my journey and hired an online personal trainer and accountability couch. Yes, the initial costs for all of this was a bit pricey. But when you spend money on something, your mentality towards it changes. The value is much more meaningful to you because at the end of the day you don’t want to waste your money (or I would hope you wouldn’t want to waste money).  Personally, I knew that investing financially in the proper resources for me was the right thing to do. Having a gym membership was not enough. I knew this was something I wanted and realized that I was finally in the right place in my life to dedicate all of my energy to achieving my fitness goals.

April – May 2014: I officially began this fitness journey with my personal trainer(s) and accountability coach the beginning of April. After 8 weeks, I was down to 169 lbs. and a size 8/9.  I worked out 6x/week, cardio + weight training, stopped drinking alcohol, ate healthy and according to my workout regime. I am always hungry. Sometimes I feel that I eat too much, but it’s what’s needed. In two months, I accomplished what sometimes took me 6 months to do. But this time, I was more consistent with my plan and educated about the fitness process.

Present (July 21, 2014): Every day is a struggle, but the struggle gets easier every day. I just weighed myself a few days ago. I am 166 lbs. And I am a size 40/42 in Brazilian sizes, which is about a size 8 in America. I am genuinely in awe in how far I have come. I am still thick, but in all the right places. Although my boobs have disappeared, unfortunately.  I use to be a C-cup…and now…well I don’t even want to get into that. HAHA. I just thank God for Victoria’s Secret ;)

Since Feb 2013 to now, I have lost 30 pounds and over 38 inches overall on my body.  I am even more in shock that I have had the courage to share this with the world. I hope that it inspires someone. I still have so far to go to get to where I want to be. In due time. I have to trust my struggle. It is surely an amazing thing.

Currently, I no longer work with my accountability coach or personal trainer. Money was getting a bit tight and I wanted to challenge myself. I have learned to keep myself accountable. Going to the gym is a no-brainer now. Making healthier food choices has become natural.  I naturally crave all fruits and veggies. It has become a lifestyle change. And I am in complete utter bliss.  I wake up, make breakfast, check emails, go to the gym, go to work or run errands. That’s usually how my day goes in Brazil when I am not traveling. And when I am traveling, I just adjust to my surroundings. No excuses. Simple as that. Even when I almost broke my foot during the world cup (you will hear more about it soon in another blog) and it was in a cast, I still worked out. I just didn’t use my legs much. All upper body.  Man, I was so surprise at all the non-leg workouts I could do. Youtube saved me. Those seated cardio and core workout were no joke. Like I said, no excuses.  It is a way of life. It is your life.

I don’t take any pills, wraps, special weight loss shakes, etc. It has been just hard work and being consistent with working out and eating better. I eat “clean” 80% of the time and workout about 5x a week. Mostly weightlifting and only 30 min of cardio each day. I don’t really do cheat meals. I don’t deprive myself, because that is simply not how I want to live my life. I don’t want a life feeling so restricted. It’s not beneficial for me in the long run. This is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. I eat. I workout. I live. I may be turning into a gym rat, but at this point, IDGAF. I am happy and that is ALL that matters.

Special shout out to one of my closest friends and accountability coach, Galit Friedlander! Thank you for pushing me past my limits and just being here when times got tough these past few months. I cannot wait for our reunion when I get back to LA. I love you with all my heart!!!

Beijos,

Vannessa

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Photo taken June 2, 2014. 

When I wake up to this….le sigh. Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. 
Jul 17, 2014

When I wake up to this….le sigh. Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. 

The self portrait is always a work in progress. Arcos da Lapa. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 
Jul 5, 2014

The self portrait is always a work in progress. Arcos da Lapa. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

I will dance until you can hear my body speak. Self expression when no words are available. (Copacabana Beach. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Jul 3, 2014

I will dance until you can hear my body speak. Self expression when no words are available. (Copacabana Beach. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Fan Fest! #USAvsBelgium #riodejaneiro #worldcup2014 #brazil #brasil #fanfest #fifa #rio #travel #travelblog #southamerica #worldcup #fifa2014 #party #festa #music #dancing #friends #usa #springbreakalloveragain
Jul 2, 2014 / 1 note

Fan Fest! #USAvsBelgium #riodejaneiro #worldcup2014 #brazil #brasil #fanfest #fifa #rio #travel #travelblog #southamerica #worldcup #fifa2014 #party #festa #music #dancing #friends #usa #springbreakalloveragain

Esadaria Selarón. Rio de Janeiro. Brazil 
Jul 2, 2014

Esadaria Selarón. Rio de Janeiro. Brazil 

Escadaria Selarón. Finally found them. These stairs are no joke. Artistically and physically speaking. 😍🎨🌆✨ #EscadariaSelarón #riodejaneiro #rio #stairwaytoheaven #art #arthistory #steps #escadaria #selarón #staircase #culture #brazil #travel #southamerica #backpacking #calisfinestblog #cityofgod #cidadededeus #streetart #escadariaselarónsteps #artculture  (at Escadaria Selarón)
Jul 2, 2014

Escadaria Selarón. Finally found them. These stairs are no joke. Artistically and physically speaking. 😍🎨🌆✨ #EscadariaSelarón #riodejaneiro #rio #stairwaytoheaven #art #arthistory #steps #escadaria #selarón #staircase #culture #brazil #travel #southamerica #backpacking #calisfinestblog #cityofgod #cidadededeus #streetart #escadariaselarónsteps #artculture (at Escadaria Selarón)