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My story: How fitness save my life, more than once

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

You know those “fitness people” that are naturally fit, naturally muscular and naturally slim… maybe they were the high school track star or star football player… they have been blessed by the genetic gods with a fierce metabolism, a tiny waist and impeccable coordination…the living example of health and fitness???

Well…. that is not me.

Not even a little bit.

I have never been known for athletics.

I am asthmatic.

I am not super coordinated.

I have been “overweight” for most of my life.

I have no thyroid gland or gallbladder.

I suffered from bulimia nervosa for over a decade.

I have 3 screws in my ankle after 2 reconstruction surgeries.

I have broken my toe, finger, ankle, fibula, knee cap, elbow, wrists, thumb and dislocated my ankle and right shoulder.

I have experienced serious depression.

I suffered from self hate, body shame and terrible self esteem.

I lost every ounce of belief in myself more than once…

So how did that mess of person turn into the happy wellness influencer you know now and end up working in fitness for over 15 years??

Well…to be completely honest, it started from a pretty dark place.

I was at the point in my life where I didn’t want to live another day in this life. I was completely exhausted, numb, drinking a lot, barely holding onto my sanity and just wanted to hide in my bed because it was the only place I didn’t feel suffocated. I was in a bad relationship at the time with someone who was. clearly using me for my possessions. I hated my job. My weight was starting to cause issues with my lower back and my feet and I was in physical pain. I was broke and in debt. Stuck between still being a kid and trying to be an adult. Completely lost in this world.

I was so over it all.

I decided that it came down to 2 choices.

I was either going to end it all or I had to change it.

I could no longer numb and escape like I was doing.

I knew the first choice was the easy way out and would hurt other people. I thought of my parents first but my biggest reason for sticking around… my dog Gus: my first baby, the absolute love of my entire freakin life, my constant sidekick. I couldn’t leave him.

So I had to change my situation to make it bearable.

No other choice.

It was that simple.

I knew that no one was coming to save me.

Very few people even knew I was suffering.

I’ve always been the strong silent type.

But Gus was there for me.

Every second of every day.

And together he and I slowly started making some changes.

First, we started walking. I lived on Queen Anne hill, in Seattle, at the time and we would just take off for hours all around the little neighborhoods. I couldn’t walk super far because my feet hurt so bad, so I spent a lot of time at parks. I went from someone who feared the outdoors (cold, rain, bugs.. ew) to loving my time outside. From just some daily walking, my weight (and Gus’) slowly started to go down, my mood improved and I actually looked forward to physical activity.

Around the same time, my Mom (in California) had begun Pilates classes and was loving them. She had a coupon for a free class and took me to class with her while I was there visiting.

I was instantly hooked.

As soon as I got home, I found a local studio and asked my mom if she would help me get started with a package of classes. She enthusiastically agreed and got me started in my very first Pilates classes! 18 years later, 14 as a Certified Pilates Instructor, I am so grateful for her gift!

From the Pilates classes, I noticed a quick improvement in my back pain. I remember the first time I felt a muscle twitch in my back.. did you know there were muscles there??

I was able to walk further without my feet aching. I could stand without pain. I started to feel connected to my body in a way that I never had before.

I felt strong.

It was the first time in my life that my body was anything other than just a disappointment.

Next, I ended my relationship and I left my job (technically fired but I knew that was coming..)

I had no idea what I was going to do next.

I did know that I wanted to join a gym because I wanted to take spin classes.

…because I wanted a thigh gap. Seriously, that really my thought process (#TayLogic)

The only problem was that I couldn’t afford the $35.99/month membership.

As luck would have it, there was a gym in my area that was looking for a front desk / janitor attendant and the job came with a free gym membership!

I immediately applied.

I remember walking into the coolest gym I have ever seen. Old wood floors, tons of mirrors, concrete walls, waterfront views.. It was absolutely beautiful and I was in love.

The owner who interviewed me, was an average if not overweight man himself, dressed in a matching Velour tracksuit. He was worried I was overqualified for the job but I begged for it, saying this is exactly what I need right now, wanting to be around healthy, happy people, physically active and doing something easy and stress-free.

Thank goodness, I got the job!

And this is where everything in my life changed for the first time.

For a few months, I watched people workout all day. I watched the trainers, the super fit and the people I wanted to look like. When I got off work, I did what they did. I literally just copied what they did move for move.

I started to get results.

People started to notice my progress. ME!

People started to ask -me- questions. People started to watch -me-. I know, craziness.

At the request of the owner, I got certified as a personal trainer. That was October 2008!! Wow, time flies!

I immediately loved being a personal trainer.

I knew I was different from the other trainers but I was working to be just like them. Luckily, one gift I have always had is my relentless work ethic. No one outworks me.

And fortunately, what I lacked in physique I could make up for with my personality and sales skills, so I was quickly very busy.

This was great! However, it created a very high bar that I was now trying to maintain.

I was consumed with my body, losing weight, working out and being the best trainer at the gym (competitive much?). I was super busy with clients and making great money. The gym owner saw my potential and quickly moved me up the ladder to Training Sales Director, gave me a Pilates studio to run, then made me assistant manager and eventually general manager of the whole 5,000 member gym and 84 person staff.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am endlessly thankful for what that gym gave me. My success there was great! I made awesome money. Like really awesome money. I was the boss. I looked fantastic. I was getting lots of attention from the other sex for the first time in my life. I was career focused on making it big like I always dreamed about..

But I was exhausted. I was living the high life… going out, drinking, partying, enjoying my new “hotness”. Not taking care of myself.

I stopped seeing changes in the gym so I started “cheating”.. a purge here, a diabetic there, starving myself a few days for “damage control”.

From the outside, everything seemed good. But inside, I was slowly drowning again.

I once again was not enjoying my job.

I hated managing a big team.

I missed training.

Then something terrible happened to me.

Something that should never ever happen to a woman.

Or a person.

Or any living creature.

And my world crashed again.

The carpet was ripped out from under my feet and I was just spinning in circles trying to get traction to find some direction to move forward…

So.. I followed my heart. I left the best paying job I’ve ever had, the biggest job title, the highest rank, to go back to what I loved… Personal Training.

This is actually where I packed up the car and headed south to Texas. But that’s a story for another time.

I tell you all this because THIS is why I am still a trainer after 15 years.

Fitness saved my life.

…on multiple occasions.

And it continues to do so every time I get lost.

Fitness gave me everything I treasure about myself…. It taught me how strong I am, it taught me that am a fighter, it taught me how to get stronger mentally, it taught me how to feel proud, how to feel happy, how to control my mood and stress, it taught my how to love my body, how to love myself, how to believe in my abilities and best of all, it gave me endless hours with my best friend.

Fitness is the best gift I've been given.

It’s the best gift I have ever given MYSELF.

Every time I lose myself, fitness helps me find myself again.

Every. Single. Time.

My goal, as a health and wellness influencer, is to share with other people this amazing gift.

I want to teach broken people how to fight for -themselves- from a place of grit and love they never knew existed within themselves.

I want to teach people what being truly mentally, spiritually and physically healthy feels like. The peace that it brings.

This isn’t about weight loss for me.

It’s not about how we look.

It’s about life.

It's about happiness.

It’s about helping create happy lives for others.

It’s about claiming our power and living life as our true selves.

It’s about love and having heart and passion.

It’s about grit.

And that’s how I ended up as Tay, the health and wellness influencer.

At least that’s part of the story.

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