There’s a saying that “If to dance is to dream, then you make dreams come true.” The spotlight beams on PumpUp’s fantastic dancer @fitgirl_95 for inspiring the community with her strength in overcoming personal struggles such as depression and anorexia. She was brave enough to discuss these with us in hopes that she could help inspire others. She leads an incredibly active lifestyle and attributes much of her success to you, the PumpUp community! Learn more about her down below.
Due to stress and curricular changes, the transition between high school and college took its toll on M. In high school she was enrolled in an intensive program where she danced semi-professionally for 17 hours a week. “I finished my dance program [after high school], so I wasn’t really dancing anymore,” explains M. “College applications caused me to eat out of stress and make less healthy food choices.” Though M is both lactose intolerant and a celiac, she frankly reveals that she was eating candies and chocolates almost every day at that point in her life. “The worst part was that I didn’t care,” she says. “Sometimes I worked out because I felt awful and sometimes I didn’t. I had led myself on a very dangerous path.”
Looking to jump-start her journey back to a healthy and happy lifestyle, M began using PumpUp at the beginning of March 2014. “I was unhappy with the way I let myself turn to junk food for comfort,” admits M. “I was not in the best place in my life. I stopped dance—something I love the most. I also let myself get into an unhealthy relationship with food.” This in turn led to poor health, weight gain, and lost muscle mass.Things turned around in a major way once M. resolved to shake off her bad habits. “One day I realized what I was doing to myself and simply decided that I was better than that. I could be better than that,” she recounts. “It was up to me to decide. I heard about PumpUp and decided that it would be an excellent starting point for me to get motivated.”
M. reveals that she now is in a much happier place from where she was before. She eats three full and healthy meals a day, respects her lactose intolerance and celiac condition, and eats organic as much as she can. “Lots of fruits and veggies are key,” says M. “I learnt and am still learning that moderation is the solution.” She does not ignore her hunger, and instead turns to healthy and satisfying alternatives to sweets. “Sure, I’ll have a fruit or almonds…never candies and doughnuts anymore,” tells M.
She exercises 5 times a week, alternating between 1.5 hour dance classes twice a week and cardio, weightlifting, and Pilates for the others. “The elliptical is safest for a hip injury I have, and Blogilates on YouTube is my favourite for Pilates,” she gushes.
“Believe in yourself,” advises M. to others looking to lead a more active lifestyle. “It may be cliché, but when you don’t care about yourself and look down upon who you are as I myself did before, you let yourself go.” She affirms that negativity acts like an incubator for unhealthy behavior. “You’re in a sort of negativity bubble, which shuts you out of reality. Without knowing it, you’re full of unhealthy habits,” she elaborates. “You just have to realize you’re worth it and as good as all the models or celebrities—or whoever you look up to.” M. acutely recognizes how strong self-esteem comes hand in hand with introspection. “You are as beautiful, strong, and important as your role models in your own way. I NEVER had any self-esteem and am still struggling with this issue today, but I am working on it. Health has played a big part in my journey.”
M. professes that her physical and mental health has improved significantly since she joined PumpUp. “I have to thank all of the wonderful members for that,” she explains. “They are honestly true friends…almost like family! I am so grateful and I am sure they don’t even know how much of an impact they all had on my life.” In the future, M. hopes to inspire people to the best of her abilities in a similar fashion to how she was able to recover with the help of other PumpUp members. “I also hope to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life,” muses M.
Her biggest motivation is simple: happiness. “This answer might disappoint you, but let me explain: I was rarely ever completely and simply happy,” explains M. “When I was little, I was always the bigger girl. Although I tried to act like I didn’t care, I did. I just crushed these emotions inside of me and tried to forget about them.” One of her best friends exudes happiness, and M. was inspired to emulate her positivity to improve her own physical and mental health. “When we catch up and she talks to me about her life, everything is so simple to her. She is so great and…happy.”
M. is also an inspiration to herself, and an inspiration to all of us for the considerable strength she has demonstrated in the face of her own personal struggles. She was brave enough to discuss these with us in hopes that she could help inspire others. “In high school, I was anorexic to the point where I was close to killing myself. I also struggled with depression and bulimia a few years after,” reveals M. “When I look back, I realize that I’ve fought anorexia by myself, I’ve gotten out of this harsh depression without anyone even noticing I was depressed. I was never able to talk to anyone about any of my problems, so I didn’t. And now, to see that even at the weakest I was able to fight it and get back up by myself and for myself is…wow…I have impressed myself.” M. is now working on recovery and self-acceptance. “Dealing with health issues is one of the hardest things you will have to do. It involves accepting the fact that you may not be as strong as you thought you were and showing your weaknesses to others,” she says. “Accepting yourself for you are makes YOU so strong for not letting go. I believe in all of you and I know you can learn at the same pace as I am to accept yourself.”
Favourite Snack: I LOVE having frozen mangoes of grapes as a yummy refreshing snack. Sometimes I blend some frozen mangoes with a bind of coconut water or almond milk to make a yummy sorbet type of snack. I also love kale chips.
Favorite Meal: Hands down, sushi. I could have it all day everyday!
Favorite Drink: Tea. It’s like an even healthier version of water and it is so good especially at this time of the year when it’s cold outside (especially here in Montreal).
Favourite Recipe: I try to post a few on my PumpUp page. I enjoy so many types and different foods, it is hard to pick just one I love my simple smoked salmon, avocado toast or my grilled and spiced grapefruit. All so yummy!
“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there’s footprints on the moon.” I feel that is so true! We always say “Oh, sky’s the limit”. But why do we limit ourselves to it? No, reverse the convention, go even further in what you want (fitness related or any other), go further than ANYONE would ever thought you would be able to go. Do NOT ever limit yourself for anything that someone said or has done. YOU are your limit and YOU set it.
DANCE ! I’ve been dancing for 17 years now and dance is such a liberating sport. The feeling when you dance is pure freedom, pure inspiration and motivation to do more and more again and again. You sweat and workout without realizing it. It is truly amazing. Apart from that, I run on an elliptical machine for about an hour alternating walking and running. I also do some weight lifting and some Blogilates routines. Blogilates is an amazing YouTube channel! It proposes routines for every part of your body and for every level too, plus they really work :). I also try to do simple things like taking the stairs, walking home instead of taking the bus, little things like that.
More About M.
I think everyone that follows me knows that I am a dancer. I’ve been a dancer for more than 17 years now and it’s a true passion. From ballet, to tap, jazz, hip hop, jazz funk, contemporary, jazz funk, broadway, modern, I love to try them all. I feel that you can only enrich yourself by trying and seeing new things. Dance, to me, is not only a way to move and do exercise. It’s been my life jacket through all of my health and mental problems. I honestly think that without dance, I would not be here today answering all of these questions. It’s a part of me, a part of me that I’m proud of.
Apart from that, I am a real nerd in school. I study REALLY hard and love learning. I am aspiring to get into med school one day and help others in need.
Follow M. on PumpUp @fitgirl_95