Aicha's journey from deprivation to strength

Though Aicha had been relatively 'skinny' for as long as she could remember, she wasn't always healthy. "I was able to eat anything I wanted, without gaining any weight," she insisted.  Her metabolism was unbelievably fast, but it wasn't just genetic. In her younger years, Aicha would practice gymnastics for a rigorous 12 hours a week. When she quit gymnastics, Aicha turned to food for comfort and added more weight to her slimmer frame. "[I went from] 48 kg to almost 60 kg in only one month...but to be honest, I couldn't care less," she revealed. "I lost a lot of friends, I quit what I loved doing best, I was depressed and was searching for something that would make me happy again." But for Aicha, gaining weight meant that her body no longer conformed what she thought was 'ideal'. This contributed to a host of self-esteem issues. "At the age of 17, I had the wrong image of what was perfect," she stated. "Skinny was what I wanted to be again, and so I started an extreme diet." Aicha ate dangerously little: she nibbled on a banana and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, had the same exact meal for lunch, and ate just white rice with a bit of goat cheese for dinner. "It was unhealthy, I know — at that point, all I wanted to do was lose weight, and that's what I did," she admitted. "I was 5'9 and weighed only 54 kilograms." When Aicha returned from her study-abroad term in the United States, she made up her mind: she no longer wanted to remain at such a low weight if it meant that her health was being compromised. "In September 2014, I started using PumpUp and in one way or another, it's been so supportive," she shared. "I never had a lot of confidence in myself, but I kept going because other people were motivating me. Posting pictures became a habit." Aicha began to reap the benefits of having balanced and nutritious meals. "I'm less tired, I relieved my depression, and I'm happy with my body," she admitted. "I finally became who I wanted to be... myself. I'm more open, I love myself again, and I know how to handle negativity better. Seeing that I could help other people with my journey on PumpUp made me even more happy."

Aicha's knack for helping others eventually evolved into a career option. "It finally makes sense: being a personal trainer is what I was born to do," she emphasized. "This is my proudest accomplishment. Helping others is what I do best. If it weren't for my PumpUp family, I wouldn't have ever considered becoming a personal trainer." Though Aicha is studying to become a personal coach all while slogging through a 28-hour weekly work schedule, she still commits to workout out at the gym as often as possible - at least 4 times a week. "Is it hard?  Yes! But possible? Definitely yes," she exclaimed. "My future is bright. I know that I'll be able to handle whatever crosses my path. I'm a confident and strong woman now."

It's clear that Aicha's confidence is greater than it has ever been before. "A positive community is so important because there will always be those who try to pull you down, and that's the last thing I need right now," she stated. "Get good motivation. Download PumpUp and share your story. You'd be surprised by how much it changes your thoughts, your body, and your life." Though it's easier said than done, Aicha encourages others to never give up."I failed 1000 times and I finally got [my diet] right," she shared. "I'm not 'there' yet, but I'm on a good path now. If I can do it, you can do it. Get rid of all of your excuses and start today, not tomorrow. Most of the time, 'tomorrow' becomes 'never'."

Aicha's biggest role model

My mom. She raised me all by herself, she gave me everything I needed and more. She didn't have it easy as a single mom raising a child. I hope that I can be a mom one day like she was and still is. I feel most confident about myself and my body around my close family and my boyfriend. Those people accept me as I am. They lighten up my day and give me confidence when I need to be confident. 

Aicha's favorite ways to take care of her body, both physically and mentally

Physically, I love to take care at my body by going to the gym. I started working out to become fitter and healthier. But working out right now is so much more for than a physical thing, it became a mental release. I bought my own house last year at the age of 19. I can tell you right now that it isn't easy. I get stressed out quickly. When I leave the gym, it's like I left a package of stress there.  That's why I love working out in the morning... it clears my mind for the rest of the day.  Taking a bath, jogging and spending time with my boyfriend are also things I would do when I had a stressful day/ week. He is the only person who can take all that away. 

Aicha's potential superpower

It would be to fly! So I could travel the world, see things and get wiser. I wouldn't be able to say I hadn't lived enough. 

Keep Aicha pumped! Find her on PumpUp @aichatytgat and follow her journey on Facebook