Family Status: Single
Occupation: Personal Trainer
Location: Tinley Park, Illinois
Starting Weight: 289 pounds
Current Weight: 155 pounds
Pounds or Inches Lost: I lost 134 pounds! I’m down from a size 26 women’s to a 9 in juniors and my waist was 46″ and now it’s 30″!
Izabella’s Weight Loss Story!
It’s so hard to pinpoint one particular moment in my life that led me to who I am today. I cannot give you an exact moment because it is a culmination of several moments that have created the individual you see today.
I have struggled with my self-esteem and body image my entire life. I was the first to blossom among my peers at a young age of 9. With that came a transformation in my body that I didn’t understand and my friends couldn’t relate to me. It was isolating. Especially since puberty is synonymous with weight gain. In junior high I was a cutter. I didn’t like myself and inflicting pain was punishment I felt I deserved. In high school I was anorexic and bulimic, and overtrained my body. I didn’t think I was pretty, so I had to make up for it with a nice body. I thought that if other people loved me and thought I was attractive then I would love myself.
The man who I thought was the love of my life introduced me to cocaine. That devil powder almost ruined my life. A few times. At one point, my cocaine addiction was so bad that my GPA at NIU dropped from a 3.5 to a 2.1 and academic probation. I managed to sober up long enough to graduate with a double major in psychology and sociology, and a 3.6 GPA.
I seemed to be doing well, finally. Throughout those years, my weight constantly increased. I arrived my freshman year weighing about 145 and graduated weighing 210. I tried to take care of myself, but it was a roller coaster. Being complacent was easier and I had little to no self-control.
In 2008, I went back to NIU to start my Master’s program in sociology. I screwed that up because of drugs and alcohol, too. The reason I don’t have my Master’s degree is because I lost my way after my ex-fiancée and I broke up in 2010. I haven’t had a serious relationship since, and the men that I have been involved with abused me mentally and physically. I did not value myself or love myself, I let other people use me and abuse me. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. Frankly, I didn’t think I should stand up for myself because I didn’t think I deserved to be happy.
In 2011, I reconnected with a guy I had liked in high school. He also liked cocaine. I had been clean for over 2 years when Mark and I reconnected. The eight months I spent with him were spent in a drunken and cocaine induced haze. At one point, we were doing it two, three, and sometimes four times a week.
What I find funny (and this shows my dark sense of humor), is that during this time I was still gaining weight. I may have been addicted to a stimulant, but I was drinking hard liquor like a fish and eating like garbage when I was sober enough to feel hungry again. Mark and I ended badly, but I’m so glad it happened the way it did because it made me stronger. Mark cheated on me and left me because my weight gain became an issue. He told me he wasn’t attracted to me anymore and that he would never love me. I was, essentially, not good enough for him. But that was only after I told him I no longer wanted to do cocaine and I stopped buying it.
When Mark broke up with me I had weighed around 260 pounds. I remember stepping on the scale one day and thinking the dial would never stop spinning. A couple of months after our breakup, I gained even more weight and almost topped off at 300 pounds. Those few months after our breakup were the hardest. I fell into such a deep and dark depression that I wanted to commit suicide. I decided that I would never be happy and never be loved, so there was no point in me being a waste of space anymore. If I killed myself, I wouldn’t disappoint my family and friends anymore. I wouldn’t let anyone down and no one would have to feel sorry for me. I thought I’d be doing the world a favor.
One night in January 2012 I almost did it. I remember driving down I-88 coming home from NIU utterly wasted and thinking to myself, this is it. With tears streaming down my face at 80 miles per hour, I was ready to go. I was ready to say good-bye. I decided I would crash my car into the dividing wall and call it quits. If I made it look like an accident, my family would never have to know the dark truth and extent of my depression. I don’t know what stopped. Maybe it was divine intervention or cowardice, but I just couldn’t do it. I’m glad I didn’t.
I spent the next several months single and began working on myself. I started eating healthier and started to exercise 3-4 days a week. In June I met Rico. This man introduced me to Body by Vi and Ecstasy. Although we were doing drugs together on the weekends, this man, ironically, was the catalyst that taught me how to respect myself. He taught me that it is okay to feel beautiful and to be happy. It’s very strange that our time together was more or less an oxymoron. He taught me to respect myself, but we were doing Ecstasy and abusing our bodies every weekend. This person motivated me to take better care of myself. He taught me how to find happiness away from alcohol. He curbed many of my bad habits and negative ways of thinking.
Rico and I didn’t last long. Six months, maybe. I remember the last conversation we had like it was yesterday. He called me a hypocrite because I walked away from him and “Molly”. One of the most important things I have learned on my journey is that when you change for the better, not everyone is ready to change with you. In fact, many people will be doubtful of your change and may even try to bring you down. Rico tried to bring me down and I had to walk away.
Five months after the last time Rico and I spoke, I received an email from a mutual friend telling me Rico was murdered. To this day, family and law officials suspect he was pushed off his eight story balcony. They found him dead in the middle of the street in front of his condo. This friend told me Rico got in too deep and was killed over his “Molly”. What’s heartbreaking is that this man was financially independent and successful. He was the assistant finance director at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was sponsored by automotive companies and was working on new functional designs for motorcycles. He had a seven year old son he would move heaven and earth for. I guess you never truly know anyone’s personal struggle. Someone may look beautiful from the outside, but you never know what’s underneath their appearance. Rico may not be with us anymore, but I’m so grateful I had the time I had with him. I became a stronger and better woman because of him.
When I look back on my life, I feel like each major transition in my life happened because of each failed relationship. If I was to write a book about my life, I would be able to name each chapter after a man I dated. The last 18 months of my life have been all about me. This chapter of my life is titled “Izzy”. Sure, I’ve dated, but I no longer tie my worth to my relationship status.
In December of 2013 I was hired as the sales manager at Anytime Fitness in Orland Park, Illinois. Getting this position completely changed the course of my life. Before this job, I managed a computer and electronics store. I was working out six days a week and drinking seven days a week. My checks bounced and my boss barely ever paid me on time. I was miserable and it further increased my depression. In the back of my mind, I had been dabbling with the idea of getting into the fitness industry. It was only a thought that tickled my mind. I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge, and even if I was, I wasn’t sure I’d be good enough to succeed. Then I got hired in December and everything changed.
I was suddenly surrounded by positivity. People admired me by what I had accomplished with my weight loss. They respected me and came to me for motivation. Me, of all people. I never thought I would be in a position to help people and show them they had control over their health and happiness. At first, I felt like a hypocrite. I felt like a hypocrite because of my past. The people I was now surrounded by showed me that I am not my past, but the past has made me who I am. I was beginning to learn that being happy isn’t selfish. Being happy is natural.
By May of 2014, I knew I would never graduate with a Master’s degree. Because of my stint with drugs, alcohol, and depression, I simply let time run out. I gave up and knew this path wasn’t mine to take. On May 28th, my birthday, my mom bought my National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Training program. I decided that fitness was for me. I cannot imagine my life without it.
The night before my exam I had a mental breakdown. Everything in my life seemed to just suddenly crush me. I wasn’t sure I was good enough for this. I didn’t think I would pass. I was sure I’d be nothing more than a failure.
My sister Sylvia grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me. She looked me in the eye and said, “Are you kidding me? You’ve beaten addiction. You found your strength. You found a job and career that people respect you for, and you’re going to let this little exam screw you up? What’s the worst that could happen?” I cried when the woman who proctored me, congratulated me. I cried from pure joy and relief. It was like my soul sighed. I did it. I did what I thought was the impossible.
Two days after I took my exam I became a certified INSANITY instructor. I started teaching classes the next day. The joy fitness has brought me is immeasurable. I love teaching classes and pushing people out of their comfort zone and showing them they can do things they never thought they could. Fitness has made me confident and has allowed me to see that not everyone who is happy is selfish. Fitness has shown me that I can make a difference in people’s lives and help them become stronger. Most importantly, fitness has taught me to believe in myself and has shown me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. I am strong enough. I am good enough. I am enough.
My journey isn’t over. I don’t think it ever will be. I was asked to do some motivational speaking for young girls in an after school program. They have invited me to come in and teach fitness classes and participate in confidence seminars. I cannot even begin to tell you how honored I am.
If my story can help just one person, then all the pain I experienced was worth it. If just one person looks at me and thinks to themselves “I can do this” then it was all worth it. I have learned to be happy and to be the best version of me possible. While doing so, I’m helping lift other people up with me.
I used to be very self-conscious of my body. There were things that I didn’t like. I have stretch marks all over my stomach from my weight gain. I used to hate them. They have faded and continue to do so, but now I appreciate them. They are a constant reminder of where I’ve been and what I had to go through in order to get to where I’m at today. They remind me of my failures and mistakes, but they also remind me of my strength. I struggled with my image my entire life. Today, on January 16th, 2015, I can honestly say I love myself. I love my body. I love me.
Fitness saved my life. Friends who have abused their bodies less than I have are no longer here, but I am for some strange reason. I now use what I thought was weakness to help others find their strength. I give people the confidence to go after their goals and know they’re good enough to accomplish them. I motivate people who are ready to give up on themselves to keep going. I motivate them to be strong.
I now have the courage to tell my story. I will be honest about anything and everything. I am not afraid to show people the real Izzy. I’m not exactly sure why certain people come into my life, but I believe there’s a reason. There’s a reason I had to go through all the bad so I could find the good. I had to hate myself in order to love myself.
Some people wish their lives were easier. At many points in my life, I wished the same. Now is not one of them. I would not change anything I went through. If I did, I wouldn’t be who I am. I’d be someone different. And frankly, I really like the person I am.
Izabella’s Weight Loss Interview!
When did you become unhappy with your weight?
I’ve always struggled with my weight and body image. I reached my highest point in January of 2012 when I weighed almost 300 pounds. I just had gone through a terrible breakup with someone who didn’t love me because of how heavy I had become.
What made you decide to lose weight?
I was afraid I would end up alone. I wanted to be loved, more than anything else in this world. I thought that if I didn’t look good, no man would ever want to be with me.
What were the most important changes you made to lose weight?
I stopped drinking alcohol, stopped eating junk food and stopped binge eating. I started working out 3-4 times a week. I hired a trainer and started working closely with trainers.
What was most challenging about losing weight?
Learning my self-worth and value. For the longest time, I didn’t like myself. In fact, I hated myself so much before I started getting healthy that I almost committed suicide.
How long did it take you to start to see results?
I started seeing results immediately. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized I’m not the woman I used to be. The REAL results came when I realized this past month that I love myself and love my body. Regardless of what anyone says, they cannot take that away from me.
How long did it take for you to reach your current weight?
Three long hard years. I yo-yoed a little bit, but overall, I was on track with my weight loss and fitness goals.
How long have you maintained your weight loss and how do you do it?
I’m still losing weight. I’m not where I want to be yet. Weight is no longer the most important factor in my goals. I know what I want my body to look like and I don’t care how much I weigh when I get there.
What keeps you motivated to continue your weight loss success?
People are inspired by me. I have the power to help people take control of their lives and give them the confidence they need in order to succeed in accomplishing their goals. I am a personal trainer and I want to help as many people as possible.
How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
I am confident and I am happy. I believe that I am capable of accomplishing anything I put my mind to. I am not afraid to be honest about my story of drug addiction, abuse, alcoholism, and depression. I have lost friends who have abused their bodies less than I have and they’re gone, but for some reason I am here. I don’t want to waste this opportunity to help people change their lives.
Do you have any advice for others who are trying to lose weight?
I have all the advice in the world. Don’t give up on yourself. Weight loss isn’t the most important measure of your success. Don’t forget about what you gain for becoming healthy. Pay attention to your confidence and strength; those cannot be measured in inches or pounds. Believe in the process. If something is not working for you, ask for help! Asking for help is NOT a sign a weakness; it is a sign you wish to better yourself. Most importantly, be patient and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. When you step outside your boundaries, you will accomplish things you never thought were possible.
How did ShapeFit help you reach your weight loss goals?
ShapeFit.com motivated me to keep going. It showed me that I am not alone and it showed me that I CAN do it because other people have.
Izabella’s Weight Loss Tips!
Weight loss tip #1:
Weight loss tip #2:
Weight loss tip #3:
Pay attention to the little victories.
Weight loss tip #4:
Weight loss tip #5:
Don’t weigh yourself every day.
Izabella’s Weight Loss Eating Plan!
Egg whites, avocado, whole grain toast.
Salad with chicken, walnuts, eggs, kale, romaine lettuce, dried cranberries, olive oil dressing.
Chicken or fish with broccoli, cauliflower, brown rice, or edamame.
Snacks or Mini Meals:
Protein shakes, apples, almonds, protein bars.
Multivitamins, magnesium, chromium picolinate, vitamin B12.
Izabella’s Weight Loss Workouts!
I do P90X 3 days a week.
A combination of Insanity, running sprints, and EMT machine.