There I was standing next to some of the greatest physiques from across the world, receiving my 1stplace medal. Me?!The girl that was picked on for being too chubby. Me?! The girl that was picked on in college for having stretch marks. Me?! The girl that would never be caught dead wearing a bikini at a pool party. YASSSSS QUEEN – YOU!!!! That’s what I kept saying to myself over and over.
As I stepped off stage, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I sat down to look at my medals and began to reflect on everything I had endured and overcome. Holding back the tears of pain, joy, and excitement, I looked up and heard my coach say, “Em, I’m so proud of you. The old Emily is gone, you have to let her go. You’re not that girl anymore.”
I’m not that girl anymore?! Who am I then?!
It’s quite apparent I suffer from the imposter syndrome, but I’ll save that topic for another day!
June 8,2019 was the day I became a Nationally Qualified Bikini Competitor and less than two days after my show, I looked like I was in my second trimester. My bloating was so severe, my doctors were convinced I had bacterial gastroenteritis (a digestive problem caused by bacteria). Defeated by my lack of progress, I decided to pull out of my last competition. I was rapidly gaining weight and feeling imprisoned by my own body. Even after 15 tubes of blood and 2 urea breath exams, my doctors are still trying to figure out what’s going on with me.
I decided to go back to the drawing board. I was determined to find a holistic solution for this gut issue. Why? Because I come from a long line of Jibaritos (term used to refer to mountain people, who lived “in-land” in the heart of the island and are the backbone of the Puerto Rican culture). From a very young age I was introduced to the power of herbal teas, natural detox, fasting, and meditation. In fact, my family was vegetarian in the 90s! We started eating meat in the fall of 1998 because we moved to Seoul, Korea and at the time, had limited resources. Realizing the power of proper food and nutrition, I saw my parents overcome Type II Diabetes by simply changing their lifestyles. Even though their veganism was short-lived, I’m convinced that clean lifestyle saved them – they never touched insulin.
Against the advice of many professional fitness and health gurus, I made the decision on June 28, 2019 to go vegetarian. You may be asking yourself, “why didn’t she go vegan?” BECAUSE I LOVE CHEESE (they didn’t call me ratonsita/little mouse for nothing) and I was still enjoying my veggie egg white omelets.
My famous almond cloud bread, veggie scramble, and unsweetened almond milk cappuccino!
In the next two posts I plan on sharing how my transition into vegetarianism has gone while also nearly doubling my carb intake in order to reset my metabolism.