Growing up I always had the hardest time maintaining a healthy weight. Weighing 165lbs by age 10 didn’t make my childhood all that easy to live out. I was bullied and criticized because of the way I looked. By the time I became a teenager I was taking diet pills behind my family’s back. I exercised like crazy but never saw or felt a change in my health. The humiliation I had gone through as a kid led me to develop low self-esteem and was the beginning of an unhealthy relationship with food. It became my source of comfort.
Fast forward to October 1st 2013, I was 24, that Tuesday started off just like every Tuesday before it. I woke up, started getting ready for work when I heard the phone ring and that was the moment my entire life changed. I hurried out to the living-room to see what all of the commotion was about. The next words that came out of my parents’ mouths were, “Kari, your brother passed away.” I stood still, in complete shock. I couldn’t feel a thing. It was as if my soul had up and left. The hours, months, years following my brother’s passing were some of the darkest times I have ever experienced in my life.
Like most kids, I grew up turning to mom and dad for guidance during tough times. This time however, I couldn’t. My parents had just lost their son. They themselves were trying to figure out how to process it all. I turned to the only other thing that had always been there to comfort me, food. I lost myself the years following my brother’s death. I didn’t have any sense of who I was anymore, what I liked, what I wanted out of life. The only thing I looked forward to everyday was food and sleep. Then in June of 2016 I went for a checkup. Later, I got a letter notifying me that I was pre-diabetic and a warning that if I didn’t start changing some things I would be put on medication. My heart sunk because complications stemming from diabetes was what took my brother’s life way too soon. That still wasn’t enough of a wakeup call for me. I continued to seek comfort in food. My self-esteem had diminished so much over the years that at that point in my life I didn’t have any belief in myself. I didn’t believe that I was capable of change.
I was already at a low physically but I hit my ultimate low, spiritually, in late February 2017. I began to question, “Was this life worth living? Did I have any purpose here? Am I going to amount to anything in life?” My anxiety was through the roof thinking about who I was going to lose next. I was in a dark place and no one knew about it. It could’ve been God; it could’ve been my angel looking over me, I don’t know but in March of that year I finally chose to do something about it. I went in thinking I can’t give up on my parents like this. They can’t lose another child. Deep down, my soul was telling me “You can’t give up on yourself! You are worth fighting for.” I reached out to an old friend from school, Paola (love ya girl), who I had been keeping in touch with on social media and asked her how she had made such a remarkable transformation. I mean this woman had gone through some difficult times of her own, flipped everything around and flourished into the ultimate smokin’ boss babe. She took me under her wing and introduced me to a strong community of women who had chosen to make a positive change despite their circumstances.
I finally said, this is it! This is the moment I choose me first. We focused on healthier eating habits, had virtual group workouts from our own homes, shared our victories, learned from our losses and kept on shining. I fell in love with the community and support that when the opportunity to pay it forward as a coach was presented to me to help women learn how to live a healthier lifestyle, I didn’t hesitate for one second. I grabbed a strong hold of it and joined our tribe, Team No Excuses.
Now, I am living my healthiest life spiritually and physically down 50lbs. I wake up with purpose and beyond grateful that I didn’t give up on myself. I am confident in my own skin and feel empowered to help women get their shine back one day at a time. They are worth it; YOU ARE WORTH IT! The greatest lesson I learned through this long journey is that we are all capable of achieving so much more than what we give ourselves credit for. Take the first step. Give yourself the opportunity to go after what you most desire. Choose you.
Karina Diaz, founder of Team Bella Brave, is a health and wellness coach who is passionate about helping women regain control of their health and gain their self-confidence back so they can live-out-loud their best life yet. She is also a film producer with features under her belt, has edited numerous Emmy nominated shows for legendary director Mel Brooks and is president of Crevice Entertainment Company LLC. Karina enjoys staying active by taking shopping trips on the weekends, loves traveling and basks in the laugh out loud moments she gets to share with her loved ones.