This is a hard one to write – but I can’t really ignore it. Actually, I don’t want to ignore it.
My weight has been receiving a lot of attention lately and, for the most part, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. Yes, it is true that I have been gradually gaining weight and it makes me genuinely happy that people have begun to notice a change in my appearance.
This post isn’t necessarily going to cover my current physical state or fitness routine, but rather the reasoning behind why I decided to go from living a terribly unhealthy lifestyle to where I am now. I know that I still have a long way to go before I’m completely happy with what I see in the mirror, but I believe progress is everything.
I hope this will help you understand me better.
Ok, I figured it would be best to divide this (long ass) story into three parts:
The Beginning | The Catalyst | What Now?
Once upon a time, Perla was a young ballerina. Most people who know me in real life know that I was a dancer for most of my childhood (from age 9 – 17) and that was pretty much my only form of physical activity growing up. I never truly got into playing traditional sports like football or soccer (although I’m all about FC Barcelona – let’s go Barca!) so dance, specifically ballet, became my main method of exercise.
Although I truly loved to dance as a kid and teen, in retrospect I feel like the dance world warped my idea of what a healthy female body looked like. Ballet requires a woman to be thin. Strong for sure – but thin nonetheless. Years of ballet helped me to build long, lean muscles and a decent range of flexibility, but it also engraved the unhealthy belief that being thin is the ” perfect ” way to be.
Now, I don’t want to TOTALLY shit on dance or my past, because no one ever specifically told me that I needed to be thin to be perfect – these negative thoughts were all created within the confines of my own impressionable mind.
Because of this unhealthy mindset, I started eating less. Less and less every single day. I made sure that I never finished a plate of food and every time someone offered me a snack or whatever, I would decline and claimed I wasn’t hungry. My goal was to eat one small meal per day and then survive on low-cal snacks if it felt necessary.
It also didn’t help that I was involved in an incredibly mentally abusive relationship in high school. Granted, I’ve held up strong through many toxic relationships before and after this particular one, but this was the very first time that someone I thought I loved (cue Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream lol) gave me unwarranted criticism on my weight. My shitty boyfriend at the time told me that I wasn’t allowed to weigh more than 110 pounds . . .
During the remainder of high school, I dropped to my absolute lowest number. I was 17 years old and I weighed 94 pounds.
Looking back, I feel really embarrassed by the fact that I let myself be so harshly influenced by things that didn’t truly matter. My toxic relationship came to an end (obviously and thankfully). In addition, I never went on to become a professional ballet dancer, yet I still felt the need to live up to the physical standards of one. Confused? Me too. I wish I could go back in time to knock some sense into myself and shove some pasta down my throat – but that’s just not the way life goes . . .
Ok, you guys are gonna have to bear with me on this part of the story as it is the most difficult to explain.
Ever since I could remember, I’ve always looked up to strong, powerful, talented, and sexually confident women. I know that may sound a little funny – but it’s the truth. I admire women like Dita Von Teese, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Lopez, and Selena Quintanilla – and what the fuck do all those ladies have in common? Curves for days.
I guess one day, suddenly, it just clicked in my head that I wanted to abandon this ” perfect ballerina body ” bullshit lifestyle that wasn’t relevant to me anymore and become more like the women I wholeheartedly admired. Obviously, I knew this was going to take a lot of work and it meant making drastic changes to a long-term routine I grew accustomed to.
I knew next to nothing about gaining weight in a healthy way. I felt really awkward and scared about starting this new chapter of my life, but I was also set on making big changes. In early February, I stepped out of my shell and sought help from a friend and former co-worker who has impressively extensive knowledge on all things fitness and health. I literally owe her my life.
She was the very first person to whom I vulnerably expressed how unhappy I was with my body and all my physical insecurities. We became like a mini support group and she gave me a ton of valuable information and fitness inspiration. One of the most important parts of this journey was her suggestion to download an app called My Fitness Pal.
My Fitness Pal is a calorie-tracking app and diary of all your meals, workouts, etc. I used it religiously for an entire week and what I found was pretty horrific and embarrassing. . . I was eating only 900 calories per day. At 21 years old, I measured 5’4 (5’5 on a good day) and weighed 101 pounds.
It was a tough pill to swallow. For the first time in my life, I had no choice but to face the truth on how disgustingly unhealthy I was. At this point, I no longer wanted to change simply for vanity – I wanted to become a better person. I wanted to feel whole, not ” thin ” and definitely not ” perfect ” .
Mmkay, just to make a long story short – after discovering that I was only eating 900 calories per day, I made MONUMENTAL changes to my everyday life.
I now eat at least 1,300-1,700 calories per day and I drink a ton of water. I eat two wholesome meals per day (cause a bitch works 12 – 14 hour days) and I always accompany any workouts with food and either plant-based protein or whey protein shakes. I’ve also significantly cut down on sugar and alcohol.
In terms of workouts – I do concentrated weight training and I incorporate select ballet stretches into my fitness routine as well.
Please enjoy these somewhat embarrassing, low-quality before/after pics:
Again, I am still a work in progress and appreciate any support. Thank you for listening to my story. Coming clean wasn’t easy, but I hope it helps. If you have any questions/would like me to go in depth with my workout routine or anything, please feel free to reach out and let me know!