Photo from Sophia Ayala GettysThe following is a guest post by Sophia Ayala Gettys, a former reality show contestant who's transforming her life with the goal of running this year's New York City Marathon.
Two years ago, I was a stay-at-home mother with a new baby and what I now know was severe postpartum depression. I was trying to be the mother that I thought I should be. I lived for my husband and children, but left little time for myself. Weighing around 270 pounds, I had become a shell, and was going through the motions of a life that did not belong to me.
My life re-started on August 17, 2008, the day I went to an open casting call for a new culinary competition show searching for the "worst cooks in America." I qualified. I hated cooking, but felt this show might teach me how to cook more healthily and regain some confidence. I waited in line "American Idol style" with hundreds of applicants for hours that day.
Finally, at about 7 p.m., it was my turn ... stepping through those curtains and into that casting was the first step into my future. I didn't even want to get up that day. But you never know what opportunity is right around the corner. A few months later, after what felt like a million years of background checks, questionnaires and interviews, I got the call: I made it!
I was given instructions and a plane ticket to NYC. It was one of the most self-defining expperiences of my life, and I will always be eternally grateful to everyone at the Food Network for the opportunity to change my life.
Chef Beau introduced me to the art of cooking. I was already an artist but it just took only one demo for me to see that cooking was an art. I watched him render a duck breast and drizzle a reduction sauce on the plate. I realized the plate was the canvas and the food was the medium ... it was the ULTIMATE ART; you could use every sense to enjoy this creation. I was inspired ... I was hooked ... I was lit! I didn't win the show, I actually was eliminated half way through, but the seeds were planted.
Fast forward to the present.
I've lost over 50 lbs with healthy home cooking and regular exercise and pursuing culinary arts as a career. I'm living a life I never knew I always wanted. I've had the opportunity to stage (a culinary internship) with some of Denver's top restaurants and I hope to become a chef one day and help others like myself to learn about food, fitness, and nutrition.
In March 2010, I announced a new challenge I plan to dominate. In order to help my new healthy habits stick, I've begun training to run the 2010 New York City Marathon! So far my mental fitness has been challenged the most. My body is changing, but even with this new confidence I still struggle to keep my mind from focusing on what other people are thinking of me, or how different parts of my body jiggle here and there.
I am pushing my limits and now at 205 to 210 pounds (depending on the day), I'm starting to see the results of my hard work and dedication. I can't put into words how amazing it feels when I sit back and see how far I've come. I was able to get here with the help of others, but again ... it was up to me to take that first step and to continue taking those steps even when it got hard or I slacked off. I never have fallen back to where I was.
Photo by Sophia Ayala GettysToday I get letters from people who tell me I've inspired them, but it's those letters that keep me going. Athletic gear companies have even donated clothes and sneakers for traing and events. It's so amazing to know so many people believe in me, but I had to believe in myself first. I'm working every day towards a goal that two years ago seemed impossible ... but in 6 months it will be a reality.
For the first time in what feels like forever, I am LIVING my life! I'm no longer sitting on the sidelines watching others pass me buy, I'm part of the race. I have decided to run with Team for Kids, a charity close to my heart. Team for Kids funds health and fitness programs for youth around the world. I feel like running with this charity will help me to come full circle. I was an obese child and had some horrible experiences growing up because of it. I didn't make the best choices in my own health, but I hope to give other kids the choice and opportunity to make educated decisions.
See you at the finish line!