I grew up in Sierra Leone West Africa. My mom and dad left me when I was a baby to come to the USA to find better life for me and my siblings. I was raised by my grandmother and aunties. Growing up I always knew I was different from kids my age. I’m built differently – broad shoulders, not so feminine biceps. For the traditional environment that I was in, I never felt like I belonged. I got called a lot of names, but the main one was manly. I was frustrated because I couldn’t understand why I got pushed to the side when it came to young girls’ events in my environment. I mean I had all the female features but yet it wasn’t enough.
I went through FGM at age 10. Things got really bad when I moved to the city, because in the city I realized most of the girls didn’t go through FGM. With all this that went on with me from the village to the city made me feel bad about who I was as a teenager. My insecurities rapidly consumed my confidence. In 90-100 degree weather, I started wearing thick long sleeves to cover my imperfections. I cooked. I cleaned. I took care of the young little kids in my neighborhood as an African girl is supposed to, but still it wasn’t enough. I just couldn’t fit in so I was lonely most of the time.
When I came to the USA things were different. After my graduation in late 2016, I started going to Life time Fitness with my sister. Life Time Fitness has great members; most of them are not afraid to compliment someone else. I would go in with a t-shirt and sweat pants but yet they made me feel good about my looks. I got compliments from my family too but after all my experiences back home, I just thought they were saying things to make me feel good about myself. One day my friend, Emily at the club advised me to look into fitness. She also told me about the 60-Day Challenge. I was scared because I didn’t want to look manlier! I told her about my manly story and she said, “Well you are in America now.” I found a wonderful trainer at the club. It was Emily’s trainer, Mr. Adonnai Santos. He talked to me like a father, brother, or uncle would talk to a child. I started feeling good about myself. He is an exceptional trainer! He checked on me the day before and after our training to see if was ok. I have never talked about FGM to anyone besides my sister. I was able to talk to him about it. At first he couldn’t understand how that could happen, but I told him to look it up. I was scared that he would look at me differently or maybe wouldn’t want to train me anymore. However, he was the complete opposite. He pushed me even harder! He made me tell him everything I was eating. We looked at ways we could have a more healthy diet so I could burn even more fat and work out even harder! Anyone else would have been happy with that but he never rested. He made me run tests at Life Time that could tell me what cardio to do and how to do it. Then finally, he had me buy supplements in the LifeCafé that helped me not eat my muscle and something to help my digestion which helped my waist to get smaller. This 60-Day Challenge is not about winning for me! It has helped me break so many barriers and even more. I have regained my confidence, because as a female your confidence is the greatest thing you can ever achieve. For me to sit here and tell my story is a very huge step in life. This a secret I have lived with all my life, but the more I talk about it the better I feel.
Thank you so much Life Time Fitness! None of you will understand the opportunity you have given me with the 60 Day Challenge. In your club I have achieved so much not only physically but mentally. I know it is never too late to make up for all those past years of my life. I am ready to take this fitness to a whole new level at age 25 because fitness is more mental and spiritual than just a physical look! When you are mentally strong, nothing can break you.
Thank you so much. 💪💪