What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls butterfly!
~ Richard Bach
I was born in Athens, Greece and from a very early age, I've noticed that when people were dancing and laughing they were happier and more pleasant, so I made it my mission in life to keep everybody dancing and laughing. I danced and entertained others all my childhood. At fifteen I've started dancing folk dances around Athens and once I've danced with a group at the Stadium for the Royal Greek family and by eighteen I was dancing professionally for theaters and clubs in Greece and in countries throughout the Mediterranean. In one of our tours through Cyprus, I met and married my American sweetheart and moved to Georgia, USA,
All my life I’ve been one of those optimistic people who see the glass half-full and waits for rainbows after the storms, unfortunately, my optimism was put to a test when at thirty-nine I went to bed a healthy and energetic woman and woke up unable to walk or move my arms. My joints were aching and swollen with inflammation and after numerous medical tests, trials, and errors I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis and the world as I knew it came to an end.
From then on my life became very unpredictable, never knowing if I will make it to work or to my daughter's school play. Simple things like washing my hair and getting dressed became Herculean tasks. They say we don't appreciate something until we lose it. Let me tell you something when you have to go to the bathroom and you are not able to unzip your pants you gain whole new respect for your body and its functions.
As the years went by I managed to control the flair-ups as much as possible with medications, a positive attitude, and a Trust in the Infinite Power we call God. Still, after ten years of inactivity, smoking, and bad eating habits I was faced with yet another health problem -- obesity. The sedentary living had put thirty plus pounds on my five foot three inches arthritic body making it almost impossible to get out of bed, move around the house and take care of my family. I stayed depressed and overwhelmed with self-pity and despair for what was happening to me. Ten years later, I found my self in the bottom of my physical and mental well-being. I was forty-nine, over-weight, disable, and with no hope for the future.
Then, one day I saw a magazine called Arthritis Today, and it amazed me to see that other people with arthritis were living active and productive lives. These people planted the seed of hope in my heart and I've started to dream again! I began reading everything that I could get my hands on about fitness and nutrition and soon I’ve decided to take control over my life and copy the courageous people before me who walked the path of health and fitness and not only helped themselves they also helped to change many people’s lives as well!
Soon I felt confident to put my new-found knowledge to work and started doing simple stretching exercises, walking around our neighborhood adding one block at a time, and eating healthy and low-fat food. Within a few months, I felt so much better that I've decided to seriously study nutrition and exercise to help others become healthier and fit. Eventually, I became immersed in my new healthy lifestyle and never looked back. The better I felt, the more motivated I became to study and exercise. Within a year I received a Diploma from The School of Fitness and Nutrition Atlanta, GA,
In 2000, I was certified by ISSA as a Certified Fitness Trainer, in 2002, I was certified by ACE, as a Weight Management & Lifestyle Consultant, In 2004, I received a Certification from the Arthritis Foundation as Fitness Instructor, in March 2007, I received the BAAR Award and became the second Gordon County citizen to receive a prestigious state award for providing exemplary leadership in promoting the benefits of physical activity in the community and Georgia. In 2010, I was Certified by Healthways as a SilverSneaksers Instructor.
Today, twenty-four years later, I train clients and teach SilverSneakers classes at the prestige Firehouse Gym in Calhoun GA, I teach exercises twice a week at the Catoosa Senior Village in Calhoun GA, and for seventeen years I volunteer to teach strength and flexibility exercises at the Senior Center in Calhoun GA.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my story, I feel blessed to have chosen to change my life and I hope you will be motivated to change your own life and soon write your own amazing story!
Stay Focused and Fit