"One morning I decided I need to try something new, and to be honest, I wasn't sure it would be successful for me."
This is what Shalvi thought before making one of the best decisions of her life - to combat her unhealthy behaviors that were sending her in a downward spiral and dedicate herself to living a healthy lifestyle.
I am fortunate enough to have Shalvi as a personal training and nutrition client. I have had the privilege of watching her grow and transform into a healthy, confident, and powerful version of herself. Her story is unbelievable and she was courageous enough to allow me to share it with you.
As a girl, Shalvi developed a range of unhealthy eating habits from chronically eating junk food to eating close to nothing into her teenage years, based on her emotional state.
The first time she struggled with real weight-gain was during her first pregnancy where she recalls receiving the "worst advice ever - 'You’re pregnant! Now you can eat whatever you want!'" Her unhealthy eating patterns continued post-pregnancy and into her second pregnancy as well. "When my second daughter was three and people everywhere I went asked me when I was due, I decided to make a change." This was Shalvi's first time getting serious about exercise. She began riding a stationary bike for two hours daily. She also saw a weekly dietitian but admits that she "listened to everything she told me, nodded, and proceeded to ignore her and only eat a box of cherry tomatoes and one yogurt smoothie a day."
Through eating close to nothing and performing exhaustive cardio exercises, Shalvi lost 22 kilos over the course of that year. As a "reward" for reaching her goal weight, she allowed herself to eat breakfast every day and put back on almost half the weight she had lost.
After her third pregnancy, Shalvi was back to square one, weighing the same as she did after her first pregnancy. She recalls "I was slowly coming to accept the new me and was trying to come to terms with no longer being small and petite, but rather overweight, bordering obese."
In 2016 she was hit with a major blow - oral cancer. Shalvi had surgery removing part of her tongue. Post-op she was not allowed to eat or drink for a week and then was on a soft pureed diet for many following weeks. "While slowly recovering and regaining my strength, I began trying to see this as a gift. I had lost ten kilos without even trying! If I let it all come back, then the whole ordeal would have been useless!" She began to run and built up to running ten kilometers five to seven times a week, but her eating returned to being unrestrained. "I often rewarded myself with cake at the end of a 10K." This went on for about a year and
she did not see a significant change in her body.
Shalvi had again hit a wall. "So one morning I decided I needed to try something new, and to be honest I was sure it wouldn’t be successful for me. I was sure I would fail or that if I changed anything with my running I would gain weight right away. I closed my eyes while the phone rang to speak to Tova for the first time. I was so nervous. We met for an intake, and throughout the conversation, I thought, 'no way, I can’t do it.'...When Tova said 'trust me' I laughed inwardly, remembering my past experience with the dietitian. But then I recalled the failure that followed and decided to TRUST and do things that felt so unnatural to me, so scary, but...what did I have to lose?”
Shalvi may have been hesitant internally, but she didn't let on any of it through her actions. She followed the workout routines I had created for her which involved a lot more strength training and cardio HIIT (high-intensity interval training) than she was currently doing. I had her eating a lot more and we slowly cut the desserts out of her regular diet. "I began to see changes almost immediately. My body changed faster than my weight, but even with long plateaus, my weight did begin to drop as well... Slowly my eating habits have changed and it now feels like a much more natural and enjoyable way of eating for me. I listen to my body, so when it tells me to rest I make an effort to do that. When it tells me I’m full I stop eating and when it tells me I’m hungry, I eat! I eat three to five times a day and exercise about 30 minutes a day most days, with one to two longer workouts a week. I combine strength and cardio and I love the changes I see in my muscle tone from this. Having Tova to ask questions about food, exercise, advice when I start to feel lost or worried or have specific pain makes the process feel like a joint journey. I know I’m not alone and have someone to be accountable to as well!”
Since we started working together about 10 months ago, Shalvi has dropped three clothing sizes due to gradually adopting a healthy and balanced lifestyle. One of her biggest mindset changes stemmed from “slowly seeing my body change but waiting a long time for the scale to move. The number on the scale is NOT A GOAL!” She has realized that “persistence, perseverance, routine, planning, and commitment to my health have become my friends and biggest motivators.”
When I asked Shalvi what message she would want women to get from her story, she said, “There’s always hope for change!" She was then quick to add with cautious optimism, "I do fear what will happen if I have a setback in the future, but I believe I now have the tools to put myself back on track.”
I’m very grateful to Shalvi for allowing me to share her incredible journey. I believe her story depicts various struggles that many women can relate to. If sharing this story inspires even one woman out there to cut destructive behaviors and gradually build a healthy lifestyle then this post has served its purpose.
Shalvi wants to support women going through similar struggles. “I love talking and connecting with other women and I’m happy to talk to anyone of you reading this!”**
Please share this post to help spread Shalvi's important message to others!
**Feel free to message her at this number for advice or support if you are going through a similar struggle: 054-423-1119.