It was such a shock to find that photo on the left the other day! I full-on freaked! What the hell?! Who is that? Not me!
I happened to be wearing the same shirt on my way to photograph a one year old's cake smash session on the beach. As I was clearing out some files on my computer, I came across that photo from last year and my heart just sank. I think you can almost see the sadness in my eyes. That girl on the left, in 2015, had taken all that she could bare. I had been dealing with some tough stuff for some time, but it wasn't until I lost my grandfather, my best friend in the whole world, in 2013 that I really lost my shit. Like, for real, I was a hot mess. It was a rapid, emotional downward spiral. Becoming estranged from my whole immediate family, starting over in life with literally zero belongings, starting a business from the ground up and eventually losing the one person I loved most pretty much murdered my mojo.
These aren't excuses. These are facts. My focus during that time was on sheer survival, not on buying organic and eating clean. I was rolling out of bed at noon to head into a job I hated and eating Jack-In-The-Box at midnight. I practically grieved my life (and health) away. It wasn't pretty. By April 2015 I was 220 lbs. I hid in my apartment for most of it. I wore the same hoodie and jeans for like a year straight. If a camera just as much as came within 20 feet from me I'd panic. My mood was shot to hell all the time. I hated everything. I hated myself.
I tried to the best of my ability to lose the weight. I went to the gym and tried to "eat healthy". But the weight just wouldn't come off and I didn't know how to help myself. Then, for like a year I kept getting this feeling deep in my heart that something big was going to happen. Something big had to happen for me to get it together. I could feel it. I would think to myself, "What's it gonna be? Something big needs to happen, I feel it." It was SO weird! And sure enough... I eventually attended a casting for a new show called STRONG on NBC, and after a very looong casting process... I got the news: I was cast in Season 1 of Sylvester Stallone's new show.
Getting on the show, as it turned out, was the easy part. Little did I know that the road ahead was long. It was going to get a lot darker before I could see some light again. I was the underdog from day one. I was the heaviest, most out of shape, weakest, most awkward and mentally fucked-up person on the show. I was fearful, intimidated and heartbroken (ok just broken). I ended up "losing" big time. I was the first to get "sent home", but was surprised with the opportunity to stay and continue my training off-camera. This was it. I felt it. It was my chance. I was given a lifeline and I was not about to waste it. That's the thing about me, I don't take opportunities lightly. You give me a peephole and I'll build a door. I'm a boss-babe at heart, even in my darkest hour, and I was determined to have a kick-ass transformation all around. Not just for the show, but forever.
In retrospect, "losing" was the best thing that could have happened to me. I had the opportunity to live in the beautiful Malibu mountains for three months without the pressure of competing or filming. I got to do serious soul-searching. I worked out three times per day, had an amazing trainer, got my meals made for me, took nutrition and meal prep classes and had a fabulous housekeeper who became my good friend. I had time to read, learn, think and set some scary goals for myself. It was like rehab for the soul. I gained a new outlook on life. I realized anything can happen at any given point and it doesn't always have to be catastrophic, like I had thought. I gained confidence in myself and my instincts. I made unbreakable bonds. I found... myself. I realize now that I learn far more from my failures than from my successes, and I wouldn't trade that experience for the world.
I'm proud to say I've made a complete 180 in my life. I've transformed my body and especially my mind. I let that old Victoria die. She had to go. The new Victoria looks fear in the eye and kicks it in the nuts. She also speaks in third party. ;)
I'm no longer afraid of everything. I've gained strength. And heart. And balls. I have managed to eliminate all toxicity from my life, and that, my friends, is version 2.0.