We're so excited to share with you the personal story about this months' spotlight member of our tribe, Vanessa Gonzalez. We love having her as apart of our tribe, her dedication with living a healthier lifestyle is encouraging! Here is our February 2018 Spotlight Tribe Member: Empowering, Heartfelt, and Courageous Mrs. Gonzalez!
Vanessa's Story:"I was born in Newark, New Jersey, but my dad wanted a slower pace of life so he moved us to Moreno Valley. When I started college, I moved to Riverside and started attending RCC with big dreams to transfer to New York University and major in Art History, but my life took a different turn when I had my daughter, Isabella, at 22. With a baby depending on me, I decided I needed a more realistic career so I began working towards being a Registered Nurse. However, after watching and listening to some of the most inspiring and passionate professors, I changed my major and pursued teaching. I wanted to do what they did- inspire minds and shape futures. It was challenging trying to raise a child, work, and go to college, but I continued working hard and never gave up. I eventually transferred to UCR where I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and earned my credential and Master’s in Education the following year. I currently teach 2nd grade and it is my absolute passion. I love what I do and I get to do exactly what my professors did for me…inspire minds and shape futures.
In 2010, I married my best friend and we had our son, Jacob, who is now 7 years old. Aside from my career, my family is the most important thing to me. We have a German Short-Haired Pointer puppy named Jax who is crazy, but wonderful! We love to take family walks or bike rides, binge-watch shows on Netflix, have weekend BBQ’s with family and friends, and try out new restaurants. We’re trying to plan a family vacation to PA and NY in the summer to visit my brother…fingers crossed!"
Were you Involved in any Sports Growing Up?
"I didn’t grow up playing sports as a child. When my parents divorced, my mom was on her own raising us, so there wasn’t a whole lot of money for extracurricular activities. However, in junior high, I was able to take dance classes as part of PE and that quickly became my sport! I continued dancing all through high school as part of the competition team and we were able to compete in different places like Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and San Diego. It was so much fun and it taught me a lot about teamwork and strengthening my body."
What is your Motivation to Workout?
"My motivation to workout is that I want to feel healthy, but most importantly, I want to be better at making myself a priority. My mom was and is a wonderful and fierce woman who always sacrificed herself for her children, but by the same token, always put herself last. It was inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. When I started my family, I did what she did. I replicated what I thought a “strong woman” should look like. For years, I made it my top priority to make sure everyone else was happy and taken care of no matter what- even if that meant that I was unhappy, exhausted, and unhealthy. I wore myself ragged until I couldn’t take it anymore. There was this definitive moment where I decided, it wasn’t okay for ME to be dead-last on my “to-do list.” I realized I needed to make myself happy and healthy first so that I could take care of the people I care about. Once I gave myself permission to care about ME, I became empowered and I took the first steps by signing up at VCF. It was the best decision I’ve ever made!"
How Does Working Out Make You Feel?
"Working out makes me feel strong and deeply satisfied. Every time I finish a workout, I feel accomplished. I think 'Wow!, I can’t believe I did that!' I know I have so much to learn and improve upon in my fitness journey, but I just celebrate the baby steps and my personal milestones and that makes me happy. I literally go home and tell my husband 'I was able to do push-ups without being on my knees!' or 'I was able to do a full body sit up without help!' It’s the little things."
What are your Fitness Goals?
"My goal is to be healthy both physically and mentally. I think that working out has forced me to take much needed time for myself which has truly had an impact even beyond having a stronger and healthier body. My physical goals are to gain more muscle. I want my arms and mid-section to have some definition. My goal is to be able to do full body sit-ups without help-it’s so difficult for me! Also, I want to be more consistent in making healthier eating choices. I tend to go through many ups and downs with my eating. I’ll eat healthy for a few weeks and then fall off the wagon. My goal is to eat healthy, but also not beat myself up if I have a bad day."
What do you do to Make Sure you Have Time for your Workouts?
"To make sure that I have time for my workouts, I try to plan ahead. With work, kids in sports and dance, and everything in between, my days are busy. I plan my dinners for the week on Sundays and I go shopping for everything I need. I make sure to make quicker (but still healthy) meals on evenings that I know I’m going to work out. I also try to leave work on time when I know I have to get to the gym. It’s important to me so I try my best to plan around my workouts."
What Would you say to Someone on the Fence About Joining the Village?
"If someone were on the fence about joining VCF, I would say, “Just do it and don’t look back!” I had a gym membership for many years and never went. VCF is more than just a gym. It’s a community of people who, not only want to be healthy and strong themselves, but support you and cheer you on when you feel like giving up. The coaches are knowledgeable and caring, but also challenge you to do your best!"
What is a milestone you have reached and how did you get there?
"Since I’ve joined VCF, I’ve reached a couple of milestones. When I first joined, I couldn’t swing a kettle bell to save my life, but Coach Caylyn was patient with me and helped me work on it every time. Also, I had a hard time doing push-ups because I just didn’t have a lot of upper body strength, but I feel myself getting stronger every day and getting a little closer to the ground. It’s exciting to feel myself getting stronger and reaching my own personal goals."
We LOVE you Vanessa! We're so grateful to have you be apart of our Village Tribe! Thank you for sharing your story with us all! Don't forget to show Vanessa some love by leaving a comment below!
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