Starting your health journey? Need a little inspiration and a little bit of guidance? Meet Irene, one of our dance studio members from Rome and read all about her story of how she navigated her way to a healthy lifestyle.

Her Road To A Healthy Lifestyle

Her journey wasn’t easy and nothing ever is, but reading Irene’s story has given me more motivation to keep my health journey in check. She made a promise to herself to start being healthy and it totally paid off.I finally got a chance to meet Irene this year when I was visiting Rome, Italy. Her husband Alessio and her went on a double date with Todd and me. It was so amazing to meet her in person. She is even more badass in person than virtually.They gave us the non-touristy tour of Rome which I love. Everyone was speaking Italian at this restaurant. 2 things I’ll never forget: she knitted a blanket for my baby and gave it to me as a gift. I was in my 2nd trimester at that time. Her hugs! I just love Irene’s hugs. They are the most genuine, loving and comforting ones I have ever received. Thank you Irene for sharing your story and inspiring me and other babes in our tribe!Got inspired? Share your HSF story with #hipshaker on instagram and tag @hipshakefitness so we can give you some love 💜

What inspired you to start your health journey?

I’ve always had problems with my weight since I can remember. I got the overweight gene from my dad’s side and started to be slightly chunky at the age of 12 when I remember I started my first diet. From then it’s been a continuous yo-yoing, but I really never got to my healthy form. Starting from my late 20’s/early 30’s my physical health went on a downfall, with major anxiety, body dysphoria and two separate eras of eating disorder (binge eating) that I was able to get under control thanks to therapy. Then it all went somewhat normal for a while, I still had body issues but I was kind of okay with what I had as I had learned to accept myself. Until my dad started to get really sick and in 2016 all hell broke loose in my family; with him going in and out of hospitals and my mom getting sick too and I had to take care of both of them. My anxiety and depression made a huge return, plus I basically lived on hospital cafeteria food or takeout, and when it wasn’t that, I just ate my anxiety away.  When things started to get better with my parent’s health I decided to take matters into my own hands, because as I mentioned before I’ve got my father’s genes, I didn’t want to end up like him with pulmonary issues and old age diabetes because of a life of “living large” and not thinking about the consequences. So I signed up at an Obesity Center in a major hospital in Rome and that’s when it started.
When things started to get better with my parent’s health I decided to take matters into my own hands
The first meeting I had with the coordinating doctor, I was given “the number”: 105 kgs (231.4 lbs). I had never in my life reached that number, not even in my Binge Eating days. At the time I wasn’t even shocked, I knew what I had done and I was there to change it. When the doctor started to speak about exercise, she said something I’d never heard from the numerous nutritionist I had met all my life: the usual “GO TAKE WALKS!” or “START SWIMMING!” or “JOIN A GYM!” I’m sure everyone with a story similar to mine have heard. She instead told me that the first thing I had to do was to spend some quality time thinking about what would I like to do, in terms of being active, because otherwise I would never stick to it. So I thought and thought and thought about it and I realized that what I would have loved most was to dance. And funny thing, I would have loved to try out Bollywood dance. So I looked up some dance studios in my town, but the only ones that had what I was looking for were too far or too expansive. Then I decided to look for online courses, and that’s when I stumbled upon Hip Shake’s YT channel. This was in September 2017 and since then I basically never left .

What does Hip Shake Fitness mean to you?

Hip Shake has been my first and foremost accountability buddy in this change of lifestyle that I started and am still experiencing. You see, if it was only a matter of following a new diet, it may have been just another major failure, but the fact that I joined basically at the same time that I started my journey, it had given me the tools that I always needed: consistency and accountability. Through following the weekly schedules or the programs I learned about routine and by participating actively in the group I finally had people who, even in different states of mind, understood what I was going through and were there for me as I was for them. I would never have made it without Hip Shake, be it the crew or the members, some of which have become true friends of mine that I love and cherish.

How do you motivate yourself to workout?

It’s funny because for the first time in my life I don’t have the “guilty” mentality anymore. I am at a place where I am not “on a diet” or “working out to lose weight”. I, for the very first time in my life, lead a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. This is the major motivator for me, I don’t need to do it because “I have to” anymore, I do it because it’s good for me and I know that it’s all part of a process, and I know I’ll feel better after working out, because of the endorphins kicking in and because it’s been another tile on the 1000 pieces “better me” puzzle. 

What’s your go-to hip shake workout and why? How does it make you feel after completing that workout?

Well there’s Bollywood of course, my first love those workouts are my very favorite because they are a mix of all I need: Strong cardio (Bhangra Belly is a KILLER) and super fun moves. Close second would be a tie between Old School Hip Hop and Tone and Twerk. These three make me feel like I have really worked my ass off, and it didn’t feel like a chore at all.

What advice can you give someone who’s struggling to start their health journey?

The best gift you can give yourself is to start making changes step by step and walking towards your goal
I stole a motto from something the instructor Ashley said once: Consistent Imperfect Action.  This is what drives me every day and what makes me not lose faith. It’s not about sticking perfectly to the diet or working out every day to exhaustion, it’s about making small changes and being consistent about it.  The “cheat day” mentality doesn’t work for me because it’s all part of a journey, not a race. I’m more of a “Strive for progress, not perfection” kinda gal. The best gift you can give yourself is to start making changes step by step and walking towards your goal (be it losing weight, being healthier, shooing off your genetic legacy or just being more toned) by building your own routine and life changes. 
Practically speaking I’d say that it’s really important to – before even taking the first step – take a humongous amount of time for thinking about a) why do you want to do it and b) what would stick more with you. Think of everything, research a lot, look for different stuff, and design a draft of a plan. And then search help. Be it with a doctor or a community, accountability plays a major role to not fall into the chore mentality and leads to the right path of consistency. 

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