A journey of choosing life over death

I was born with a heart defect, it was deformed and weak, and it failed to properly distribute oxygen in my body. From the very beginning I had to learn how to live with the reality that I could die if I didn’t take special care of myself: doing any kind of physical activity like running, dancing or sports was life threatening. I’ve always dreamed of playing outside like all the other kids but I couldn’t. Deep down I felt a calling from within, I wanted to dance and I knew that I was born, I was wired, to be an athlete. Even though it seemed impossible I truly believed in my dream.

At the age of 14, I took upon myself to make a decision that changed my life forever. I had the option to have heart surgery, the risk of having it was death, and the risk of not having it was a life filled with misery. My doctor explained that if I left things they were I would always have to be on guard, I would have complications with pregnancy and childbirth, I would gain weight because I wouldn’t be able to exercise or do any kind of sports and by the age of 50 I would be extremely ill. 

My parents could have accepted the surgery years before but they could never go through with it, and I completely understand their fear of losing me if something did go wrong. This time the decision was up to me. I was ready to take the risk of death for the possibility of having a good life in the future, the life that I knew I deserved. I  had a BIG life in my vivid imagination! I KNEW that I was supposed to become someone who moves, exercises, has children, living fully with power and vigor. I was ready to close the gap between who I was and who I KNEW that I was meant to be.

Life after surgery: my new reality...

For the first 6 months I was required to keep my activities to the minimum and slowly begin to build up my stamina and strength. After all, I NEVER had an active lifestyle before, so my heart had a lot to learn and adapt. 

I was so happy! I felt very different right away, I was ready to live fiercely. 3 months after the surgery (a little too soon!) I jumped from a parachute tower because I forgot that I was still in recovery… ops? I was THAT eager to launch myself into my newly found health.

No one in my family was active, I had to figure out each step of the process on my own. That’s when I came across tennis, the cardio that I needed was a big part of my training, I ran in the park and hit the tennis ball against a wall amongst other things. This was only 9 months after the surgery so it was extremely hard, but I was dedicated and stuck to it. In the end I never became a runner, my passion was elsewhere, but it was an important step towards building up my heart’s strength.

Going after my dreams...

A year later I was brave enough to start dancing ballet.

 

At the time I was struggling with low self-confidence, I was far behind the other kids my age and I was worried about how I looked.

When I officially started ballet it was a whole new challenge, my body was constantly in pain from strenuous training. I danced for over 10 years and I became a solo performer. I stopped dancing professionally because I got pregnant, but dance has always stayed with me (when I moved to Canada I got into latin and various street dance styles, I dance to this day).

At the same time I started experimenting with nutrition, back then, still in Moldova, we didn’t have scientific resources on the subject. I tried mono-diets, limiting carbs, and other popular dietary trends, but I haven’t found lasting results. I didn’t know what I know now, that maintaining a fit looking body takes a certain system.

As a dancer, I felt that I was exploring my talent, I understood that everything I knew about myself as I was daydreaming in my childhood was absolutely true. I was able to live out my dream and show myself that indeed this is who I was. My intuition was on point. Even though I had a lot of voices within that tried to stop me, in the end I chose to follow what I believe in, that was a big lesson in self trust.

Falling in love with fitness...

Realizing my dream of dancing was HUGE, it certainly worked my legs and abs, but something was still missing, I didn’t look athletic, and I wanted that perfectly shaped body more than anything.

My real path to physical greatness started shortly after I graduated from university, although I studied economics I knew that it wasn’t quite right for me.

One day I decided to try an aerobics class, the moment I entered the room I knew that I was meant to be a fitness trainer. I instantly registered for an aerobics teacher course and all while studying I started teaching and I opened my own aerobics studio, I was so excited! I felt that I was finally doing what I was meant to do, I was connected to my purpose. I got in touch with who I really am. I still danced, dancing was for my soul, but when I discovered fitness I learned just how much I loved helping people to become who they wanted to be.

Around this time, a huge elit fitness club opened in Moldova, it was a franchise from Moscow. They held auditions to recruit the participants for their fitness program. I decided to give it a shot.  Compared to the other candidates, I may have had the least amount of experience but I certainly was equal if not greater in passion for fitness. I passed the requirements and I was in! The training was tough, we had to master all the disciplines of physical training. They coached us with the best trainers from Moscow and Europe, we went to conventions, and specialized in a wide range of fitness practices. It was incredible to be surrounded by other like-minded trainers, we were fired up about fitness, newest technologies, and how to train with precision and correct technique.

I devoted myself completely to my clients, I helped them to resolve long term issues, get rid of pain, and get stronger. I gave so much to others but I didn’t have the time to take care of myself. Yes, I looked fit but I didn’t have the time to apply my knowledge for myself to the extent that I wanted to. I was fulfilled with my work, but between the work and being a single mother there wasn’t much time left for me. I didn’t really have the support that I needed, there was no notion of “self-care”.

Back then I built powerful foundations and a knowledge base that continues to support my career to this day. Although there were two important pieces that were still missing: understanding nutrition and diving deeper into mindset.

In Canada I learned that I am not my career, I am not only a mother, I am not other people. In Moldova, me as ‘Ludmila’ didn’t exist. Here I made new incredible friends who reminded me that I had to go for my personal dreams. That my first responsibility is me. This was a game changer because that’s when I finally made time for my fitness and the dream body I’ve always wanted to have. 

Soon after I found my coach and mentor, Scott Able, he helped me get ripped, lean, and I learned how to eat well. Most importantly I learned how to get to my goal without sacrifices. I could now have it all: The body of my dreams, a meaningful career and be a mother, a friend and a partner. I no longer had to choose. 

And I finally answered a long-time burning question: what’s the ultimate nutrition approach? I got certified in Precision Nutrition, it completely changed my life and took my discipline to the next level, it was a real, long-lasting lifestyle transformation, a powerful impact. 

Through it all, I learned that any dream that’s burning within you CAN achieve. Whoever you want to be, however you want to look like, you can get there. Regardless of fear, follow the LIFE within you, wherever it calls just go do it, there are no mistakes. 

And having the right support is equally important, you can change your mindset when you’re surrounded by people who encourage you and believe in you. Now it’s my turn to be that support in the same way others have supported me on my journey as I chose ‘life’ again and again.

In 2010 I moved to Canada. Little did I know, it’s exactly where I needed to be to get the answers that I was looking for...