One of my major defining moments occurred in 2009. I asked myself, Christina, what are you hungry for? I had to ask myself this question once I realized all the beautiful clothes I received for Christmas one year prior did not fit on New Year’s Day and I had not worn them once!

A few months later, I went to the doctor for my annual physical and was diagnosed with high blood pressure at a level of a very unhealthy older person. However, this did not alarm me too much as I have been given this same diagnosis since I was 28 years old. I was also informed my body was not making enough blood for my heart to pump normally and the physicians needed to understand why this was happening. After running multiple tests, they discovered one of the culprits — a fibroid tumor that was causing severe anemia in addition to heart palpitations.

I was not taking care of myself as much as I should have, but I had recently left my marriage and was so unhappy. I felt I had failed God and my children. Sitting in that doctor’s office, and hearing my doctor tell me that I needed to exercise and lose weight or I would have to take high blood pressure medication for the rest of my life was definitely and eye opener. I immediately said to myself, “I dislike taking Tylenol, so of course there was no chance I was going to take that medicine.” I needed to take action quickly to correct this situation.

Without hesitation, I called my personal trainer at the time, Marvel Canada, because I knew he would help me achieve the results I needed, as he helped me lose weight after I had my youngest child. When we spoke, I remember asking him, “Marvel, will you help me save my life?” So, after working out with him for about a month and still eating whatever I wanted, I found myself sitting in a parking lot across the street from my daughter’s school eating a double Philly cheesesteak burger, two chili dogs from Checker’s and a large fry from McDonald’s. Let me be clear, this was no average burger: it was a double patty burger with every condiment you can think of on it with Philly cheesesteak meat piled on top of that. The chili dogs were covered in onions and mustard. I must have wanted those fries from McDonald’s because I drove across the street to purchase those. Oh, and let us not forget the ridiculously large strawberry soda that I drank to wash it all down. I was devouring this food so fast, that when I was close to finishing, I started to feel sick. Sick of myself, because there was no way I was this hungry, but I continued to eat and tears began to form and stream down my face. At that very moment, I knew I needed to make some serious changes in my life.

This is where my new chapter began… I started with updating my vision board and reading great books to aid in my healing. Some of those books were, You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, The Bible, and Eat, Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. The book that changed my eating habits, and turned me into a vegetarian for five years was a book called, Skinny Bitch! Can you believe that? I bought this book solely based on the shock value of the name. (I am human and I have used profanity since I was in the sixth grade and I still struggle in that area.) Funny thing is I had no idea it was about how we eat.

Along with the books that I was reading, I decided to clean my shoe and wardrobe closets, my jewelry boxes and rid my mind and spirit of old anger, resentment and past pain. What I did not give to my friends, or Goodwill, I gave to God. I was strengthening my relationship with God, by really just studying his word, talking to him and listening to him speak to me.

I realized that the miracle throughout this process is when you clean up the inside of yourself, a ton of emotional weight falls off. I started a 30-Day cleanse that ultimately jump-started my new healthy lifestyle. During the 30-day cleanse, I exercised, I did Bikram yoga and kickboxing. I lost 29.5 pounds and five inches off my waist within the first 30 days. Within three months, I lost 40 pounds, which was 10 pounds more than my trainer expected and/or requested. My waist went from 37.5 inches to 29 inches.

I have tried several cleanses, fasting and no carb diets, but I realized the secret to this entire journey of life is, you have to want the change in order to make it happen and it starts within your mind. You have to be ready! Healing, eating right and living a positive life is not easy but it is so worth it! I found happiness within the core of myself, true gratitude, true joy and true self-love.

My experiences ultimately led me to want to help women who struggle in the same areas I did. I became a certified life coach to help women navigate through our dark seasons and recognize failures and disappointments are never wasted. I launched The Amazing Me, Amazing Life retreat to empower women to love themselves, forgive their past and learn to put themselves first. It’s a three-day, intense and transformative weekend where we laugh, cry and really uncover the layers of pain, guilt, unhappiness so we can finally get to a place to breathe, let go and reset.