Nessa was always one of those friends that I though was really cool. She was easy-going, really creative, and always looked like she was having fun. I’ve known her since my elementary school days. I can still picture her house in my mind and her parents were kind and welcoming to everyone. We didn’t stay as close through all of school as we could have. But I’ve always regarded Nessa as someone that helped make me who I am.
Nessa is a power-house. She’s dedicated, artistic, and driven. She’s battled infertility, weight loss, family health, and loving her body. She’s rocked it! I have so much respect for her and her story. Listening to her words I loved how she talks about the mental benefits of fitness.
She is joining the community of Dynamos. These are people who come from all different placeswho have shared their stories; people who are warriors, power-houses, leaders, or maybe quietly becoming stronger. These are people who empower us to go after our own goals, driving us to work hard and know we can reach our goals. I believe that we all influence others more than we realize or recognize. Each of these people are on a different healthy living journey, but that’s the beauty of it. We are all different. We are moving at different speeds, distances, and with different equipment, but I think it’s pretty cool we have more in common than not. These interviews are meant to capture the journey, whereever that is right now, and inspire each of us to continue in our own unique journeys. Nessa’s journey will inspire you.
How has your infertility journey made you a stronger person?
Oh gosh! This is a subject so dear to me!! I don’t even know where to start. There are some things in life that you have no control of. One of those things is infertility. However, there are things you can do that will potentially improve fertility. For me, that was fitness. Infertility was the reason I began my fitness journey. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which affects the balance of hormones and the ability to ovulate. I went from 220 lbs to 155 lbs over the course of our 7 year infertility journey. Fitness was the thing I could control in a journey that I felt utterly helpless in. So it made me stronger physically. And as far as mentally, it takes a lot of willpower to fail over and over again at something and continue to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again!
How do you think working hard on your body and empowering yourself PRIOR to getting pregnant was helpful throughout your pregnancy?
My hubby swears I saved our sons life by being in the shape I was in. When you spend a lot of time working on your body and it’s capabilities, you become in tune with it. You can tell when something is off. During week 26 of my pregnancy, it was a Sunday, I didn’t feel right. Not terrible. But just not right. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Of course it being Sunday, I had to call the on-call OB as mine was not working. I explained to her my symptoms, which, to her, didn’t sound too crazy. So she told me to wait till Monday and call my OB. I got off the phone but still didn’t feel right. Long story short, I went in anyway and I was in preterm labor and my bag of waters was hanging out 4 cm from my cervix. I have what’s called “incompetent cervix.” The symptoms are so minimal and, sadly, a lot of women with it lose their first baby. Had I waited, my water would have broke and then who knows. After that, I spent 3 months on pretty strict bed rest. Had I gone into that prior to getting shape, I would have been so much worse off.
How has having a baby changed you?
I look at everything from a mothers perspective which makes me cry a lot more watching any movie or show now. I cried watching Mr. Peabody and Sherman the other day. Haha! I also have new reasons to stay in shape! I have an inspiration board that I keep in my workout area and Mason is right in the center of it.
What’s your favorite body feature on yourself?
My legs. I used to loathe my legs because they are big, even when I’m in shape. But I’ve come to realize they are the strongest part of me and they gotten me through obstacle races and runs and every workout I do.
How has being a tattoo artist given you appreciation for your body and/or others’ bodies?
Every person, any shape or size, has something beautiful about their bodies. And I get to treat the body as a canvas and add something that has meaning to them and perhaps allows them to love their bodies even more. I can truly appreciate how different every BODY really is.
What is a lesson you’ve learned from being a tattoo artist that has changed who you are?
Probably the biggest lesson has been in self confidence. Admittedly, this is something I still struggle with in my professional life as a tattoo artist. When you are dealing with something as permanent as a tattoo, there’s not a lot of room for self doubt. So I try to go into every tattoo I do with the thought that I must be doing something right if my client has chosen me to do something permanent to their bodies!
How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
What does healthy living mean to you?
It means taking care of myself so that I may lead a long, full life while being an example to my child(ren) to do the same. It means playing on the playground with my kids. It means setting goals for myself and pushing until I reach them. It means self confidence. It means having the energy to pursue anything I want in life!
Who helps empower you on your health journey?
My mom and dad. My mom is a stage 4 cancer survivor. She’s still battling cancer but every time I see her beat down, this includes the removal of a kidney, the removal of one of her collar bones, a broken femur, and cancer relapses, she always turns back to exercise. Even if she has to start all over again with a bike ride around the block, she always comes back to it. And I believe it aids her in ways that I can’t imagine, physically and mentally! And my dad has severe rheumatoid arthritis, has had both his hips replaced and both his knees, and is in his later 60’s and you never hear an excuse come out of his mouth about why he can’t exercise. He goes to the gym every day, even when he is visiting relatives in different towns. When he goes to visit his family in Pennsylvania, he goes to the gym everyday to workout. Or when he comes to visit me, he has a punch card for the gym here and is usually up and at the gym by 5 am. Basically, he makes it a point to get some movement in for the day, regardless of where he is. They are both beasts!!!
My parents are amazing role models. They have so much on their plate but they never forget about their health. It’s always a priority.
How has your example motivated or inspired others?
My hope is that people who are at the very beginning of their journeys see where I started, and how far I have come and realize that it is possible. It’s very tough and isn’t easy. But it is so worth it!
What is one of your greatest physical accomplishments?
Honestly, carrying my baby all the way to term. That required 3 months of bed rest where the most I was allowed to get up was 1 hour 3 times a day. And some weeks, I was only allowed up to go to the bathroom. As someone who is normally very active, the hardest thing I had to do was lay down for 3 months. I sacrificed my body in ways I didn’t anticipate, which took a toll mentally as well. By the time I had Mason, my muscles were so deteriorated and I had gained a lot of weight back! But i made it to 37 weeks and Mason was as healthy as can be. So now, I’m starting over. It was hard to see everything I worked so hard for disappear but it was so worth it. And I will get back to where I was and even beyond!
(Nessa’s home gym)
What types of fitness do you enjoy?
I really LOVE the feeling of my lungs burning and sweat pouring off my face! High impact and high intensity has been my go to. I also love weightlifting. But this time around, my focus has been more on strength building and rehabilitating my back and knee so I’ve taken the high impact down and I’m learning to embrace the lower impact stuff. I think it’s taken me up until now to realize the low impact does NOT mean low intensity!!
How does fitness play a part in your mental/emotional state?
It’s huge. When I was going through infertility, I would get so upset and beat down. When you have all this anger built up toward something that’s not even tangible, sometimes you just don’t know what to do with it. For those times, I choose kick boxing type workouts. It helped a lot! And days that I feel like I have no control over anything, I workout because that is something I can control. It just helps me deal with things in a healthy way. It cools me down and gets me into a place where I can actually deal with whatever is bothering me in a productive way.
What makes you beautiful?
Hmmm… I would say my ability to love and accept people. I have so many people from all walks of life, all different personalities, different passions. I listen when people need me to. I avoid judgment. And I just genuinely want people to be able to trust and rely on me. I am extremely loyal to those in my life…even if it isn’t always reciprocated.
What piece of advice do you like to share?
Keep at it. Even when you feel like you aren’t making any progress, I promise you are! I’m an instant gratification type of person so it took me a while to wrap my head around the process. But the process is beautiful because you learn to love your body so much more as you begin you make small steps towards your bigger goals. And always remember that YOU are BEAUTIFUL and worth it!
What do you want to be remembered for?
I would love to be remembered for my quiet determination. I’m not a very loud person in real life. I’m actually quite introverted. But my hope is that people see me setting out to do things, and see me keep trying until I succeed. And this applies to all areas of life. It’s so easy to fail once and want to be done and give up. Strength comes from failing and trying again. I hope people remember that about me.
(Taken last week: 7 months postpartum and SURPRISE 8 weeks pregnant. Haha! I didn’t make it back to my original weight/fitness level. But I’ll continue to work out within my restrictions throughout pregnancy. Most likely a lot of swimming, which is what I did last pregnancy up until the bed rest.)