My Body Transformation Journey by Amanda Gonzalez

It all started with a contest entry.

A retreat getaway. A few days at a beautiful resort in Utah. Eating delicious, healthy food, meeting Brooke Burke in person, exercising with her and getting to meet other interesting women. It sounded like exactly what I needed. My soul was tired. My body was tired. My heart was on the mend. I desperately needed something like this. What if I entered? I took the chance.

You see, in 2015 my life completely changed. I had a 13 year old son and I became pregnant with my second child. My daughter. This was a total miracle for us. She was born with a birth defect that would require surgery to correct. It was so traumatic I never imagined having anymore children after her.

When she was 4 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. Another daughter. I remember sitting in my closet and crying. It was a mixture of shock, happiness and fear! I just didn’t feel ready so soon. When she was born, we got hit with another surprise. She was also born with birth defects. Severe ones not detected during pregnancy.

She had no real fingers. Her hands looked like little mittens. Her toes were fused, her head was enlarged and one of her eyes was swollen and bulging. Doctors told us that our baby had what’s called Apert Syndrome. It’s a very rare genetic disorder that causes premature fusion of bones of the skull, hands and feet. It also causes facial abnormalities, nasal and breathing problems, speech problems and much more. The list we were given was so long and overwhelming.

I was torn between the happiness of finally getting to meet my daughter and the the sadness of her condition. This was one of the most difficult moments of my life. How would I explain this to others? What if people were mean to her because of how she looked? My heart was bursting with love and at the same time, it was completely broken for her.

We spent a lot of time in hospitals, I was physically, emotionally drained. I stopped taking care of myself and I didn’t ask for help. I distanced myself from friends and family because I felt like no one in the world could relate to what I was going through. The hospital stays were rough. I rarely slept. I barely ate and when I did eat, It was sugary, comfort foods. I had no physical activity. The back to back pregnancies had taken a toll on my body and I gained somewhere around 50lbs. I was a mom but also a caregiver to a child with special needs. My world would never be the same.

Those were some really dark days.

I began following Brooke Burke after buying a product of hers. It was her “Tauts” postpartum belly wrap. In December of 2017 I saw that she was launching her own fitness app. I knew she had four babies and that wrap worked so darn well, I had total faith in her. I also knew I was in the worst shape of my life and committing to a gym membership was out of the question for me. My girls still needed a lot of care. Especially the littlest. I downloaded

the app. Let me just say that in the back of my mind, I was thinking I’d use it once and flake out or maybe I’d use it a few times and then give up. ( That was my M.O )

My very first Brooke Burke Body workout was January 8, 2018. I realized just how out of shape I was. I was being too hard on myself. I stopped the video and cried. I wanted to give up. I remember Brooke saying, “the pause button is there for you and so is child’s pose”. She also said, “no one quits.” I listened up. My husband saw my struggles and after a little pep talk from him, my attitude changed. I got up everyday and did a new burn. If I couldn’t finish it or If there was something I couldn’t do, I modified my moves and hit the pause button. I pushed through it. Some days I’d cry and get frustrated and some days I’d do more and surprise myself. I learned to cut myself some slack.

The more I did it, the easier it was. I began to notice amazing changes in my body. When I began using the Brooke Burke Body app in January of 2018, I weighed about 165 lbs ( i’m 5’4″). I had a 30 inch waist and wore a size 10-12 in jeans. After using the Brooke Burke Body app for 1.5 years, I lost 47lbs, 5 inches and 5 jean sizes! Today, I weigh 118 lbs. I am now a 25 inch waist and wear a 0-2 in jeans.

I started looking forward to my workouts. It was MY time and I was determined to get myself in shape. I wanted to be stronger so I set small goals for myself. I wanted to be able to do a plank and a windmill. Three months into my newfound journey, I broke my toe running into a door frame. I kept exercising with a broken toe ( I do not recommend this). Isn’t it funny how things shift? I first fought exercising. I hated it and didn’t want to do it. Here I was three months in and not even a broken toe was going to stop me. I had found my fire and there was no putting it out!

Here’s the amazing part. When you truly want something, you will see yourself do just about anything. I had reached a point where it was no longer about looking better In a swimsuit. It became more about being healthy. Mind and Body. I NEEDED this. Exercising with Brooke was something to look forward to! It was now enjoyable for me.

Around six months into my Brooke Burke Body journey, the girlfriend getaway retreat was announced. At the time, my husband’s Mother was very sick. She had been battling Cancer. It was a very difficult time for our family. My littlest still needed lots of care. I put it out of my mind and went about my life. I told myself that ONE day I would go to one of these retreats.

ONE DAY….. little did I know….

Then….. there was the contest. Submit an inspirational story. Boy did I have one of those!! The morning of the contest winner was announced, my husband woke me up. My picture was posted on Brooke’s page and I was tagged as the winner of the retreat. I sat in shock and cried…. I’d been through so much grief and sadness. All those hardships and here I was being given this amazing prize. It was like a light at the end of a very dark tunnel, a chance of a lifetime for me. I was so excited. My family and friends were equally excited for me, especially my Mother in law. We had a conversation about the retreat and she gave me some wonderful advice. I had spent so much time isolating myself I was worried I’d forgotten how to make friends. She told me not to worry, to be myself and have fun!

Nine days before I was to leave on the retreat, she passed. The morning it happened I was so grief stricken. I decided I would call and tell them to give my retreat spot to someone else. How could I leave my husband after losing his Mother? He was in so much pain. I couldn’t imagine going on a trip while I was still grieving for her as well. My husband refused to let me cancel. He insisted I go, and insisted she would’ve wanted to the same. Six days after her funeral, I boarded a plane to Utah. I cried a lot on that plane. Saying goodbye was bittersweet. Thinking back, that was a huge sacrifice on my husbands part. An act of selflessness. Caring for our children alone amidst his own grief so that I could go on this trip. His Mother would’ve been so incredibly proud of him. So was I. I still am.

It just so happens that Brooke Burke is the real deal. She gave me a squeezy bear hug the moment we met. I’ll never forget her kindness and love. She has this gift for inspiring others. The heartfelt support I’ve received from her has been such a beautiful thing in my life. I truly believe she is doing the work she was meant for. Helping others to see their inner beauty counts just as much if not more than their outer beauty. She teaches the whole package and she truly is the whole package herself. I love and adore all that she is, what she stands for and all that she does. I was given the most amazing experience of my life. I learned how to take time for myself. I learned the value of what I put into my body and how to choose the right foods. I was given permission to cry, to accept my failure and then let it go, realizing that the best yet to come. I made these amazing friends. We may not all live in the same state, but we all still keep in touch. I always look forward to talking to them. That trip changed me. It’s something I’ll never forget. I’ll be forever grateful for that time shared.

I came home from Utah renewed and refreshed. I began to eat better, exercise more efficiently, sleep better and learn to know when it was time to take care of myself. My body has transformed, and so has my health. I feel stronger and more confident in my body but also in my mind.

Have you ever considered when you’ve been hit with something you think is bad, it may actually be something good? Take for instance my trip to the store during one of my “dark days.” I needed to get out of the house and take a break from crying babies. My husband shooed me out the door. I looked like a wanderer to put it nicely. I was wearing a white tee shirt, sweat pants and very bad hair. I was walking around the store and I happened to look down and see a huge brown stain on my white t-shirt. I panicked. Between my two girls I must have changed 5 poopy diapers earlier that day. I also happened to eat dark chocolate for lunch while they napped (that’s how I coped). The point is, what I thought was a poop stain turned out to be chocolate. Who knew? This is how life goes.

Whatever you are going through, I see you. I want you to know that it’s going to be okay, and I want to remind you that just like seasons come and go, so will this. I want you to take the good with the bad and remind yourself that there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel. The bad is not forever. Grow from it. Don’t you dare give up. This moment now is where you need to be. You’ll see. One day you may be helping someone overcome something you thought you’d never get through yourself. One day you’ll glance down and see chocolate instead of poo. Sorry for that, but I like to keep it real.

Today I look at my youngest daughter who is now two. I cannot believe my eyes. She’s walking and talking. This is a child who couldn’t even hold her own head up at one point. She has faced so many physical challenges and she just keeps on going. She is thriving. She still amazes me. I want to be as strong as she is and I want others to know they can be strong too. Maybe you are reading this and you have been through some life changing struggles. Maybe you have felt like throwing your hands up. It’s okay if you do, but just make sure you get up and try again tomorrow. My husband tells me something that I always go back to….

You are EXACTLY where you need to be RIGHT NOW. You need to be exactly here to get to the next place you are supposed to be.

My hope today is that sharing my story with others will inspire and uplift you.

This was about me at first. Now it seems it’s about something much bigger. It’s about helping others to see how great they can be when they refuse to give up. Was this easy? No. It sure didn’t happen overnight, but let me tell you, it was certainly all worth it. Every last bit……. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must ; Just never give up.” -Dean Karnazes

Sending heartfelt love from me and ALL of the Brooke Burke Body community. Tell us your story. Come and join us and know that there’s someone out there who sees you and understands. YOU are loved.

All my heart,

Amanda