Hi! I’m Tiffani and I am 34 years old. My husband, Dan and I are both originally from Southern California. We are high school sweethearts and have been married for a little over 13 years. We have 4 energetic and crazy kids: Judah- 7, Izzy-5, Kelila-4, and Zechariah- 21 months. The DC area was originally supposed to be a 4 year adventure while Dan was in medical school and then we were going to return back to San Diego. However, as often is the case, our lives don’t often go the way we plan. Hah! Now we have been here for 13 years and it looks like the East Coast is our permanent home! I have the awesome privilege of staying home with our kids now but I was a NICU nurse before I had our second child.
I started dancing in elementary school and continued through high school and my first 2 years of college. While I trained in many styles my love was (and still is) ballet and tap. I lived and breathed dance. I danced at a studio, for the dance team at school, and in the dance department in college.
When I moved to San Diego to continue school I was living on my own for the first time and I lost all control of my eating habits. It was the first time I wasn’t dancing and I wasn’t doing any other exercise. Food became my comfort when I was unhappy or stressed or even happy and simply wanting to enjoy all the things I “shouldn’t be eating” when I had been dancing. An inner turmoil of knowing how I should be eating and my desire to rebel against all the other things I “need” to do to be healthy again. Life was crazy and though I was unhappy with the way I was looking and feeling, I didn’t have the desire to do anything to change. I simply kept putting those feelings aside.
Dan and I got married in California on December 22, 2002. Dan had a final on the 19th and flew out in time for the rehearsal and wedding. We went on a honeymoon over Christmas and then flew out to DC on January 1st. Dan started school again on the 2nd. The mental exhaustion from planning the wedding and then it being over, moving across the country to a place where I knew absolutely no one other than Dan, and having a hard time finding a job all led to depression. Needless to say, working out and eating well were not thing I thought about. Thankfully that season (both weather and place in life) changed and things started to get better.
Fast forward to the years of having kids! Judah and Izzy are 22 months apart, Izzy and Kelila are 19 months apart, and Kelila and Zech are 30 months apart. Dan was in residency and fellowship so we was really busy during that time and I had postpartum depression after every kid. The physical and emotional toll that the actual pregnancy and postpartum hormone shifts caused is probably the number one reason I don’t want any more kids! That being said, they have given me so much joy and brought so much laughter into my life! My weight fluctuated pretty dramatically during this time – I would lose 50-60 pounds just to eventually put them back on and then add some more. I wasn’t focused on being healthy and strong, I just wanted to look better and no surprise, that wasn’t the right reason to do anything. So, I never stuck with anything for a long period of time because it was too drastic and not sustainable, not to mention the fact that the choices I made weren’t healthy options either.
I finally had a shift in thinking as I was in counseling for postpartum depression after Zech. I realized that I needed to change the way I looked at myself and the reasons I wanted to look a certain way. I didn’t need to diet, I needed to change my relationship with food. I needed to exercise because it made me stronger and healthier, not just because I wanted to lose weight.
One of my friends, Betsy, told me about a class she had started to go to and she was loving it. She asked if I wanted to join her at class one day that week and I said YES! I showed up to Stroller Strong Moms not knowing what to expect. Was everyone there going to judge me because of how overweight I was and how weak I was? Was I going to be able to do anything at all? My life changed that day. Not one person judged me (I am literally crying as I write this.) Not one. They embraced me where I was at. Every mama there encouraged me and made comments like “You can do it!” or “Way to go!”. These mamas were real. The first class I went to was also the day Kelli was filming her little number to “Shake It Off.” My inner dancer was screaming with joy! With all the encouragement, the insane workout, and the little choreography, I was hooked.
As life often does, things became complicated and challenging at the end of last summer and I didn’t go to class for a few months. I could barely take care of the kids and do everything I needed to do for them, let alone do anything for me. I reverted back to my old habits. This last November/December I finally decided that enough is enough. I will never be able to take care of my kids if I don’t take care of myself. So, once again I found myself wondering what everyone at Stroller Strong Moms was going to think when I finally came back. And once again, I was blown away by how everyone was encouraging and simply glad to see me. I don’t know if these mamas will ever know how incredible that gift is. Stroller Strong Moms is just as much emotional health for me as it is for physical. These ladies push me on to just a little bit further. They check on me when I’m not around. They care. They make me excited to go to class!
I don’t know why this time has been different for me, but it has been. I am determined. As much as I am able, I schedule things around my workouts. When my kids are sick or there is an appointment I can’t miss, I look up an old workout from our Facebook page and make my husband do it with me! Kelli has even sent me some workouts to do a couple of times. Who does that?! Such an encouragement to know that she wants me to succeed in my goals as much as I do. Every time she send me one it makes me feel like I have to do it, even when I don’t want to because she took the time to make sure I had something!
I have a long way to go in terms of changing my habits and overall health. I have already noticed little changes though and it makes me want to work even harder so I can see more! The last 5k we all did I had personal best and all the mamas stayed around to cheer me on as I crossed the finish line! This last week I had all four kids at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. I had the two littles in the double stroller and the bigs were holding on to it and walking beside me. I was able to walk or jog up the hills pushing the stroller (and dragging the other two who were not letting go!) without breaking a sweat or even becoming short of breath! That would not have been the case last year.
I am so honored to be a part of Stroller Strong DC. It has changed my life in so many ways. The workouts kick my rear end every time! The mamas are incredible, I think of them as friends. I hope to be able to encourage them in the way they do for me both physically and emotionally. My kids love to go to the workouts with me and it is fun watching them try to do some of the things with us. Kelila asked me the other day why I work out and I was able to respond “because mommy wants to be strong!”. She told me she wants to be strong too. I love that!