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Rising Up-- Part 1


It was November 2018, I felt so much relief and liberation from the ending of a 5-year relationship. With the motivation of my early morning gym friends and the guidance of my favorite IG fitness gurus, I began my journey to the perfect revenge body. I was always so hesitant in lifting weights out of fear of looking dumb and getting too “manly”, but by overcoming this fear it gave me the confidence I needed in the gym. For 5 days a week, I would wake up at 6 am, run 1 mile to the gym (thank you UCSC hills), and train with my friends. They taught me how to perfect my squat, safely bench press, and how to superset. There was something about using large intimidating equipment and conquering them through a workout that was so fulfilling.

It reassured me that with proper form and determination I could scale difficult challenges.

This mind to body connection was what propelled me during this time. My physical well-being was giving me clarity and endorphins for good mental health. Feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally strong in and out of the gym is what motivated me to get up every day at sunrise, also the 180 views of the ocean (thank you UCSC gym).


Fall 2019, I never got back into that same routine. I couldn’t find the same motivation or energy to do my old workouts. It was the same exercise, the same equipment, the same gym, nothing changed. It didn’t make sense to me. I took this lack of motivation as a sign to push more. I was familiar with the feeling of wanting to quit and knew if you just push a little more you’ll get that high that fuels regular gym-goers day in and day out. So I pushed, one more set, one more rep, one more squat, still nothing. I was left depleted and blamed myself. I didn’t get that high I was looking for. Just fatigue and regret. I no longer felt the connection to my body and I couldn’t understand. So I just stopped and convinced myself that this was just a break, but I never went back.


I am an avid listener to the Homecoming podcast with Dr. Thema. She focuses on mind-body-soul healing. She emphasizes listening to our bodies because it is their way of communicating with us. But this is what scared me the most.

I didn’t want to listen to my body because if I did then I’d have to face the trauma that it’s been through, and I don’t know if I can handle that.

So I did what every early 20 somethings do, I distracted myself with alcohol and cute boys. There wasn’t a weekend where I wasn’t out somewhere, or talking to someone new. I invested my time in living out my IG aesthetic, an educated brown girl, with an Audre Lorde quote in her bio, has adorable nieces, witty comebacks, and cute thirst traps. On IG no one knows how lost I felt, that I didn't know what I wanted, I didn't even know what my body needed.

I became so disconnected from myself that my sadness felt unfamiliar to me.

But when I graduated, all my distractions disappeared and I was left to deal with me. I was not ready for what my body and soul had to tell me.



- Jo Pandac

Promotional Marketing Assistant at Rise Wellness


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