What happens in a natural disaster?

No one can ever plan for a natural disaster. You think you might be prepared, but it’s impossible.

On Saturday 19th February 2011 I went shopping for some new jeans. At this stage I was 12 kilograms lighter (64.5 kg) and was feeling pretty good about my shape. I purchased my first pair of Levi’s skinny jeans and I loved them. They were a size 11 and this was the smallest I had been in a very long time.

Three days later the city I love, the place I call home was shaken to its core. A devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake, which was only 10km deep, rocked everything I ever knew. We had experienced a bigger but deeper earthquake back in September 2010, but that was a baby compared to this. Buildings were destroyed, people injured and in total 185 people lost their lives.

My home was damaged, as was the majority of homes, and even 2.5 years on, it still has an impact on daily life. The emotions that are connected to this event will stick with me forever, but I’m not letting that rule my life. I’m using it to propel forward. I made a choice in the weeks following that day to make sure I pushed myself to become the best possible version of me that I could, both mentally and physically. I still use this as motivation to do the things that some people can’t do because of serious injuries or they simply aren’t here anymore.

I didn’t exercise for a whole 2 weeks after the earthquake, mainly because we didn’t have power, water or sewerage and there were urgent matters to be taken care of. Food was what ever we could get our hands on and I didn’t really care about it. I was burning calories at an incredible rate but I know I needed to get back in to a routine as soon as I possibly could or it would be a massive backwards step.

When I returned to Zumba it was like a boost to the soul. By that stage there were a few of us that started to talk at the beginning of each class, but we only knew each others first names. As soon as I walked through the door, there were smiles everywhere. They didn’t realise that I was alive – that’s how crazy our city had become – and we quickly formed a close bond, as well as becoming Facebook friends.

To those fantastic ladies, I’ll always be thankful of seeing your smiling faces and the difference it made to go back to the familiar at such a bizarre time.

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