molding her body, training her soul

Shaping her muscles for a bodybuilding tournament became a mission beyond presenting a well-delineated body in Bianca’s life. This time the challenge had a different quality: The arduous and repetitive muscular training reserved a motivation superior to aesthetic purposes. To develop a choreography for her bodybuilding performance required creativity, pushing Bianca out of her comfort zone. This quest involved not the attainment of perfectly shaped and groomed body but the submission to judgment. Bianca turned into a body builder to defy her own notions of self-consciousness. Displaying her toned muscular curves to a set of judges accomplished the deed. Even though Bianca felt terrified of the exposure, an internal driving force compelled her to perform, to overcome her fears.

It was not about finishing first but about being out there. Her idea of success is defined by accomplishing the task. Winning is realized in the process of exposing oneself. If there is anxiety, she defeats it. Bianca explains that people will judge you whatever you do and the best way to deal with uncomfortable situations is to confront them: to submit yourself to judgment with no expectations. This high-achiever masters obstacles that life places in front of her. Energetic, her body has been an instrument of her will. Not that this muscular woman runs over no-trespassing signs like a raging bull. Rather she is aware of the constraints of nature, attending to limits determined by her bones, nerves, and cells. When Bianca faces a dead-end street, she raises her head to find alternative pathways.

In Thai boxing, she happened to be one of the few British women offered the opportunity to compete in the world championship. A concussion suffered from strikes to her head ruined her chance. The brain injury led to cognitive and affective complications: depression, blurred vision, short-term memory loss. Suicidal thoughts popped in her mind. Hormonal treatment followed to tame the myriad of symptoms.

Being among elite athletes brings the best out of her. On another occasion, Bianca pursued her vision to be part of the Olympic Games in London. Because of her mother’s Belizean origin, she’d be able to represent the small country of Central America at the largest event in international sports. She proposed to Belize’s committee to participate in the Olympic marathon, suggesting that she could finish the run in less than three hours—contingent on extensive training.

Shortly after having undergone an abortion, Bianca was again in the arena. The long-distance runner joined the tribe of Kenyan marathonists in East Africa to prepare. Bianca headed to the Rift Valley, in Kenya, which has an altitude of 2,500 meters. The extreme circumstances are said to help the body to achieve better results at sea level. Blood would run down her uterus while training, bearing testimony to the recent terminated pregnancy. However, it wasn’t the distress her body coped with that stopped Bianca. Her back failed her; a hamstring tendon injury destroyed her plans.

Resilience persisted. Bianca recollected and reinvented herself once more. She doesn’t stop. This survivor explains that she has become a specialist in failure. Failing usually has a negative connotation, particularly in England, she remarks. For this strong-minded athlete there is more to failure than the fact of defeat. In her view, failure makes us learn, experience, and grow. This half-Belizean, half-English woman embraces the idea of ‘keep trying.’

In her professional life, Bianca has also been purposeful. In the fields of micro and molecular biology, she ended up in a lab working with vaccines. It wasn’t her thing. Soon she wished to escape from an environment that cultivates a kind of science biased by financial interests. Not even the idea of eradicating viruses sounded like a worthwhile endeavor. For the researcher of biological agents, these creatures have an evolutionary role; they’re part of a human’s DNA, our co-evolved pals. Modern medicine disappoints her. Bianca views nature as a process, which prompted her departure from the molecular biology lab.

Bianca believes that there is always something to gain from any experience. She was able to combine her two passions: sports and science. In sports science she found a way to express herself. She’s interested in how testosterone levels increase in women who train and formulated a PhD project on this, but hasn’t had a chance to start quite yet. The sport scientist helped young athletes with strengthening and conditioning as well as assisting people with injury prevention training. But it’s as a motivational trainer that Bianca pictures herself in the future. This athlete-biologist seeks to help people overcome their fears, achieving well-being and mental equilibrium.

This mindset has led her to Jiu-jitsu, another martial art in her life. In contrast to Thai boxing that focuses on attacking the adversary, Jiu-jitsu is about using the strength of the opponents against themselves. This type of combat involves problem solving skills for precise movements and a subtle way of using the body, emphasizing fluidity and harmony.

Bianca’s way of moving and thinking inspires others. Her message comes through her body, through her existence, through her experience. She believes that her life story can resonate with people. There are other perspectives through which to make sense of events. A situation can be both catastrophic and fortunate at the same time. Bianca’s endeavor is to teach us the art of failure. On this view, sports can become therapeutic and strengthen a sense of community. Her favorite word is ‘ubuntu’, an African expression that flags the connection among all humans through bonding and sharing. Bianca is not afraid to transform failures into experiences, and experiences into opportunities of relating to others.