Breaking Free from the Shackles

yvette w med ball
Yvette Salva found the strength to overcome.
Yvette Salva found the strength to overcome.

Hi my name is Yvette and I want to share my story of recovery in hopes it may help someone else.

Since the age of fifteen, I have been dealing with anorexia/bulimia, alcoholism, and drug abuse. When I first started with anorexia, I had no idea how completely it would take control of my life (alcohol came more into play as time went on). At first, I thought I was in complete control. After some time I was no longer able to restrict my calories so I turned to bulimia. I thought, “What a great thing to be able to do, I can eat anything and never gain weight.” Over time, the eating/purging and alcohol took complete control of every aspect of my life. I couldn’t stop the eating/purging cycle and I couldn’t stop the drinking. Drugs came into play in my late twenties, this took all my troubles away temporarily until I hit rock bottom.

During these years, my drinking became more of a problem. I was using drinking and eating to buffer myself from all the thoughts and feelings I didn’t want to deal with. Not thinking and feeling made it easier to get through the day, or so I thought. I ended up in five rehabs and I was still drinking, drugging and purging. My longest period of abstinence was 29 days.

Despite the fact that I was an addict, I was functioning. I had been exercising for 20 years and teaching personal training and teaching group fitness classes. I never practiced what I preached. I always had this secret – be it drugs, alcohol or food.

yvette w med ball
For a long time, Yvette kept a dark secret.

As women, there is so much pressure for us to live up to this image and I was completely on board with that. I wanted to be the skinniest and fittest woman out there and I would do anything to get there. I was really living 2 separate lives at the time. That in itself, was a full time job.

One morning I showed up at my gym to train my 5 a.m. client and she just knew something was not right.. I’m not sure what gave it away whether it was the alcohol on my breath, the blood shot eyes or the fact that I had not been to bed yet. All the tell tale signs were there and I was starting to lose it.

This woman was in recovery and introduced me to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I went to my first meeting. I did not get sober at that time, however the seed was planted. In 2000, I went to an outpatient program and finally started to embrace recovery! I had reached rock bottom where I knew I would either end up in jail an institution or die.

How did I get in control?

Even now, I don’t know for sure. All I do know is that I woke up after a three-day drinking/eating binge knowing I could not stand to live that way any longer. I am not a religious person nor am I convinced AA is the answer for everyone. All I know is that my “Higher Power” or my spirit kicked in and saved my life. I believe everything happens for a reason and I might not know what that reason is. I can’t say why it was temporary when I sought help before. I don’t think I was ready or willing.

I am now 44-years-old, in control and sober. I know that eating disorders and alcoholism will always be part of my life but I continue to stay active in my recovery to fight off the demons.

What has worked for me personally is going to meetings and helping somebody else. I also have a sponsor, attend meetings and am active in the fellowship. Having a support network is key because once you change people, places and things, you will feel very alone and it is crucial to develop a new set of friends. I also have an unbelievable husband who supported me from day one. He supports me so much that he no longer drinks.

Even in my job today as a personal trainer, I find many women who suffer from addictions in silence – be it food, alcohol, and more recently pills!

It is so rewarding when they do come to me and they can talk to me about what they are going through. I feel that keeping my focus on helping somebody else is what has helped me maintain my sobriety. God has blessed me with so many miracles that never would have been possible had I continued on that path.

A reborn Yvette and her daughter smiling for the camera.
A reborn Yvette and her daughter smiling for the camera.

I love what I do every day and I help other women get fit! I have a beautiful husband and daughter. And most importantly, I have my health!

Just a few last words – eating disorders, alcoholism or any addictions are no way to live. Basically, you put your life on the back burner and let your addiction take control. You stop developing as a person, you stop thinking and feeling, you stop living. Living with an addiction is not living.

I never thought I would be in control of my life again and I am. I’m so blessed and so grateful to the rooms of AA and my husband. My true rock.

I am so happy to be free from the shackles of addiction, but honestly, it’s one day at a time for me. I know my disease is doing pushups when I am not active in recovery. I cannot rest on my laurels. I have to do something towards my recovery on a daily basis whether it’s reading literature, connecting with another person in recovery, or going to a meeting.

Thank you Quest for posting this blog and I hope it helps somebody out there or gives somebody hope. Never give up as long as you are breathing. Recovery is POSSIBLE.


Twitter: @fitnessyvette
Phone: 732-331-5859
Live your best life everyday