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DeafBlind Awareness Week 2022 | Casandra

DeafBlind Awareness Week June 26 - July 2, 2022 in white text on a deep mauve background

DeafBlind Awareness Week 2022 | Casandra

Editor’s Note:

It’s day 5 of the Helen Keller DeafBlind Awareness Week, and today we are reintroducing you to the DeafBlind Champion, Casandra Xavier. Bold Blind Beauty featured Casandra several times, the most recent was an article about being DeafBlind during the pandemic. In the piece she talks about issues facing the DeafBlind community like isolation, barriers to communication, and accessing medical help. You can read her article here: Being Deaf-Blind During COVID-19.

Today’s feature will be a little different as Casandra has written about her health and fitness journey over the past year. Also included is a YouTube video showing how she navigated voting during the pandemic.

As mentioned in Monday’s post (DeafBlind Awareness Week 2022 | Sherri), each day we are sharing stories of people within the community who are living with DeafBlindness. I hope you enjoy Casandra’s story. I’d also like to recommend the Helen Keller National Center website as it is a very comprehensive resource.

Description by Casandra: The photo is me holding my white cane up in the air with a victorious stance. My hair is up in a rose peddle mohawk and I am wearing a pink sweater with grey sweat pants and matching pink sneakers. The background is a large body of water from Castle Island in Boston with bright sunlight.
Casandra Xavier

Casandra Xavier’s YMCA Testimony

Nearly a year ago, I finally decided to get a membership at the YMCA in Oak Square

Ever heard of the phrase, “right time and place?” Well, last year was the right timing and I was finally in the right space for joining the gym. Most times I’ve thought about getting into the gym, I’ve had the fear of not having the proper guidance while being there. 

I had a lot of concerns about being able to properly navigate while being visually impaired and hard of hearing in such a visual space. 

During my first few weeks, I had the opportunity to have a staff member from the Y show me in detail how certain machines and tools worked so that I could utilize them independently. As weeks turned into a month or so, I got a personal trainer for the first time in my whole life! I felt so empowered and ready once I set a structure and schedule with my trainer. I have learned so many things about my evolving body since working with a trainer and working out individually in the gym. 

I became comfortable and confident with the machines and tools as well as the space in each floor at the gym. I then considered the gym a new part of my life and would like to keep it that way for many more years to come. 

Any time I had inquiries about a new piece of equipment and how to use it properly for its intended benefits, I asked my trainer about it all. I was glad to know that he could explain how certain things worked and how to get the most out of everything I inquired about. I added things to my tools for working out alone when I didn’t have a training session. 

Building A Healthy Lifestyle

I consider the gym membership as an investment to myself with intensions of lifelong benefits and setting new goals for myself. I consider having a personal trainer and a space to work out as a lifelong gift to myself as well. I am taking care of me for once. I am putting myself first from now on. I am being kinder to myself. I am hoping to add additional years to my own life with making physical fitness a permanent part of my life. Even if it’s a five mile walk around the harbors of Boston. 

Walking around my old neighborhood was how I got warmed up to getting into the gym and hanging on to my personal promise. It was the smaller actions I took which led to bigger steps over time. 

I signed up for a dietician at the Weight and Wellness Center at Tufts, started off on a great run and I am still on track with all the changes I’ve made for a better me. My first-year anniversary with a dietitian will be in August of this year. 

I started noticing progress in everything I did when walking was no longer feeling like a long task, using gym equipment became easier and doing my assignments after personal training sessions began to show. In addition to everything coming together as intended, I saw a change in the size of clothing I wore before the weight loss. Because I was on the right track with the dietician, I didn’t need to have monthly meetings or even think about bariatric surgery! I would prefer to try to lose weight on my own instead of surgery. 

I knew that I was enjoying the new lifestyle when I purchased a medicine ball for in-home strength and stability training along with a medicine ball. 

Reaping The Benefits Of Good Health

I will confidently share the changes that I have experienced. I used to be a size 22 in jeans and now I am ready to enter a size 16 in jeans. I used to be a double extra-large in shirts and now I can fit into a large and even medium! The scale has changed in higher numbers to lower numbers progressively! I eat healthier than I ever had in my entire life. I make sure to have fruits and veggies in most of my meals each day. I still enjoy chocolate from time to time but never overindulge like I did in the past.  

I learned something very important about fitness training and that is sleep is very important for the physical and mental restoration of someone in general. I had to work on getting my sleep pattern in order and practice a ton of mindfulness breathing exercises before and after. Improving myself is and will continue to be a process. I am still under construction, and I am glad to say that the YMCA and personal trainer have contributed to this process. 

I have friends that I have not seen since the start of the pandemic tell me how much they’ve seen a significant change in my appearance and overall energy. I told them what I was doing, that may have been encouraging to have them join the gym as well. I have had rehab instructors from the deaf and blind agency also notice how I’ve lost weight and have made overall progress. I explained my process that is still in the works. 

I am simply hoping to continue with my journey for many more years to come. I hope this reaches someone who is debating whether to start their adventure sooner or later. 

This milestone is particularly a big deal to me for many reasons and I will name the first which is the ability to evade hereditary heart diseases and such. Being someone with both blindness and deafness with the desire to become more fit is a major jump. Diabetes is one of the major causes of blindness in the blind community aside from glaucoma. There is a major concern with the lack of physical fitness within the blind community due to the lack of usability in many gyms. Someday, I hope to inspire the idea of making most gym equipment accessible to those with visual impairments to encourage many to feel confident with using gym spaces.

I have also made the realization that I have been training through all the seasons of the year because I was determined to keep my personal promise. If I could do one year at least, I would be satisfied and know that I am capable of practicing kindness to myself inside and out. 

Voting While Deaf Blind

Like what you’ve read and want to chat about it? Join us in the Bold Blind Beauty Facebook group.

Image Descriptions:

  • Header says “DeafBlind Awareness Week June 26 – July 2, 2022” in white text on a deep mauve background
  • Description by Casandra: The photo is me holding my white cane up in the air with a victorious stance. My hair is up in a rose peddle mohawk and I am wearing a pink sweater with grey sweat pants and matching pink sneakers. The background is a large body of water from Castle Island in Boston with bright sunlight.
  • YouTube Clip Thumbnail: Bold Blind Beauty’s podcast logo is a bright yellow illustration of a hot air balloon on a black background with the words “Bold Blind Beauty” in white text and a curved arc around the top of the balloon. Under the balloon are the words “On A.I.R.” Additional text reads: “Sherri Rodgers | Living With Usher Syndrome”
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