I’ve Wanted To Share This With You For Years 

Self esteem

Hi love! Here it is….something I’ve wanted to share for years. When Locale Magzine asked me to speak at the PoWer Up Women’s Conference, they gave me the option to present with a moderator or on my own. I’ve never done something like this before, so I decided to take this opportunity to challenge myself, push past my fears, and share something I’ve never shared before. This is the beginning of #TIUownyourstory.

For so many years, I was ashamed and embarrassed by my past. But as I’ve grown as a human and strengthened my self-esteem and my voice, I have found that PERFECTION IS A PRISON. So stand up with your shoulders back and your head high to the sky and OWN that your past has created the beautiful being that you are. Your STRUGGLES are your STRENGTHS.

I’m proud to share my keynote speech from the PoWer Up Women’s Conference with you today. Originally I planned to post it on Instagram Live for just 24 hours…but so many of you beauties requested to see it after it expired. As you know in this community, if you ask for something, we make it happen!

Kat wasn’t able to come down (she was literally hours away from welcoming Bella to the world!) so she tuned in live! I also had a bunch of the girls from the HQ and Chyna and Stef and Tori there too! 🤗

I want to thank Locale Magazine for giving me such an inspiring and uplifting place to share my story. And a very special thank you to the TIU Team for your never-ending support and love in my journey. This community continues to shine and grow together. It’s TOGETHER that we will make this world a better home 💛



You can also watch on YouTube & Apple TV HERE!

More pics & video from the the event!

Thank you again for all your support! Love you so much 💗


  1. Thanks for sharing! My beautiful sister passed away two years ago from alcohol abuse at just 40 years old because she couldn’t get through her past struggles. You should be so proud that not only have you got through your own struggles but that you’re also helping many women through theirs through this community. Our mental wellbeing is just as important as our physical wellbeing.

  2. Thank you SO much for posting this and sharing your story. It can be hard to break away from the notion that we must be perfect or everything should be done to perfection. I love that phrase ‘perfection is a prison’, and I love that you bring up failures should be viewed as a good thing, because that means you are trying. I love all of this. I am so proud to be a member and a part of the community. I have suffered from self-esteem issues for so much of my life, and it really wasn’t until I found TIU that I learned I can be me and work towards being the best me that I can. Just keep showing up every day. I love TIU.

    1. Hi Jennifer! You can listen in a quiet space. We weren’t planning to post the LIVE so this is the video that Bobby took. Hope you get to listen xo

  3. Karena,

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing your story. It’s a story I resonate all too well with, from the family issues to mental health to turning down the wrong path to cope. Everyday I am making strides to be a better me and I honestly couldn’t do it without having found Tone It Up or without the amazing girls in this community. A lot of your words have given me strength. Thank you.


  4. Thank you for posting as I missed this on instagram! And thank you for sharing the most intimate parts of your story, Karena. Knowing that our strength comes from our hard times and failures makes the hard times a bit more bearable. I love you and this community for the strength and light you help me see within myself when I need it most.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story, Karena! You are an amazing and strong woman and you and this community mean the world to us!

  6. WOW! YOU ARE SO BRAVE! Thank you so much for sharing your story with this community. Your tenacity to overcome those challenges has most certainly made you so resilient and even more equip to lead this heartfelt business. After hearing this I feel that am even more committed to this fantastic group on a deeper level. We all have challenges, and its where our effort to overcome them is put yields the results. Your choices have created this -isn’t that AMAZING?! I am impressed by your perseverance! Thank you again, and congratulations on overcoming the challenge of speaking on stage and for being strong enough to share! I am impressed with TIU’s ability to provide a platform for healthy lifestyle for women while inspiring community. Keep sharing your love, your talent, and your passion with all of us. THANK YOU KARENA!

  7. What a beautiful, strong and inspirational speaker you are, Karena! Thank you so much for sharing this story-I laughed and cried. This community has motivated me in so many ways to find myself and to follow my dreams, despite any perceived “limitations” I may have. Thank you and please keep being you and doing what you all do for women everywhere!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing! This brought me to tears. You are such a beautiful human being Karena. So inspiring and powerful.

  9. Thank you for taking the risk and sharing yourself with us. We heal together. Reminds me of the Ram Dass quote, “We’re all just walking each other home.” <3

  10. Thank you for being so open, so honest, and so brave! Just wanted to say I love you, Karena. ❤ XO

  11. Thank you for sharing this. SO much of your story resonated with me that I had to pause the video and cry for a few minutes because of how similar my struggles were to yours. I will be clean for 10 years on March 15, 2019 and I still struggle with owning my story because of shame and embarrassment – but I’m so proud of who I am today. And that’s because of my past. Today I’m happily married to my best friend. I never thought I’d live to see this time in my life. Anyways – you are a beautiful person for sharing this so thank you again ❤️.

    1. Beautiful Hilary! There’s nothing to be ashamed about. As children we can’t control the narrative. Now you can. Own it and be proud! xx

  12. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your journey. I am incredibly grateful to be a witness to your tenacity, honesty, and candor. Your commentary on struggles bringing light to your strengths really resonated with me. Thanks for sharing a deeper layer of yourself with us. You’re rad.

  13. Karena,

    I appreciate you opening up and sharing your story. Years ago you hinted about your past and ever since then I’ve been waiting for you to share it. Some of us need people like you to help us see and realize what we are capable of achieving. You’re brave, inspiring and a role model to a lot of women. An example that we can overcome our past and become the best version of ourselves. XO.

    1. This is so true! Share a story of being vulnerable is the first step in allowing others to connect with one another and not feel alone in their struggles. The video was very powerful and touched me in a profound way. Thank you so much for shareing!

  14. I just watched the YouTube video but this was incredible, Karena. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is SO powerful when we own our story and recognise that it is indeed through all of our struggles that we have learned our greatest lessons and found our strength. I loved this so much!

  15. Karena, thank you so much for sharing your story. I almost dropped my phone when I heard it… as my older sister was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when I was 12 years old. Like you I coped with alcohol to numb the pain and escape my emotions. At 32, after years of struggle with anxiety and alcohol abuse, I am in the happiest and healthiest place I’ve ever been. Thank you for reminding us that our past does not have to define us. You and Kat are beautiful souls and inspire me every day! Thanks for being so honest and authentic, and letting your light shine so bright. ✨
    Much love,

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Grace. Like you said, your past doesn’t define you and now you write your own story. Be proud of the beautiful soul you are. Love you! xxo

  16. This was so powerful. You are a huge inspiration to me-you are so strong and graceful. Thank you for sharing your story Karena❤️❤️

  17. Thank you for posting your presentation! You are an incredible inspiration. Thank you and Katrina for building such a wonderful community of love.

  18. I admire you so much and your words mean more than you could possibly know. I’m just now getting to the point that I’m learning to let go of perfection and accept myself…but it’s so hard. Getting past our past is not easy. If I didn’t have you to follow all these years (positive fitness community) I don’t know where I’d be. Thank you for your raw beauty and for being the authentic person you are.

    1. This truly means the world to me. Learning to let go of perfection and accepting ourselves is never easy. You are you special and unique because of your past so own it. Love you! xxo

  19. Wow this just goes to show you that you never know what anyone has ever been through. Here I am struggling to focus on studying and I watch your powerful message. You’re here for a reason Karena and your journey has been incredible!

  20. Karena, I just want to say you’ve been such a huge inspiration for me. Your guided mediations helped me get through a really tough time. I know we don’t know each other personally but, during that time, I felt I was never alone because I had your meditation videos and the Tone It Up community to help me cope. So thank you for sharing your story and thank you for everything! Much love, Cami

    1. Hey Cami, I’m so glad the guided meditations helped you. You’re never alone and this entire community is always here for you. Sending you so much love and strength always. xxo

  21. What a wonderful girl you are. Your story helped me and it will help so many others struggling out there.

  22. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Not an easy thing to do. So inspiring and powerful. So fortunate to find this community. Thank you for being you.

  23. What a beautiful, empowering, and motivating start to my day ❤️❤️❤️ Thank you for being so brave and honest. I truly look up to you, Karena, as well as Katrina. You’re an amazing woman!

    1. Thank you so much for listening. Kat and I are honored to have you as a part of this community! xxo

  24. Thank you so much for sharing your story Karena❤️❤️You are a huge inspiration to me and I really look up to you. I strive to be as strong, kind and graceful as your are.

    1. Thank you so much Emma ~ that means so much to me! You are beautiful inside and out and you inspire me! xxo

  25. Karena, thank you for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes. I won’t let my past define me. I’m so grateful for this community. xoxo

  26. Thank you Karena for sharing. I’ve been following Tone It Up for quite a while (loved watching the Bravo show where you met Bobby), you have hinted at your passed before and it’s beautiful to see you finally open up. You could almost see the shadows lift from your shoulders. Thank you again to you and Kat for the beautiful community you have created. xoxo

  27. This was so beautiful 💖 I am in awe of your strength and bravery. I can attest to the power of owning & sharing your story. A few years ago (also when I started Tone It Up!), I wrote a blog about being raised by a narcissistic mother, and how, because of that, I had learned to accept that I would never fall in love. Every time I tried, I got so hurt. So I wrote the blog and felt so relieved and empowered, and I even posted it on Facebook and received so much support from friends. What I didn’t know was that a man I knew read it, and decided to prove me wrong. Two years later, I feel healed and truly in love 😍 … I don’t know where it’s headed, but owning my story brought me this far. xoxo

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Shellie. I’m so glad you owned your story and found happiness! xxo

  28. Hi Karena, thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it was not an easy story to share, but you lead by example. You seem like such beautiful person, both inside and out, and I never could have imagined this was your past. You are the definition of strength and leadership. Thank you for being such an incredible role model, despite all you been through you are such a bright, beautiful light.

  29. Karena this was such an inspirational story! Thanks for sharing to people that we do not have to be perfect!

  30. Thank you Karena, this was so inspiring…it takes so much strength to be this vulnerable. Your courage and your energy gives life to so many women everyday. So proud to be part of your tribe.

  31. Karena, your words are so inspiring and encouraging. I have a lot friends who feel victim to their past and are still feeling the affects of it but it is so amazing to hear how you used your situation to make you stronger in the end. Thank you for being vulnerable and open to sharing your story. I know that it is not an easy thing to do, but you killed it girl!

  32. Thank you for sharing your story. As women, I think we are so ashamed of any moment in our life that doesn’t represent the image of perfection that we want to project to the world. We don’t speak about the realities of our past; whether they be substance abuse, unhealthy relationships, addictions, depression, miscarriages… the list seems to go on forever. By standing up and proudly sharing your story, you have given so many other women the permission to do so. You have shown us that our past is just that- the past. There is no need for shame, only growth. Thank you!

  33. Thank you for sharing your story and it’s inspiring journey! The perfectionist pursuit has always been a struggle for me and, gratefully, “perfection is a prison” is a mantra I’ll take with me forever. Love this empowering community and I’m so appreciative for all the opportunities it brings! Sending lots of loving kindness!!! 💕

  34. Your story has always been an inspiration to me. I have Bipolar Disorder Type 1 with rapid cycle. I was diagnosed when I was 25 and went through too many dark and self destructive times to count. I struggle with change now because I’m scared to go backward and try to keep things the same as much as possible in order to avoid this. And, to be honest, because I’m trying to hide the fact that I am not perfect. What you said about not being perfect and embrassing the past in order to move forward is something I’m working on with my therapist. Hearing your struggle with depression and how you used it to make things better and that you’re not perfect really hit home. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to share your story.

  35. Thank you SO much Karena for being brave enough to speak your truth! There is such power and grace in that!

    I too had a rough time as a young girl. My parents divorced when I was young, and my mother become violent and abusive. She also suffered from severe depression and episodes of rage. I had my first suicide attempt when I was only 13. I know what it’s like to feel like the pain of life is to great to go on. In my mid teens I developed an eating disorder and then by the time I was 16 I had my first psychotic episode – undiagnosed bipolar disorder, which went untreated for years. I got kicked out of high school for missing too mania days during that first episode, despite being an honor’s student with AP classes and a flawless GPA. My parents did nothing. The mania wore off in time and I became severely depressed which continued for years. I ended up meeting my husband when I was 17 and love helped heal me. The e/d continued by I got by.

    Eventually I went into remission and had two wonderful children, only for the bipolar and anorexia to come back in my late 20s. I was in and out of treatment and hospitals for over 10 years. I can proudly say that today I am three years hospital and e/d free, and though I still struggle with depression, I have not had another manic episode in three years.

    I left treatment for the last time AMA and like you, I turned to fitness – I started to eat more, take care of my body, exercise and do yoga and it totally changed my life. Finding the TIU was part of my healing. I found empowerment and strength through fitness and I believe it helped save my life. I’m now a healthy woman, and am proud to have survived my struggles.

    You are so right – there is power is sharing your story. Thank you so much for your bravery, you are a true inspiration!!! xoxo

  36. This is absolutely amazing and beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your story!!! I also had a not so great childhood and had to overcome so much from it and still struggle with some of it today! So thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing! You are an amazing, strong, beautiful TIU lady!!!!

  37. Karena, from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU THANK YOU! Perfectionism has been a prison for me since I was a teenager & it is something that I am just learning to break free from at 27. Your passion and your message rings so clear in my heart & I just want to thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. Tone It Up has changed my life! It has given me hope, confidence & community. Whenever I’m feeling anxious, I turn on Studio Tone It Up & I never feel alone. I feel stronger & bolder every day because of the foundation you and Katrina have built for women to live their best lives. Thank you for ending the stigma around mental health & surviving substance abuse. You are a beautiful soul & this video was just what I needed! XOXO

  38. Karena thank you so much for sharing! You are a light and we are so lucky to have you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your willingness (and desire) to be vulnerable. Your love breeds strength. Really helpful for me right now especially. So thankful you shared ❤️ Love you & so proud to be a part of this community

    1. Thank you so much Sophia! Kat and I are honored to have you as a part of this community and I’m so glad my story could help you. Sending you lots of love 💗

  39. Karena, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am currently trying to work through one of the toughest times in my life and hearing your story brought tears to my eyes. As someone who has/and is struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, sometimes the world feels too heavy to carry. But, it’s stories like these that get me through my darkest days. I am a dietitian who just started my own private practice and often question if I can actually succeed as an entrepreneur. I often feel like a fraud because I am teaching others how to live a healthy lifestyle while struggling to follow my own advice. However, your words that perfection is a prison has resonated so deep with me. Thank you. I realize how my struggles can help others and I thank you so much for sharing your story, as it reminded me how powerful ones journey can be. I hope you realize how much you are helping others. Thank you again for your willingness to be vulnerable and I wish you the best in your journey. I am so grateful for you girls ❤️ Xoxo.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Dana! You are helping so many women and you are so strong to open up and be vulnerable. This community is always here to support you. Sending you so much love 💛

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