For years I struggled with bloating, whether it was from my latest sugar binge, upcoming period, love for beer or inability to efficiently process fake sugar, lactose or certain vegetables. The discomfort of a distended belly and internal queasiness often influenced a poor attitude and ultimately my painful day. The only relief I had was when I laid flat on my back, with my body in a relaxed, elongated position and a heavy object was placed on tender areas of my tummy. I became accustomed to giving my tumy extra attention after researching the benefits of post-natal belly massages after giving birth to my children. I also noticed I had more control and regulation over my digestion through routine pressure on my midsection.
There was nothing on the market that served my needs, which was a weighted, soft ball that had ridges to improve the therapeutic nature of the massage. The closest product to my vision were medicine balls, but they were hard, rough and painful to place on my sensitive belly.
I wanted to design something that was beautiful, a tool that brought multiple value, whether it was to massage the belly, shrink the uterus post-birth or be used as a weighted object during exercise. I decided to make my initial belly balls green and pink – my favorite colors – with a symbolic spiral design, a shape seen everywhere within nature and represents evolution, life and perspective.
From the moment the Belly Ball was mentally conceived I was committed to seeing this project through.
Through a chance referral from my longtime friend and mentor, Sandra Augustin, I met with a company that works with production factories abroad. The first step was to design the product, then get a 3D image drawn, construct a rubber prototype, build a mold (since this design has never been done before), create the package design, film the DVD, write the ebook, manufacture the tooling, receive a satisfactory factory sample and then ship the final order. It would cost thousands to produce and years of patience. While it seemed like a challenging endeavor, I was dedicated to this dream. I believed in my mission and motive to change lives.
I had no idea I would have to change factories midway through or shoot my DVD three times because of an inexperienced production team. I wasn’t prepared for severe production delays, factory issues, or management distrust – all which led me to bring out a ’fed up and foul-mouthed Maria’ at certain points.
Despite years in the making, I finally got it done. The balls came off the ship in boxes and large pallets waiting to be marketed, distributed and sold over a year ago. While I was happy it finally came, I wasn’t in the mood to promote my product. I was at the tail-end of publishing my first book, moving into our first home, opening our third carehome, operating my growing nonprofit, managing the lives of three little boys and filming a disappointing TV show. In addition to my outward struggle, I also underwent an internal battle as I fell into a deep depression after my marriage collapsed after years of feeling disconnected.
I also made a lot of excuses – I didn’t like the imperfect spiral paint and was nervous about introducing it to retailers. Not meeting my idea of perfection paralyzed me to push forward as I lacked confidence in myself and my product.
When 2016 closed I was critical of my current operational state. In a desire for change, I promised to step out of my comfort zone and face my fears, whether it was dealing with rejection, failing in projects, staying in my marriage or feeling ashamed for sharing my bumpy lot in life. In this new year I was ready to lose followers and receive negative feedback. I knew I needed to overwork everyone in the room, after all, nothing great is done without sacrifice, dedication and incredible discipline.
I started preparing for events and rethinking my marketing and sales approach. I started writing down daily intentions, often praying before meetings so I would stay focused on my desirable outcome. I hired an assistant, began filming more videos and even printed my first business card in over a decade. I focused on results and became more in tune with the team around me.
I sold out of inventory at my first fitness expo this year, I finally added my store on Amazon and began my first Flat Belly Challenge a month ago. I look at my goals every day and instinctively know if an action, person or thing is either helping or hurting my long-term wants. I have a renewed fervor and realization that ‘wow, this ball was made completely from scratch!” and I did it.
I did it!
That’s why I celebrate today. That’s why I scream so loudly with a big bright smile whenever I talk about the Belly Ball. I wouldn’t have conceived this product, believed in its value or achieved its deliverance if it wasn’t something I had incredible faith in.
Dreams are made by doing, pursuing and choosing to keep moving forward despite the difficulties. Every product of my life whether it’s friendship, marriage, family, work or this Belly Ball…is an example of that truth.
After giving birth the uterus has to shrink down back to size. You can stimulate your cells through massage and nursing. I started massaging my belly after having children and continued to do it because it helped with bloating, cramps and constipation.
First directions written describing my vision. I recently found this attached to my original email to the production factory.
My journey dealing with painful bloating episodes is well documented on my IG and FB!
That is how my belly looks when I eat the wrong foods! Before it used to be big pain in the butt to deal with, now I just knead out the bloat!
The 3D Rubber Mold created here in the U.S. to ensure the tooling was properly done before we got started.
This is my first time seeing it. This was not a hard model, it was very soft.
The moment I said I wanted pink and green!
First time I held the hard mold (not factory yet) during a meeting.
Factory challenges: mold after mold…sample after sample…trying to perfect the hole, the spiral, the logo…
and more samples…
Round Three shooting the DVD!
Thankful for this team! Larry Wong and Empty Kingdom.
I featured it recently on Good Day Sacramento! You can watch it here.