Updated: Jan 11
Hi, Most of you know me as Xander Ellis, a young entrepreneur with big goals. Truthfully it hasn't always been this way. Most of you know my story but for those who don't, let me start from where my whole life changed because of love.
At the age of fourteen, almost fifteen, I was two-hundred and seventy-five pounds and about to start my weight-loss journey while living in Ecuador. I was there with my mom and Step-father due to the natural treatments she required.
Becoming obsessed with wanting to be better each day, I lost the moral of my new journey and story, which was self-love.
After eight months of being on this blind journey of greed, I did more harm than good. I lost over 130 pounds putting me at one-hundred-forty-five pounds, just over 6" 0.
Fast forward six months, a few weeks away from my sixteenth birthday at one-hundred and thirty pounds.
At this point, I was fragile, small, and blind to the damage I had done to my body.
I soon then fell ill from malnutrition and realized this was only the beginning of my journey. It was then when I learned the real power of self-love and to be motivated with a clear vision.
October 13th, 2016, My return to Canada
Being sixteen and returning to my country of birth, where all my school friends, close relatives, and my calmest state of mind were. It was a difficult trip knowing that we would be returning within six months, and I would once again have to leave everything behind. My motivation would slowly start to disappear, and I would surely gain the weight back - until I met her.
December 23rd, 2016, The girl who changed everything
One of my closest friends at the time called me and told me that a girl he was friends with had asked about me at their school. Knowing I would be leaving in a few months, I did not want to consider starting to talk to a girl or get into a relationship.
Later on that same day, she messaged me through social media, where we began talking for the rest of the evening. It was as if I couldn't look away from the screen, a girl who had so many common interests, beautiful and genuinely interested in wanting to know me. I was not in the best physical condition at the time and our family was not in the best financial standpoint or anything that would call someone's attention, but she saw something no one else would see for years to come.
That same evening we exchange phone numbers and end up being on an eight-hour call leading into the next day where only a few hours were slept so I could talk to her again. Now don't get me wrong, I know this sounds cringy and cheesy, but something inside me knew from the start that she would be someone special in my life.
Two days later, December 27th, the start.
After three days of talking and learning more about each other, we realized that we only lived four minutes walking distance from each other, which blew our minds as we both lived far from her school. It was as if fate brought us to this moment.
On this day, the fourth day, we meet for the first time in person. She looked even more beautiful than her photos and sounded even cuter than in our phone calls. It was so quick, but I was genuinely shocked by how it felt as if I knew her for a lifetime. Four hours pass, and we are still talking, I now knew more about her than any of my closest friends, and it was clear I was head over heels for her. We then kiss that same day, and we begin dating.
After three months of being together, I was faced with a choice that would change me forever. I had to either go back to Ecuador with my mom and newly born baby brother or stay with family and learn to start supporting myself at the age of sixteen or follow my dreams and be with the girl I couldn't be away from and chase my dreams. Weeks of stress, confusion, and more Aaliya told me to do what I thought was best for me, even if it meant being with her from a distance.
I simply couldn't do it and decided to stay, which changed my life forever. A relationship is as strong as steel, inseparable, and powerful. She was going to be my fuel and weapon to fight against my bad habits.
Aaliya Arnott - She changed everything
A girl lost in her own mind, struggling to love her body or believe in herself. When we met, I saw nothing wrong with her; I liked her way too much to see any flaws. If she never told me how she felt and thought about herself, I would have never seen a thing. She was five-feet and eight-inches, and sat at one-hundred and three pounds, put on makeup to hide her acne, and only ate once a day. Aaliya struggled with school, getting no more than 30-40% on her tests. She was worried her educational struggles would jeopardize her future, and she knew she wanted to be better. We knew we had to change, and on this journey, we would make sure to be motivating each other at all times.
Three years later
After months of hard work, learning to cope with the new pandemic, and the first stages of building the foundation for my first company, I believed it was time to ask my partner in crime to marry me.
I had gotten a ring ordered, and I planned to take her to a Waterfall in Hamilton, where I would ask her to marry me while the sun was at it highest in the sky. This plan changed all of a sudden, and something unimaginable was about to happen.
Our good friend Erin Dubs is the owner of Azur and a locally known entrepreneur. Erin is also the first person to scout Aaliya as a model for her apparel company. She had contacted her to tell her that her brother Ryan Dubs, another well-known entrepreneur or better known as the stars' creative director, had gotten a Yacht & Penthouse for the 4th of July weekend less than a week away. With my birthday being July 5th, they invited us to celebrate the weekend with them.
July 4th, 2020
Overnight, I had made the craziest decision knowing I would not get another opportunity to propose to her in such a luxurious way during the pandemic. I called Erin, told her my plan first thing in the morning and she was more than ecstatic to hear what was going to happen.
After Erin, Cesar Garzon, and Ryan all told me it would be amazing, I immediately canceled my order for the ring as it was still not shipped and made my way to purchase another one on the spot for something that was less than 3 hours away.
Aaliya had no clue what was coming. Even though I told her I would marry her probably a thousand times. Erin came to tell me what the plan was and got me a few minutes with the boat owner. This man was so happy it made me even more excited. He told me to wait for precisely forty-five minutes until the sun was just behind the CN tower.
A moment to never be forgotten
7:45 pm strikes, and the sun was directly behind the CN tower, making the water shine bright blue with hints of gold. There were seven people seated on the front of the boat with Aaliya, Erin Dubs, Cesar Garzon, Ryan Dubs, Joanna Dubs, Mitchel Hanley, and Melody Xiao, all watching a moment I will never forget.
I stood up for a "Birthday speech" about all of the accomplishments, struggles faced, and good things that have come from the year, thanking everyone for all of the love & support. I then call Aaliya up and let her know I would like to say something.
I will never forget the smell of her perfume and breathing in the breeze as the yacht rocked gently side to side moments before I tell her how much I love, care, and want her. Tears in her eyes, blushing, not knowing Erin is about to hand me the ring.
Aaliya sees the box, and I could see in her eyes she already said yes. I get down on my knee and see the face full of emotions before she sticks her hand out and says the perfect response, "Yes, baby, I love you so much."
No matter what happened, we always took care of each other. Friends came and went, business opportunities gained & lost, family issues, and more, but even with all of that, we always stood by each other knowing that together we would thrive for happiness and success. Our families did not always believe we would succeed together, and it was made clear at times. We knew we had to continue on our path, believe in ourselves, and know where we were heading even if so many factors were against us.
Who she became
Aaliya became a skincare, makeup, and fitness model and soon after a clothing brand owner as of 2021. She finished school with her grades above 90% in every class and gave it her all.
From the one-hundred and three pounds lost girl to a 165-pound entrepreneur thriving to help others grow just like she did.
Who I became
I found the true meaning of self-love. Everyone finds their sense of self-love in many different ways, which can have different definitions based on their story.
I learned to love and care for Aaliya, and this showed me that everything I was helping her push for, I would also need to believe myself. I became a junior bodybuilder, met some of Canada's most prominent entrepreneurs, and started working towards much larger goals.
As of 2021, I will be the owner of two companies and co-owner of two more. Aaliya and I would wake up every day, talk about our dreams and set goals for the day. She kept me accountable for all of my visions, goals, and crazy ideas. Not many believed these would work as she did.
I became the person I needed to become because of her support and belief in my dreams. I also did the same for her.
Love is the reason I am who I am today, and It is the reason I remain responsible for my actions and my vision to help others achieve and learn the same lessons I have. For some, it can be a burden, others something to be forgotten but for me, it saved me from my own demons.