My First Tattoo!

Hi friends! Happy Friday! Hope you’re having a wonderful morning. I had to separate my Friday Faves post into another post (which will be up later this afternoon), because this post turned into a bit of a novel. I just had so much to say about my first tattoo experience!

I finally did it, and am so happy with how it turned out.

Mandala Watercolor Flowers Tattoo

So as you guys know, I’ve been wanting a tattoo forever; at least 10 years. The Pilot has never really been on board the tattoo train, but after I had P, I was like, “I birthed our babies, I want a tattoo.” and he didn’t say anything to disagree haha. 😉 

One night before dinner at Brooklyn Girl, my mom, Betsy and I ventured into Buju Tattoo. (They don’t know I have a blog or anything like that. I just like to spread the word about good people and places when I can.)

Buju tattoo

I had researched quite a bit online and knew I wanted my tattoo from Buju. They had exactly the style I was going for, and while the owner (Briana– she is AMAZING) is not taking new clients, I knew one of the artists there would be able to do what I had in mind.

My First Tattoo Experience

Buju Tattoo

Right away, I was blown away by the interior. It is so unique, incredibly clean, and filled with fun plants, crystals, and antique pieces. We talked to Curtis for a while, learned more about him and checked out his work, and we paid our deposits to get our tattoos with him. He was so easygoing, confident, and had a great portfolio, so I felt completely at ease knowing he’d be the one to take a vibrating needle to my back haha. 

I was SO excited, but super nervous. I decided to wait until after my surgery since you’re not supposed to get sweaty/dirty immediately after your tattoo. Before my surgery, I didn’t want to waste precious workout time since it was going to be taken away from me. This gave me something to look forward to. 😉

For my tattoo design, I’ve always wanted a mandala or some type of lotus flower. After googling around, I came across the newer watercolor flowers (which aren’t outlined in black and look so pretty and delicate) and thought it would be cool to combine the two. I texted Curtis a few ideas, and here’s what he came up with. When I saw it for the first time, it was like he’d gone into my brain and designed exactly what I was hoping for.

Stencil of Mandala Tattoo with watercolor flowers

Betsy made me go first because I think she knew I’d chicken out if I watched her get hers done. Curtis cleaned my back and placed the stencil on. Betsy said she could never picture me with a tattoo, but once the stencil was there, she said it looked like it was always supposed to be there. I knew it was *the one.*

my first tattoo experience at Buju

Getting my first tattoo at Buju

So as far as the actual tattoo process goes, it hurt. Like, A LOT. Way more than I was anticipating! The first 5 minutes were the absolute worst, and the entire thing took about 2 hours. He started and I was like, “What am I doing? Why is this hurting so much? I can’t quit now because it will look weird with random dots and lines on my back.” I couldn’t even talk while he was doing it. I would breathe, stare at his cool New Balance sneakers, and listen to his conversation with Bets.

My first tattoo experience at Buju

After a while, it became almost meditative. I am a GIANT needle phobe, and absolutely hate shots and medical procedures. This felt different because it was a needle and a pain that I chose. Exactly one week before my tattoo, I was being injected with needles that weren’t necessarily my choice, but were necessary to fix my medical issues. I was lying on a table, in a room, surrounded by doctors small-talking me before the anesthesia kicked in. Exactly one week later, I was lying on very different table, still in pain, but celebrating.


the end of P’s reflux, and the end of countless nights enveloped by fear that she’d start choking and stop breathing again

the end of the constant pain and discomfort I’ve felt for the past 5 months following the birth. I would cry all the way home after teaching spin because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. After my repair surgery, I feel a thousand times better.

the end of a scary medical issue for a close family member that began over the holidays. I haven’t gone into this on the blog because it’s personal for my family, and it also felt too big and real to write about. We are so blessed that this family member is doing amazingly and on the up and ups

and the end of my postpartum depression.

After all of the pain, something beautiful emerged.

Mandala tattoo with watercolor flowers

When I got home to show my mom, she said, “Happy New Year.”


Also, a mean joke: tattoos hurt AFTER they’re done, too. Mine is still achy (feels like a sunburn), but I can’t stop looking at it.

The colors are already so much brighter.


Fresh tattoo Mandala with watercolor flowers


My first tattoo mandala with watercolor flowers

So there ya go: my first, and only, tattoo. 🙂

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  1. Katie on April 8, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Oh I love it so much… They’re addicting 😉

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      that’s what everyone says, and i’m like NEVER AGAIN

  2. jen on April 8, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Love it lady!

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      thank you, friend <3

  3. Reenie on April 8, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Very pretty ~ love it.


  4. Abby on April 8, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Looks beautiful! Well deserved. Through pain comes beauty.

  5. Susan on April 8, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Absolutely beautiful!! I also have a floral tattoo 🙂 Love that your fam & friends came with you initially. I got mine in college and people always think it was a weird angsty rebellion thing, and then I’m like “No, my mom and sister came with me, and we went out for tacos afterwards” and they’re so shocked. haha – anyway, enjoy looking at it!

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      haha love that so much! we had thai takeout after 🙂

  6. Amanda @ Cheers to the Weekends on April 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Oh man, I don’t have any tattoos, but yours is lovely! Now hearing you talk about the pain though makes me even more afraid to ever get one! Luckily, I don’t have anything I want at the moment. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      the pain was TERRIBLE. but, worth it 🙂

  7. Hillary on April 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    It’s b-e-a-u-tiful! Cheers to your new year! 😉

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      thank you!

  8. Erin M. on April 8, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Congratulations! I’m happy for you and glad that you’re feeling better!

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      thank you, friend

  9. Erin @ Erin's Inside Job on April 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    That looks so good! Amazing job. I got my first tattoo last year of a semicolon on the inside of my finger. I love it and it’s really the only one I can see myself getting. I had to wait 30 years for something to be meaningful enough for me to get on my body forever. Congrats!

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      love that so much. xoxo

  10. Diana on April 8, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Gorgeous! And I love the placement. How’d you decide on that location for it?

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      i wanted it to be in a place where i could easily show it off with casual clothes, or cover it if we’re dressed up for a fancy event

  11. Crystal on April 8, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    So pretty and a good reminder that bad times will pass, and things can be better than ever 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      amen to that <3

  12. Beth on April 8, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I have to say, that is gorgeous. Great choice!!!

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      thank you! hope you have a great weekend!

  13. Kaila @ Healthy Helper on April 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    YAY for tattoos!! I have 3! I absolutely love what you got! And I love what it stands for even more. Here’s to new beginnings.

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      thank you, friend <3

  14. Kristy B. on April 8, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    I have several tattoos, and I have one right where you got yours, and it was EXTREMELY painful compared to my others. I don’t know if the theories about why tattoos in some areas hurt more than others, but I felt the exact same way when I got my tattoo there – I couldn’t breathe and it just hurt so much. You’re a trooper!!

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      it shocked me how much it hurt, and i have pretty high pain tolerance (despite being a giant weenie haha).
      thank you! i’m glad it’s over <3

  15. Beth on April 8, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Gorgeous! I’m planning on getting mine after I birth my next baby, too. She’s due in July, so I’m not sure if I can get one while I’m breastfeeding, but as soon as I can, I’m going to. I just found out a parent at my son’s preschool is an awesome tattoo, so I’m excited I already know someone I can trust. I’m thinking of getting my son’s & husband’s first initials (“if) on one wrist with a little detail like a scattering of starts and the first initial of baby girl (a) with a small floral detail. I’ve heard wrists hurt, too, so I’ll have to carry your optimism with me.

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      that is amazing <3 i hope you love yours just as much! it's a fun thing to do for yourself after babies

  16. Cara's Healthy Cravings on April 8, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    It turned out so well!! You must be so so happy with it, despite the pain, but that won’t last.

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      thank you! i love it!

  17. Averie @ Averie Cooks on April 8, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Congrats, Gina, I know you’ve wanted one forever!! It’s gorgeous and I’m so happy you were able to do this for YOU!

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      thank you, friend! <3

  18. Ali on April 8, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    I honestly thought this was a belated April Fools joke!

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      haha nope!

  19. Alycia on April 8, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Beautiful tattoo!

    I currently have 7 and each has a very special meaning. A lot of people look down on tattoos, but I think they can be a expression of personality and love.

    • Fitnessista on April 8, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      i totally agree! that’s amazing you have 7! so much pain haha

  20. Erica on April 8, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Looks great! Mine took under an hour, but I do remember getting that point where I convinced myself that the buzzing of the needle against my skin was oddly meditative and comforting.

    • Fitnessista on April 9, 2016 at 9:34 am

      it’s crazy, too, because most of it hurt SO MUCH and other parts felt like nothing!

  21. Debbie on April 8, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Your new tattoo is beautiful! It’s funny actually, just this morning I was telling my partner that I wanted a mandala tattoo that incorporated a sun and a moon. That said there’s still much more planning to do before it is done. A few months and you’ll completely forget you even got a tattoo sometimes. I have both my wrists done with simple line drawings and there are days I’ll be doing my hair or something and I think to myself “what’s this crap on my arm” haha!

  22. LJ on April 9, 2016 at 3:35 am

    Your tattoo is absolutely beautiful. I am glad you found such a talented artist! I love the things it stands for, too.

    Everyone says you get addicted to getting new tattoos, but I have a floral tattoo on the same spot (which I chose because it is easy to cover and equally easy to show!) and I have had it for seven years and it is my only one. And it is most likely going to remain my only one too.

    • Fitnessista on April 9, 2016 at 9:32 am

      that is so awesome. i love the spot that we chose!!! 🙂

  23. Hilary on April 9, 2016 at 3:51 am

    I absolutely love your tattoo! And the meaning behind it is so wonderful!

  24. Jessica W on April 9, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Wow, girl! You really went for it! Wasn’t sure what to expect since you hate needles 🙂 It’s beautiful and the colors are amazing!

    • Fitnessista on April 9, 2016 at 9:32 am

      thank you so much!!

  25. Shannon on April 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    My husband and I got ours with our daughter when she turned 19. We’d made her wait … she has 7 footprints for the 7 grandchildren in the family on her forearm with one filled in for her older cousin who passed away. Hard to say no to something so meaningful. I was surprised by the pain too … I think I almost vibrated TO DEATH from the shaking. LOL. And I only got the three kids’ initials on the inside of my wrist! Well done, it’s beautiful 🙂

  26. Jane on April 9, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    This is soooo pretty. You’re so brave!!

  27. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on April 10, 2016 at 6:44 am

    You are very brave to express yourself with a tattoo. I don’t have any myself but if I did get one I love what you chose. xo Lauren

  28. Samantha on April 10, 2016 at 7:21 am

    WOW! That tattoo is completely gorgeous. Beautiful work!

  29. Kyla on April 11, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Absolutely beautiful! I have three tattoos and my last one swore me off for a loooooong time( it’s on my side and it’s perfect, but it hurt like a mofo and I felt like I had a stomach ache for the week after). The thing I love about tattoos though is they can be so freeing and are a constant reminder of whatever message you choose to associate with it.

    • Fitnessista on April 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

      i’m glad you said that because my back is SORE. i feel like i threw it out or something like that. definitely ready for that feeling to go away.

  30. Priya Mehra on April 11, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    it looks gorgeous and SO suits you <3 also, so happy things are on the upswing for you. i like my favorite positive blogger, <3

  31. Jess @ Keeping It Real Food on April 13, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Congrats! What a beautiful tattoo! I got one when I was 20 on the inside of my wrist—a little reminder to think positively that’s also a nod to this story I always loved about John Lennon & Yoko Ono ( I’ve had it almost 10 years and am thankful every day that I did that for myself. My sister also picked out the font, so whenever I see it, it makes me think of her too.

    • Fitnessista on April 13, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      love that so much <3

  32. Sagan on April 14, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    So pretty! It looks amazing on you <3

    Also giggling over this: "He started and I was like, “What am I doing? Why is this hurting so much? I can’t quit now because it will look weird with random dots and lines on my back.” "

  33. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on April 14, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    I LOVE IT!!!

  34. Ali on May 6, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    I am so so so happy for you beauty. For all these mile stones and for all this piece of permanent art represents for you. You are such an amazing person with such a beautiful outlook – thank you for always sharing your heart with us, your journey and your process. I feel like your tattoo perfectly depicts the art and new life that comes from life’s struggles.

    I have two tattoos on my forearms – both flower of life patters – one sitting in a flower, the other encased in smoke. They came to me in a meditation, and to be honest I am still not sure what they ‘mean’ – all I know is that I was supposed to get them. They came at a time when I was just starting a very new phase in my life, and have a kind of ‘end of that last chapter, start of the new one’ feeling to me. End of fear, hiding who I was, anorexia- and stepping into a life of adventure, health and expression.

    Art is so magical in its way of imprinting these moments as a visual image for us to look back on and remember.

    Love you lady.


  35. Tammy on May 6, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    I have 6 tattoos, all small-ish, all easily covered. I’ve gotten 4 of them with my daughter, and 3 of those are very similar, with one being identical in design and placement. We got 2 together in Hawaii on 2 different trips. Each was very special, with great meaning.

  36. Shaina on May 16, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    It’s like childbirth – you forget haha. Also, your back is like THE most painful spot.

    It’s GORGEOUS!!!

    • Fitnessista on May 17, 2016 at 10:01 am

      i will never forget. childbirth or the tattoo 😉

  37. Kristal on September 10, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Girl it’s beautiful

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