Who would have thought that at the age of 47, I would be in the best shape of my life???? The past 12 years have been an incredible roller coaster of a journey.
In 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. This is a very invasive and one of the rarest forms of breast cancer. Without early diagnosis, this diagnosis could have taken my life at the young age of 33. One year later with 6 surgeries behind me, 5 months of chemotherapy, 40lbs of weight gain, and countless doctor visits, I was cancer free. I soon realized that even though health and fitness had always been a part of my life, I now needed to take control of something. We cannot control our genetics or abstract things that happen to us, but I knew that I could control my diet and exercise programming. I basically did everything at home and used countless online and beach body videos. Those had helped me maintain my weight, but something was missing.
In 2016, I started going to the gym and just fell in love with how I began to feel and look. I was really looking for a challenge when a friend at the gym recommended that I think about doing a bodybuilding contest. That seemed way out of my comfort zone, but the challenge just lit me up inside. Could I really do this? Could I push my body in such a way that very few people ever want to do or even desire to do? And thus, it began, I scheduled my first show and was in full on prep when six weeks before my show, my doctor found a mass on my uterus. Due to my history with cancer, I needed it removed and a hysterectomy was my only choice. I ended up having my hysterectomy a week before I was supposed to step on stage. For those of us who are faced with the surgery any blog or post you read pretty much makes you think your life as you know it is over once you have a hysterectomy. Weight gain, mood swings, decreased libido, hot flashes and the list goes on and on. I turned off the internet and focused on healing and my diet. I did not gain a pound during my recovery and 8 weeks later I was back at the gym. I had to slowly ease back into things, but it also made me realize how much the gym meant and how much it eased my stress levels. When you cannot go to your day job or the gym, it makes you look at things in a totally different prospective. You wake up each day thankful that you can go to work, you get to go to the gym and the dread you might have had before you were sick disappears. I took the next year to get stronger and was finally able to do my first show in Chattanooga at the Battle at the River. It was such a wonderful experience and pushed me out of every comfort zone I had. Walking in 5" heels is not what I call fun and learning to pose and walk in those heels turned out to be the hardest part of the preparation. I always loved the working out and gym aspect of prep. The structure of it all is right in my wheelhouse.
Fast forward to 2020 and covid hit. Most shows were cancelled, and I planned on prepping for one in Nov 2020. It was going to fall on my cancer free anniversary, and I felt like it was going to be an epic night and really put an exclamation point on my training. What I did not realize is that I was about to go through the hardest thing I had ever experienced in my life. I lost my Dad in September 2020 and he was my biggest fan. He was so excited for the show, and he had always been my first and foremost fitness influence. He did bodybuilding, marathons, triathlons and still rode his bike every day at age 76.
My grief was so overwhelming that I could not stick with the strict diet that comes with prep for a competition. I had to pull out of the November 2020 show, and it took me several months before I could finally pick a date for 2021. October 2021 turned out to be a huge month. I won my pro card at the Battle of The Beach in Gulf Shores and took home that coveted hammer that I had been so excited about. My individual presentation was in honor of my Dad and it felt amazing to honor him in this way by competing and doing what we both loved so much. One week later I went to Pittsburgh and competed in the Yorton Cup. I placed 4th in the Master's category and 5th in the Open category. What an unbelievable season it had been, and I was thrilled to be coming home with any hardware at all much less two medals!!!
Age 47 has been good to me, I obtained my personal training certification, launched my business "Strong Will Fitness"(named after my Dad, William), competed in two bodybuilding shows and took home that Thor hammer!!!!!
Transformation can occur at any age; ladies do not let the stigma that comes with mid-life issues make you think you cannot achieve anything you want. Kick the stigmas to the curve and make your own rules. Strong will leads to a Strong mind which leads to a Strong body!!!!! I did it and so can you!!!!!