Most of you have seen this picture. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't proud of it. But what most of you don't know is the story behind the strength both mentally and physically. So sit back, grab a snack and get to know me just a little better.
As a child and teenager I was an athlete. I competed in gymnastic and diving at a high level. My sister would pick me up after school in Palos Verdes and drive me several days a week to Mission Viejo so I could dive on the same team as Greg Louganis. I was good... he was mind blowingly awesome. The Tiger Woods (ehem...) of the diving world. It was an amazing time and an amazing experience.
At 16 years old, while diving my heart out, I discovered boys... or one boy I should say. All it took was one and I was hooked. Nothing could have stopped me from being near him; not a scholarship for diving, not an opportunity to see the world, not a chance to figure out who I was or what I wanted from life. The next two years of my life were a whirl wind and I woke up one day (or so it seemed like that) a married woman with a child on the way at the ripe old age of 18.
What happened after that are details that are painful and blurred. I found myself lost. I was a child in an adult world; in over my head. I tried to fake my way through the best that I knew how. The fact of the matter was that I withdrew from life and became overwhelmingly depressed. I turned to drugs. Not the kind of drugs you are thinking of. My drug of choice was pizza, prime rib, french fries and candy bars. I ate my way up to 212 pounds. I was never more miserable. After my beautiful daughter was born I thought the weight would just come off. After all, it's just baby weight, right? Three months later I had lost 14 pounds. And a few weeks after that I settled into being heavy. The only thing that I will say about my ex-husband is that he was cruel enough to tell me how disgusting he thought I was one night while I enjoyed my third helping of chicken casserole. I can remember the exact details. I remember what I was wearing, where I was standing and the look on his face as he delivered the cutting remarks. I thought I would crumble from humiliation at that precise moment; but I didn't. Instead, I got pissed. Pissed at him for being so mean and pissed at myself for allowing another human being to strip me of my self-esteem and send me reeling into a bottomless pit where the only comfort I could get was from food. My life was about to change.
I used that anger to fight my way out of misery. I was determined to take control of my life again. I started a diet and joined the gym. Everyday I would take my little baby girl to the gym with me while I road countless hours on the stair master (It was 1989... you get my drift).
It took me 15 months but I lost every pound and felt very vindicated. I was proud of myself for the first time in a long time. I thought that I had won the fight but little did I know that strength builds on itself for a reason. In a few years I would be faced with a force so strong it would take me to the edge of my life. That force was cancer.
In 1999 I was diagnosed with female cancer. I was very weak and sick. I went through surgery, medications, and a very long recovery. I remember being so weak that I couldn't walk to the end of the driveway and back. My body was emaciated. I had to fight with everything I had this time. After all, I now had two precious daughters to care for. To this day I don't really understand why I won the battle and others do not. All I knew is that there is a plan for everyone. I needed to find out what my plan was.
Three months after my recovery I ended my marriage... badly. Details are not important, just know that I would continue my fight to raise my daughters the best way I knew how. I spent the next 5 years single. I took the time to figure out who I was and what I wanted from life. I could feel something shift in me. It was a need to reach out to people, to inspire them; to comfort them. To go beyond myself and my needs and serve others. There is a saying that goes something like: If you want to help yourself, help others first. This was the beginning of a beautiful awakening in my life.
In December of 2004, I met my husband who is my hero and the love of my life. We had our twin boys in January of 2008 with much help from modern medicine and one sweet woman willing to give up her body, endure endless discomfort and carry our twins for 37 long weeks. Aside from the usual sleep deprivation and newborn challenges times two, our lives were perfect for 18 beautiful months. We were in heaven.
Four months ago we learned that one of our sons has Autism. I say he "has Autism" and not "he is Autistic" because Autism does not define who he is. It is a tiny part of a beautiful boy full of love, excitement and giggles.
I firmly believe had it not been for the challenging path my life has taken, I would not be prepared to fight an epic battle. This time for our son. I am loved and cherished by an incredible man that fights by my side every day. Together and with faith, I know we have the ability to help our son reach his full potential.
So why am I telling you all of this? I've taken a few trips to hell and back and I want you to know that no matter what your circumstances are you must have faith and keep fighting. What are your goals? Are you willing to fight for them? What do you want out of life? Are you willing to be dedicated enough to get it?
When I look at the picture at the start of this blog I don't just see a woman that has improved her physique through CrossFit. I see an incredibly strong woman on a journey called life that never stops believing and never gives up. I am here to remind you to treat your body with respect. Eat well, exercise hard, rest often. Every day you have on this Earth is precious. Fight your battles with everything that you have. Never forget to fight for others. Love like it is the most precious commodity in the world because... well... it is.