People ask me why I’m advocating for Health and Nutrition, yet the truth is I never labeled myself as an advocate. For me it’s a way of life, a passion that I have naturally enjoyed sharing with others. I’m not a superstar; I’m just the girl next door. Every day I reap the benefits of being active, staying healthy, and challenging myself to push the limits beyond what I ever thought possible.
When I started reading about health care reform and common health conditions that are plaguing the US, I immediately saw a need! Did you know that the five chronic conditions that attribute to the majority of our healthcare deficient stem from lifestyle choices? That’s right; WE are making choices in the way we live OUR lives that are killing us!
How did we let it get this bad? How did we allow ourselves to poison our bodies? And worst of all, why do we feel it’s acceptable?
My goal is to motivate and inspire others to make positive changes to save their lives, and save the lives of their children. Through simple daily choices, dramatic results can be seen. The ‘how’ is by placing more focus in education and prevention. Together, we can change the future of millions!
So how do I live my life? What things do I commit to in hopes of inspiring someone to take on something they may feel is bigger than them? I continuously find ways to challenge myself, mentally, physically and spiritually. “Health and Nutrition” is not only exterior focused, it is the mind, body and spirit collaborating as one.
Overcoming my fears:
After the Alcatraz Challenge (a 2 mile swim then a 7 mile run across the Golden Gate Bridge), hiking Kilimanjaro, and a figure competition I was asked, “What are you going to do next?” Just minutes later I was challenged to complete a triathlon. However, it wasn’t any triathlon, it was an Ironman! A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride followed by a full marathon – 26.2 mile run. And yes, all in one day. I should probably also mention that I didn’t own a bike, let alone really even ride one.
It wasn’t until I purchased my tri bike and brought it home that I realized how completely terrified I was of the bike! How was I ever going to finish an Ironman, if the thought of getting on my bike scared me to my core? The last bike I have much memory of was a little pink one with a basket and a bell. Looking back, I really never enjoyed riding it. And now, with less than 12 weeks until the Ironman, I’m faced with massive amounts of anxiety just at the thought of getting on my bike. However, I was determined not to give up. I had already made a commitment to raise $35,000 for The Action Foundation, a non-profit focused to bring health and nutrition awareness to children by calling them into “action”. This money will fund one new school to participate in the Foundation’s after-school program for an entire year, touching 250 kids’ lives. No way was I going to back down now!
I kept my bike in my living room as a constant reminder. Each day I had to ride was a true challenge. Despite the pit in my stomach and every excuse I could think of, I managed to push through. Whenever the nerves begin to get the best of me, I thought about the children who are suffering from obesity, diabetes, physical limitations, and malnutrition. They were my true inspiration. Less than six weeks later I completed my first 100-mile bike ride! And on November 28, 2010, I completed Ironman Cozumel in 12 hours and 26 minutes. And, I raised $36,750 for The Action Foundation to roll out their program in January 2011 for an entire year!
Where it all began:
In 2000, I took on a new year’s resolution challenge to run 1000 miles that year. I absolutely HATED running! If I could run 20 minutes I was on top of the world! And I didn’t say anything about speed…it was a snail’s pace. Nine weeks later, I entered my first race – a half marathon. Heck yeah, let’s play big! The longest I had ever run was 9 miles, and that was just once…the week before the race! Crossing the finish line at 13.1 miles was the most satisfying accomplishment I could remember.
From this point on, I fell in love with running. Running was a way of life. I seemed to live for the next morning when I could watch the sunrise while on a run with friends. Eleven months later I completed my first marathon. Over the next 9 years, I ran 9 marathons including the Boston Marathon, Chicago and Auckland, New Zealand while on vacation.
On April 6, 2009, running came to a screeching stop. I ignored the lower back pains that seemed to arise on every run until this day. After completing an 8 mile morning run I drove home only to find myself nearly paralyzed from pain when getting out of the car. A week later when my pain hadn’t lessened and walking meant taking inch by inch steps, I had an MRI which showed a fracture in my sacrum (lower back). Two things happened, physically I wasn’t able to the lead the life I had become so accustom to and emotionally I was devastated. Not only from lack of endorphins I got from running, more so, because I had been training for over a year with my blind friend, Tom, to guide him to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. And we were leaving for Africa in eight weeks! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity I didn’t want to miss. Nor could I let him down!
This is when I took up swimming. As a runner and never a swimmer, I honestly wasn’t a fan. What do you mean I’m not able to breathe whenever I want? Even with a marathon runner’s lungs, I was challenged to make it across the pool. And to top things off, I wasn’t allowed to kick. I drug my legs with the use of a pool buoy. Somehow, over time, I began to love it. Perhaps it was because it was the only place I wasn’t in pain. I began to crave the pool, going morning and night.
Eight weeks later Tom and I did reach the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro breaking four world records (along with our entire team). Seeing the look on Tom’s face as he touched the summit sign is by far my most impactful moment ever!
I share my story to show that anything is possible. My adventures stem from taking on challenges and a true love to lead an active lifestyle. Over the years I have begun to see the spiral effects of my craze. I am consistently amazed at the number of people who associate their motivation to “change” to my influence or ability to inspire. Their goals range from making one healthy lifestyle change to setting race goals to establishing their own fundraising campaign aimed at making a difference. Regardless the magnitude, I have come to realize the biggest reward I have in life is to motivate and inspire other into a healthier and more prosperous life! So…let the adventures begin. Together, we will change the world!
• Guiding my blind friend up Mt. Kilimanjaro (helping to break 4 world records, gaining national exposure for blindness, and raising over $200,000 for The Foundation for Blind Children)
• Ironman Cozumel in 12 hours 26 minutes (first triathlon, raising $36,750 for The Action Foundation, fighting childhood obesity)
• Alcatraz Challenge (swim/run)
• Completing 9 marathons including: Boston, Chicago, and Auckland, New Zealand
• 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo (placing 1st and 2nd at Junior Olympics
• National College Cheerleading Championships (7th Place)
• Kansas State University Cheerleader
• Figure competitor (1st place, overall title, and two 4th places)