When I was in fourth grade, I found out that I had scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine. The degree of the curve in my spine was rapidly increasing, so I was told to wear a back brace to hopefully slow it down or completely stop the curving as my body was developing. I had to wear my back brace every day all day unless I was doing some type of physical activity.
I wore the brace until I was in the 8th grade. The brace didn't correct anything, but it did slow down the process. That's when my doctor told me that the curve had gotten to the point where I needed to have surgery. The degree in my spine had gotten to 61 degrees, which if we had let it go longer without surgery, my heart and lungs eventually would have been crushed by my spine.
The Road to Recovery
After surgery, I wasn't active like I had been. I didn't play sports or exercise. Gymnastics and softball had been my favorite activities before surgery. I was told that I wouldn't be able to do gymnastics and that softball would be a challenge to get back into because of the motions my body would go through. It wasn’t until I was in my second year of college that I realized something needed to change. I was beginning to gain the “Freshman 15” and because I had lost all of my strength and mobility from surgery, I would frequently pull muscles in my back. I knew I had to change how I was eating and living.
Pursuing a Healthy Lifestyle
I started doing HIIT training from an online website for two years. I figured this workout would help get me started and strengthen my back. I woke up every morning and worked out, making myself feel guilty if I didn't. At the time I hated it, but began to feel like it was worth it because of the way my body was feeling and changing. No, results didn't happen fast, but because I was finally consistent with exercise, I knew I had to see results at some point. I did. And they were well worth the wait.
This eventually led me to transferring schools to start a personal training program. At school I learned how to lift properly and engage areas that were needed to protect my back. I soon became more interested in bodybuilding and began to compete in fitness bikini competitions. A year later I started Crossfit training and began to compete in more competitions. Since then, my strength has grown tremendously and I look and feel better than I ever have before.
The Desire to Teach
After some time, I noticed that I was leaner, stronger, and faster than I had been since my surgery. This change in my lifestyle was huge for me and something I never thought would happen. But it became something that I knew was good for me mentally and physically: it created self-discipline and a confidence I never knew. The biggest thing I realized was that if I could learn to do it myself, then I could teach others to do the same.
That’s why I believe that anyone can realize their full potential and be their healthiest self. From first-hand experience, I understand that getting healthy and fit is not something that is done easily or in a short amount of time. I became a personal fitness trainer because I want to see others succeed and let them realize that they can succeed in their own way. They can make exercise a habit, they can make it fun, and they can eat to take care of their bodies. It’s a long and sometimes difficult road, but worth it. You have to stay consistent, but once you do, you start seeing so many beautiful things come out of it.
Just because you have a major setback (like back surgery), that doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't strive for physical fitness. Exercise is the key to regaining your strength and mobility for a better life. I found what worked best for my body and I haven't looked back. Exercise helps take not only your body to another level, but also your mentality. Progress at the rate you need to or feel comfortable with, but don't stay comfortable—keep challenging your body. That's where you start seeing the results, inside and out.
Here's me discussing how to get a core workout on the TRUE Functional Trainer.