“Fitness Is My Coping Mechanism.”

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One of the many reasons I love Team RWB is because I love working with people and witnessing them achieve the impossible; whether it be seeing them finish their first 5k, or setting a personal best. I truly believe that you can do anything you set your mind and heart to do. I have always found fitness as a way to calm my mind, as well as challenge myself both physically and mentally. I love setting goals, achieving them, and setting more goals.

When I enlisted in the Army I had Airborne school in my contract, something about jumping out of planes fascinated me and I have always been an adrenaline junky. In 2001, I was stationed at Ft. Bragg and had a very bad landing from an Airborne jump. I remember landing on my tail-bone and having the wind knocked out of me. I laid there for several minutes getting myself together and trying to find the strength to get on my feet. Since that day, my health has never been the same. (I was also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at 19 while in the Army; another reason I want to stay healthy.) I have struggled with chronic back pain and have been diagnosed with two herniated discs, sciatica, and degenerative disc disease. I also struggle with depression because my service-connected injury severely limits my daily activities and being able to keep up with my active sons. I literally have to sit on my bathroom counter to get ready in the morning and take breaks when cleaning house. After years of being in denial of the severity of my injury, it wasn’t until I ran the JFK50 that my back took a turn for the worse. I went to the doctor and they told me that I needed to stop running and it is was not a matter of “if” I will need surgery… but rather “when.”

It has been extremely tough not to run like I used to, the temptation is always there, but I have to keep reminding myself that we only have one body and need to take care of it. I refuse to sit around and have a pity-party, and rather choose to make something positive from a negative circumstance. This has forced me to discover other avenues of fitness that fulfill me and challenge me. I’ve always enjoyed lifting weights but never really did it for max weight until recently and I enjoy the constant challenge of improving and setting new PRs.

A couple months ago another DC Eagle, Rupa Dainer, and I decided to do our first USAPL Bench-press competition together. (We are both avid runners with injuries). I placed first in my weight class on March 21st and I plan to register for at least three more competitions this year and am going to recruit some Eagles to do it with me! I would love to see more ladies try power-lifting as well, and I plan to share and teach what I have experienced with other members of Team RWB to encourage folks to step outside their comfort zone and try something new. No matter what our obstacles are in life, we must not let it define us… but rather use it as an opportunity to seek other opportunities for development and triumphs.