Certified Athletic Trainer
Master of Arts in Sport & Exercise Psychology
Champion over Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and 65° fused Scoliosis
Operating as usual
💙 GRATITUDE 💙
noun: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness
adjective: appreciative of benefits received; affording pleasure or contentment
Some days it's harder to practice having gratitude than others. Today is one of those days for me...but I am IN ACTION and putting in the work to have gratitude.
It may be a post season slump, eventhough I feel I had a PHENOMENAL season and made incredible strides in improving my physique and honing in on proper prep and execution...it could be the weather cooling down and life seeming to slow in preparation for the holidays...it could be taking a week off and realizing how much I prefer the structure of competition prep and proper nutrition in my life ... 🤷♀️
Today my depression is kicking my butt. I almost cried at the grocery store check out and I'm having serious regrets about going back to work as an athletic trainer.
I'm GRATEFUL for my husband @jan.cunningham.56 whom I definitely do NOT give enough credit to. Today I told him how I'm feeling and he opened all the doors, drapes and blinds to let the sunshine fill the house and my heart. I'm GRATEFUL he helped me build this amazing, fully loaded home gym so I can push my body and start off season building slowly without the noise, crowd, or feelings of judgement at a public gym. I'm GRATEFUL I have amazing fur babies that block me from leaving the gym until that last rep is in and kisses are given 🐶
Having GRATITUDE isn't just a feeling...it's something I need to practice with humility every day 🙏🏼 If you are struggling today or this week or this month I encourage you to dig deep and put in the work...you are worth the investment ❤
#scoliosisawareness #ehlersdanlosawareness #chronicpainwarrior #depressionawareness #onedayatatime #gratitude #blessedlife #nattyforlife #naturalbodybuilder #femalebodybuilder
5 days and 4 crazy hikes! (Plus a little wine)
Thursday: Flat Iron, Apache Junction, 3 miles, elevation 7,132 feet, total elevation gained 1,440 feet
Friday: Campbell Mesa Loop, Flagstaff 5.5 miles
Saturday: Mt Humphreys Peak, Flagstaff 5 miles, elevation 12,635 feet, total elevation gained 3,343 feet
Sunday...🍷🍷 wine tours 🍷🍷
Monday: Sugarloaf Loop, Teacup Trail to Coffee Pot Rock with a little bit of Soldiers Pass in Sedona, around 5 miles
I can't believe we tackled 2 of the most challenging and highest peaks in AZ within 48 hours! There was some whining from both parties at varying moments for vastly different reasons, but we always managed to "REEL IT IN" and make it to the top of both summits! I should really get better about following the cairn trail markers instead of just looking for things that kind of look trailey 🤦♀️🤣 I'm so impressed my quads are still functioning properly! ...I only developed one blister and only lost one toenail this trip! 🙌🏼 #winning
I am amazed that I was able to hike and see such diverse scenery and topography all within driving distance of my home! #Godisgood
Feeling blessed and refreshed from the opportunity to clear my head in God's amazing landscape. Beyond thankful that my health has brought me to a point in my life that I can go on these adventures with little to no pain and zero down time necessary for recovery...my legs and back are both pain free 🙌🏼 One day at a time truly CAN achieve any goal you set your heart's desire on ❤
#scoliosisawareness #ehlersdanlosawareness #chronicpainwarrior #femalebodybuilder #nattyforlife #godscountry #hikingjunkie #blessed
Ok we are officially crazy ...within 48 hours of conquering Flat Iron we headed up to Flagstaff to tackle Humphreys Peak! Another bucket list hike in the books! It was definitely worth the wait! Some of the most gorgeous scenery in God's creation...minus the bitter winds approaching the summit 🥶 ...I may need a few days of rest after this year's @angelajzimmermann takeover.
I WILL say these two hikes have made me realize how incredibly blessed I am to live in a state with such amazing sights...and beyond grateful that my health is in a place where I can enjoy them! Two years of healthy eating and taking care of my physical, mental, and emotional health are what made this weekend possible! ❤
#beyondblessed #godscountry #scoliosisawareness #ehlersdanlosawareness #chronicpainwarrior #hikingjunkie #femalebodybuilder #naturalbodybuilder #nattyforlife
I don't even know where to start...other than with an incredibly grateful heart ❤
This has been 2 years in the making! 2 years grinding and competing to come back to this one show. I know it sounds silly and may not have the same meaning to everyone else there...the 2019 @phoenicianclassic was my first ever bodybuilding show and I had ZERO clue what to do! I was so embarrassed and disappointed in myself. I stayed up all night researching natural bodybuilding competitions and found @dannyddiaz . I reached out to him and asked if I was wasting everyone's time competing with scoliosis. His warm and encouraging reception was more than I had hoped for! I trained and worked to compete on the @inbapnbaglobal_official stage at the Copper Classic, Grand Canyon Classic and even the Natural Olympia! The love and support I have found in bodybuilding has enriched my life more than I would have ever guessed!
Today I opened up the artistry sent by @betteraestheticsbb and fell in love! Nick does such a fantastic job! Also for the FIRST time I actually looked at my poses and was proud. I'm no longer embarrassed of my curve or growing body...I am a #beautifuldisaster and a work in progress! I am loving the progress I have made and know that I have just barely just begun!
Thank you so much @jan.cunningham.56 for being there for every step! I can't thank @ptbyjoe enough for always understanding and your constant support and @tadthedietcoach for flipping the switch on my prep! I have never felt so confident going into a competition! I ACTUALLY slept the night before and was able to laugh and enjoy myself ALL day! Thank you to the amazing @jimmymt77 for massages that repair and recharge me and @musclechiropractic for opening up that wing PLUS your love and support!
@modernmusesalonaz it was great to get dolled up by you again and @uniquephysique_stephschulz for making me glow (and keeping that bikini bite on hand 🤣) Thank you @saleylasuits for bringing my Johnny Cash vision to life 😍
#nattyforlife #naturalbodybuilder #scoliosisawareness #bentbutnotbroken #ehlersdanlosawareness #beautifuldisaster #ibelieveinme #femalebodybuilder
To say that I am feeling grateful right now would be an understatement. My cup runneth over 🥰
Two years ago I competed in my first ever bodybuilding competition at the Phoenician Classic and was utterly unprepared. But amidst the pain and tears, the show promoters @phoenicianclassic the photographer @betteraestheticsbb and so many of the vendors including the marvelous Miss Norma @bilbosportswear showed me so much kindness and compassion. I went home and after a long cry decided to get to work.
Two years have passed and I've sought the help of @ptbyjoe to educate me on the ins and outs of posing, poise, and stage confidence along with @tadthedietcoach to help me navigate prep without losing my mind. My body has changed immensely and so has my belief in myself.
For two years I've been waiting to come back to this show. For two years I have put in the work so that I could thank those who made such an impact on me. For two years I've been grinding to become better than I was.
I couldn't be more pleased with how today went. I left pre judge knowing I was better than last time and I did everything I could. I was able to laugh and be in the moment and enjoy every second of today.
To be honored as "The Comeback Kid" was more than I could have dreamed of. Thank you @phoenicianclassic for your support, encouragement, and recognition! I also placed 2nd in women's bodybuilding open and cannot be upset with myself or my performance. I put in the work every day so that tomorrow I can be a better me ❤ Thank you my loving husband @jan.cunningham.56 for being there to pick me up and encourage me every step of the way.
#comebackkid #nattyforlife #femalebodybuilder #scoliosisawareness #ehlersdanlosawareness
Social media is a funny thing.Today this came up in my Facebook memories and it's hard for me to believe that I started this adventure 2 years ago! Hard to believe because I still feel so new to the sport and know I have so much to learn and changes to make with my body; hard to believe because I feel like this "hobby" has already transformed my daily way of life and I'm more than ok with it!
I'm just under 4 weeks out from my next show #phoenicianclassic and I am beyond ecstatic. This was my VERY first show! My original show was canceled and moving my competition up 2 weeks I jumped into the Phoenician just so my training wouldn't "go to waste" WOW was I unprepared! Not just because my competition was moved up but because I realized there is SO MUCH MORE that goes into preparing for competition than just working out!
I am forever indebted to @phoenicianclassic , @natasha.williams.thompson and @jediwookieezapper for welcoming me to my first show with so much love, support, and patience! Even in the midst of my meltdowns they never stopped encouraging me and making me feel "a part of" that day. This year will be my opportunity to thank them and show that I've done my homework and put in the work.
I've not posted much of this prep because this prep has been so different! I apparently need an entire village to help me along the way. So far this has been a much more enjoyable and less emotionally taxing prep but it's also taken a lot more focus and dedication. Every day I wake up and try to do my best. Sometimes it's an hour at a time push: is there a reason NOT to do my cardio? Get on it! Is there a reason NOT to get my workout in? Get on it! Am I due for my next feeding? Get on it! And when the day is over I go to bed knowing I did the best I could today. My coach @tadthedietcoach gave me some of the best advice early on "don't think, just do" If I think, I will think my way out of doing the right thing almost every time. The problem with looking at yourself every day is you miss the small changes as they happen and before you know it you have undergone a complete metamorphosis!
Pictures are commitment day through all my shows to date ☝🏼
I had some dry needling done on my neck today...one of those moments that you realize you MUST be crazy to actually pay someone to inflict this kind of pain on you...no matter how necessary it may be.
I was explaining to @kristenbennett_ifbbpro some of my medical history...that if the surgeons would have known I had Ehlers-danlos prior to my spinal fusion at the age of 14 they would have fused my entire spine from cervical to sacrum and I would have been left with very little to no mobility for the rest of my life. Instead I was "blessed" with only a thoracic fusion and my Ehlers-danlos has afforded what would be hypermobility as...any mobility in my spine. Unfortunately the two diagnoses (Ehlers-danlos and scoliosis) are in constant battle which over stresses my neck and low back. This sometimes results in locked upper trap, scalene, and levator scapula muscles causing neck stiffness and pain leading me to the joy of dry needling today.
But as I described my plight I muttered out the descriptive phrase that this has been a "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER". The words just came out, but somehow have never seemed more appropriate. This is actually the most loving I've been in describing my own situation. And to be honest I feel it's the best description yet. I have a lot of different things going on with my body = disaster. But God has chosen to reveal each one in HIS own time and each have come with many blessings and lessons = beautiful.
I may have never taken the time to love, respect, and care for my body as a temple as God had commanded if I didn't go through the pain I have. Even in the last 18 months I would have NEVER anticipated the muscle development and changes that have happened from applying myself and pushing every day.
When you feel stuck, frustrated, or like your body is rebeling against you...pause and step back...is God using this to help you grow? Is this disaster much more beautiful than you realize?
"Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" I Corinthians 6:19
#beautifuldisaster #bentbutnotbroken #scoliosisawareness #ehlersdanlosawareness #femalebodybuilder #nattyforlife #naturalbodybuilder
When I agreed to my first bodybuilding competition in 2019 I wanted to go on stage and prove to everyone that having scoliosis and being asymmetrical was not an obstacle. Two years of being consistent with my workouts and clean eating I can step on stage feeling like every other athlete with only myself as an obstacle.
I didn't even recognize the changes that have been happening until I took the time to remember where I've come from. I've been so used to defending my "oddly shaped crescent like" torso that I didn't even realize it's become a non issue. I've been haunted by the words "normal" and "healthy" my entire life ... but I've come to realize these are merely subjective terms that can't define any one person the same.
I would have never thought this sport would be something I've needed so much; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I've truly learned the value of loving my body and treating it properly. I love that I've been able to make these changes naturally simply by being consistent and smart through proper food and workouts. I am amazed I have even been able to get OFF all anti-inflammatories and pain medications. I used to always repeat the line by Rizzo the Rat in Muppet Christmas Carole "God save my little broken body" ... I think HE has.
Thank you to my coaches Ptbyjoe Studios and Tad the Diet Coach who never hesitated or doubted my dreams and potential. Thank you to the friends/teammates I've made at a time in my life when I desperately needed to be "a part of". Thank you to my husband Jan for supporting me and always telling me how beautiful I am (I still don't believe you 😉). Mostly thank you God for my body and everything it's capable of!
I'm so proud that I never believed that this was all there is and settled...that I was daring enough to take the first step and the next and the next...towards something I didn't think was possible.
"With God, all things are possible" - Matthew 19:26
"I praise YOU for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" - Psalm 139:14
#scoliosisawareness #ehlersdanlosawareness #nattyforlife #iamazebra #femalebodybuilder #naturalbodybuilder #childofgod #bentbutnotbroken
Let's get muddy! 😎
One of the best birthday traditions @tellmeyourbestworstpickupline got me hooked on! After a year hiatus from obstacle course racing we were back at it today...and guess who destroyed the vertical and swinging monkey bars...this kid! 🙌
2 years of racing and lifting together looks pretty good on us...don't mind us getting swole over here! 💪
...although, I've never had a shower make me so sore before 🤔🤕🤣
#swolepatrol #obstaclecourseracing #scoliosisawareness #ehlersdanlosawareness #iamazebra #nattyforlife #imgettingtoooldforthis
***REPOSTING INFO FROM @nancysstripesx ***
May is Ehlers-danlos awareness month 👇
Many of you who know me are well aware of my 65° scoliosis thoracic curve and my 12 vertebrae fusion. This is not hard to miss from certain angles: if I bend forward, or if I'm tired and "slouching", the crescent shape in my torso. What some of you may not know is that I also have an autoimmune disorder known as Ehlers-danlos Syndrome. I have reposted some amazing info on some of the symptoms that plague me the most.
I was diagnosed with EDS my senior year of college after undergoing my 7th orthopedic surgery. Although not as transparent and noticeable as my scoliosis, this condition proves to be an ever nagging struggle. The laxity in my joints has made working out a challenge unique in its own nature. I must be ever mindful of my range of motion. You see, left to their own devices my ligaments will pull and stretch beyond safe anatomical limitations which could and have lead to tears, dislocations, or other related injuries.
I already have widespread osteoarthritis at the age of 36 which makes some mornings a little slower and creakier than others. It has also made me a pretty decent human barometer! I can usually tell when a storm or pressure front is moving in. 🤕
I've been on a beta blocker for about 11 years and require yearly echos to make sure my aorta is holding stable...prior to treatment I would get chest pain from mitral valve prolapse/regurgitation and laxity in my aortic wall. Every once in a while I still get a little light headed or feel some "burping" in my chest, but great doctors who educate me have helped me recognize these are no longer things to become frantic over.
I share this not for sympathy, but to spread knowledge and awareness. For those who don't struggle, please be kind to those who run their race a little differently. For my chronic pain warriors, please know how strong you already are and that pursuing a greater quality of life IS possible! I am proof! And I feel like I've only just begun!
#ehlersdanlosawareness #scoliosisawareness #chronicpainwarrior #iamazebra #nattyforlife #naturalbodybuilder #believeinyou
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