You may have scrolled through my Facebook and Instagram account or pages of this site thinking "I could never do that" or "It's her genetics, my body type is just not the same." It's taken me many years to summon the courage to share my story with you.
For years I was frustrated with myself, disappointed and angry for being a "victim" of my circumstances. My thoughts constantly tethered around the principle that if I hadn't been hit by a car, that if I wasn't missing pieces of bone in my spine, I would be able to compete as an athlete at the very highest level.
It took some time to let go of these debilitating thoughts. But it wasn't the physical pain of re-injury or self work that made me accept my body, my state and myself as I was. It was the influence I had on making a massive impact in the lives of others that finally broke me down.
It's still hard to believe, even after all these years that in 2012, I was just millimeters away from losing function of my legs, my bladder, my bowels. My recovery defied all medical odds. I was gifted and blessed with motherhood and health. This was no accident. This was the greatest gift of all. And this gift, this blessing, this purpose to my existence had to have happened for me to be able to help others achieve their greatest transformations as well.
Sports and fitness has always been an important part of my life. As a child, I was a competitive swimmer, and in high school I played varsity basketball, volleyball and track and field. I was chosen MVP and placed first in almost all events. I was a force to be reckoned with! But everything changed for me when I was 16. I didn’t see the car coming and when I woke up I was in the hospital. They told me I was hit by a car, that I had suffered a concussion, but luckily I hadn’t broken anything. When I got out of the hospital, and went back to basketball practice, something felt different. I started experiencing pain in my right leg. Over the next weeks, the pain intensified until I could no longer stand on my own, let alone even shower on my own. It was excruciating. Later that month I had my first back surgery, a partial laminectomy where they removed a piece of my vertebra to alleviate the pressure on the disc.
As a result of the accident, I had herniated discs at L5/S1, L4/L5 and L3/L4. I was told that I had to stop sports. I was told that my back could no longer support the activities that I did, that perhaps my back would worsen if one day I became pregnant, and that the only appropriate activity for me is light walking on the treadmill. It was one bitter pill to swallow, but I listened. I stopped everything I did. In a matter of months, I became a completely different person. I hung out with a different crowd, I ate all the wrong things and very quickly became out of shape. I also began experiencing severe back pain that limited me from doing almost everything. When I was 22, I had had enough. I walked into the gym for the first time in so many years and picked up the weights. I had no idea what I was doing so I just copied everyone else. After just six months, I was leaner and stronger! But more importantly, almost all of the back pain was gone! I was addicted! I signed up and completed a YMCA Personal Trainer Specialist course. I started working at the Y, training people, showing them how to use the equipment. But it wasn’t enough! I needed to know more! At that time I was halfway through a Master’s degree in chemistry at McGill University. At my parent’s dismay, I dropped out and went back to Concordia for another degree in Exercise Science, specialization Athletic Therapy. I graduated with the highest honors, completed my NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and started Be Training Inc. (betraining.ca) in 2009. I was feeling amazing! I was pain free and finally doing what I loved! I signed up for more courses, workshops, certifications, constantly learning! But after my second baby in 2010, with the late night feedings, and car seats and strollers, the back and leg pain came back.
In 2012, as I was launching my first gym, CrossFit Westmount, I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Again, I had ruptured the disc at L4/L5 and needed another laminectomy. My doctor said I was millimeters away from cauda equina - paralysis. When I opened my second gym at the beginning of 2013, CrossFit Ile Bizard, I was still recovering from the surgery. I felt useless. I felt like a fake. I couldn’t even demonstrate a single squat! What kind of role model is that? But as I looked at all the members at the gym, working hard, witnessing their transformations, I knew that with hard work, with dedication, with commitment and consistency, I too could rebuild myself up again! So I want to tell you that we all have our obstacles, whether it be weight-loss or injury! But it is up to us decide whether or not we want to accept it as the truth or change the outcome. Today, at the age of 38, I am an osteopath, I’ve completed an Ironman, and I’m in the best shape of my life! I plan with all my heart to complete a second Ironman, but this time as a guide to lead a person who is blind across the finish line.
It is you who is my inspiration!! You are what keeps me going! I can not wait to coach you and witness your transformation, too! Remember to never give up! The sky is the limit! If you believe, you will become.
See you soon, Athlete!