This isn’t my normal blog…..but I felt it was time to share this story. This is the first time I have shared it publicly. It’s not the most tragic story. But this is a time of my life that I couldn’t “see the forrest for the trees” and at the time it was real. It was scary. And it almost beat me.

I hear so often that I don’t understand what people go through because “it’s always been so easy for me”. That I don’t know what it’s like to struggle, to feel unmotivated, to be depressed……well I do. I’ve been there. And I fought my way out.

It’s hard for me to share this story because I have a lot of pride. I don’t like admitting when I’m weak or when I struggle. Even my close friends didn’t know just how hard things were for me during this time. I hid it well. I hope that by sharing this story I can help some of you relate to me. I am a trainer, yes…… but I am also a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister…..and I fight battles just like you.

“A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars.” – Carly Simmon

Sometimes we need to know that we aren’t alone. Sometimes we need to hear stories of other women who have fought battles and come out of the fire a stronger version of themselves. My story is not the most tragic, but it might help some of you relate to me and help you realize that we can overcome each obstacle put in our way by putting ourselves first.

Since this isn’t my autobiography, I will skip ahead until after I got married and started having kids when life got REALLY chaotic. After the birth of my son, I quit a very promising business career where I brought home a larger salary than my husband…….but it wasn’t me……it wasn’t my passion. I decided my child needed me more than the business world and somehow we could live without my salary. Three years later, the real estate bubble had exploded, my husband saw numerous pay cuts, we lost all equity in our home, and then here comes baby number two. My now beautiful, sweet, sassy little girl decided she would make a grand entrance into this crazy world a little too early. I didn’t have that fairytale delivery……I didn’t even get to see her. I didn’t hear her cry. All I heard was frantic nurses speaking a “language” I didn’t understand. And then……quiet. They had taken her away. That was at 2:30 pm on a beautiful Friday afternoon. I laid on the operating table motionless while the doctor tried to put my insides back where they belonged. It was too quiet. I could hear them putting me “back together”. I could hear the doctor and the nurses breathing. I remember crying and asking where my daughter was……and no one would answer me. At 12:30 am Saturday morning, the Neonatologist visited me to tell me my daughter was “stable”. Honestly, everything after that remains a blur. One minute the doctor is telling me of all these complications and the next I am being wheeled into the NICU only to see my tiny baby hooked up to machines. That moment would completely change me.




After weeks, months and years of ventilators, feeding tubes, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, acid reflux, digestive issues, sleep apnea, surgeries, hospital visits that lasted anywhere from one day to one month……I lost myself. Somewhere along the road of trying to balance caring for my healthy son, my sick daughter, my stressed out husband, our crumbling finances, I lost my passion. I LOST ME. And through it all I put a smile on my face so no one would know. I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling. I didn’t want to appear weak…..

For two and a half years, I averaged two hours of sleep every night caring for a child who stopped breathing every few minutes, a child whose digestive tract could only process special prescription only formula, a child who’s acid reflux was so horrible she would throw up blood, a child who wouldn’t crawl, walk, or roll over without assistance of physical therapy. On bad nights, I was lucky to get two hours. I still have the journals I had to keep for her doctors so they could monitor her eating and sleeping habits. I keep them to remind myself of how far we have come, and of all that I am capable of…..and for her to one day see what all she is capable of. I want her to know the battle she fought even before she could walk. I want her to know how beautiful she truly is.


I hit bottom in May 2011 during what was supposed to be a two night stay after a surgery to address her sleep apnea. Her surgery was on May 3, 2011…….on May 29th I laid in her hospital room crying, praying, feeling like a failure. Seeing your child on machines to help them breathe and listening for their heartbeat over a monitor does something to you. It changes you. I know now that I was completely exhausted mentally and emotionally and the lack of sleep was really to blame for my feelings of failure. Not to mention the complete lack of exercise. I had no outlet. Now I can see that I was never a failure. I was doing my best with my current circumstances, but all of these things began playing mean tricks on my mind. At the time I was a part time personal trainer and group fitness instructor at a local gym, but I felt like the biggest failure and hypocrite. Why would anyone listen to me speak about making positive lifestyle changes when I didn’t even have the energy to take a walk with my son? For two years, I would wake up at 4:30 am, train people at 5:30 am, come home to get my son ready for school and then spend the rest of the day & night caring for my daughter. There were never those quiet sweet moments of a mother napping with her child like I had experienced with my son or that you see in movies. So, here I was, completely drained of any desire to do anything other than surviving. She and I spent a month together at a Children’s hospital in Atlanta while my husband and son tried to maintain a “normal” life back home. I felt like I had failed my daughter, my son, my husband, my clients…… felt like I was failing everyone around me. I became a shell of a person trying to teach others how to live an active lifestyle all the while still trying to appear to be a supermom and wife. I was drowning. As I lay in that hospital room on May 29th 2011, I made the decision to quit my job once we got home. I still have the resignation letter I had typed up to give to my boss when I got home. I had decided I would stay at home during the day with my daughter and then I would wait tables at night to help pay down the insane amount of medical bills that were growing with each new day. My husband called me crazy and said no way was I giving up what I loved doing. The problem was I no longer loved doing anything. I was losing my battle. I was losing me.

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My daughter was finally released in June 2011 and we came home with a feeding tube. As horrible as it may sound, the feeding tube was OUR saving grace……a blessing in disguise. The feeding tube allowed my little girl to finally get the amount of nutrition she needed and her surgery was a success in addressing the sleep apnea. She started sleeping……and she started gaining weight! Two months later she made the growth chart at her two year check-up. She was no longer in the zero percentile on weight…..she was in the 20th! Over the next year, she would continue to gain weight, begin sleeping better, begin eating some “real” foods and graduate from therapy as she began meeting some very important developmental milestones. My miracle baby. And throughout that year, I finally started to find myself again.

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I never did quit my job. After we came home from the hospital, I was determined to quit because of my feelings of inadequacy as a role model for my clients, but my amazing husband wouldn’t let me. He saw something in me I couldn’t see at the time. He saw my passion and my desire to help people even when I thought it was lost. But I had to start from scratch physically. Not only was I over thirty with two kids, but I had completely given up on my own training for far too long out of guilt. I felt guilty for not putting my sick baby, my healthy son, my husband and everyone else ahead of me. I felt guilty for even thinking of taking an hour for myself. Lack of sleep, an abundance of stress and fear had ruled my life…..and they had me knocked down for far too long. But as my daughter recovered and grew stronger, so did I. Even today I feel like I am still trying to recover from what feels like another life, but I am definitely a stronger version of myself. The first couple of years of my daughter’s life was a major “valley”…….it was a battle. It wasn’t what I would have picked out for her. I would have taken her place in a second if it meant she didn’t have to go through what she went through. But we made it anyway. Somehow we clawed our way out of that valley. And without that three year “battle”, I honestly believe I would not be where I am today.

My hope is that this blog will provide encouragement for you to put yourself first….. there will be times when life hits us hard and knocks us down. That’s ok. But don’t let life keep you down too long. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and fight through it. Because if we do not take care of ourselves, if we don’t fight for ourselves, how can we expect to lead and take care of those we love? You will walk through fires, you will face battles in life and you will come out the other side. You have to keep your eyes on your goals and not lose sight of your dreams. You have to keep fighting for yourself. And in fighting for yourself, you will be able to fight for those around you.


And by the way, that tiny little baby who was dealt a rough start in life…… that frail little baby is now a strong, energetic, feisty, brave……beautiful little girl. She fought a battle that most adults would have given up on. She has a fighter’s spirit. She has a strong heart. She helped me find myself again. She is my hero.